I've been reading blog posts by Marshall Sandler, Chris Brogan, and Steve Hodson regarding promotion using social networking websites. And I can't agree more with what they say. I was originally going to put this post as part of my Top Ten Ways Or More To Ruin Your Business, and show how people are using social networking to grow their businesses. But I would have to be honest that the blog posts that I have mentioned really strike a chord with my own experience.
I've just started to experiment with social networking to promote my blogs and my business. I'm on Facebook and Linked In. I've joined a bunch of groups on each with like minded people, and I read the posts that people put up.
There are advantages for people who have a brand that people are interested in having a connection with. I've found Linked In and Facebook are very good for organizations who have events that they want to promote. Primarly because it offers a way to communicate to a select audience that is interested in the things that you do. Musicians and artists can promote shows and keep in contact with their fans. No need for an expensive mailout. Just do it on Facebook. The ability to connect with clients, friends and fans is wired into the application. All you need to do is develop something that your fans are genuinely interested in.
Linked In is a bit of a two headed hydra for me. A lot of the posts that are on groups and Questions and Answers section, are truly salespeople trying to get more sales for the business. 90% of the time if they have nothing to contribute freely to the people that they are selling to, they won't get any response. However, if you do have something to offer to people that is genuinely helpful or allows for other people to chime in about their business experiences, you might just have something there.
I've also found that there are people out there, that are very protective of their connections, yet at the same time want to connect with you and have all of yours. I find this to be disengenuous; are you connecting with me to form a 'connection' or do you just want all of my contacts? Despite the heralding of the new age of collaborative business sales development, there are still a slight taste of the old ways of selling.
The real trap with social networking is the feeling that you really have to subscribe to all these sites just to keep up with the techno-jones. More than 90% of the social networking sites that I've seen online I've never heard of. I can't imagine dedicating more time than I do already to promotion on all of those sites. It would be impossible to try to attempt to offer quality promotional content on all of them. I haven't even taken a look at Twitter, yet.
The real truth is you can't possibly connect with everyone. You really have to be focused in your efforts to network with like-minded people.