Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do's and Don'ts of Social Networking...

Lately many people have been asking us about social networking online and how to get started with it. So we decided to create some articles to help people who are just starting out!

I’ve been compiling this list for quite a while based on personal experiences and also weeks of speaking to other social network users. Please note that this is not definitive and by no means does this apply to every site on the internet, it's just what I have noticed after 10 years of doing this and my friends have pointed out.

This is going to be a series of articles, starting with general information and branching into more information about specific websites.

Social networking can be a very powerful way to expand your business but only when used in the right way. The online world can seem quite scary at first but if you keep a few basic rules of etiquette in mind then you’ll be a social butterfly in no time!

Now before we get into site-specific ideas let’s start with a couple of general rules.

DON’T- join every single website you can possibly find, post an advertisement once and never go back. You really need to think about how much time you have to do online networking before you start. If you’re struggling to find time to do things as it is then maybe this isn’t for you. As a rule I try to spend at least 20 min per website a day, this varies on the website though I can catch up on everything in twitter in 10 min but I spend longer on EFW. Someone who is doing it more casually may only visit once a week but spend longer trying to catch up on all of the posts they've missed. By coming less often you may also miss out on good opportunities. For example someone on my Twitter feed was looking for a graphic designer, I replied and got the job. If I had missed the post I wouldn't have gotten the job.

DO- Lurk more. What this means is spend a while getting to know your website before you post. Every message board, forum and website has it’s own subtle rules of etiquette. There is always a pecking order, always a couple of people who spend all their time there posting and always a few unspoken rules. It’s like being the new kid a school, so learn about the place before posting so you don’t step on any toes, first impressions last.

DON’T- Just post spam about your business all the time. Remember this is about SOCIAL networking… people want to get to know *you* and by extension your business not the other way around. You wouldn’t walk up to a complete stranger and introduce yourself by saying “HELLO I’M DINAMIC JEWELS I’M HAVING A SALE 20% OFF…etc”. It’s the same in the online world, no body wants to have ads shoved in their face 24/7 but if you do it subtly then you have a better chance of converting to sales. You know how annoying those Viagra ads in your inbox are? Well just because it’s a different product doesn’t make it less annoying.

DO- Spell check. Everything. If you can’t trust yourself to spell it right, ask Microsoft Word. The occasional mistake is understandable but I continue to be astounded by businesses who think it’s alright to write updates, websites or anything with bad spelling and grammar. Also “text speak” is not appropriate. You are not 14, you are not texting your “bff Becky” to meet you after school. Personally, I won’t read anything where the author thinks it’s appropriate to replace the word “you” with the letter “u”.

DON’T- Be unprofessional. Do you have a problem with someone? Don't like someone? Had a bad business transaction? Don’t act like a 13yr old and have a public fight. Contact them in private to sort it out. If someone is harassing you, talk to a moderator if possible.

As a general rule imagine the internet as a dinner party. Would you talk about/post what you’re about to if you were with a group of strangers at a dinner party? If not then you probably shouldn’t be doing it unless you want to be that annoying person that never gets invited back.

Stay tuned next time I will be looking into which networking sites work best for which businesses and Twitter!


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