Jumping Into The Social Web

Networked Teacher Diagram - Update by courosaOver the weekend, I was talking with my mother about social networking, it’s many benefits and many pitfalls.  She runs a small business providing in-home senior care and just recently started to venture out into the world of social networking.  As most people new to social networking, she is completely overwhelmed.  My mother took the route of hiring a social media consultant to help her out and get things rolling.

After reviewing what the consultant had already done and what my mother’s expectations of what was supposed to happen next, I realized there was a HUGE disconnect.  I am not sure if the disconnect is due to my mother’s lack of knowledge in the online social-sphere,  or a lack of direction and information from the consultant she has hired.  I’m starting to think it is a little of both.  The consultant had setup over a dozen accounts across the web.  They included an account on LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, WordPress, etc.  When I looked deeper, I found that my mother’s FriendFeed account was riddled with duplicate post coming in from Twitter, Facebook and her new blog on WordPress.  Furthermore, some of the other accounts setup by the consultant didn’t even have links back to the business website.  To top it off, there is no consistency across the board.   I couldn’t believe it.

So, I thought it would be beneficial to my mother as well as anyone else in her position to share a few points of interest I have picked up along the way.  I am certainly not an expert, but I listen and interact with some very smart people online.  From what I have learned and gathered, below is a small list of things (the basic Who, What, Where, How) to think about for those starting or thinking about branding themselves or their business with the social web:

  1. What is your goal?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. Where is your audience listening?
  4. How much time do you have to interact with that audience?

This list is by no means complete, but I believe with these core questions answered, you can begin to investigate and learn what your options are.  After that, once you figure out where you are going to interact, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or FriendFeed, keep your focus narrow to start.  I would not recommend trying to master Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed all at the same time.  Spend a month or two really understanding Facebook before moving on to the rest.  You can then begin to slowly add other services into the mix as you begin to feel more comfortable with the dynamics and flow of the process.  Lastly, make sure your website is solid and ready for the traffic you are looking to generate.  Broken links, misspellings, wrong phone numbers, etc. will hurt your reputation.  First impressions are key.

On another note, if you do plan on hiring a consultant, make sure they know what they are doing.  As Steven Hodson recently posted:

Right now companies are smart to take whatever the hot social media guru that they hired says with a grain of salt. Just because some-one calls themselves an expert doesn’t make them one and you could do more damage to your company than you might think by heeding their great viral idea.

This post is just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m curious to hear what others think, if this post was at all helpful, and what other questions might be lingering.  Let me know in the comments or on FriendFeed and perhaps I can expand on certain topics of interest in the future.

Till next time…

Creative Commons License Networked Teacher Diagram – Update credit courosa

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Categorized: The Social Web