This is the first installment in a 2 part series
Social Networking is what’s hot on the Internet right now. In the strictest sense there are four social networking sites in the top 10 for hits according to Alexa. Facebook users spend 23 minutes per visit on the site, and visit approximately 40 times each month on average. The popularity has represented a paradigm shift in the way people connect; people who used to connect offline now do it online, and those who do it online do it on Facebook.
There is no shortage of “power networkers” playing the field at the moment. Some users who are otherwise average people boast followings of over a million followers total on their various social profiles. Huge followings like these can be very useful as long as other users on the network are active, but it’s not something you can always count on.
Building for the Long Term When You Can’t See Past Next week
Let’s be honest, the benefits you’ll get from developing and maintaining a powerful social network come to you organically. Even though you may have a specific goal such as get a well paying job in your niche, develop a product or service into a profitable business, create a following to spread the word about your latest written work, or even build a network to have options should you lose your job, long term benefits are often not visible in your short term plans. That’s why I suggest your long term social media goals be improvement, learning, growth, maintenance and diversity. You can be more specific according to your niche or circumstances, but you basically want to make sure that all of your short term goals are in agreement with these long term targets.
Short term goals include getting more followers, getting more likes, connecting with specific influencers, or even meeting a sales quota. As a networking agent you need to consider social media your business. In fact, you are the business and social media is the currency. Since you’re looking at this as business and not a job, you need to ask yourself “Are these short term goals totally in with your long term goals?”
Don’t Bet Your Long Term Success on the Long Term Success of Facebook
In 2008 I had 50,000 combined friends on a quartet of MySpace accounts that I used to play games and advertise my current web projects. After two years of a downward spiral, my MySpace accounts are almost worthless and I would be lucky to get 10 clicks from sharing a link.
The most important thing you can do to protect your long term interests online and concentrate on your long term goals is to make sure that your primary hub is a website that you own. Building traffic and connections through social media is easier than drawing the same users to your website because after all, they’re already on the social network.
In reality you have no control over that space. Facebook is making this facet of social networking as clear as possible by limiting the impressions that status updates from both personal accounts and fan pages get; you’re on our website, and if you want to play you’ll play by our rules. Only 12 percent of your friends get to see your status updates on your personal account, and it isn’t much better for brands who can expect to get a 16 percent conversion rate from likes to impressions. Being in control of the landing page is important when trying to drive user actions. Since Facebook is taking away your ability to build a landing page with the institution of the fan page timeline as well, make a campaign to convert users on your own website and funnel users from your social networks to that landing page.
Convert Users to Long Term Followers
After you get consumers onto your home turf, you need to concentrate on making a lasting effect on them. This is where visuals and emotions can play to your advantage. One of the best ways to leave a lasting impression is through thought provoking or emotionally charged content.
You also need to convert these users into long-term contacts. So far the most lasting channel for reaching a user online is through e-mail, and the popularity of RSS feeds and newsletters are based on that fact. Once a user opts in they’re your lead for the life of their e-mail account or the life of your business. Since you have the opportunity to stay top of mind by providing something of value to them at regular intervals you can stay top of mind and make sure they’re still listening when you have something to say that you really want them to hear. Today you may just be blogging and attracting clients for a part time business you run, but in five years you may sign a contract to get large commissions for selling business networking software.
Lessons in Action: Who Will Be The Guy You’re Glad You Met?
Your friend Ted didn’t need your copywriting services in 2007 when you met, but he has been reading your newsletter every month for the last five years; you keep Ted up to date on the latest stories and sometimes have access to something special for him. Now that its 2012 Ted and you are both glad that he was a subscriber because he heard about your new software. Turns out he didn’t need copywriting because he’s the chief networking software acquisition agent at a large firm and he loves your software; you just made last year’s salary in a single e-mail to Ted.