Social Media. Ever heard of it? Of course you have! It's practically the lifeblood of the internet right now. The great thing about social media is that it allows whatever stupid shit you want to say to reach your audience of hundreds, if not thousands, instantly.
The terrible thing about social media is that it allows whatever stupid shit you want to say to reach your audience instantly. Any topic, subject, community you can think of has some form of social media integrated right now.
I’m not going to tell you which one to choose to explore, but will leave you with tips and guidelines that can be implemented and utilized on any social networking platform.
First let's take a look at WHY you should be using social media, then HOW you should be using them to get the most bang for your buck (or time if you're not spending money on advertising).
Why Should You Use Social Media?
- Traffic: The most obvious reason to leverage social networking sites is the potentially massive number of people that may drive traffic in your blog’s direction.
- Branding: Personal branding is HUGE if you're building a site or blog around yourself. Social networking allows you to interact more easily with readers so you can reenforce your brand.
- Reinforcing Relationships: A lot has been written about the nature of "friends" on social networking sites like where you can rack up thousands of "friends" in a day or two yet "know" none of them. While "friendships" and relationships in these types of sites is usually of a different kind to what happens in "real life", I’ve still found that the interactions that I have on social media sites can reinforce the relationships that I have with readers on my blog.
How to Correctly Use Social Media
- Don’t Spam: There's a lot of temptation to rush in and plaster links back to your blog all over these sites. However this could lead to you damaging your blog more than it’ll benefit from it — especially since more and more sites are implementing Spam filters. There is a time and place to submit your own blog to many of these sites; however, do it as a genuine participant rather than just someone in it for self promotion.
- Be an Active Observer: I mentioned this in my post about Forum Etiquette but this point is definitely worth mentioning again: each social networking site has it’s own rhythms, language and etiquette. The culture at one site will be quite different to another so it’s important to take your time in getting to know it and to spend time familiarizing yourself with it.
- Be a Genuine and Generous Participant: I’d encourage you to spend as much time as possible using the site in a completely non-self-serving way. While you should find ways to build your own profile, brand and authority, these things generally come in time as you naturally participate rather than by always pushing the boundaries and manipulating the system (See the "Spam" section again).