The idea for this article was triggered when one of my subscribers asked me if Facebook could be used for business/advertising in the same way as a "so-and-so" guy uses his twitter account to drive traffic to his site (she happened to stumble upon that guy’s site and read his "claim" about using twitter to drive traffic). I had no suggestions to offer her because:
a) I was myself new to Facebook and so far I have primarily used my Facebook account just for networking and friendship rather than "selling"
b) I was not sure if Facebook is as viable for the IM niche as Twitter.
However, this got me thinking: are social networking sites setup just so that every Tom, Dick and Harry could sell their wares there?
I decided that in the following Nuttiezine issue I would offer you a few tips on how to make the most out of those social networking sites, for free! Since I am not "guru" or anything, you are free to accept my suggestions or do your own thing!
After you finish reading my article, if you still feel you need a "guide", I have a few recommendations at the end.
What Are Social Networking Sites: Social networking sites are, as the name suggests, built primarily with the purpose of creating a platform where different individuals could meet each other and socialize. Friendships, networking, etc., are the keywords of social networking sites. In short, these sites are there to help you build RELATIONSHIPS.
Social networking is all about: making friends first, then taking it from there. It is more about building relationships and less about selling :D At least that was how they were used before they got "corrupted" by IMers :D. Rules, regulations, and complications followed soon after!
If you don’t believe me, ask some of the long standing gurus who keep benefiting from these sites (I don’t mean those "fly-by-night charlatans" who make tall claims just to sell you an ebook or tool), and I am sure they would agree that they built relationships first, which later manifested into JV partnerships and that is how they started making cash!
If you say this process is long, boring, tiring, time consuming, I TOTALLY agree with you! But whoever said that making money (online or offline) is always fun and quick has probably half-lied to you!
The Bad Way to Make Money from These Sites: You sign up for an account with one of these sites, say Twitter, and immediately start following a few "friends" (read strangers) and hopefully, they follow you too. Next you make a short "Hello" post and then start posting links to your salespages "BUY BUY BUY"…. :D
Some people take it even a little further. They setup a "fake" profile impersonating a well known guru. Don’t think that it is a useless trick; it REALLY works! Let me tell you a little story.
One day I got an email notification from twitter saying than John Reese is following me. Normally I don’t even look at these emails but… "John Reese Following ME!!!" That triggered the skeptic part of my brain. I sensed something was fishy here.
And I was right. This guy had put up a fake profile of John Reese, with John’s photo intact (except that in the fake photo the hairstyle of John is different than the original), and even managed to garner 800 followers (the real John has probably thousands of followers)! By all appearances, he looked like the original (can you spell IM-POS-TER?)!
However, what gave him away was the pagerank of his twitter profile: it was ZERO! In addition, he had made only a couple of tweets and all of them were "pitches". That convinced me that he was an imposter AND spammer.. I didn’t however notify the real John as I was sure Twitter management would take care of it quickly. And I was right again! The next day I visited the profile of "fake John" just to be sure he is still there, but he was GONE! :D
You see, if you thought being a guru is all about leading a rosy and carefree life, you are not fully right. Sometimes, it pays to be a little unknown guy like me. ;)
The Ideal Way to Make Money From These Sites: The ideal and probably the best way to make the most out of these sites is by starting to build strong relationships. You shouldn’t just signup into a social networking site (such as Twitter) thinking "how much stuff I could sell here" or "how much $$$ I could garner from these fellows". That is really a short-sighted thinking and would yield little or no results for you.
Short and sweet truth is this: the more you network, the more well known you would become and the more connections you would be able to make, all of which would subsequently lead to more traffic.
Social Networking is NOT a fad: Social networking is a long term strategy; it can bring you traffic but more importantly, it can help you build strong relationships and JV partnerships which are much more powerful valuable than the trickle of traffic you would get from such sites.
Social networking traffic works but please don’t treat it as a fad. It is very much different than social bookmarking sites; you cannot just throw in a link and expect traffic to roll out! If no one knows you then you would be flagged as just "another" spammer
My twitter experience shows that until I began to involve in discussions personally and regularly, my twitter following was very low and I won’t get considerable traffic to my site! All that changed when I started "involved" networking.
It is not too difficult or time consuming: u can invest just 15 minutes per day. Do this for a month and feel free to complain if you don’t get any traffic or followers!
On some days however, saving that 15 minutes of spare time for social networking may not be feasible for you, but you should always try your best to spend a little time every day in those sites.
Did You Say Outsourcing: It CAN however get a bit tiring if you have accounts at Facebook, twitter, you tube, etc.; nevertheless, social networking pays off big time! Even if you have come to a point where you have got more money than time, I still won’t recommend outsourcing the task of ‘social networking" unless the person you are outsourcing to is your clone :D
(Digression: Fact is, you CANNOT duplicate yourself. I don’t know much about the progress of the so-called "stem cell research" except that the scientists involved in it claimed that it would help one clone himself; I have also heard that the then Bush government forbade the research calling it "unethical".).
Think about a parallel offline situation: would you ever outsource friendships? Would you ever hire someone and say "Hey, go there and make friends with that person on my behalf"? Or would you rather go and meet the guy in person and say "hello"? Online social networking is no different either!
In social networking sites, what stands out is:
=> NOT how much free content you offer daily
=> NOT how much links you throw in daily
=> NOT how many comments you post daily
=> Not how many updates you post daily
BUT your PERSONALITY, which is, and will always be, UNIQUE! If you use a freelancer for this, s/he cannot duplicate your personality. Their personality would be different and as such, the results you would get would be different as well!
If you are by nature a helpful person, and like to help everyone and sundry, it is an added bonus! Of course, it is not necessary to be a good guy to take full advantage of such sites. If you ask me, I hardly "help" anyone in the true sense of the term; nevertheless, I get twitter traffic to my blog ;)
But How About Automation: There are numerous tools and softwares which claim to automate this otherwise "boring" process of social networking for you. Just a few days ago, I got an email from a respected IMer that his friend has created a "tool" that would help you make a lot of $$$ from twitter by spending just a couple of minutes per day.
I won’t however recommend softwares in this case. On a social networking site, EMOTIONAL interaction is necessary to build strong relationships; softwares are "bots" and bots cannot interact with people on an emotional level!
I still cannot get over my Friendadder experience. In case you don’t know, it is a tool to help you add a certain number of friends to your MySpace account automatically! I used it daily. At that time, MySpace didn’t allow more than 200 friends to be added per day. Anyway, I added tons and tons of friends hands off but got very little benefit from it, except that…
The email I used to signup for My MySpace account started getting spammed badly, so much so that I had to abandon it altogether. Luckily I didn’t use my primary email for that purpose, lol!
Honestly, if you think social networking is "boring", just don’t do it; there is little sense in building relationships with others if it just "bores" you! Not everyone is cut to be able to make friendships with each and everybody; in fact, some of us prefer to be left alone by ourselves. To be honest, I have very FEW close friends; however, I know folks who have friendship with the whole neighborhood! It is just a matter of different personalities; some people would find it very difficult to build relationships while for others it would be as easy as pie! There is nothing to be embarrassed about it!
Is There No End in Sight: Well, after you have become a little well known on the respective social networking sites, you would probably be excused if you don’t interact as before. However, in the formative years of your marketing career, you would need to work hard to build the "network of friends" that would prove extremely useful in the following years!
Later on, if your time and resources permit, you would want to build your own social networking site or forum, as that is where you could gain the maximum mileage from your efforts! Since you would OWN the network, you could make the rules, ban members and do whatever you like… ;)
So It Means I Can Spam Forums and Message Boards as Usual: Nope! What I said above holds as much true for social networking sites as forums, message boards, etc.
Okay, now for some recommendations. These are only for Twitter (sorry Facebook users) users.
1. Twitter Goldrush by Dana Wilhot: This is a nice little ebook available at a very low price. I am afraid I don’t know about its website; I got it by sending a DM to Dana from Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dana_Willhoit. You can do the same OR email her at DanaATnichenewsflash.com (replace "AT" with "@")
(Please do tell her that I sent you. I would really appreciate it)
According to her, you don’t need to spend more than 15 minutes per day on Twitter to benefit from it. If you search her name in Google, you would notice that she has setup profiles on several well known social networking sites. Looks like she is into full time social networking, lol :D
2. Twitter Success Secrets: by Peggy Baron
This ebook is an amalgamation of articles and tips from several Twitter users. To be honest, I haven’t purchased it, and you may ignore it too if you wish. I am recommending it only because Dana Wilhot and Bev Clement are among its contributors (two names which matter to me most).
In fact a couple of days ago Bev shared her "twitter secret" with me (you can find it in the Twitter secrets ebook). Bev has however asked me to shut my mouth about it coz if I reveal the ‘secret" it would hurt the sales of the ebook. So I am obliged to keep my mouth shut, sorry! :(
But I guess that tip alone is worth spending $20 bucks ;)
3. Twitter Traffic Magic: Don’t forget that mine is absolutely free (unless you want the plr version which costs just $10):
(Warning: These ebooks won’t help you if you have a laidback attitude with regards to social networking. Only buy them if you are serious about social networking)
4. Last but not the least, John Reese’s Post on Why Twitter AutoFollow Sucks is also well worth reading!
A Few Free Tools for Twitter Users:
1. Twitterfeed :You can use this tool to post your blog updates automatically on your Twitter account at a set time.
2. Twitthis : It can be best described as "the Tinyurl service for Twitter users" :)
3. Twitpwr : A similar service like Twitthis
4. Power Twitter : Firefox addon for "power" Twitter users (never used it myself though)
Here is hoping that this article would keep you from spending (or shall I say "wasting") money on useless social networking tools and ebooks (at least for now).
Of course, if you want, you can go back and listen to those "gurus" who talk about automation and outsourcing! ;)
Please don’t forget to comment on my blog. Let me know how well I am doing! ;)