6 & 1/2 simple tips to extend your social presence in 2010

Originally posted to the Terralever blog on January 5, 2010:

A new year is synonymous with starts, either on new goals or on older ones that we’d like to take another crack at. Each goal represents a desire to be better than we were last year. A new year is also synonymous with new lists created to make that path toward success a little bit easier.

Whether you just got started in social media or have been playing in the space for years, there are several ways that you can add a little spice, extend your reach, and increase your impact.

1. Grab your name on every social site you can.

You can lay a foundation for continued social engagement by protecting ownership of your brand name, be it your company name or your own name. Sites that allow users to select a unique handle do so on a first come, first served basis, and while some offer restorative action where copyright or trademark infringement is involved, there’s no guarantee that you’ll recover your name in a timely fashion if some other Dick or Jane beat you to the punch bowl. KnowEm and namechk allow you to see where your username has been claimed. Neither tool contains a comprehensive list of all social sites, but they contain most of the major ones and are a great place to start. Signing up for one account is relatively quick; signing up for a dozen can take considerably more time. If you don’t have the time, KnowEm offers to do them all for you for a fee.

2. Pick one new platform to experiment with.

If you’re already participating in the social media space, you probably have an account on both Facebook and Twitter. These are among the most popular social sites, and every Jane has a profile, but Facebook and Twitter are only the tip of the iceberg. Try adding something new to your mix. You might try category platform, like LinkedIn. As the leading social business networking site, LinkedIn’s groups and answers features could be prime space to further a reputation for knowledge leadership. Or try something more niche that Dick hasn’t discovered yet, like 12seconds. Launched in 2008, the 12seconds micro-video platform is increasingly a space of expression and experimentation by creative individuals and companies.

3. Encourage social inside the company.

If you condemn participation in social networks as a distraction from the work at hand, you undervalue the contribution your employees can be making toward your business’ social efforts on the same networks. Social media is a word of mouth tool, and that word can start to spread from within your office. Embrace social as a way of doing business and allow employees to engage social media to connect with friends and each other, you’ll find in between posting pictures of their weekend hike or scheduling a lunch date with Dick, you’ll get featured. They will comment on how much they love the people they work with, retweet that job posting, and take notice when a Jane, a recent connection they may have yet to met in person, mentions she needs to launch an ecommerce site, which just so happens to be something your company rocks at.

4. Take your online social activities offline.

Your online social presence should augment and enhance in-person interactions. Give people a chance to deepen their relationship with you by interacting with you socially even while offline. Invite Jane and others to join you for happy hour or coffee at a locally-owned business. Open up your office space to Dick’s Historical Autobiography Book Club for their monthly gathering, attend the meetup and get to know the club members and what fascinates them.

5. Find at least one way to engage that has absolutely nothing to do with your core business.

All work and no play makes Dick a dull boy. All work and no play makes your company just another dull company. Nerf wars may spring up in the office during the day when you need a break, but if nobody knows, you’re missing an opportunity to showcase a bit of your personality. Why not make the last Friday of each month a themed dress-up (or dress-down) day, post the best photos on Facebook and invite friends and fans to write the captions? Or why not take the engagement offline (tip 4) and organize a weekly meetup at your local dog-park for people who have dogs, as well as those who want dogs?

6. Share media and content that inspires your thinking.

The products and/or services you offer are your output, but what are the inputs that shape how you design and deliver these things? Books, blog posts, TED talks, even outside hobbies – the things you read, see and do have the power to influence how you do business. Share the very best of these via your social profiles. At the very least, you’ll give friends, fans and followers greater insight into the philosophies and values that guide you. At best, you’ll develop deeper relationships with customers, prospects and peers as you engage in idea-driven conversations. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll inspire both Dick and Jane along the way.

½. Be helpful.

We aren’t the first to say this, and we won’t be the last, but some tips are just so important that they are worth repeating… Be helpful. If Dick has a question and you know the answer, or can point him in the direction of a useful resource, do it. If it’s not about your company, product, service or industry, still do it. Never pass up an opportunity to demonstrate to your customers, friends and fans that meeting their needs is important to you.

Let these tips be a starting point to get you headed to more social 2010. As you put each of them in play, please share your ideas, questions and successes. Share your failures too, and the lessons that result, so that we can learn from each other and help each other make this year a rockin’ year.

*If you’d like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so here and/or on the original post on the Terralever blog.

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