Tara Hunt’s second tip for becoming rich in social capital, from her book “The Power of Social Networking: Using The Whuffie Factor to Build Your Business”, is one of those nuggets of wisdom that’s so obvious it hurts, and yet so few seem to take it to heart. It would apply equally well to city councilmembers, nonprofit leaders, teachers, Senators, and superheroes:
Become Part of the Community You Serve
This section of Tara’s book really is so meaty in terms of best practices and specific product/service recommendations. The social web inherently levels the playing field quite a bit, and adopting that equality as a matter of principle and operation is where the social capital riches are waiting to be mined. You’re not there (in social media) to collect data or study customers or build big, empty Likebases, but to be a true participant engaging in meaningful, authentic interactions, not attached to outcome. <--- (That last bit is the zen in the road that many will trip over, crying "We must capture and measure EVERYTHING...ROI! ROI!" all the while.) More general concepts:
- The key is to be a trusted peer whose recommendations have value and are worth passing along.
- Drop all agendas from your interactions.
- Don’t think of large-group demographics; focus instead on what the single individual is like…their feelings, interests, and struggles.
- Host F2F (face-to-face) events to meet and know your community personally.
- Social capital flows from trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation.
Most organizations , particularly those with more than one person with blog access, would benefit from having a policy in place to govern content and voice. It should not be rule-heavy, Ms. Hunt says, but should clarify what should NOT be written about. Be open and authentic in what you write, with room for critical self-analysis. The social media policy in use by Oracle is cited as something of a best practice example. Further, Tara recommends:
- Posting once a day “or so”. (Remember, blog posts don’t have to be full-blown research papers, and search engines love fresh streams of content!)
- FeedBurner for managing RSS feeds.
- Technorati for blog tracking and search.
- Google Blogsearch for tracking conversations.
- ma.gnolia for social bookmarking – sadly, this site no longer exists, which illustrates the ever-changing nature of the social web, among other things. Here’s ma.gnolia’s “autopsy”.
- StumbleUpon to find interesting content to pass along to your community.
- A Share This button at the bottom of all posts.
Read OTHER BLOGS, and make comments! (Remember what Tara and i just said about reciprocation?) Seriously, this is a great practice for building relationships and community, and for learning what else is being said “out there” and how. Interact on blogs by your community members, by competitors, by industry folks, etc.
Need help coming up with compelling content? Tara recommends:
- Interviews with industry folks.
- Interviews/stories about members of your community.
- Tips and tricks.
- Generic advice.
- Tours of office/facility.
- Support local community events/charity.
REMEMBER: Blogging is more about lifting up others than yourself! Links = Love…point out other companies that illustrate what you believe in, and highlight your customers’ blogs!
Briefly, on VIDEO:
Using video is both time consuming and very rewarding (YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, after all!). Three to six minutes is generally easy to digest, and Ms. Hunt recommends choosing a snippet of music to open and close your videos with that you use consistently so that it becomes a recognizable part of your branding. A few places where you can get brief clips: Magnatune, mobygratis, stockmusic, mp3.
Finally, the big TW: Twitter
Tara says it “accelerates serendipity”, and that you have to LISTEN and TALK. Good things to post + best practices:
- Share personal reflections about company, product, service, brand…
- Discuss events, yours and others
- Respond publicly using @twittername
- Respond privately using “d twittername”
- New blog post once per day at most
- Repeat entertaining things you overhear “OH: ‘funny message’”
- Inherently playful medium – use humor!
- Lyrics and quotes are entertaining…bonus points if they’re from industry leaders and/or align with or illuminate your company philosophy
- Links to media you create
- Laughing=awesome, thinking=even better
So there you have it: Ms. Tara Hunt’s tips for becoming part of the community you serve, as condensed and only slightly mangled by evan austin. For more from Tara, follow her on Twitter.
Next up: Be Notable.