Social-Media Best Practices: 12 Tips for Making the Best of Any Social Site, Part 1
Spend some time observing (aka listening)
An easy way to understand this concept is to think about attending a party where you don’t know many people. It’s doubtful that you’d go barging in to conversations or groups of people without first getting the lay of the land by observing the room, looking for others who you may know or know of, and thinking about what you could talk about with those attending. The social Web is no different. It requires that you learn the culture, people and way to interact on each specific site. Twitter is different than Facebook, and Facebook is different than LinkedIn. Spend some time observing how others interact, speak, share and communicate before you dive in. Creating a social-media listening dashboard helps as you get started. You can get one up and running in 30 minutes or less for free.
Locate your peeps
Once you’ve begun to get acclimated with the culture and overall way to interact on each social site, start to look for those who are talking about or interested in things you find interesting. For example: If you’re a nonprofit that focuses on disaster-relief efforts in places like New Zealand, then you may want to connect with the Red Cross and begin building a relationship with it. Or you may want to find individuals who are talking about the events around the world where disaster relief is needed.
This allows you to engage with people who are interested in the things you do and who might become supporters of yours one day. You should also get familiar with using search features like Twitter Search to help you find the right people to engage with. Here are 13 simple twitter search examples to get you started.
Engage, but don’t yell (or ask for donations)
After you’ve been observing for a while and locating like-minded organizations and individuals, you want to begin building relationships with them. The key point to remember here is that you should not start by selling your wares or promoting your programs or asking for donations. Start by getting to know the individuals who run the social-media accounts you interact with — offer your help, assistance and support to them. Be the initiator and giver. Spend some time in chitchat-type conversations to build real connections and relationships with others — it will pay off in the long run.