Everyone in the entrepreneurial community knows about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging and yet many aren’t using them to their full potential. To help correct this, Cort Johnson and Joselin Mane teamed up to present ideas behind using social media and social networks to build a real, vibrant community. They were a great team that drew on their personal experiences with social media to lead the session. Cort is the leader of the DartBoston community that has recently emerged as a key organization for young entrepreneurs, while Joselin runs Boston Tweetups, which helps broadcast local events through Twitter. There were quite a few skeptics in the audience that they seemed to have convinced by the end of their session.
The heart of their message was to “facilitate a connection.” That means being more than a Twitter name and a random photo. You need to build a net of all your content across the web. Link your Twitter account to your blog, your blog to your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and so on. By doing so, it allows anyone who finds you to immediately learn all about you, from what you write about (your blog), to what conversations you’re taking part in (Twitter) to what your background is (LinkedIn).
A few tips they suggested:
Use the same picture for every site.
This builds continuity and allows people looking for you from any site to immediately know they found you.
Follow the 90/10 Rule
90% of what you write and tweet about needs to be adding to the conversation and sharing ideas. To not offend people you can only be self-promoting at most 10% of the time.
Find ways to move the conversation offline
All the social media and networks are great, but nothing beats a face to face meeting to build a great relationship.
Use “Reverse Mentorship” (credit: DartBoston co-founder @Alexa)
If you’re not familiar with all the online social tools, consider asking a young person for help. They can teach you the basics and set you up with the right accounts and tools and then you can help them with some career mentoring.
Have a Plan
It’s not just about being on Twitter. It’s about choosing all of the networks and sites you want to be on and how you’re going to use them together. You can start out looking to just explore and better understand them, but you need to then formulate a plan for utilizing it for your business or brand.
Sites/Tools to Consider
Twitter help: Twitter’s help section is great for getting you started.
OneForty.com: Tools for better utilizing Twitter can be found here, including ratings and reviews for each by other users. It’s started by local entrepreneur @pistachio.
Mashable.com: Provides news and information on all things social media/networks.
“Research, Listen, Contribute”
In the end, this is really the key. The conversation is happening online with or without you, so why not be a part of it? There are many opportunities to hear both what people are thinking about in your industry and about your brands. Get educated, get involved and you can forge great relationships that can then be brought into the real world.
In the end, it’s all about what you’re interested in doing. As was mentioned at the “Bootstrapping PR” panel discussion at WebInno23 earlier this week, it’s important you’re passionate about doing this; like most things in life, you’ll get out what you put in.
If you know of any other key tools for getting started or have any thoughts on building your online presence, please add it to the comments.