Yes I know a lot people don’t use the word “rungs”, but I like the word and hey it’s a great word. We should use it more often, it means : “A rod or bar forming a step of a ladder.” And I believe what social media has done is formed something, an unprecedented opportunity (the step of a ladder) for people like us to extend and amplify our influence. You don’t have to buy time on television or radio. You don’t have to write a book or magazine column. You don’t even have to blog (but I do).
Now I’m going to let you in on the most important, and most often overlooked aspect of social networking: It’s not about selling. It’s about participation. It’s about being a member of a community, a tribe, a group, and connecting with people who share your interests.
Those that use social networking merely as a venue for giving their pitch, “Buy my product or service, buy my product or service,” are missing out. Nobody likes to be sold to and that’s exactly what the pitch is: “throwing a sales speech at someone, in hopes of a batter (customer) swinging, but what people gravitate, and relate to, is those who give of themselves.
Here’s the 5 rungs to building a social media presence:
- Observe. Start out by joining and watching. Pick a venue to get yourself started. It could be Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, an online forum, or a site dedicated to videos like YouTube, or Vimeo. You don’t have to do anything at this point other than watch and learn. Be a sponge and absorb what is going on around you. Get a feel for the environment. Wait until you are comfortable.
- Participate. When someone makes a comment that you agree with, support their position. Expand on it. Tell a story from your own life that illustrates the point. If you disagree, do so respectfully, offer supporting information for your opinion.
- Contribute. Once you are comfortable talking with others, it’s time to go to the next level. Start contributing. If you read an article that people in your tribe might find helpful, post a link to it. If you read a book by someone in the tribe and liked it, tell others. Be supportive. Be helpful.
- Form Relationships. This is what social networking is all about. Make this your “end game.” You’re not participating to sell your products or services. You’re here to make connections. If a fan writes a nice review, thank them. Most don’t expect to hear from the creative. But after hearing from you, they’ll remember you even more. They might even share with their friends “how nice you are.”
- Provide Information. Let the people in your group know about what’s going on in your life. Do you have a workshop, tele-seminar, speech, signing, YouTube video or podcast coming up? Is a new product being released? Have you posted a sample for free? Did a magazine publish one of your short stories? This isn’t selling; it is informing. You aren’t telling them to buy; you are letting them know what you have and leaving the decision to them.
Notice that I never once asked you to sell. That’s what’s so great about social media, you don’t have to. Become a person that others like, be one that is helpful, let others know that you have products or services and the sales will come.