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10 Ways to Really Connect Through Social Media

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People are using the Internet to connect to information, but more importantly, to connect with people. And yet so many people seem totally confused and overwhelmed about the right way to connect through social media channels.

Here are 10 ways to really connect with others through social media:

  1. Focus, focus, focus. It is so easy to get sucked into the social media vortex, flitting from shiny object to tweet to update to post with a panicky feeling that if you don’t see everything, you might miss something important. Sound familiar? Stop the madness, set strict parameters designating time to review your social media channels, and stick to them. You may miss something, but you will find just what you need to find, especially if you heed the next point.
  2. Listen attentively. Set up alerts through services such as Google Alerts (s goog), SocialMention and Tweetbeep, or one of the many fee-based monitoring services. Go through your alerts to take care of more pressing conversations where you should be paying attention. Then spend time really listening by reading your streams on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. You don’t have to read everything but what you do read, give it real consideration and look for ways to move to #3.
  3. Respond meaningfully. If you want to make an impact in these channels, make sure your responses to others are thoughtful. The occasional “ditto” or “uh huh” aside, every response you make — especially if out in the public stream- – is an opportunity for greater connection. Ask yourself: Is what I’m saying relevant? Will it resonate with my friends, fans and followers? If not, then why bother?
  4. Retweet or share. One of the funny things about us humans is that we love to be recognized. In social media channels, recognition comes in the form of retweets, likes, comments and shares. When any of us publishes something, we want to be noticed. By taking notice and sharing what others have posted, we are giving them kudos. Keep in mind that who you recognize is also a reflection of you.
  5. Provide value. In your own quest to be noticed and heard, are you giving people a reason to follow you or otherwise connect with you? So many people try to build their Twitter accounts by following a lot of people thinking “oh, they’ll just follow me back” but they haven’t even thought about why someone would want to follow them back. They aren’t yet tweeting or if they are, it is inconsistent and unfocused. The more value you put out there, the more followers you attract.
  6. Ask questions. I find that some of my best connections happen when I ask questions. People love to help. And then once I receive good answers, I share those with my followers as well because I know others out there may be asking the same questions I am.
  7. Be transparent. There is always a lot of talk about “transparency in social media,” but what does that really mean? I believe it means starting with honesty and being open; handling even difficult conversations in public as long as the only thing at risk is your own reputation. If you are doing good things, honesty and transparency are not a problem. If not, beware.
  8. Take your time. We all seem to be in a rush, rush, rush wanting things now, now, now. Calm down. Slow down. You don’t have to hit 500 Twitter followers in your first month out of the gate. You don’t have to have 1,000 or 10,000 people liking your Facebook Page in three months. Sure, it might happen, but you’ll gain more friends, fans, and followers who really care about you by taking your time to care about them. Success in social media is not about accumulation; it’s about meaningful interactions.
  9. Make connections. We have a job to do. We have something to sell. We are keenly focused on our own goals and objectives in business. But when you enter social media channels, the focus needs to be on everyone you’re trying to reach. While some people will tolerate your broadcasts of news, articles and information — and a few may even welcome them — most people are using Twitter, Facebook, and other networks to make connections with people as well as discover useful information. Embrace those connections.
  10. Smile. What attracts people? A positive attitude. Even when something goes awry in your Twitterstream or you come across dialogue that feels like a backlash, be positive, thoughtful and look at the situation as an opportunity to showcase your honesty, transparency and caring. Everyone makes mistakes and people are more forgiving of those who own up to their mistakes and to be open to conversations about how to remedy the mistakes. Feel criticized in social media channels? Smile, thank others for their feedback, and think long and hard about what is being said about you or your company. There are lessons to be learned.

Social media channels and tools merely provide us more ways we can connect — they aren’t leading us to entirely new and different things that we’ve never seen before, but they are doing it in interesting, new ways.

How are you really connecting with others through social media?

First image by stock.xchng user cobrasoft

Second image by stock.xchng user hoefi

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise

25 Responses to “10 Ways to Really Connect Through Social Media”

  1. These are some great thoughts Aliza. Social media is so new and changing all the time that companies often get overwhelemed and confused on how to best use it. I think your points about really listening to your customers and responding are great- customers will definitely respect your company more if they know that you’re genuinely listening to them.

  2. Thanks Aliza for your thoughtful commentary. I especially enjoyed the skilled way you tied your thoughts together. Yes, we have never had this many opportunities to connect & communicate before. How easy it is to find a group of people w similar interests to interact with. Why not explore in-depth subjects & thought leaders piquing our interest than to rate ourselves on quantity of comments.

  3. Thanks for such a clear and focused article I particularly liked what you had to say about transparency:

    “Be transparent…I believe it means starting with honesty and being open; handling even difficult conversations in public as long as the only thing at risk is your own reputation. If you are doing good things, honesty and transparency are not a problem. If not, beware.”

    When it comes down to it, you could have the other nine pegged, but eventually, lack of transparency/inauthenticity will bring down everything else and after that your original message is at worst sunk, at best, on hold until you can remediate your brand and people’s trust.

  4. Great advice Aliza.
    I try to do all of these things both for myself and for my company, so I’m glad I’m on the right track =) (whether or not I’m doing them well is another story j/k)


    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  5. Great advice! I don’t seem to have much success with Social Alert, but I love my Google Alerts. All in all there’s some great suggestions here that many – established and new folks – could benefit from. I think a lot of times we forget to interact and just spit out whatever we might be thinking or experiencing at that moment (or is this just me?)


  6. Great insight.
    You’re right that people often are in so much rush to increase there number of followers that they don’t even think what they’re talking about. And some people even creat a sense of obligation,that if they have an account they “have to tweet” even they end up tweeting about meaningless thing.
    This article really change my view on social accounts.

  7. atomic

    “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want to be done unto you.” is false.
    It’s “Do onto others as they WOULD WANT YOU to do onto them”. A huge difference…. what I like may be different than what you like.

  8. Thank you. This is very useful information for anyone using social media. I am just getting started with a blog and have been feeling overwhemed with all the different social media channels out there. This has re-focused me on what is important, for me that is connecting with people in a meaningful and valuable way.

  9. John Jorgensen

    Good post and points well taken. One thing not listed there is to use the ultimate social media tool. Pick up the phone or meet people in person. That will cement any connection created in the netherworld of the internet in a real fashion.

  10. Very good advice!

    It all boils down to being human. The most important relationship advice ever is “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want to be done unto you.” That advice applies in the social media realm as well.

    If you put your humanity forward and respect other people’s humanity as well,I’m really not that worried about you thriving in social media.