Smile and the world smiles with you

I sent a card to someone the other day with the caption “Smile and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone”. There’s an analogy to be drawn with use of social media. Be engaging and people will be drawn to you, be a bore and they’ll leave.

How to make friends and influence people on social media isn’t about broadcasting your latest event/product/service achievement. Rather, it happens through conversations and interactions with a wide range of people, however irrelevant they might at first appear to your business.

As with face to face networking, how to make friends and influence people is often achieved by other people’s recommendation. On social media recommendations are created simply through others creating social signals by ‘Liking’ your page, ‘Retweeting’ your Tweets, ‘Connecting’ with you or ‘Following’ your company page on LinkedIn etc.

If you’re not out there interacting with other people then the solution of how to make friends and influence people on social media is going to be much harder to achieve.

Broadcasting about your business, any more than crowing in social situations, is not the way to court success. Engaging in a relaxed and unforced manner is more likely to result in people being drawn to you in the first place, sowing the seed of being ‘connected’.

The bus-stop conversation

man sitting in bus shelterExplaining to clients about how to start using Twitter, I use the analogy of people exchanging pleasantries with familiar faces at a bus-stop. Whilst you wouldn’t necessarily bid a stranger “good morning”, you might be more likely to if the person was someone already encountered a couple of times.

On social media the process of influencing people can often start with a simple “hello”, which could be an answer to a Tweet, a comment on a blog, a mention in a LinkedIn update. Let the people you meet tell other people about you and what you do, through their creation of social signals, which they’re more likely to do if there’s been some kind of previous ‘connection’.

Social interactions can benefit in the longer term

Most of us have probably been in situations where a basic level of familiarity has been established with someone without knowing much more about them. In fact there can be a level of comfort to be gained in understanding you can be social without having to actually become ‘friends’.

As with neighbours, who you’re aware of but do not really know, connections made on social media will be more likely to help you, if asked. Why? Because you both belong to the same community and have perhaps nodded/exchanged a few words in passing, which in itself creates some kind of connection and has made you memorable to one another.

Working in this way on social media networks can build tenuous, but valuable, connections which are more likely to respond positively to a request/invitation. Connections made weeks or months earlier can be brought back into play, at a later date, to help you get your message out to a wider audience.

When you have a blog post to promote, or a new product or service to introduce then you’re more likely to find that the  community you’ve spent time building will help spread the word, especially if you’ve helped them in similar ways.

It’s what’s behind the smile that counts

When we meet someone face to face we are presented with facial features to respond to, which we learn to read fairly accurately and act upon. If someone smiles at us we tend to smile back, but of course on social media no-one can see you smiling at them, so you have to create content to do it for you.

Smiling on social media can be courted through all manner from simply saying “good morning” to people you’ve exchanged tweets with (the bus-stop conversation model) or sharing of quotes, images, video’s to raise a smile and perhaps even a RT (retweet) could be a conversation starter?

Being social is all about engaging with people

A strategy can be developed to keep engagement going with people you feel could be useful to your cause, either as a prospective customer or as someone who in well ‘placed’ to broaden your potential reach. Of course managing these interactions can be more challenging as your list of contacts/connections/followers grow.

For example, the more people you follow the faster your Twitter stream moves, which can make it almost impossible to catch the Tweets of people you’re really interested in engaging with. This is where Twitter Lists can be really helpful, enabling you to assign people to groups which you can ‘check into’ on a regular basis. NB You can make your list private, if you don’t want people to see who’s in a particular list. Here’s some help with creating Twitter lists, if you don’t know how to set them up.

How to make time to be social on social media

The question of ‘having time’ is one I find people many business owners are concerned with. They may recognise the need/value/benefits to be gained from interactions on social media, but they’re running a business as well.

How to make friends and influence people actually doesn’t have to be hard work if the end result becomes part of a natural process of reaching out to people in the course of your day-to-day activities.

If you can take time out to do lunch with a prospective clients, or attend a networking event which takes 2 or 3 hours out of your day or evening…How to make friends and influence people on social media probably takes less time.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy! Yes, that’s where I enter into the frame, helping businesses actually recognise what tools are required to deliver returns from online marketing and how to create successful web content. If you’d like a chat about this you can contact me in various ways. (Why not try the speak pipe, it’s fun – look right!) Or send me a tweet @SusanCollini

What next?

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Other posts that might be of interest:

How to set up a Twitter account

What you can learn at the Dentist about websites

How to make your website impress Google

What is social media marketing?

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