Social Media: Winning the Popularity Contest (by guest blogger Frank Anderson)

Like high school, the world of social media can be cruel and quite intimidating for some people. Here are some insightful tips to help find yourself on the top of the social media scale.

Join the issues that will bond your relationship with the popular forums.

Ask yourself, “What do I want out of Social Media?”, “What activities will I benefit the most from?” If you’re a a small business, perhaps this means creating a blog allowing you to communicate with your customers/clients directly. If you are looking to network online with people who share similar interests, a niche social network like Linkedln can be the right place to start. Above anything, it is important to realize that the process of integration may not, and most likely will not, be easy. Popularity is not something you can do in your spare time or when you feel like it, not in the fiercely competitive environment that social media has proved itself to be. The conversation has already started and is well underway. It is your choice to get involved, or not. Just like the first day of school, take a deep breath and go for it.

To ensure you make the team, do your research.

Research what exactly? Your competition. A rich history of experience has guided us to discover how to formulate variables to predict the winners of elections or the outcome of opinion polls. Social media integration is no different. Researching past behavior and platforms that have proven successful can help guide you towards the next flavor of online success. To begin, get a grasp of the landscape to identify where you need to be looking. Think about the different outlets –  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, the list is endless… that are most pertinent to your specific space. While the purpose of research is to inform action, it is important to only act in a capacity that inevitably proves worthy to your ultimate goal.  Don’t hypothesize on what the leaders in the space would do, experience what they are doing at this moment. Just as you relate to your peers, you must relate to your competition. Get to know them. If there is any secret of success, it’s found in the ability to see things from another’s point of view. Exhibiting a healthy interest in the action of others is an essential ingredient in forming a powerful marketing effort. The average crowd proves more interested in his/her own name than in all others’ combined. But who ever strives for average?

Dress for success.

In the world of social integration, your first impression may very well be your last. Social media is no exception. Today’s norm of split-second clicks leaves no room for the face of your company to be anything short of utterly fantastic. When you run a business online, your website should, in the very least, be well-executed, eye-catching, and easy to navigate. You don’t want to be caught looking like an amateur. What makes a website dynamic? Don’t know where to start? Ask. Rarely do we consider the opportunity we miss as a result of hiding our shortcomings. Sometimes one needs the creativity and skill of a professionally-trained designer to market and promote successfully. Regardless of what your means of original conception might be, a sexy, easy-to-navigate page layout complimented by text markup will win every time against the careless, cringe-worthy sites we’ve all seen before. Instead, spend the extra effort and if need be, dig a little further into your pockets, to create a website that promotes something new and fresh. You will already be starting with the advantage.

Be confident.

Similarly to the shy crowd in the corner, the more introverted of online presences are often overlooked. It can be difficult to network with confidence when you are new to the social media game. If all you do is dream about the success you might one day exhibit, you will sadly most likely miss the opportunities needed to make them. You can continue to come up with endless excuses as to why this moment isn’t right, or the time is too soon to be proactive. But where will that philosophy leave you? Instead, make networking a priority, and confidence an unwavering mindset. The success of your business endeavors directly depends on the network you form with the reputation you create for yourself. Socialize with everyone! Socialize everywhere! And while at first you might have to “fake it ‘til you make it”, this mantra will one day hopefully lead to nothing short of the real deal.

Don’t lie. False guarantees will find you checked off.

While holding a greater vision for your business is valuable, it is more imperative to know your limits and grow in a healthy manner.  In social media, companies canno longer be fake and get away with it. People talk, and with the expanse of communication through online forums, liars will not be successful for long. With the fear of being forgotten and ignored comes the temptation to skew or exaggerate one’s abilities. While herding followers using whatever means necessary might appear enticing in the moment, this risky tactic will no doubt lead to a devastating downfall. Worse still, you’ll have only yourself to blame. You don’t have to look very far to see how a liar will inevitably end up in the opinion of their peers. Just as in life, navigating the world of social media starts with respect.

Just as we all navigated high school at one time or another, we now find ourselves in the digital clique otherwise known as social media. If being popular is not going to lead you or your business to the utmost satisfaction then forget it and focus elsewhere – life is too short to be anything but happy. But I think we can all honestly admit being on top feels pretty dang good.

 

Frank Anderson is a social media and technology writer and blogger.  He works with emailexchangehosting at the company WebHosting.net.

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