6 Tips to Get Started Networking on Social Media Sites

by Sherryl Perry on March 20, 2012

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How do you get started building an online presence on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? How do you build confidence, trust and name/face-recognition online? Your brand encompasses your image, your logo, your colors, the URL of your website and your user-ID (whether it be your Twitter username, your ID on Facebook or YouTube or your user name on forums). Every time you contribute or are seen online, it’s an opportunity to build your brand. Here are 6 tips to help get you started:

#1: Pick your Username

Your user name is a part of your brand. If you’re branding yourself, you may want to consider registering your name as your username. If you’re planning on building a brand that is representative of a service or product, you may want to build your brand around a name that’s more generic. Since Twitter limits your usernames (only 15 characters), I recommend reserving your name there first. (A good site for researching available usernames is KnowEm.com.)

#2: Create a Globally Recognized Avatar

Ever notice that some of the people who leave comments always have their profile picture and others have a generic default icon? Having your profile pic automatically populate when you leave a comment is a big advantage when it comes to building your brand online. It helps people to recognize you and this helps to build trust. As soon as you’ve decided on your user name, go to Gravatar.com and create your free globally recognized avatar. (You’ll need your user name, your email address, the URL of your website and a profile pic. The default size for your picture is 80px by 80px.)

#3: Reserve your Username on Multiple Social Media Websites

Even if you have no intention of ever having a presence on a specific social networking site, it’s a good idea to create a profile and reserve your username on all of the popular sites. If you don’t reserve your username, someone else could. The last thing any of us needs is to have a competitor reserve our name and either cause damage to our reputation or steal our website traffic. After you reserve your name, be sure to update your profile with keyword rich descriptions. Most social media sites give you the opportunity to list the URL for your website.  This could provide you with a valuable backlink to your site (if it’s “dofollow” and the search engines can index it).

#4: Identify which Sites You Want to Build your Presence On

Hopefully, you have a good idea of who your target customers/clients are. You should also know who else is active in your niche. Who are your competitors? Who offers non-competitive but complimentary products and services to your customers? (For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, look for florists, caterers and function halls.) Networking online is very similar to networking face to face. You want to be where your customers are and then create your presence there. Knowing where your competitors are and where the perceived experts are can help you narrow down which sites are the most relevant for you.

#5: Implement Tools to Automate

I am not a fan of automating social media in general. In particular, I don’t care for automatic direct messages in Twitter thanking me for the follow with a link to their Facebook page. I’d like to get to know you first before I run around following you on other networks. The sort of tools that I do recommend for automation involve scheduling tools such as HootSuite and BufferApp for scheduling posts. I’m also a fan of Dlvr.It or TwitterFeed for automatically feeding my blog (and the blogs of other bloggers) into social networking sites.

#6: Develop a Strategy for using Social Media

As with everything we do in business, it’s important to have a plan in place along with specific goals that we’re trying to achieve and systems to track our results. Along with Google Analytics, I recommend keeping a spreadsheet to track your social networking efforts. Use this to track strategic moves and as a checklist for submitting your posts after publishing.

What are your thoughts? Which social media sites are you the most active on and why? What are your favorite tools for networking online?

Sherryl Perry is an online marketing consultant and blogger at KeepUpWiththeWeb.com. You can follow her on Twitter @KeepUpWeb.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Doreen Pendgracs
Twitter:
March 21, 2012 at 2:19 am

Thanks for the terrific guest blog, Sherryl.
I really agree with you about having an avatar (pic/image) with which people can identify you. I really don’t understand people who prefer to hide behind an eggshell shaped image instead of showing their smiling face.

And I agree that we can’t be effective on all platforms so we have to pick which ones we will focus on and do it well. Thanks again for sharing your tips.
Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..public transportation: friend or foe?My Profile

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Linda
Twitter:
March 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Doreen, this is a great post, just the kind of info I need. I’m trying to figure out how to make Twitter work for me. Haven’t had the time to really play around with it yet and find the platform quite baffling. I see I’ve already broken your first rule about the username. Hopefully I can go in and fix that. Oh…but then what happens to the few follower I have? Hmmm.

I need to understand how write effective Tweets. I feel like I’ve jumped into the ocean without a life jacket! Maybe you have some posts that address this issue? I shall have to investigate.

Thanks again for this topic.
Linda recently posted..This time I saw Jesus’ son; What? I didn’t know he had one!My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 24, 2012 at 9:58 am

Hi Linda,
I’m glad you found my post valuable. If you’d like to change your username, here are the steps (from the Twitter help center): http://bit.ly/GMJ184.

One of their suggestions is to send a tweet out first letting your followers know that you’re going to do this. Your followers will see your same pic with your new name. (BTW – I just followed you.)

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Doreen Pendgracs
Twitter:
March 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Hey, Linda, thanks for dropping by. Yes, Sherryl has left us some great tips.

I’m now following you on Twitter as well. It really is a great platform. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..public transportation: friend or foe?My Profile

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blog August 31, 2013 at 7:09 am

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Lubna March 25, 2012 at 6:27 am

A very useful post.

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Imogen Ragone
Twitter:
March 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Great tips, Sherryl. I think getting your avatar set up with pic is really important, and makes anything you post, anywhere, have much more weight somehow. I really need to get going with some automation tools – just for scheduling as you suggest. I do think it’s very important to be actually engaging – networking – for real. And I agree about that automated direct message from Twitter – I pretty much ignore them when I get them.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Exactly Imogen. People like to do business with people they like. Having your profile pic builds recognition as well as brand awareness. The more we get to know someone, the greater the chance of our doing business with them. It goes back to the marketing phrase top-of-mind-awareness. Thanks for taking the time to let us know your thoughts on this.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
March 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I have struggled with whether I should be using my name on Twitter. As I am coming up to some shifts in focus (not abandoning anything but expanding), I’m wondering about that issue. Unfortunately, my name – even with just a first initial and no hyphen – is one letter too long. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Thanks for great tips – happily, I’m on my way with many of them already. It’s always nice to have some things in place as you learn more.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer
http://www.thereflectivewriter.com
Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

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WizardOfWords
Twitter:
March 26, 2012 at 8:44 am

Hi Judy: Thanks for dropping by the blog. I think it’s your first visit!

Yes, we can never stop learning what we need to know to be more effective with social media.

Sherryl may have more to add re your points, but I don’t use my name on my Twitter account either. She has advised me to do so and I may, but I’ve had the moniker “wizard of words” for a long time on my website and many people know me by that. I may set up a new Twitter account when my new book comes out and devote it entirely to chocolate exploration. Cheers, and please do stop by again soon.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

Judy and Doreen, I think branding yourselves as ReflectiveWrite and WizardofWords is perfectly fine. Those are umbrellas that represent multiple facets of you. My Twitter username is keepupweb (although I do have SherrylPerry and TheSherrylPerry usernames reserved). My reasoning was that the spelling of my name is unusual. So, when I started, I decided to register a username that brands my blog. While I build recognition of my brand, I am also subtly building name recognition for Sherryl Perry. (Sherryl Perry is keepupweb.) Both of you are doing the same thing. When I see your usernames, your profile pics or your real names, I immediately recognize who you are and all the other elements fall together. The three of us are building brand recognition of both what we do (bloggers, writers, resources) and who we are.

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Dennis Salvatier
Twitter:
March 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I will always stand by twitter. It’s been the best tool for getting people to read my blog. I’ve met some great people and created some wonderful relationships. I think the hard thing is deciding on which platforms to use, because there isn’t enough time in the day to use them all. Great overview post, Sherryl.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Thanks Dennis. I’m glad to hear that Twitter works well for you. When I first started blogging, it was my number one source for referral traffic for at least that first year.. Now, Twitter is usually 7th or 8th but I believe it’s due to my efforts to build my community. I spend more time now engaging in conversations and that’s difficult to do on Twitter.

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Supinti Plaukai March 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Wow… Great tips Sherryl.. This will surely help me in quick starting networking on social media sites. Appreciated…

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

You’re welcome Supinti. I look forward to seeing your smiling face after you create your Gravatar. That is so important to help start building recognition.

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Rich April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

#6 is the most important tip I feel. A couple of years ago when I started my blog I also built a Facebook page for it because that’s what people did. However, because I didn’t have a plan on how to tie it in with my blog and various promotions it’s really become a list of 4,000+ non-responsive people and now I’m trying to get more involved with it and re-build relationships, that at this point I think are probably already lost. I highly suggest having a plan in place on how to integrate everything as part of an overall strategy.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Rich. It’s always helpful to learn from each others experiences. I’ve heard of horror stories about being spammed by following people on Twitter indiscriminately but I had not heard of someone who had acquired over 4,000 “non-responsive” fans on Facebook. It would be difficult to try to form relationships on a one-on-one level but depending on what your call to action is maybe you could still engage them with a special offer just for them.

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WizardOfWords
Twitter:
April 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Thanks again to Sherryl for the terrific guest post, and for monitoring the comments during my absence. I’ll have a new post for all later this week.

Rich, I’d like to suggest adding the social media buttons/icons to your blog/website. Your FB page isn’t even mentioned there, and so a good place to start in integrating your online presence would be to link them all together, so that people can find and follow you where they choose. Also, asking them questions in your posts seems to garner more responses and two-way conversations on your blog. Good luck!

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Rich April 4, 2012 at 8:09 am

I’ll definitely try to improve the call to action. I get responses from a couple hundred people from Facebook, you’d just think there would be more with that many fans. I’m sure it’s because there were some points in time when I wasn’t posting in a predictable pattern. Thanks for the followup and suggestions; it’s much appreciated.

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Breville Citrus Press April 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Hey Doreen,

This is a very useful post. I didn’t know that we can reserve a username in the social networking site. I don’t have an account in Twitter as of now. But I would love to reserve a username and use it whenever I want.

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Paul Forrest
Twitter:
April 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Hi Sherryl and Doreen. That was very useful. As a result of this post I am now signed up with Gravatar. Some really useful tips there. Thanks.

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WizardOfWords
Twitter:
April 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Thanks, Paul. Great to have you onboard with the blog. And yes, I really appreciate Sherryl’s insights. She has certainly helped get this blog in order for me. I’m loving it!

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Lanre
Twitter:
April 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Hi Sherryl, your post really states points that I never took note of when I started out on the internet. I got overwhelmed with all the social networks that ineffectiveness was the order of the day. Now, I can say I have made my social pick and I’m trying to build my brand.

I love Hootsuite too, though it has been some time since I last used it. As for the Gravatar, that’s definitely something I need to implement, ‘cos I don’t have one yet.
Thanks for the tips, I love them. And thanks Doreen for hosting this guest post.
Lanre recently posted..Two Lessons from Mind GurusMy Profile

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social network
Twitter:
May 5, 2012 at 1:49 am

Thanks for share this nice information….

This is important, don’t forget that we live in the world where info quickly enhances the quality of our life. Make use of the Internet and search for income opportunity you need this type of info.

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noel June 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Thanks for all tips given above. i have a blog and i except make money with my blog. I will use now one name for my facebook, twitter and other social media site. i would also increase my knowledge in marketing now so that i can make a success in social media and get a lot of traffic.
noel recently posted..What Is Hitachi Magic Wand?My Profile

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WizardOfWords
Twitter:
June 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Thanks for your comments on the blog, Noel.

Social media is complicated and multi-layered. It’s important to find the right platform that works best for you. Stay tuned (and subscribe) for more tips!

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jack June 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

In preparing your strategy, it is important to remember that social media is in most cases not going to be the be all and end all for your businesses. One lot of recent data from online retailers in the US suggested that less than 2 per cent of orders were directly attributable from customers coming from a social network. However, social networking is becoming an increasingly vital part of the marketing mix as a loyal long-term relationship with your customers can be a key element of their final purchase decisions.

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WizardOfWords
Twitter:
June 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jack.

For me as an author, the social media mix is essential. Especially with the growing force of e-books!

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