There are many social networking opportunities and you need to use your analytical and listening tools to see which ones will work for you. Do a few well rather than having a presence everywhere. Social Networking is an ongoing activity so finding what works and investing in it makes the most sense. Today I am going to discuss building relationships using Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr.
Twitter – Like a huge party of people you don’t know*
Twitter is easy to get started with - you can follow anyone without asking their permission. You literally build your network 140 characters at a time. If you are tweeting for an organization make sure you do the following:
1. Use your organizational logo or personal picture as your avatar (No one wants to follow faceless people with the Twitter double zero as an avatar)
2. List your website or blog URL
3. Show brief (160 character limit) organizational description under Bio.
4. Post a couple of “Tweets” before you begin to build your network – an introduction and perhaps one about an event or article on your blog.
When you follow people, they will get an email with a link to your twitter profile and they will see the four things listed above. This is how they will decide whether or not to follow you. There are several easy ways that Twitter will help you Find People (click this option on Twitter) and you can begin to follow them right away. Chances are a high percentage of them will follow you soon.
Use the search feature with the # hashtag to find others you would like to follow with a similar interest –for example, search #nonprofit or #hunger.
Once you have some followers you want them to retweet (RT) your tweets and you will extend your network further. That is why so many people love Twitter - everything is short, sweet and to the point. Good ways to get a RT are:
• Announce an event happening soon - in the next few days
• Provide a link to a great article
• RT other tweets
A great way to build a Twitter network is to take advantage of #followfriday. On Friday, Twitterers post who they follow. Make sure you post who you follow and others will add you to their #followfriday post. Oh wait a minute...today is Friday...follow me today and I’ll include you in a #followfriday post....See you can get started building your network today..
Posting frequently is key to being successful with Twitter - but its only 140 characters and can be spontaneous. Remember its a huge party - have fun!
LinkedIn - Like a Chamber of Commerce mixer*
LinkedIn is an effective place to develop a professional network – both locally and further afield. You can only add people you already know so this is a much more intimate relationship than Twitter. You know more people than you think – LinkedIn will also help you find people you know who are on LinkedIn but you need to invite them to join your network. Once they accept you can see all of their connections and you probably will find more people that you know to invite into your network. If you have followers on Twitter, go ahead and invite them - they are people you know. Visit LinkedIn every day and your homepage will have connection updates of people in your network and you’ll find more people who you know and can invite to join your network. You can add applications and see a blogroll of recent posts by bloggers in your network or slide presentations posted on Slideshare. Use this app, and you can access a recent presentation of mine on Online Giving and Social Networking. I have found a great way to extend my network is to join groups and initiate discussions and comment on other discussions.
LinkedIn can be used for developing professional relationships, keeping current on issues, driving traffic to your blog, and posting job openings and events. Once you have an established network, you can post about your events, issues and accomplishments. You may even find potential board members this way – all through your existing network.
Flickr – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Set up a Flickr account, upload pictures, tag each picture and make sure your pictures are under creative commons so that anyone can copy and post them. You can show a thumbnail Flickr photostream on your website and blog and anyone can click on the whole set of pictures. Encourage people to take your pictures and use them in a blog or facebook post about your organization. Having others use your pictures is the goal – make sure your captions “capture the spirit of the photo.” Have some pictures that include your name. I know a blogger that posts a picture from their Flickr Photostream with a caption every Wednesday with a blog post title "Wordless Wednesday." What a great idea - Keep your blog current in a quick, easy and wonderful way.
*Descriptions of Twitter and LinkedIn compliments of Hildy Gottlieb
Link to Hildy's article on Twitter
Link to Hildy's article on LinkedIn
Link John Haydon's(Super Nonprofit Socia Media Guru) free e-book Twitter Jump Start Guide for Non-profits
Whew! – That’s enough for now. Next up I’ll write about using Social Networking for Advocacy and Fundraising.