I doubt many of you haven’t heard of the use of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace in building networks and connecting with others.
They are of real value in not only this, but in storing, recording and sharing files, gaining access to information, being inspired, engaging in discussion, advertisÂing, receiving advice from experts in your field, making announcements and sharing updates. Of course, all of this will prove very significant for promoting yourself and your work.
There are so many relatively novel things that has been brought along with social media that will enable you to put your self promotional efforts into super-drive.
What is social media, and where does networking fit in?
Social media is media that is shared through online social interaction.
Highly accessible and scalable publishing platforms like Facebook, Digg, and Twitter have enabled for this kind of interaction to take place on a huge and ever-growing scale.
Social networking sites form part of the social media arena, but are more specifically tailored and structured for networking. All social media sites enable networking and interaction to varying levels, for example, social bookmarkÂing/news sites like Delicious, Digg and StumbleUpon, which are primarily for internet users to share, search and manage bookmarks of sites, as opposed to being primarily used for networking (more social networking and bookmarking sites are listed in the back of this book in sections R13 and R14).
The methods in this particular step focus on four of the current main social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.
The exciting thing about it all is the rate at which social media sites are growing, particularly the current big networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
At the time of writing, Facebook is the second most visited site on the planet, with well over 300 million registered users. Both MySpace and Twitter’s traffic levels are in the top fifteen of all sites, with Twitter’s rate of growth at a staggerÂing 1,382% year-on-year in February 2009 (source: mashable.com). LinkedIn has over 50 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries and territories across the globe.
So, you can see that engaging with these networking platforms, having access to the millions of active and targeted members within them, and addressing all four stages in the sales cycle in the process, can potentially yield some signifiÂcant benefits for boosting promotion and attracting clients, if harnessed properly.
I’m going to run through how to get set up effectively with each of the main social networking sites starting with Facebook. You don’t need to get set up on all of them, but doing so will greatly benefit your promotional campaign.
We’ll look at exactly how to set up and best optimize your accounts on these sites to best make use of them.
Getting set up with Facebook
What exactly is Facebook, and why would I use it for promotion?
Facebook is essentially an online means to network with friends, fans and colÂleagues.
It’s primary components are the homepage, containing aggregated updates from all your contacts, your profile page, containing your information, your activity and your wall. In effectively promoting yourself through Facebook, we will be focusing on setting up a fan page as well, which is to have a place to drive your fans without a limit, whereas there is a limit on the number of friends you can have (currently 5000).
What Facebook enables you to do is connect with relevant and key people; build relationships with them; create exposure in front of them; expand your network; build traffic to your sites; showcase and store your work and other content, and much more. We will be treating Facebook purely as a marketing tool here, and don’t worry about mixing private and public elements, as we will come to that.
With so many members, you’ll need to use Facebook and its tools in just the right ways, in order to make use of its promotional power.
Set up your personal profile
It is important to have properly set up a profile page for the purposes of adding credibility and building trust amongst those you engage with on Facebook. It also acts as the platform from which you add new contacts as friends, so that you can grow your network.
If you haven’t yet got a personal profile on Facebook, i.e. you don’t have an account, go to Facebook.com and fill in the details it asks for.
If you don’t want a personal profile, and simply want to set up a business page, you can click the link below the sign up area that says: ‘to create a page for a celebrity, band or business, click here’.
Add a decent profile picture, ideally of your face and one that you use consisÂtently in association with all your online promotional work.
Add a mini bio in the box beneath your picture. Click on the pencil symbol and, in the first person, briefly introduce yourself and the work you do. You could add a brief description of your referral policy and link to your site’s referral policy declaration on your base.
Fill in the information on the info page including your web links. Put your links within your website contact details in the info tab, as well as in the sidebar bio box on the left beneath your personal introduction if you want (not forgetting to use the full web address including http://, otherwise they won’t work).
I would recommend putting in your interests, favourite films and so on in there, for the sake of appearing human and building trust. Having a personal feel will make it more likely for people to confirm you as a friend/contact later on when they check out your profile before confirming.
Privacy settings: Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Profile Information to make sure your profile privacy is addressed. You might want to hide personal photos from people you add, and you can customize exactly who it is that sees certain photos.
You can tailor your privacy very specifically with Facebook, so tweak the settings so that you are happy with everything. I would suggest allowing new people to post on your wall, as this encourages interaction and relationship building, and will come up on that person’s news feed whenever they interact too, creating further exposure for your own wall. You can always delete unnecÂessary posts from others.
Have a look through the other privacy settings including Privacy Settings > Search and make sure you are visible to everyone searching for you and that you allow your profile to be indexed in public search results on search engines (unless you want to remain more private, then have this box unchecked).
Put together a photo or video album that contains the best of your portfolio or other work-related media for all to see. You would do this by clicking on the Photos tab and choosing to Create a Photo Album or clicking the + tab, scrolling to the video icon, then choosing to Upload Video.
Get rid of unnecessary clutter from your profile page, especially games and unnecessary applications. You need to view Facebook as a fairly personal but still professional web presence for your brand.
Set up options to import content from some sites through the Options button above your profile wall > Settings then choosing sites you have a presence on that you want to import from, and entering your sign up details so that they can be recognized as your accounts.
Import your blog feed to your profile wall. In the search bar, search for ‘Notes‘and with ‘Applications‘ highlighted, click View Application next to the Notes application then Go to Application. On this page, go to Import a Blog and enter the blog site or blog feed address (which you set up at feedburner.com) into the box and click Start Importing and then once happy with the feed preview Confirm Import.
Add relevant apps by searching for apps within the search bar and being sure ‘Applications’ is highlighted in the menu on the left. You might want to add your Twitter feed or your LinkedIn profile to your profile for example.
You can add these newly installed apps to your boxes tab or elsewhere on your profile. One way of doing this is by clicking the + button on your tabs bar above your wall, and finding the app to incorporate into your profile. Think about apps that will add value and relevant content to your profile, as these will ultimately be seen on the news feeds being seen by your contacts.
Add a mailing list opt-in box to your profile by searching for and installing the app called profile html. Copy and paste the opt-in box code given to you by your mailing list auto-responder service like Aweber into the application’s profile box (as opposed to the tab, so that it appears in your profile’s sidebar), preview to test, then submit. You may have to play around a bit with the design so that it fits.
If you find your opt-in box does not appear on your wall, but in your opt-in box’s tab, just click the pencil that appears on the tab, and select Move to Wall Tab.
Customize your Facebook homepage
This is the default non-profile area which you see on clicking either the Facebook logo button top left, or the Home button in the header. This area shows the combined updates and feeds of all your contacts in a micro-blog format, with newest updates at the top. It is also a place where you can keep track of upcoming birthdays and events, as well as various requests.
Set up friends lists
Especially once you have many key contacts, you’ll want to get in front of specific people and you’ll want to have a news feed on your home page that is not full of clutter and unhelpful updates.
Setting up lists allows you to sort people into groups, whose updates you can show or hide as you specify. You’ll want to make a list of people that you purÂposefully want to interact with and engage.
Click Friends in the menu on the left side of your homepage and click the button that says Create a list. Add your key contacts to the list from your list of already confirmed friends. These could be potential clients, key influencers in your industry, potential referrers, enthusiastic fans and so on. You might want to leave this until later, when you have more relevant people added to your Facebook network as friends.
Once saved, this list will appear in the left sidebar under Friends and can be selected when you want to view the feed of your relevant people, instead of viewing a mashup of everyone you know on Facebook.
Set up your fan page
A fan page is an area where businesses and organizations have a presence on Facebook, which its fans and followers use to stay connected them. A fan page also applies to you, as a freelancer or your company, as a means to promote yourself.
Fan pages are great for addressing the second stage in the sales cycle: securing contacts that you can connect with and building relationships with. I like to see fan pages as your secondary mailing list, as it allows for contacts to effectively subscribe to content you are posting up and it allows for you to contact fans. You should see fan pages as a means to secure new contacts and remind people of your presence, and your mailing list as a more concrete and effective means to communicate and share content.
You do not need to be a friend on Facebook with someone for them to be your fan.
Click on Advertising, at the bottom of any page within Facebook. Making sure you are in the ‘Pages’ area, click Create Page.
For the category of your page, choose one that suits what you do, for example ‘visual artist’.
For the name of your page, make sure you choose this well and include some keywords that relate to your work. You will not be able to change this in future once this has been saved. The great thing about fan pages, that you won’t get with groups and events, is that they get indexed by Google, based on keywords and the activity within them.
If you are a digital artist, for example, you might want the page name: ‘John Smith, Digital Artist and Photoshop Expert’. Now click Create Page to be taken to the new page.
Add a picture that represents you or your work, ideally a decent picture of you if the page focuses on your services.
Get your settings just right by clicking on Edit Page within the fan page, then clicking Edit under ‘Wall Settings’ and choosing Posts by Page and Fans as the default view for the wall, as this will allow better interaction with your fans.
Change your ‘Default landing tab’ to Info, which means that when people first arrive at your fan page, they will see all your details and juicy information straight away, before moving to other tabs if they choose.
Have all the boxes within ‘Posting ability’ checked, as you want to encourage as much interaction with fans as possible.
Have a look through all the other fan page settings on this page and edit them the way you want if you like, but generally everything should be ok to leave at this stage.
Add your information by clicking the Info tab on the page itself, and clicking Edit Information. Fill in the boxes, including adding your full web addresses, making sure you introduce what exactly it is you do, where you are based, what sets you apart and how you will benefit your clients. This will be the first thing people will see when they come to your fan page, so make sure it provides information in a succinct and interesting way.
Add a brief introduction to your service in the box to the left, under the picture, and include your site/s underneath, clearly spaced out, and in full.
Add the best of your work to the Photos tab by uploading an album so that visitors can see your work within Facebook itself. If you have other forms of media, consider clicking the + tab and searching for applications (either default ones or ones you have previously added) that allow you to add in other formats, such as video.
If you are about to launch your page, you might add some media files to the wall, so that they are seen for a while when people come to your wall. To do this, click on the relevant icons under the ‘What’s on your mind’ wall comment box and attach the media you want, such as a picture that will be posted on your wall. Remember that your wall acts like a blog, so that new content at the top of the wall will constantly replace older stuff.
Import your blog to your wall, which is described in the section on your profile, previously.
Incorporate your mailing list opt-in box to your fan page. You do this by firstly installing the app ‘Static FBML’, which means Facebook Markup Language and allows you to add code to your page.
Run a search for Static FBML in the Facebook search bar. Click the app and add to your page.
Then, go back into your page, (which you can find by typing it into the search bar, or going to your homepage and clicking Ads and Pages and finding it under ‘Pages, and going into ‘edit page’, and selecting the FBML app > ‘edit’.Name the box and drop in the code you acquired from your auto-responder, such as Aweber. Click Save Changes.
Your opt-in box will appear as part of the tabs, but you can transfer the box to the more visible side-bar by selecting the pencil icon and choosing Move to Wall Tab. Again, like with your profile opt-in box, you might need to tweak the design for it to fit properly within your fan page.
Now, you should be basically fully set up with Facebook to make the most of promoting yourself and networking through it, which I’ll explain in Step 6.
The 200+ page book is going to be launched on March 10th and it’s a must read for every designer, blog owner and any creative soul working in the social web. Grab it at the launch for a special price!
If you’re not fully leveraging the power of Facebook, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most businesses are just now getting started with Facebook.
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It’s the web’s largest online Facebook marketing conference. Go here for a free sample and to learn more