Online Social Networks - Part 4: Optimizing True Social Networks Like MySpace, Facebook & Ning
When most people hear the words "MySpace" and "Facebook", they're most likely to think of these in terms of their teenage kids. But times have changed, and these 'just ain't for kids anymore'. I've spoken to entrepreneurs, including writers, about using these two social networks to promote their various products and services. Some look at me as if I've completely lost my mind. Some of them, I'm sure, think I've spent far too much time locked away in my office while writing my next suspense novel. Most wonder or ask how MySpace or Facebook could possibly be anything but a waste of time.
MySpace has revolutionized the social world of marketing. Gone are the days when MySpace was just for kids, a place to talk about music and share photos. Remember those days--back when you were afraid to let little Johnny post his profile and picture? Well, YOU are little Johnny now, and MySpace holds far more opportunity than danger to you.
And what about Facebook? When it first started out, it was similar to Classmates.com--only FREE. People were able to reconnect with long lost friends, school mates, lovers, and a few birthmothers were able to reunite with their children.
And now there's Ning, social networking that is grouped into specific targets: Bookmarketing.ning.com is for book marketing; Canadianauthors.ning.com is a group for Canadian authors and those who love books by said authors. You can search http://www.ning.com/ for groups that might interest you, book reviewers, librarians, people etc. Or you can start your own Ning network.
Now that the rest of the world has caught on, in particular the adult community, you'll now find that a wide variety of smart, savvy entrepreneurs, business owners, authors, artists and performers are using MySpace, Facebook and Ning to promote their business, work or name. Think of it this way, if you have something you want to sell or promote, you'd want to reach the most people in the fastest and least expensive way.
These social network sites become a "vehicle" for you, a vehicle that will take you from point A to B. Yes, you CAN waste a lot of time and energy with these sites if you aren't sure of how to do things and why you are doing them. So I urge authors to set a timer, if you must. Allow youself 1/2 an hour to promote on each site. And do this once a week, more if you have the time.
Authors, here is the how and why for MySpace, Facebook & Ning:
Set up your profile. Sign up, add your photo, or better yet the book cover of your latest book. Add your bio info and make sure you add links to your sites and blogs. Add photos, book trailers, etc. This let's people know who you are and what you do.
Add friends. Plan to add 10-50 friends a week, especially in the beginning. When you have 500 or so, add 10/week. Friends are the backbone of any social network and you need them. More on how to add 'good' friends in Part 5.
Write every week in your MySpace or Ning blog or import a blog into Facebook. I import my Blogger blog into my Facebook page. Write about anything. Blogging regularly attracts more visitors to your page. Search engines love blogs because they are always being updated.
Comment on your friends' pages. Visit their page and leave a comment, including your signature, which should include your name, book title or 'Canadian suspense author' and your website URL. This brings you more traffic. Not only will the friend visit, but so will people who are checking out their page and reading their comments. It's free advertising. But be genuine; comment on something they've said/done, something you like about them etc.
Post a bulletin on MySpace. This is great when you have a lot of friends. They will all automatically receive your bulletin. Use this for breaking news, events or to announce a blog post. Make sure you add your signature line and URL.
Ask some of your friends to read and review your book. You have access to book reviewers...and people who love to read. Plus big name authors have pages on MySpace and Facebook. You can message them and politely ask if they'll consider reading your book and writing a review blurb (for the cover) or a review for Amazon.com or Chapters.ca, etc
Connect with other writers/authors and get involved in multi-author events--like online book fairs. Ask to guest blog on their blogs and send them an article about your book or an interview or an article on writing.
Invite friends to events, real life or virtual.
Ask your friends to spread the word about an event or piece of news. Offer to blog about them in exchange.
Social networking is a two-way street. Don't be the kind of person who always asks and takes; learn to give in return. There are often unexpected rewards in being genuine, in taking an interest in someone else's life and gifts. When you focus on 'what can I also do for someone else?' you'll find that great connections will 'happen', and success is one step closer.
MySpace, Facebook and Ning can help you achieve success by connecting you to people who are willing to help you. There are wonderful, awesome people out there. I know; I've met them. So now it's your turn. Be bold, step out of that box and into the world of online social networking.
Stay tuned for Part 5.
©2008 Cheryl Kaye Tardif