The Sweat Equity of Social Networking

January 4th, 2010 by | Print

 

Let’s get started by discussing a quick definition of sweat equity in the event it is a foreign concept for you. Sweat equity defines time and effort a person or people put into a project for free with hopes of some form of compensation once the project achieves its goals.
 

As a solopreneur, you have three options for social marketing your company – you, a joint venture partner or outsourcing to a third party. In the early phase of your business, chances are you are going to handle your own social networking. Why? Well, you don’t have to pay another person (keeping your overhead low), plus, you can build a better rapport with your target market if you answer your own fan mail.


Is social networking necessary for everyone? Maybe not, but instead of listing all the current impressive (and growing) stats, I recommend that you check out the video on Social Creeper’s home page before you read the rest of this post. If I’m not mistaken, Nielsen provides the data in their video.


After reviewing Social Creeper’s video, hopefully you understand the benefit that social networking can play in marketing your company – and by marketing, I mean both research and analysis, and marcom.


Here are seven key rules I recommend for turning your sweat into equity through successful social networking.


1. Create a Plan
Ask yourself these key questions before getting started:

Who?

Who are the people that I want to attract? Not everyone on Twitter wants to hear from you nor do you want prime prospects coming to your page and reading 30 unrelated tweets.

What?

What is it that I hope to achieve (i.e. new customers, more sales, better understanding of a target market, brand awareness, penetration into a new market, etc…)? If you don’t have specific goals, how do you know if social networking is working?

 

Where?

Where are these people? This may sound blasphemous, but not all prospects are on Twitter and Facebook. Although both of these sites have a greater population than many nations, are your prospects here and actually using these networks for finding products and services? Your appropriate networks may connect offline.

 

When?

When is the best time to participate in online networks? This may sound like asking when is the Las Vegas Strip not busy, but not all seven hundred million trillion people that are on Twitter are active at the same time. Track you results at varying times. It is not uncommon to find you will achieve better results by participating at specific times.

 

Why?

Why will my target audience be attracted to me and ultimately my business? This should be an easy one – if you created a UVP (unique value proposition) for you business before you built it. If you haven’t, go back to Start and don’t collect $200.



Plan on getting started without a plan? Why don’t you hop in your car and drive around for an hour before you decide where you want to go.


2. Join Appropriate Networks
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn even YouTube is a social network, but is this where your target audience is? Social networking takes time. I spend roughly four hours a day just on social networking. Your time may vary. You may have to dabble in a few networks to find out if they produce results, but then again you were smart enough to have a plan before you got started, so you can limit the time it takes to determine if a social network is worth your sweat for equity, right?


3. Observe
Unless you’re the cool kid in class, you’ll have better odds of finding and attracting the right “friends” if you observe the networks’ demographics, temperament, interaction and rules instead launching a cookie-cutter campaign. Not all social networks are alike. If you want your sweat to turn into some form of compensation, observe the customary content and conversations within a network first.


4. Don’t Always Be Selling
This may be counter intuitive and certainly not from the Glengarry Glen Ross playbook, but you can’t continually pitch your products or services, especially if your network profile is “you” and not “your business”. Part of networking (and effective selling) is getting to know your prospects and customers. You get to know people by asking questions and finding out about their lives outside of the office. If a friend is into MLM and that’s all they want to talk about every time they see you, don’t you find you start making excuses as to why you can’t get together?


5. It Isn’t a Popularity Contest
Think quality and not quantity. Since you have a plan, you don’t plan on “friend”-ing everyone, right? Is it better to have 14,000 followers that could care less about what you have to say and are hoping that you will endorse them to all of your friends or have 100 people that follow your every word? It’s easy to get caught up in connecting with everyone that wants to connect with you. Don’t do it, they’re just using you for your friends. Be selective.


Your social network profile and postings are an integral part of your brand. When future prospects check out your profile, don’t confuse them as to your purpose. They will follow you if you have a specific focus that interests them.


A friend of mine, Duke Getzinger, who excels at Twitter, blocks people from following him. I thought that this was a little extreme. What does it hurt if they follow you? But, he made a good point that serious prospects will check out those following you to see if they are in like company or if they risk having one of your so-called “friends” spam them on meaningless products and services.


6. Be Consistent
Content is often referred to as king. Yes, you want great content to attract the right audience and influence them to take action, but great content can’t rule without its queen, consistency. You need to be consistent in the time you invest, the quality of your content, the language you use and the friends you choose.


7. Take It Somewhere Else
Social networks are a great place to meet new people and build your brand, but the real relationship building usually happens elsewhere. For example, if you are located in New Jersey and you connect on Twitter with a prospect in California, chances are that you may not get the opportunity to meet face-to-face. And chances are that you are not going to quickly build a lasting relationship sharing 140 character comments back and forth. Once you meet a prospect on a network, suggest another way that you can chat privately – via email, phone, Skype, or if possible, in person.


As I mentioned earlier, social networking done right takes time; social networking done wrong takes even longer. If you are going to put your sweat into growing your business, I hope that you take the time to follow these rules to see the payoff of your efforts sooner than later.


All The Best,


Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide

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7 Responses to “The Sweat Equity of Social Networking”

  1. Don Comstock Says:

    Good one Doug!!

    Happy New Year. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  2. Douglas Dolan Says:

    Thanks, Don.

    Happy New Year to you and your family, too!

    Doug

  3. sephronia Says:

    Hay!
    I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for doing what you do, because of your different services on your website.You have saved me money and time through my business struggles..You are a priceless asset to any company that you help.

    Hears to our Success
    Sephronia Bravo
    A Gift For Life

  4. Douglas Dolan Says:

    Sephronia:

    Thank you for the kind words. I am happy to hear that you find my site useful. Please let me know if there are any aspects of business that you would like me to cover in greater detail.

    Doug

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