(The following article was posted on Steven's RealTown blog last week. We are reposting with his premission.)
Don't just sign up for a network account on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter with the intent of just engaging in idle chit-chat without taking the time to complete profile and think through your positioning.
Here are some steps to get you going:
Positioning Yourself (Finding Your Spot)
When participating in Social Media you will have various opportunities to create a persona. Before doing so you should clearly decide how you want the world to view you. To achieve this, ask yourself the following questions:
-->Are you someone who is using Social Media for personal or professional use?
-->If you're using Social Media for professional use, what information are you presenting?
-->Are you an individual that offers quotes or frivolous information or do you provide real and relevant content?
-->Do you respond to people or ignore people?
-->Who are you connecting with?
-->What do you want your online experience to be like?
-->How do others view you?
It's important that you know what your motivation is for joining (business, social, networking, etc.) and whether you will want to create a professional or a personal profile.
-->Find your market
Building a Brand (Adding Value to Your Spot)
After you have decided what your positioning is, the next step is to decide what brand you will be building online. Consistency is important and attaching the desired identifying image helps in placing and posturing yourself. For example, you can be an expert in anything-a topic, an area, etc.-or you don't have to be an expert at all, just everyone's friend. Regardless of what you choose for your goal, building your brand will require you to standardize and unite the message behind your brand; photo, logo, content, website, etc. In the end, all these elements must portray a unified message.
Conveying Authenticity (Ensuring Your Spot is Sincere)
As social networks are personal venues for connecting one person directly with another, it is important to create online relationships that are built on mutual respect and trust. Because users may never physically meet, and therefore not have the opportunity to build the confidence that you are who you say you are, you need to demonstrate online that you are someone worth taking the time to build a relationship. To be authentic in Social Media requires users to be sincere and engaging.
Create a Following (Making Your Spot Popular)
To create a following in Social Media you have to "give" more than you "take." Connect with like-minded people that you can initially relate to and with whom you share common interests. If you interact with your followers and friends by actively creating discussions and continually engaging with others in the community, others will, in turn, be compelled to follow you.
-->Give more than you take
Creating a Sales Pipeline (Making Your Spot Count)
Sales follow trust, confidence and value. Similar to shopping in a mall, some interaction or a recommendation creates trust. Thereafter customers need to first be aware of a store. Then, after gaining more information, they may enter and browse through the product selection. Often they might ask for help or more information and you should be ready and willing to provide it. Use Social Media to guide your potential customers to your offerings. Don't try and sell them; "pull" don't "push."
As many Social Media sites only allow short or limited messaging such as Twitter (140 characters) you will need to direct potential customers to your blog or website where you have more space and control in order to more comprehensively describe your products and services.
-->Don't sell - Inform
-->Don't sell - Redirect
-->Don't sell - Guide them
It's all about the conversation, the sharing and the value to bring to the other members of the discussion. The more selfless your actions the better your following and ultimate return will be.
These are extracts from the new soon to be published 120 page Swanepoel SOCIAL MEDIA Report 2010 especially for Real Estate Professionals. Copies ordered now at www.RealEstateBooks.org will be shipped on October 5th.