Why use iGoogle?

When starting out in social networking, it’s important to listen to your online community and get a sense of what’s being said before you add to the conversation. I encourage everyone to gather a list of blogs that relate to their topic.

Some people still do this with the old school way with the “bookmark” feature in a web browser. This puts the onus on you to click to each site to see if anything’s new. You can waste a lot of time clicking on sites where nothing has changed while you hunt for new content.

Instead, it’s much more efficient to use an RSS reader. There are lots of options available but I find iGoogle to be one of the simplest and easiest to use. I also like that it’s web based so I can log into this reader from any computer or mobile device, not just my own desk.

You’ll use your hand picked list of blogs in several ways:

1) To observe what others in your field are saying online. You’ll get a sense of how they are communicating and how your shared target market is responding.

2) To assess what works and what doesn’t and then mimic the formats/frequency that suits your communication style and meets the needs of your community.

3) To increase your online visibility by commenting on other people’s posts. Every time you do this you have the opportunity to include a link back to your website which helps people find you and enhances your SEO (search engine optimization).

4) To fuel the “referenced” or “curated” content that you’ll share through social media. As I’ve said before, what you post on Twitter and Facebook shouldn’t be all about you and your company all the time.

5) Comments (#3) and sharing (#4) are also great ways to build relationships with the people behind the websites who are part of your community. They may be customers, prospects or peers .

All of this can be done much more efficiently with iGoogle or something equivalent. The time drain of social media is a huge concern for many people so I hope this strategy will allow you more time to do other things online.

One last thing … you’ll add blogs to your reader over time as you discover websites of interest. You may only find 3 or 4 a week and that’s fine. There may even be weeks where you add nothing new or delete some sites that are not longer of interest. It’s kind of like editing your perfect newspaper with only the sections you want.

I hope you’ll include my feed in your “must read” list. You’ll find the feed here.

Creating Original Content

Success in social networking is all about content. You’ve got to consistently share information of interest to your community. What you share should be a blend of original content created by you and referenced or curated content created by others.

Photo Credit: Ch10 on Flickr
used under Creative Commons License.

Here are 9 ways you can create original content this week:

  1. Write about the product you worked on today. What will your customers love about it? What problem will it solve for them?
  2. Praise someone you work with – a colleague, a supplier, a support worker. Share who they are and why their contribution is so valuable.
  3. Share someplace interesting you’ve visited. It could be a retailer, a supplier, a restaurant or somewhere in nature. Tell your audience why you enjoyed it and include a photo if you can.
  4. Record a video. Show your product being made or your service in action.
  5. Take photos of people, places & things. Every photo has the potential to anchor a blog post or become a tweet.
  6. Write about related products that complement but don’t compete. For example, a dog food manufacturer might write about a line of dog toys.
  7. Remove the veil and share some little known facts about your organization.
  8. Create a contest. Include a “can’t be bought” experience related to what you do in the grand prize.
  9. Conduct interviews with executives, suppliers & customers. This can be done by email Q&A or as an audio or video recording.

Go create something right now.

Making W.A.V.E.S. in Social Networking

Dear readers,

With great delight, I announce the launch of my brand-new social media training program. It’s called Making W.A.V.E.S. in Social Networking . If you’ve ever struggled to connect with friends, fans or followers; wondered what to say to them or know that you’re using social media without a clear plan in place, this is the program for you. Join me at www.makingwavesinsocialnetworking.com to learn more.

Here’s to your success,