Every time my computer starts running slowly, one of the technical gurus I work with reminds me to defrag my hard drive. The defrag process reduces the amount of fragmentation in my hard drive by reorganizing the contents so they are stored in a more efficient manner. The need to defrag my computer reminds me of how important it is for me to defrag my social networking life now and then.
Effective social networking isn't everything to a business, but it is very important. Yet, like any good hard drive, when it comes to social networking, we are efficient only when we are organized. I think the defrag analogy is appropriate, so here are a few tips to help you defrag your social network.
Set Your Goals. No amount of socializing will be profitable unless you have some attainable goals in mind. Are you looking for sponsors for your non-profit? Are you seeking to book guests on your radio show? Do you want to sell more of the products you make? Do you want to book more speaking engagements? Do you want to be perceived as an expert in your field?
In all likelihood, you will have numerous goals, and that's good. Your challenge is to organize them in a way that makes each social interaction further as many of those goals as possible. Setting goals makes it possible to organize your social networking activities to make the best use of your time.
Identify Your Hub. Once you set your goals, you can identify your hub — a central online location from which everything else flows. While there are several options, I highly recommend that your hub be your blog, or your blog housed at the same location as your e-commerce site. Identifying a hub allows you to coordinate the bulk of your activities in a way that flows back to your hub.
My central hub is this blog. Whether you're looking for information about Indie Beauty or information about my calendar, you can find it quickly and easily here. No matter where anyone meets you for the first time, all social media roads should eventually lead back to your hub.
If you're having trouble figuring out what your hub should be, think about it like this. If someone was willing to invest thousands of dollars in your business, but only if they were impressed by a single website, which one would you invite them to visit? That's probably your hub, because you would only refer such a person to your very best and most well maintained online location.
Choose Your Satellite Sites. Your satellites are the different places you maintain an online presence. Make a list of them, then prioritize the list according to which ones best further your particular goals. List the most productive sites at the top and the least productive ones at the bottom. Identifying your satellites will take some serious focus and thinking, but it will be worth it.
Remember too that the importance of these sites will change from time to time as your business changes. They may even change with the seasons.
For example, your most productive satellite sites may change during the holiday shopping season when you choose to invest more time at sites where people are looking to buy the kinds of products you sell for holiday gifts.
Establish Your Social Networking System. Now that you have identified your goals, your hub and your satellites, you can begin to create your social networking system.
If your blog is your hub, you may wish to post an entry every day or two, and also invest time sharing at other people's blogs. If LinkedIn is your hub, you may want to ask and answer questions in groups, connect people together and update your status a few times a day. If your Facebook Fan Page is your hub, you'll invest more time engaging people there. You may want to make a list of each day of the week and record what you will do on each day. Blog on Monday, Facebook on Tuesday, LinkedIn on Wednesday, and so forth.
I'm not suggesting rigidity. I'm suggesting a general routine that suits your schedule and your goals so you don't wake up every morning wondering what social networking outlets you will focus on that day.
While you're engaging in this process, don't become frustrated by the fact that it keeps changing. Like your business, your social media activities should not stand still.
But while your activities will change, your goals should not. Knowing your goals and being confident in them will help you stand strong in the midst of the changing social media landscape.
Standing Still In Gale Force Winds. Today, business gets done at warp speed. As social networks come and go like gale force winds, you will either remain steadfast and focused in the midst of them, or be carried off to certain disaster. Today's world leave little room for small business owners who are content to watch others set the pace. You must set a pace of your own by being a part of the flow of information and participating meaningfully in the conversation, all without getting lost in it. It's a tough balance that takes some getting used to. But you can do it and you must do it.
And if you're reading this blog post, you probably already are doing it!
Question: What do you think of the defrag analogy? How do you defrag your social networks? What did I miss?