November 24, 2008

Sharing, Self Promotion Always a Two-Way Street

By Mike Fruchter of (Twitter/FriendFeed)

Last month, I touched upon 35 tips for getting started with social media. Today I want to expand a little more on that, and focus on one key area for success, sharing and self promotion.

You just wrote a good piece of quality content, you are proud, and you want the world to know. The next step in the process, a topic that frequently comes up, mainly from beginners who are just getting started in social media, is deciding whether or not to self promote/share your own content. Social media is all about getting the message out there, and one of the easiest and fastest mechanisms for doing this is blogging. One can instantly create and publish content, but if no one is reading it at the other end, frustration sets in. It's time to change and learn new tactics. This is okay in the early stages because beginners make mistakes,and it's expected. What really matters is how you learn and grow from your mistakes. Some people feel as if promoting your own content is taboo, or there is some golden rule set in place forbidding this practice. I say go for it. You should absolutely promote your own content. Of course there is a right and wrong way to do this. Otherwise you come across as nothing more than a person with one agenda, your own. The last thing you want to do is come across as a desperate person spamming for clicks. Sharing and promoting are basically the same thing, there are just different tools and level variations used to achieve the same results, traffic.

One of the core fundamentals of social media is giving more than you get. Once you understand this principle, you will not have to rely on self promotion completely, you will have your network assisting you. Remember, sharing is caring. It's always a two way relationship and never one way.

Just starting out?

Self promote as often as possible, express restraint and etiquette on how you self promote. If you don't take the first step of informing the world that your blog exists, no one else will. Don't be fooled, nothing comes easy. You must crawl first before you walk. There is nothing wrong with broadcasting on Twitter, or sharing your content via Google Reader. Do it in a respectful manner, avoid luring people in under false pretenses, an example is using linkbait. Be honest and genuine in your approach, this means being yourself. People are willing, and do help other people. It's hard to believe in this day in age, but yes it's true. If you are new to this, let people know and ask questions, most of all have patience. Need a post dugg, stumbled, retweeted ? Just ask someone. Myself and many others will go out of our way to help a newbie just starting out, as long as you are sincere in your approaches, and are willing to learn and most importantly listen.

Self promotion starts with promoting others first.

Promoting your brand (you) and your content is the first step to getting noticed. This is easier said than done. You can use megaphones such as Twitter and Google Reader all day long to broadcast your message, but if no one is listening, you are wasting your time. The tools are facilitators only, not the final outcome. In the beginning stages these tools are more essential than ever. These are the primary instruments among many that you will use to promote others. The right to self promote, I believe, is earned to some degree. By promoting others first, you have earned this right, and you can expect the same in return, in due time.

Find, establish and continually grow your network.

Building your network is not about adding as many followers on Twitter and Facebook as humanly possible. All that equates to is building a meaningless numbers list. Building your network is about networking and establishing real relationships with the relevant people who are in your field. If your blog is about social media, then that is what your core network should be comprised of. Find the social media bloggers you read on Twitter. and subscribe to them. Retweet, and promote their content using other methods such as, bookmarking, Google Reader, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. If it's a post you really like, be sure to let them know on Twitter or by leaving a comment on their blog. Take it a step further, write a blog post and positively link to them.This is how you establish and build an online network from nothing, and if chances permit, possible new offline relationships. Not everyone will take notice and reciprocate back, that's okay, it's to be expected. There are plenty of fish in the sea, reel in the line and recast.

Your network is a family and team, treat them as such.

Your core network online should be treated as a family. Always keep them on your radar, and be informed of their activities. Online this means being a support system. Sharing and promoting your network's content is only one dynamic for maintaining a healthy team. There might be times when members in your network need emotional support, or support for charitable reasons. Make sure when possible, you make an attempt to reach out and offer assistance. Families are teams, they stick together. Your success online, depending on how you want to measure it, relies heavily on your network and their reach.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

When starting out, make sure to promote your best content only. People's first impressions need to be reserved only for your home-runs. Wow people the first time, and there is a good chance they will be back. Content that is not home-run worthy, should be picked up naturally.

Use the best tools possible to facilitate promotion for self and others.

Sharing starts with RSS. Google Reader is the main workhorse for sharing your content. It is also the place where your networks, team members content resides and gets promoted. Besides being the most easiest and common way to share content, it also takes it a step further by allowing you to add notes onto the content you share out. Notes are a great way to add to the conversation, give an opinion, give a recommendation, or directly solicit conversation or feedback. Try to make an effort to use notes on the content you create and share. This makes your content stand out more, and adds a little depth and clarity about the subject matter. Don't forget to note your friend's content as well. Lastly, it is worth mentioning the power that lies behind the public linkblog Google Reader generates for the content you share.

Twitter is another fire starter. It's a quick and powerful tool to broadcast a message in real time. The power is in the listeners and responders in your network. For maximum reach your social profiles need to be established and maintained on the relevant sites. Twitter is one of these sites, do not rule it out. There is a reason you will find that most, if not all of your team members use Twitter for communications and promotion. New content also breaks first on Twitter, so listen and retweet as often as possible.

FriendFeed is the glue that keeps it all together. FriendFeed has become one of the most powerful tools for aggregation, promotion by far. Its sole purpose is to aggregate the content you generate from any of the 49 different types of services it supports into one central location. What knocks it out of the park is the simplicity, growing community and social features. You can instantly share any type of content, and often within seconds have a seal of approval on your shares in the form of a vote, which is called a "like" on FriendFeed. The more votes an item gets, the more you are looking at a home run. Voting is an added bonus, the real power is the ability to comment on shared items in real time. You can also post images and messages directly on FriendFeed. Remember we talked a little about asking? Like any other site, spend the time, look around and start to actively participate. Establish and maintain a strong following here, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Image by Padawan under Creative Commons license.

Read more by Mike Fruchter at