The Social Norms: My Guide to Effective Social Networking


I’ll start by stipulating that this guide is based on my own experience with social media. It’s a vast and ever-changing ocean of information which affects each of us in different ways, so there’s bound to be different opinions on the subject. After being asked for my opinion on the Public Relations aspect of social networking, I thought it was a good time to share my own take on what I’ve found to be the most effective and appropriate uses for each of the following major social media. Have a different opinion? Please share by commenting!

Twitter: Create awareness, build a following

I won’t lie. I’m not a Twitter user—but that’s not to say I never will be. The amount of Twitter accounts I manage for my clients has afforded me versatile insight into its effectiveness for people, businesses, non-profits and elected officials. What I’ve ultimately discovered is that Twitter is best used for frequent and surface-level information sharing. You can raise awareness of your whereabouts, events and share quick reactions to a news story or announcement. You’re able to reach a very broad audience, but for a much shorter amount of time. I assume each of my tweets has a lifespan of one hour or less. Twitter is only the first step toward turning social media into more business; it creates awareness and builds a following which ideally pushes people to your web site and other social media for further, more meaningful interaction.

Facebook: Interact and engage

Facebook is all about interaction. It’s creates a platform where people can share their opinions and support in a public fashion—and be heard. For example, if you have a complaint with, say, Oscar Meyer and want to let them know about it, writing on their Facebook wall will get your message heard and responded to possibly faster than sending an email to corporate (maybe because such a public complaint allows the whole world to evaluate their customer service). Businesses and brands are also able to directly engage and interact with their consumers through discussion forms, two-sentence press releases and special promotions that can be shared with the click of a button. Rather than trying to lead you to their web site, they bring their web site to you. Overall, Facebook allows you to start a conversation with your networks, create a personality for your brand and quite literally put a face with a name.

Linkedin: Build your personal brand

This is where opinions may differ on the inclusion of Linkedin as one of the top social media. I’m a strong believer in Linkedin because I’ve seen it bring very positive feedback for my clients. It’s similar to Facebook in that you connect with people and can post status updates, but it’s a much more business-oriented forum. On Linkedin it’s more acceptable to connect with people you may not know—but want to know. I get requests from people who I’ve never met and maybe never will, but we’re in similar lines of work and may have future business to share. Because the information on Linkedin is limited to a resume-like profile, it’s more comfortable to connect with new people because you don’t have endless photo albums or a wall where career-killing comments are hard to control. I view Linkedin as an opportunity to grow your personal brand. It’s a platform where talking business is expected and encouraged. It also allows more image control than Facebook, where you can display your most professional face to future employers or clients.

Blogging: Be heard, build a community

One year ago, hell 6 months ago, I would have never pictured myself as a blogger. But here I am. I’ve developed a high opinion of WordPress because I feel that it offers a more accessible and interactive blogging community than other blogging sites. Blogging is the most formal and developed social media among the ones I’ve outlined. It allows you a microphone where you can share your thoughts, big and small, and be heard by people around the world. The blogging community is a very loyal one. We quite literally “subscribe” to each others’ schools of thought and provide comments and encouragement. This community is the great equalizer. Stay-at-home moms, professional authors and students all get the same size soap box to stand on and share what’s important to them. Blogging is, for the most part, anonymous and to have such loyalty and support for people whom we’ve never met makes blogging a truly unique—and possibly my favorite—form of social media.

Having said ALL of that, I know you must have some social media wisdom to share based on your own personal experiences. Please do! This hot topic is very subjective and I look forward to learning from your take on these “Social Norms.”