I thought I’d write a bit more about social networking. I am of course an expert in the field; I had a conversation about the properties of different wines earlier, well, not wines exactly, beer, and technically I wasn’t involved in the conversation, I was just in earshot. Ok, so I heard to drunks talking about Special Brew. Still, I’m an expert. I have 160 followers on Twitter. Whatever.
So, my basic point is this: Social Networking is not about shouting. Imagine you’re at a dinner party. How would you like to be seen?
- As someone with nothing to say? The Listener
- As someone with a plenty to say, but doesn’t listen? The Talker
- As someone who’s constantly talking shop? The Workaholic
- As someone who’s trying to sell you something? The Salesman
- As someone who just re-iterates everyone else’s story? The Storyteller
I guess the answer is none-of-the-above for most of you. If you like to just sit and listen, please do continue. Otherwise, the chances are that you’d like to see yourself as someone who does a bit of all of the above, but not too much of any (admittedly, my analogy breaks down a bit here as I rarely go to dinner parties and try and sell books, in fact I rarely get invited to dinner parties, not since the fruit bowl incident). Anyway, the point is that when in a social setting, one observes inherent social rules.
If you want to have a successful social profile, then you can’t just be a Listener as your interactions will be very limited - if you don’t post to your social profile and those of your cohorts, people will quickly lose interest.
You can’t be known as the Talker or people will get fed up of you and stop inviting you to parties. In the Internet world, these are the people who share absolutely everything, from the inane to the marginally interesting. They think that you want to know everything that they think. Talk too much and you will be muted, even the interesting people need muting if they’re posting too much.
The Workaholic is possibly the one you want to spend most of your time as. Most people will subscribe to you because they’re interested in what you have to say about your work (or what you spend most of your time doing). In the book world, people will subscribe to you because they want to hear what you have to say about books - this is certainly more valid for businesses. Talking shop all the time isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does round your profile a bit if you venture outside now and then. It’s always nice to hear that a fellow dealer is listening to a certain piece of music, or has heard about a new film coming out. It’s always nice to know that there’s a bit of depth to the person/business, a bit of colour.
As for the salesman, that’s why you’re on the social networks - right? I’m a bookseller, all I want is for people to buy my books - right? Of course, that’s a huge part of the end game, but it’s not that easy to get direct sales from a tweet about a book you have for sale. Imagine chatting to someone at a book fair, and all they do is shove every book they’ve got at you one after another and tell you to buy it. You’d soon move along. I’m guilty of this; we list a large number of books on the various networks as and when they become available. But, and this is the important part, we hope that we’re offsetting this with other valuable posts. So that people don’t mind so much. That’s the desired effect anyway.
And finally, the storyteller. The chances are that you don’t have a massive amount to say at a regular enough pace to really get momentum. Some of the best bloggers I know out there do output at a decent rate and with decent posts, but post too much (like some of the online magazines) and you get swamped. Best to get a backlog of decent stories for when you run out of things to say.
The most important thing I’d like to stress is that it’s not just about putting stuff out there, however interesting it might be. It’s also about sharing, liking the posts and pages of others, giving them a +1 or an RT, joining their mailing lists, damn - even email them. Share, Interact and Mix it up!