Let’s be frank, email, as a networking tool, is on its way out. It won’t be obsolete tomorrow, but it has been, for a while now, the antiquated way to network. Social media has opened up a whole new arsenal of possibilities for today’s marketer; too many to even go into in this blog post. That is why we will focus on one aspect of marketing: networking etiquette on social media. Where is the line between networking and spamming? When all we had was email, it was simple. Now with social media, we have the option of tweeting, direct messaging, tagging, post commenting, etc. The options are endless, so how do you know when you’ve overstepped in your attempts at networking? Let’s learn the differences and take advantage of the enormous digital Rolodex we’ve been given in 2015.
Much of the best networking on Facebook is simply done through engaging with the content that a brand or notable figure has posted. When a piece of content on a topic that you are knowledgeable about is shared, sharing your opinion below is a subtle way to make the page owner aware of you. The trick is in the frequency with which you comment. By sharing your opinions on a semi-regular basis you will become quite memorable to that page owner. In fact, the comment section of any post on a company or fan page can become a watering hole for like-minded individuals to debate. You can also tag or reply to a specific commenter to isolate your networking prowess to someone specific. Tagging the commenter or replying underneath their comment, ensures that they see it and this is a subtle, but effective, way of reaching out to them.
Forget about direct messaging companies or people you don’t know well on Facebook. Facebook started out as a platform for personal pages, and it still has that air attached to it. Direct messaging is only socially appropriate for your personal contacts or, in the case of company pages, for customer service inquiries. Posting anything else comes off as spammy. Not to mention, you can’t direct message from your company page to another company page, only from your personal page. This restriction ensures that direct messaging them will seem unprofessional and pushy.
The networking culture on Twitter is like night and day compared to that of Facebook. It’s all about quick interactions with anyone at any time. You don’t need a personal connection to tweet at someone. Everyone is available to you on Twitter. There is no guarantee you will be answered, but the Twitter culture doesn’t frown upon trying. Tweet at a company, or the CEO of that company, and try to tweet them something that they’d want to read. This tweet can be anything from an interesting anecdote about company news to requesting permission to republish some of their content on your own channels. It’s all open for discussion on Twitter.
When it comes to direct messaging a company/person, it can only happen if you are both following the other. Thus, if you can direct message someone, any topic is fair game because you’ve both already expressed a mutual interest in each other’s pages.
Tweeting at someone a couple of times isn’t frowned upon, but once you’ve hit three tweets, with no response, it is officially spammy. If someone hasn’t answered your first tweet, wait a couple days to tweet at them again. Preferably tweet them new content the second time to not seem repetitive. Even simply rewording the same sentence is enough to make it feel like a fresh tweet. After the second tweet, if the contact doesn’t answer, leave them be. Remember, all of Twitter will be able to see your spammy attempts at networking if you don’t.
LinkedIn, aka the career-oriented social media platform, is a great place to network. That is what it was created for, after all. Search jobs, search employees of a company, or just search a common interest (ex. graphic design) and you’ll find those that are active in sharing interesting content and open to connecting with new people.
The groups on LinkedIn are a great place to start discussions with those in your field. Join active groups that post often and advertise your marketing content there to get into the conversations.
A direct message is a great way to network as well. Since the tone is professional but relaxed on LinkedIn, you can get right to the point through a direct message. The downside is that you can only send direct messages to people with whom you have a 1st-degree connection. Sounds a bit restrictive, right? There is, however, LinkedIn’s Open Profile tool that expands your direct messaging options to the entire LinkedIn network, although this function is only available to users who have a premium account.
The ability to search for new contacts with whom you might want to connect with is amazingly easy on this platform. You can search through company pages and find a list of employees that work for that company, including how many degrees of separation in LinkedIn contacts they are from you. This makes finding new useful connections a paint-by-numbers game.
Beware of stalking anyone’s profile because a notification gets sent to the owner of the profile when someone visits their page. The last thing you want is to surf someone’s profile over the course of a week and give them ten notifications that you’ve been visiting their page, over and over again.
Ultimately, understanding the networking culture of each social media will expand your networking prowess immensely. Keep these cultural nuances of networking on each platform in mind and start creating a greater list of contacts for yourself or your company.