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The 5 Foundations of Social Media Success that No One Talks About

Posted By Clare Lancaster 28th of October 2010 Social Media 0 Comments

This post is by Clare Lancaster, of WomenInBusiness.com.au.

As I was sitting down to write my first social media column for ProBlogger I was thinking about the best place to start. Should I do a run through of the basics or jump right into reporting on my latest experiment?

My sense of flow and logic won over and here we are at the beginning, a very good place to start.

The 5 Foundations of Social Media Success that No One Talks About

The rave, by leocub

I could talk about the things we’ve all heard before. Such as how important it is to observe the etiquette on social networking platforms—to behave like you’re at a friend’s cocktail party, not a sales conference.

Or the fact that you should build your network slowly, with focus, and engage people in conversation—not drill out your sales message and expect people to pay attention.

Or that networking platforms like Twitter are a communication tool—not a marketing tactic.

But that’s not very exciting, is it? Instead, here are 5 foundations of social media success that no one talks about.

1. Nice guys finish first.

Just as building your blog business is a marathon, not a sprint, so is your path to social media success. Resist the urge at all times to automate your network building. People want to do business with people they like. Be a nice guy and help people out. Answer questions generously. Connect people who would benefit from knowing each other.

2. People like people who like them.

This one’s all about ego (theirs, not yours). The first thing businesses want to know when they come to me for advice is, “How can I get the attention of my audience? No one is talking to me.”

I say: talk to audience; don’t wait for them to talk to you. Notice individuals and what they’re doing before you expect anyone to notice you and what you’re doing. Don’t just notice them, promote them.

3. Transparency isn’t everything.

There’s a lot to be said about transparency. Again, something we’re told all the time is that transparency and authenticity are key to social media success. Yes, people like to see behind the scenes of your business and what you’re creating. Yes, they like to know the human side of your brand. No, they don’t want to know what you had for breakfast. Or that you’re broke. Above all, don’t be boring.

4. Position yourself.

We’ve established that people do business with people they like. So does your network know what you do? You want to position yourself to be top of mind for a topic, and the easiest way to do this is to live and breathe it. If you’re blogging about your passion, this will come naturally.

5. Pay special attention to your fans.

Do you know who your fans are? Now before you get all Rock Star on me, I mean the people who comment on your blog and your Facebook page, retweet your posts and always open your emails. Know them, connect with them, and make them feel special.

So how did I go? Are there any questions you have about the basics of social media? Are there any topics you’d like me to talk about in more depth? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Clare Lancaster offers blog reviews to help improve the business performance of your blog. She is passionate about helping people make their own path in work and life and can be found on Twitter most days (@clarelancaster).

About Clare Lancaster
A trained designer, Clare became an accidental marketer in 2001 when she fell into the world of SEO and has worked online ever since. When she's not on Twitter or writing for women in business, Clare reviews blogs and works with passionate online business owners to overhaul their business results.
  1. #2 definitely, “I say: talk to audience; don’t wait for them to talk to you.”

    That’s one reason why getting out there and actually connecting (ie, learning from where people hail, what they like to drink, how their re-roofing is going, etc.) can really help build up your network – you become a person those reading instead of a faceless corporate blob.

    It’s one of my favorite techniques.

  2. Hi Clare and Darren,

    I always enjoy an article that talks abut what no one else talks about. I think the point about positioning is fabulous. I’m applying this idea of sticking in people’s heads with only 1 key concept/idea and it creates some impressive results. It’s not enough to communicate in social media. We need to make our message stick.

  3. The five foundations you have mentioned are critical, although simple when reading many will over-look these very easily.

    People in general ignore many of their fans, or simple fail to understand how to deal with them – but for me its part of the experience, after all blogging really is about sending out your message to them. Its ultimately ‘them’ who make you a success.

  4. nice tips….it’s easy using facebook as media tool but it rather difficult when i use twitter…

  5. Point 5 is something that I find is neglected in a big way. So many companies (big and small) just don’t take the time to respond, so therefore they should not be using social media as a marketing channel for their brand or business I feel.

  6. I really liked this post, short and sweet, yet very valuable to someone like myself.

    I get it now, social media takes a lot of genuine effort and time. But I know it’s worth it, especially in this decade of social media.

    I guess one of my biggest problems was always waiting for people to talk to me and tell me how great, helpful, or interesting I was. Now I realize it should be the opposite of that.

    Thanks for telling us what we needed to hear.

  7. Nicely done! I would add to “Transparency Isn’t Everything” that, actually, people *might* be interested in your breakfast… if it’s interesting.

    Was it exotic? Was it unusually healthy? Then share it. But if you had a bowl of corn flakes or a piece of toast, then the problem with sharing isn’t that it’s “transparent,” …it’s that it’s yawnsville.

  8. Any article on social media is greatly appreciated by me. For some reason I seem to have a difficult time wrapping my head around what the heck to do with all these social media platforms. I’ll be scouring this site for more advice on the subject. Thanks again.

  9. I really enjoyed the section on “People like people who like them”. I have found this to be particularly true recently with my work, where I gained a lot of attention by paying attention to other content creators and great thinkers.

  10. The way I understand #4: Position Yourself, is that you should maintain some sort of focus on a specific topic or subject, and this is something many people, myself included, seem to forget. It’s hard to be known as an expert on a subject when you tweet about way too many different topics.

  11. I do notice that people read what I post on Twitter, which is almost surprising to me given that most people will follow you so that you follow them. There are some, though, that are truly interested in what’s going on with you. I also have people who follow on facebook and linked in, and the motivation to trade links is not even there…

    Social networking does tend to be too fun at times. A distraction when I should be doing more productive things.

  12. I especially like Matthew’s comment:
    “I guess one of my biggest problems was always waiting for people to talk to me and tell me how great, helpful, or interesting I was. Now I realize it should be the opposite of that.”

    That is so true. It’s too easy to be passive. My truest fans are the ones who genuinely love what I write and support me with comments and interaction. And they are the ones I reach out to and look to support in whatever way I can. They are also the ones who influence what I’m going to do next!

  13. The No.2 is definitely true. About the others, I don’t think all social network have them. For example: The No.5 do not really fit with Twitter but so true for Facebook.

  14. I like the note about social media success being a marathon instead of a sprint. It’s really easy to forget that and get frustrated.

  15. Just like in life and in social media success is all about quality, worth, value, respect, and honesty. You just can’t go wrong with those five!

  16. Well timed post. I’m currently in this position in trying to launch my Website (linky above).

    Before I seriously roll things out (ie tell my friends and family) I’m trying to work out if I think I can successfully build up my network.

    Two weeks in, it is much harder than I thought it would be.

    Anyway, I’m interested in the automated stuff. I see more potential for the audience that is o/s, but not sure how to best engage them.

  17. I would like to comment regarding transparency because I think that a major role of social media is being transparent!

    I mean look at the celebs having twitter accounts, you gonna see tweets like “i did this today” or “i bought that yesterday” kind of comments

    I think Social Media is all about getting more and more interaction among each others

  18. Hi Darren,
    I started my FB social media recently after reading several promotion about FB strategy.
    None of those guys talk about the 5 points you mentioned above. Without exception, all of them “promise” you to get FB result fast.
    So, I did.. started to add friends until got into warning by the FB system for suspected spamming.
    You are right to point out that using social media as a communication tool rather than a marketing campaign. Personally, I tends to ignore those marketing post, but I fell into similar trap too
    Your 5 points
    I like point 2 specifically as I tend to wait for people to talk to me first. This is a good pointer for me to take home

  19. Love this post! And it’s so true…interacting with others is the best way to get people interested in you.

    And the best part? Once you actually start engaging with others, you realize that it’s all about getting to know some amazing people. Pretty soon you’re just having fun and forget about all the “work” you were trying to do in the first place!

  20. Finally, nice guys finish first. It’s been a long time, probably since high school since I thought that this was possible, but I’m glad it’s on your list.

  21. Darren,

    You would come up with number #1 – Nice Guys Finish First. You come off as a genuinely nice guy on Twitter, LinkedIn, and on your blog.

    Thanks for all of the help.

    John Wheeler

  22. I completely accept with the fifth point and I disagree with Bradley’s comment!! Only after I started engaging more and more with the readers of my blog, I started gaining importance in social media. Still, I haven’t made them feel that they are special. I hope I do it one day!!!

  23. I really enjoyed these tips and the rest of what this site has to offer. I’m a beginner blogger who just started and am still trying to get on my feet in this whole blogging business.

    To anybody who is willing, I’d like some advice on how to help better promote my blog. Any and all help will be appreciated.


    Forgive me if this seems like spam. It’s almost 3am and I’ve been researching my butt trying to figure out how to become successful. Cheers.

  24. Great post Clare and I agree … blogging is a marathon, not a sprint but I think that successful social networking starts by having a chat with a neighbour or a friend over the internet equivalent of a garden fence rather than at a cocktail party.

    A chat over the fence is casual, but not too casual, and not dressed up for cocktails. It doesn’t air dirty laundry. It’s friendly without being overwhelming. And it’s consistent – I would always wave even if I couldn’t chat, and I’d take round a cup of sugar if my neighbour was in need.

    Maybe the foundation of social networking (beyond an intimate circle of friends) is fundamentally about employing all the good principles of being a good neighbour?

  25. This is such good advice. Social media is very much like the offline world: you must be a friend to make a friend.

  26. Automation… this is a hot point. One one hand, no one wants to look like a robot repeating the same things over and over. But something like posts and tweets scheduling is a must in a globalized word. I’m living in Europe and if I want to increase the chance that my US friends see my tweets,

    I have to send them at times where they are online. I mean, how many people really dig back in their timelines when they log on on twitter?

    The dark side of automation is autofollowing. Only yesterday, I reported 8 twitter users as spammers. They all had the same bio, by the word, and no tweets. I don’t need such followers and using auto-follow would make me follow them. No, thanks.

  27. Clare,

    Social media is important for establishing authority and being nice to people and other blogger sure helps. I have seen people who put out the most values seems to win at the end. You are right many of us do not talk about this or aware of it.

  28. Hi Clare,

    Nice work!, I think that social media is where its at in terms of traffic generation. But it is a slow process in terms of actual sales.

    Per per click will always work out best for sales and social media is best for after sales…


  29. I disagree — I’d love to know what you had for breakfast– if it’s something other than a bowl of cereal!

    Did you go out to eat? Did you burn your eggs? Did you have cold pizza for breakfast (why, that’s my favorite breakfast food, too!).

    I want to know that there is a real person on the other side of the account. I may not need to hear about your breakfast choices every day, but once in a while? Not a big deal.

    In fact, if I never hear about anything personal from you like that, I’m going to have a really hard time connecting with you.

  30. HI,

    The common thing about all the above is that they distinguish you from the tons of spammer accounts in Twitter, Facebook etc.

    What I’d like to know is in which social networks should I invest my time? Twitter? Facebook? do communities like myblogblog, blogcatalog really worth the effort for bloggers?

    Place for Bloggers

  31. Absolutely yes! This is exactly what it is about and this is the talk we walk. These 5 foundations are the reason we flew to the top of our travel blog niche in just 6 months. So many people don’t get the simplicity of this.
    My husband and I always say “Be the party” Act like you would at a party.

  32. Exactly. Having any blog or online business is about reaching out to others in a meaningful way. Strike up conversations. Give them free stuff. Ask thought-provoking questions. These are all great ways to connect with others on a deeper level. It’s empathy.

  33. Good post and the comments show how easy this article was to read and digest. I particularly want to second the advice NOT to automate. If everyone is automating, WHO is there to listen!

  34. Paying attention to people who pay attention to you is a great point. That and being authentic. I made the mistake of setting up an auto follow on twitter when I first started…. and got a lot of followers that I don’t want to follow me…and they probably don’t want to follow me either.

    Being selective in the social media circle is an important step to keeping yourself focused.

    I write about golf and want fellow golfers to connect with me. When I make the mistake of following someone in a totally different niche it sometimes leads to messing up my focus.

    Of course, that’s not always true. After all, here I am commenting on ProBlogger… but that is a deliberate and valuable follow for me… I need all the blogging skill help i can find to grow my blog. But I’m not interested in learning how to diet, or grow herbs.

    Do you get my point? By the way, if there are any golfers among you here in this comment section, feel free to comment back to me. Thanks.

  35. Thank you – great advice, timely, short, sweet, to the point.

    On, and very true true true!


  36. # 6 Listen, learn, and follow the advice of the successful.

  37. Thanks for this post – the one about being too transparent really hit home with me. I’m sick of reading about what my favorite blogger had for dinner – though I still enjoy an witty personal comment or insight. Thanks again…

  38. I might add- please, please don’t tweet the same thing over and over- like 25 times in a row! At least wait a few minutes between tweets :-).

    I went on my Twitter one day and a fellow had Tweeted about gong to a meeting probably 15 times in a row.

    Next day, he Tweeted many, many times about something else equally useless…….

    I unfollowed him!

    I don’t have the time to scroll through pages of one persons tweets to find the rest of my updates!

  39. Polite, Respectful, Authoritative and engage your fans and commenters in a timely fashion. Can’t go wrong going into any social media or blogging platform by following these simple tips.

  40. We are using facebook and twitter for promoting our blog, but so far the results are not that good. The point of engaging people on social media in a right way is really appealing, we will definitely try to implement it.

  41. Good ideas – it is key to join the conversation. Engagement is the human activity we all seek so why not? Also agree key is to listen, learn and follow others who are successful Great stuff – thanks again.

  42. So much great feedback. You know when you’ve hit the nail on the head, everyone wants to join in the fun, thanks.

  43. Great article, Clare. I think people confuse networking with marketing. Networking is much more personal. After all, our business is people!

  44. Nice Post although I’ve got a few points to make:

    1) People don’t ONLY buy from those whom they know. That’s why we devise trust building on our sites to make sure that potential clients are convinced we’re the right people to buy from.

    2) Regarding transparency, you can share some of the news about the hobbies you have, movies you watch, games you play, destinations you travel to, etc. I agree that what we’ve had for breakfast could be boring.

    Apart from the points mentioned here, I must admit that the rest of the points are very true as much as my experience is concerned. Thanks for mentioning them.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Site Booster Blog

  45. Clare,

    Thanks for the great post, when you first start learning about social media it can be overwhelming! I have certainly noticed it takes time, patience, and the willingness to help others. All good things!

  46. Thanks for writing on this informative topic.I always thought why my fans are not taking interest in my page’s activity. This will help me improving my page’s statistics.

  47. 100% good advice Clare. If you build well by treating people with respect, making their day, helping out, you build to last. No one wants to be the next number or peak in a graph. Thanks for making the point!

    Have a great day,

  48. Great blog Clare. I got my first follower on my blog by following these tips. It seems I have the most success with twitter. People there appreciate when you retweet their links and comment on their blogs. I think it makes you stand out more in their minds. But people also like when you initiate conversation. A lot of good points on here.

  49. This is great advice. It is especially true when building an audience for blog or internet radio station.

  50. The third tip is great & thanks for sharing!!!

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