My father wants me to give him a lesson in social networking online. He wants to use these magical platforms for business. So here’s my thinkings in brief:

Dear Father Dana,

There’s a lot of material out there on “harnessing the power of social media to drive business!” but most of it isn’t repeatable and frankly just common sense or dumb. I think the most important things are:

  • Be interesting
  • Be useful
  • Be consistent
  • Be authentic

Authenticity being the most important. If you don’t make a human connection with people then you lose.

By the way, you can disprove everything I just said if you look. There’s no ‘right’ way. Just try different things. Just Google “using social media for business” for a million opinions.

So, father, it turns out I have jack-shit to tell you about social media other than play with it. But here’s some quick descriptions:

  • Twitter is a “micro-blogging” platform that all businesses are adopting, and nearly as many are failing miserably. You can use 140 characters to say what you want. It’s great for PR, connecting with people that would be difficult to reach otherwise, and as a filtered news feed. If you use this to only talk about your business it won’t be worth anything to you (unless that’s your audience…).
  • Tumblr is set up just like Twitter but it’s more of a full-feature blogging platform.
  • WordPress is a full feature blogging platform that’s more easily expandable than Tumblr.
  • Facebook is the broadest social network, you need to have a presence there. Law of authenticity applies, but it’s more acceptable to chat about your business because people are following you for that. That’s assuming you’ve made a page for your business anyway.
  • MySpace would be great if it didn’t suck. I wouldn’t put any time there unless you care about music.
  • YouTube is king for video that you care about sharing.
  • Viddler is more customizable, more specifically for brands. Gary Vaynerchuk uses that, or used to anyway.
  • Vimeo is more for people who care about higher quality vids.
  • LinkedIn is that thing everyone has but nobody uses. It’s coming up in the world though.

That’s my way-oversimplified guide. You need to spend time exploring and observing how things work in each place you want to be involved in. What kind of things do people share? Have you made any sort of meaningful connection with a person there?

I think picking one blogging platform as a base then using Twitter and Facebook to reach out to new people is a good strategy.

Your loving son,

PS: see you Friday!