In my opinion, the biggest mistake that people make in social networking is that they don’t use it to build a social network. You now have opportunities that entrepreneurs only could dream about in the past – fast, easy ways to get to know your clientele and niche market. Any protest to the importance of taking time and knowing our customers’ personalities was answered by Russell Conwell, many years ago, in his famous speech, Acres of Diamonds:

“The man over there who said he could not make anything in a store in Philadelphia has been carrying on his store on the wrong principle. Suppose I go into your store tomorrow morning and ask, “Do you know a neighbor A, who lives one square away, at house No. 1240?”

“Oh yes, I have met him. He deals here at the corner store.”

“Where did he come from?”

“I don’t know.”

“How many does he have in his family?”

“I don’t know.”

“What ticket does he vote?”

“I don’t know.”

“What church does he go to?”

“I don’t know, and don’t care. What are you asking all these questions for?”

If you had a store in Philadelphia would you answer me like that? If so, then you are conducting your business just as I carried on my father’s business in Worthington, Massachusetts. You don’t know where your neighbor came from, when he moved to Philadelphia, and you don’t care. If you had cared you would rich by now. If you had cared enough about him to take an interest in his affairs, to find out what he needed, you would have been rich. But you go through the world saying, “No opportunity to get rich,” and there is the fault right at your door.”

Now, with the few clicks of a button, you have all the information you need to find out about our clients and friends. You can view their profiles, see their interest, and see who they are. And then guess what? You’ll be able to focus your ads to target a better audience.

Finding out exactly who your customers are has never been easier, and can help you attract many more customers to your business. It only takes a few minutes to cruise through your fans’ profiles, and will greatly help you in learning more about who they are. You also can use this information to target your statuses to be more relevant, and more important to them.

One of the most powerful things I’ve ever read about using these platforms is, “it’s not about social media, it’s about social business.”

You will begin to notice certain key words in your clients’ profiles that you can use to target interest groups with your advertising campaigns. You also will see what kinds of things they talk about, so you can better target your free content.

Your mindset HAS to be that social networking is used to build and maintain relationships.

It’s important that you add and keep up to date with your clients’ companies, your friends’ companies, and so on. Make sure you’re 100% real, and fully follow to see what they’re up too. Fake people are so easy to catch, especially online. You will not have the highest amount of success possible on social networking if you are not building relationships.

Facebook pages have the ability to set up forums right on the page, and allow your “fans” to easily interact with each other. Twitter and LinkedIn both provide ways to monitor and participate in conversations, and follow what other people are talking about. These are powerful tools to use to connect to your customers.

This is a wonderful time to mention all of the opportunities you have to essentially “give away” free things to your followers. Not only can you link to excellent articles, videos, and other companies, but you can use this opportunity to give away your own free advice. This is your way to post surveys, question your customers, and find out what they really want from YOU.

The thing that most people don’t grasp is how important it is to associate your name and face with your business. People want to connect with you, not a series of logos, robotic status updates, and boring content. You have to wrap your head around the fact that social media represents human interaction and your media sites cannot just be carbon copies of your websites.

Don’t ever just group your fans and followers as a chunk of people. Once you start to have that mindset, you’re going to start losing touch with connecting to their personalities, and in turn, lose touch with connecting with them as people.

They’re called social media websites for a reason! You don’t, and shouldn’t, have to divulge a lot of personal information, but we (your CLIENTS) want to know that you are a fully functioning, socially acceptable human being. People don’t want to buy from some cave troll that is lurking behind a bunch of sales pitches and business logos.

Basic Psychology of Social Networking

As we’ve grown in technology, psychology and human behavior have been widely accepted as credible forms of how to predict the decisions we will make. In fact, an emerging paradigm of psychology known as “evolutionary psychology” has been able to explain a lot of modern human behaviors.

Ditching a lot of “how-are-we-here theories” and the never-ending argument of creationism vs. evolution, evolutionary psychology studies the primal instincts of humankind.

It’s a lot to explain and gets kind of nerdy, but basically the underlying principle is that humans have been around for 100,000 or so years, and as you all know, most of that was spent without things like the Internet, iPods, cell phones, and anything but the need to love, eat, sleep, and most importantly, survive. There are theories that our tribal instincts are still with us today, and are having a lot of trouble coping with this new stuff to make living easier.

So how does this relate to social media marketing? Well, you’ve been programmed to be afraid of the “unknown” and being cast from our society for associating with weirdoes. You want to feel comfortable with someone’s presence, and in tribal terms, don’t want to be murdered by what you don’t understand. In the social networking world it translates like this:

I see a page with a bunch of text and a logo, and no one connecting with you. I don’t trust you, because I don’t see others trusting you, and there is no face associated with your business. All of your posts are spam-like messages trying to get us to go to your website. Or, you may be trying to build a relationship with a bunch of random facts and quotes, but it’s painfully obvious why they are doing this. I quickly move onto a profile of your competitor, who has a warm smile and a lot of friendly interactions.

Basically, you have been biologically and socially programmed to fear mysterious things. If you build your social networking pages as a platform to connect with people (remember the ABCs!) then you will have all the success that social networking can offer your company. As long as you are connecting with people, and giving people a chance to share about your company, you are successful in social media marketing. You don’t necessarily need a thousand followers, or crazy graphics. What you do need is to show your warm personality.