Monday, June 20, 2011

SOCIAL NETWORKING for the Business Writer: Top-Ten List


 1. Social networking is not free advertising. It's been said in practically every post of this series, but it remains the #1 thing to remember; a social networking forum is no place for a hard-core sales pitch. Never post anything with the sole purpose of convincing readers to buy your product or service; that's what your website (and paid advertising) is for.

2. Ask not what your fellow networkers can do for you; ask what you can do for your fellow networkers. Thinking only of yourself is bad business in any venue, and particularly unwise in any form of networking. Be ready to provide advice and referrals whenever you can be helpful, without considering "what I might get back."

3. Keep things short. Short sentences, short paragraphs, and short posts are the backbone of online writing. No one likes a page of unbroken text, particularly on a glaring screen.

4. Speak from your expertise. Search out questions and discussions where you can contribute meaningfully--where it's obvious you know what you're talking about. Some people choose their comment forums primarily on the basis of keywords that push their buttons; you can pick out these people by their emotionally loaded tones, their failure to cite objective backup for their claims, and their evident ignorance of what was actually said in the original post and other comments. It makes a less than professional impression, to say the least.

5. Feel free to make multiple contributions to an ongoing discussion, but don't say the same thing every time. Do your part to keep the discussion moving in a line, not a circle.

6. Don't be afraid to say what you think. Some people are so afraid of giving offense that they wouldn't dare say outright that cold-blooded murder is wrong--not even if asked directly. Aside from moral considerations, this attitude is, frankly, boring. Respectful controversy adds interest to a discussion; just be sure to keep it respectful. Hint: give sound reasons for your opinions, but stop at one or two reasons. Going on and on about why you're right will soon have everyone picturing you as a stressed-out fanatic.


7. Don't pick fights. Building on the last point, the only trouble with controversy is that it easily gets out of hand. The instinct to take any disagreement as a personal insult is strong, but something that must be resisted if social networking is to be kept professional. Once tempers are lost, so are the benefits of the discussion. So never call names, blatantly contradict someone, or use such loaded phrases as "Everybody knows...."

8. Watch your spelling. And your punctuation, grammar, and usage. No one expects heavy editing on a social networking post, but at least try to get rid of all typos. You don't want to come across as hurried and careless, certainly not in any setting that reflects on you professionally.

9. Be especially careful when including online addresses. While most human readers can still understand the text through the typos, computers take everything literally. One missed character--or substituting "com" for "org"--can take someone to an "Error" page. Worse, the "wrong address" might belong to a porn site or hate group forum. And even if nothing embarrassing happens, few people will bother informing you of the mistake or looking for the real site you referenced, so you've gained nothing for your trouble.

10. Budget your social networking. Know how many hours a week you can spend and what topics and sites to focus on. Have advance ideas of information you might contribute; your writing will go smoother and faster. If you're seriously short on time and have a decent-sized budget, consider hiring a separate social networking writer (contract or staff).

About Katherine Swarts

Katherine Swarts is a poet and inspirational writer from Houston, Texas. Her self-published poetry book Where Light Dawns: Christian Poems of Hope for Hurting Hearts (the first volume in a planned series) was “written for naturally gloomy types like myself who are tired of ‘cheer up’ talk and need the comfort of ‘God does love you’ encouragement.” The poems in the book come from Katherine’s blog at http://newsongsfromtheheart.blogspot.com; contact Katherine at katherine@spreadthewordcommercialwriting.com for ordering information.

28 comments :

  1. Good advice especially regarding spelling and punctuation. It's the easiest thing in the world to make a typo but it's amazing how many people don't proof read what they post.I've even seen spelling mistakes in the title of an article.
    Thanks for an interesting post Katherine.
    What's the betting that after I've posted this I'll notice a mistake.

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  2. It happened to me just this morning when I left a comment on a blog. Of course, I spotted the mistake AFTER I clicked send. LOL.

    Hi Paul. Hope your day goes well.

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  3. Lots of excellent points here, thanks. I especially like #1 and #2, and wish more novice writers understood those concepts. On Twitter it seems there are always people who believe marketing means they have to constantly shove their books in readers' faces. It's a turn-off for me, and is anything but businesslike. The interaction of online networking is what develops relationships. When I come to admire and respect someone I've met online I want to read their books.

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  4. I know what you mean, Carol. I know so many that feel this need. And the thing is, they turn off more than a few. They risk so many potential sales.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Hi Joylene, I followed you here from Klanhanie's blog. I love BC, having some cousins in Kitsilano, Vancouver. (I'm in the UK).
    Your guest blogger, or whatever, has a brilliant set of tips in this post. I work as a business advisor and I endorse Katherine's advice.
    Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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  6. Great advice, Joylene! And it's refreshing to read about not pestering via social links. Sometimes it's all just a bit much.

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  7. Oh that is so true, Kitty. If just one bloggers heeds Katherine's advice than that's a victory.

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  8. That is so kind of you to stop by and say that, Bazza. Katherine has been guesting blogging for me for a long time now, and I'm still learning stuff. I'm glad you liked it. Hope your day is wonderful.

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  9. Hi Joylene and Katharine .. great post - and I do wish people would keep their paragraphs short, and think about backgrounds .. especially black ones!!

    Blogging presentation is really "Keep It Simple Stupid" - so it's easy to find, easy to read, easy to follow etc etc ..

    We can get clever in other ways if we want to .. cheers Hilary

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  10. Hi Hilary. Hopefully it'll eventually sink in. What I find strange is how many want people to read their blogs and buy their books without ever reciprocating.

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  11. Hi Joylene .. etiquette and social graces - definitely need practising in the blogosphere - otherwise you get no where ... and reciprocation is another aspect .. irritating to say the least .. you're so right. Hilary

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  12. Great post, thank you! I especially hate when authors use forums to solely promote their work or say "visit my blog!". It's the most annoying thing.

    Thanks, Joylene!

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  13. Hi Adrianna. Well--now that I've got that off my chest I feel so much better. LOL. Seriously, that stuff is annoying. Happy Tuesday.

    Hilary, thanks for letting me spew. Have a great day.

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  14. Thank for for this post on social networking. I've had a lot of questions on this lately. Lucky for me I found you on Nancy Thompson's site. Will be following you.

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  15. Interesting post. I think the hardest thing for me is time. Social networking keeps me from writing, yet here I am. ;)

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  16. Hi Laila. I'm still learning what it means to market and promote my work. Some days I'm a bad example because I'd just as soon hire someone to impersonate me so I could stay home and garden. LOL.

    I do like my blogging buddies though, and I'm going to miss everyone next week while I'm away.

    Thanks for stopping by, Laila. Have a great week.

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  17. Hi Cindy. I know what you mean about time. My flower gardens are so full of weeds. And I mean to get to them, but time gets away from me. All the bloggers I visit have become part of my routine, and though I want to work on my writing, it does take a backseat sometimes. So, I understand how you feel. I'm sure we'll both get organized. Soon.

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  18. This was a great post, Katherine! Very imformative and filled with lots of goodies to put into my mental rolodex.

    And Joylene, thanks for sharing! I found this through Laila and am so glad I did. Your blog is fantastic! Hope you don't mind if I jump on board.

    Best-

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  19. "imformative"
    *sigh*

    The editor was on ANOTHER coffee break. Apologies.

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  20. Bryce, I think the more the merrier. Katherine guest hosts on the 20th day of every month and has for a few years now. I'm glad you stopped by. Have a super day.

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  21. Great advice! Thanks for the list. :)

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  22. Thanks, Joylene, for posting this good advice. You come up with such good stuff. I just went back to your blog on "Amazon tags," (from Angie Villanueva.) More good stuff. Thanks. xoxoxo

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  23. Joylene, thanks for posting this information on your blog. Great tips.

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  24. Thank you, Judy, Doc and Penny. It's all Katherine. She's taught me so much. Thanks for stopping by.

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  25. Number 2 is so important. This is a what's in it for me society so viewers need to walk away with something. It can be helpful or simply make them chuckle. But they need to glean something from your posts. Great post today!

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  26. Just got back from vacation (in British Columbia, actually--well, for one evening of it anyway) or I would have added something sooner. Thanks to all for your comments. Anyone who's puzzled by the reference to "this series"--this post was taken verbatim from http://gwigb.blogspot.com/2010/12/social-networking-for-business-writer.html, where the links to the rest of the "social networking" series are. Although the GWIGB blog itself is no longer active, you can still add comments to the posts.

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  27. Thanks for clarifying that, Katherine. I should have caught the reference. Thanks again for all the excellent information.

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