networking the networks

If you’re serious about maximising the power of Social Networking for your organisation, business, cause or project, while keeping your time-table (and yourself) sane, consider syndicating your networks.

These days that is generally not your old-fashioned website.  Social Networking platforms are where it’s all happening.  But the two are not mutually exclusive.  You can make them work in tandem by adding one element to your website – a Blog page.

Providing information of interest and allowing people to interact,  will not only keep people interested in what you have to offer, but will bring others to your virtual doorstep.

the old

Wikipedia defines a website as a collection of web pages, where a webpage is a document or information resource.”  Traditional websites basically tend to be directories that tell people who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you. We all know a webpage can include audio and video as well, but generally there is nothing engaging about a static page of information on the Internet.

In the brave new world of social networking, static webpages are fast becoming uninteresting bastions of the past.  Unless spruced up to include a blog stream, or at the very least offer ‘share this‘ links to social networking platforms, they are dead fish in the water (excuse the cliché).

Incorporating a blog page into your website is just the beginning.

the new

Enter Social networks which mimic the structure of social groups.  At least that is the theory.  Often forgotten benefit of social networks is their power of referral or viral marketing – the electronic version of word-of-mouth marketing.

On the Internet, where it is becoming increasingly easier to create a virtual presence – FaceBookTwitterLinkedInFlickrTumblrPinterest, YouTube … the list is endless – things can get unwieldly very quickly.  As people’s web activities and communication increase, updating and keeping track of their social networks becomes more complex. And while millions of people use electronic mail and are familiar with websites, seems few people have figured out how to use the social networks efficiently.

the bridge

People being social beings, they like to share and debate.  A blog page goes some way to enabling interaction, but you can take things even further with very little effort. Actually, a little time and effort to set things up, and no effort at all after that.  The trick is to syndicate or automatically share all of your virtual homes.

The simplest and easiest way to do this is to use sharing applications to stream your blog to your social networking platform(s) where the post will automatically create a link-back to your blog page and website.  Why is that important?   One of the main factors that decides your page ranking with Google is the number of links to your website.  Sounds logical: If others are interested in sharing your website there must be something to it.

An information rich, regularly updated landing page welcomes people to share that information and having it accessible from the social networking platform of their choice (as opposed to having to surf the web) makes sharing so much simpler and easier.  Again, increasing opportunity for link-backs to your website, if that is where you’re blogging from, and by now I hope you’re convinced.

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS

Social media applications are referred to by various names: “plugins”, “tools”, “add-ons”, “widgets” etc.   Irrespective of the name, they are all code which can be built-in or added to enable syndication or some other type of digital information exchange.

With the plethora of available social media syndication tools, info can be moved in any direction automatically.  Having said that, if you have more than a couple of virtual homes, it can get confusing beyond the confusion you began with.  If you’re wanting to connect all your social platforms you need to be mindful so as not to double up.  A one-way loop can help you manage the flow of information much more efficiently. Did you just think, “a what?”.

For example: If your blog feed syndicates to both Twitter and FaceBook, and your Twitter syndicates to FaceBook as well, you will be posting the link to FaceBook twice: Once from the blog directly and once from Twitter.

All social networks offer their own versions of social media applications to allow you to spread the word easily.  So the best place to start if you’re running your website from a blogging platform like WordPress (eg. this website), is the platform’s own social media tools.

If you are at all Internet savvy (or at least a bit brave), it can be very simple to share your blog posts to your social networking platform(s) of choice, including FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.  If not, you can still set things up in a similar way but will probably need to get your web administrator to do it for you.

Minimising the number of starting points and distributing everything from the place you frequent the most will keep things simple.

Following is a sampling of options for networking from the perspective of different social networks.  You will need to be logged into your respective account to see the relevant linked page for some.

Blogger as your primary social network:

  • Blogger only facilitates promotion of blog posts to its sister site Google+ or, to RSS feeders;
  • The list of third party gadgets to import information into your blog is available from the Layout page of the blog;
  • NetworkedBlogs promotes your blog to readers on FaceBook (and/or Twitter) – Very useful if you’re a FaceBook fan like me;
  • Social RSS is a FaceBook app that posts your blog to FaceBook, but unlike Networked Blogs only posts to your personal FB wall;
  • Ping.fm posts from and to all of your favourite services.

FaceBook as your primary social network:

LinkedIn as your primary social network:

  • LinkedIn uses third party applications to take feeds in, including from WordPress;
  • Connect your blog to your LinkedIn profile with Blog Link;
  • Ping.fm posts from and to all of your favourite services.
  • LinkedIn and Twitter can finally talk to each other, both ways.

Twitteras your primary social network:

  • Twitter currently offers only two options: Use Twitter with FaceBook and  Take Twitter with you for your smartphone;
  • NetworkedBlogs (one of my faves) provides a simple way to get more exposure for your blog on Twitter (and FaceBook);
  • Ping.fm posts from and to all of your favourite services.
  • FaceBook to Twitter links your FB Pages to Twitter (not individual pages);
  • Twitter Tools is one of a growing number of third party plugins that allows you to send your WordPress blog posts to Twitter as a tweet, and and vice versa.

WordPress as your primary social network:

  • Twitter Tools is one of a growing number of third party plugins that allows you to send your WordPress blog posts to Twitter as a tweet, and and vice versa;
  • Ping.fm posts from and to all of your favourite services.
  • Tweet your WordPress.com posts – Self explanatory: Stream your WordPress posts to your Twitter account.  The tool also streams to four other social networking platforms, including FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yahoo Updates.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT

As with everything, some applications are better and easier to use than others; some will only post to your personal FaceBook wall and not your FaceBook page for example, so have a look through the variety listed here – you’re bound to find something that will suit the way you prefer to work in the virtual world.

These are some additional social media tools that can make the experience much richer:

  • Yoono Inc. simplifies your social life on the web by centralising all your social networks and instant messaging in one easy to use desktop, browser or iPhone app;
  • DisqQus is a discussion and commenting service for websites and social networks that works pretty much everywhere; and
  • Scribd, social web publishing company, will share your original writings and documents.

Lets say you use FaceBook on a daily basis.  If you don’t use FaceBook at all, I suggest you try it.  If nothing else, simply because it lends itself to being a pretty straight forward virtual-presence management-console:  You can see what family and friends are up to (use Lists to manage who can see what); Check interesting titbits from your contacts; Read the news from your favourite pages; Follow your favourite blogs; as well as keep an eye out on your own  information flow.

If you are self-employed, tie off any loose ends by setting up a FaceBook page and linking it in your profile as your present employer. Also important because, “Maintaining a personal account for anything other than an individual person is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If you don’t convert your noncompliant account to a Page, you risk permanently losing access to the account and all of its content.

In the end, bear in mind that keeping things as simple as you can will ensure things are working smoothly and you won’t get overwhelmed by it all any time soon.

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