Thursday, May 3, 2007

More untangling of Web 2.0

posted by Andy Leff
The first step to solving your problem is admitting you have one. I'm admitting it. I'm addicted to blogging. But I'm not too interested in solving it, because where would that leave all you loyal IncPlace readers?

Case in point: I just had to return to my keyboard and bang out part two of social networking how-to's. Let's get started!

First, activate your account and build your profile. This can be as easy or as difficult as you want. Most social networks have templates you can choose from, so you don't have to be a designer in order to have something that looks professional.

Like I said before, these social networks are geared to individuals, so the areas to fill out info might seem a bit strange. However, they can be adapted for business use. In the "about me" section, fill out any info that you want people to know.

In the "interests and hobbies" section, you might list your products, or keywords relating to your business.

The pictures section is a great place to put your company logo, and those shots of you at the company Christmas party.

Don't forget that you can join more than one social network, so your messages should be tailored to the audience that visits the networks. If you can relate to them, they can relate to you.

Once this basic info is set up, it's time to grow your network and meet vital contacts.

Don't be intimidated -- this is pretty easy to do. Start by browsing profiles and adding them to your buddy list. Browsing for profiles is a very simple task, since all social networks do it the same way.

It's important to keep two things in mind when adding people to your friend or contact list. You can add anybody you want -- but remember, you're a business, so you want to add people who share common interests with your product or service. You also want to find your target market.

This is why I recommend MySpace as the best option to date. You can do a site search to find members who fit your audience. For example, if you sell trendy clothes, you might want to search for people who are into fashion and friend request them.

Once you start adding friends, you'll see the networking effect take place. Soon people will be requesting to add you to their contact list. But beware, some of these accounts are fake. The good news is, it's pretty easy to tell the fake from the legit. Here are my guidelines for what's fake:

Friend requests from a celebrity, such as Tom Cruise or the ever-popular Jenna Jameson. Chances are celebs don't have an interest in your business. The proof? Search a social network for Tom Cruise. There are hundreds of impersonators.

On the other hand, if your goal is to just add as many people as you can, then by all means, accept Tom's invitation. You're not going to be in any type of online danger. However, it might weaken your credibility if you have a ton of celebs as buddies (unless you're an agent).

Friend requests from someone in Alabama. In order to create mass spam accounts, people use computer programs to automatically make specific profile choices. The easiest location choice is the first on the drop down menu: Alabama.

This is also the reason many webcam girls come from Alabama. Check out this post from Seun for an explanation.

Friend requests from someone who asks you to check out their webcam. Don't click on the webcam -- no matter how tempting it might be.

Profiles without pictures. Social networkers tend to be quite a photogenic bunch, so accounts without pictures, or just one picture, are likely fake.

Profiles full of nonsense comments. Something like "Thanx for da add" is probably the work of a robot. Also, accounts with no signs of intelligent back-and-forth chit-chatting between friends are probably fake as well.

Profiles containing get-rich-quick schemes. They're a scam, simple as that.

"Now Andy," you might say, "it sounds like I'll be stuck with a ton of fake accounts, and all my personal information will be stolen." This is not the case. I'm just giving you a heads-up about what is out there.

Above all, use your common sense. Street smarts work well in the online world, too. If someone off the street offered you free money, you'd just keep walking. Online is no different.

Now that you've got your profile up and made some friends, what do you do with them? PARTYYY!

Well, not quite ... Uh oh, Seun just walked in front my desk with an urgent matter. BRB, friends, I'll have the final installment of social networking 101 soon!

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