We’re in the middle of an unfolding human experiment, says Aaron Kahlow, as social networking tools become a primary means of communicating and marketing.
It’s all about understanding the human element of these new tools, adds Kahlow, an expert in online marketing and advertising. And the human element really comes down to social networking etiquette.
“At some point, society determined that yelling in a communal place was not acceptable, that asking someone to be your friend before you actually got to know her was the order of events; and that there’s an appropriate time to get someone’s address or phone number. They all morphed into social norms that we follow almost without thinking. But the rules for communicating online are fuzzy, and for those who didn’t grow up with electronic communications, this type of communication is all new and not quite natural.”
Kahlow offers several tips to guide you in your social networking relationships, including:
- One medium at a time. “Feeding your Twitter updates to your Facebook status is a gross misuse of the medium. Same applies for email. You wouldn’t email someone a tweet, nor would you tweet an email.”
- Everyone or one? Private conversations are possible, but you have to pick the right medium. When posting to the wider public, be sure you do so in support of individuals.
- A network vs. networking. There are key differences among social networking tools. For example, you might use LinkedIn to build a superficial network of peers and Twitter to build a following. But for true networking to facilitate a deeper relationship with prospects, use Facebook or host your own online community.
Getting a feel for the rhythm and social norms of these social media will help you use them appropriately for marketing and strategic efforts, Kahlow concludes.
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Read more about our authors. Ray Ulmer, public relations director at TargetX, has been involved in higher education marketing for more than 25 years, including serving as executive director of communications at La Salle University and director of public relations at Drexel University. He has also worked in corporate marketing and advertising.