The Five Commandments Of Entering A Social Network

I read a very funny post the other day listing the 10 Commandments of Facebook.  After gettingEnter the Social Networking Community The Right Way to Commandment 10 (“Thou Shalt Not Act Like You’re On MySpace”) I realized that if there were lists like this for Social Media Marketers, nobody would feel as if social media marketing within social networks is or has any relation to spam.

That’s because, as this post very explicitly illustrates, there are social norms that exist within every social network.  Understanding those norms can be difficult unless you are fully immersed within the social culture.  In order to “get” these rules or norms within the social network, we social media marketers need to start by understanding the first five commandments that involve entering a social network.

1.  Know Your Specific Target Audience

If you sell a consumer good, more than likely this information has already been ingrained into your head.  You probably browse the grocery store and watch what members of your target demographic pick up and how they act.  Use this information to understand your web audience.  Don’t start by pitching the entire web.  Research where your demographic socializes on the web.  It could be that your particular demographic doesn’t communicate in online communities and your time could be spent elsewhere.  Narrow down exactly who you are talking to and why.

2.  Know Where that Audience Socializes On the Web

Chances are you’re not the only one who has tried to reach this demographic before.  And remember, there are thousands of online communities- don’t focus on the big ones.  There are social communities for almost every specific need and personFIND THEM!  If you already understand your demographic, then you will likely understand them in the places that their thoughts and feelings resonate.

3.  Understand the Actual Rules of the Community (Terms of Service)Some communities are very strict on who can be there and for what reasons.  This protects their users and community members.  Part of understanding the social norms of the community is understanding the actual rules of the community.

4.  Factor In a Media Budget

Many niche communities are open to advertising, but only from partners that also advertise traditionally on the site.  Cafemom is a great example.  This means that you can often times be more productive if you also have traditional media buys building upon your activity within the social community.  Research what advantages could come from including a media budget within the community you have chosen to engage.

5.  Know Your Goals

Engaging in a social community is a brand-building activity.  Evaluating your goals are the most important step in deciding what and where to outreach in social media.  Social networking can be time consuming and intensive.  If your goals strictly involve ROI, then maybe your time could be better spent writing quality blog pieces or doing vodcasts.

Have you followed all of these guidelines?  Then read the 5 Commandments on how to act after entering into a social community.

Ignite Social Media