This is the flip side to my previous post on social media, in which I advised that you focus just on the high-value core of your social media network.
Today I’m suggesting that while you keep one eye on developing that core, you should also pay attention to connections which don’t appear to have any immediate value to you.
How come? Why bother with people who don’t have many connections of their own, and don’t appear to offer much value?
For a couple of reasons.
First, because if you dismiss people out of hand, simply because they don’t have many followers or friends, then you’re missing out on the “social” in social media.
It’s like going to a party and speaking only with the people you already know. When you do that, you close off any opportunity to meet new and interesting people.
[Cartoon by Italo Baudo. Creative commons license. i.e. Feel free to use & share it, but don’t sell it.]
The second reason is that if you focus only on trying to connect with the big dogs, you’ll probably never build a worthwhile network, because few of them will ever pay you much attention.
The thing about social networks, whether you’re a freelancer or consultant, is that everyone is trying to connect with people who have larger followings than they do. We all try to reach up, and tend to spend little time engaging with people who are “below” us.
By all means follow or friend Chris Brogan or Robert Scoble, but don’t expect to be invited into their inner circles any time soon.
Follow the big dogs for the information they provide and the lessons you can learn. Follow your peers to build a core network of people with whom you can connect and engage. And also follow some people who have few connections than you…because you never know what value they might bring to the table.
At this point, if you read my post last week, you might be wondering just how much time I suggest you invest in all of this.
It takes just minutes a day to keep up with what the big dogs are up to. And maybe a little more time to keep in touch with your true peers and business prospects. But what about that huge group of strangers? It could take hours and hours to engage with them.
True. Which is why I have a process I follow.
I’ll use Twitter as an example, where I have a little over 5,000 followers. Do I even try to keep up with everyone who follows me? No, that would be impossible. How about the 2,000 or so people I follow? No, I wouldn’t have time to keep up with all of those people either.
Here is what I do…First I have a list of people I really want to keep in touch with. Some are “big dogs” and some are my peers. These I place on a “must-read” list. Then I add a few strangers to this list. I watch them for a week or so, and then decide whether to keep them on the list or drop them.
How do I choose which strangers to add to my must-read list? I watch for people who share or respond to my own tweets. It is from this group – strangers who are making an effort to engage with me – that I choose people to follow more carefully.
I have to drop many of them after a while, otherwise my “must-read” group would become too large. It’s the same as being at that party. I might talk with a dozen strangers, but then decide to keep in touch with just one or two of them.
So a small proportion of these unknowns earn a permanent place in that must-read group. They may not be well known, and they may not have thousands of followers, but for one reason or another I feel they add value to my social media experience.
Remember, you’ll never find these people if you’re not open enough and generous enough to give them a chance.
Finally, don’t be like the jerk in the cartoon. Don’t wait until you can see the bigger value someone might offer before giving them a chance to join the conversation.
My book on writing short-form content for social media, Popcorn Content
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…