Larry Brauner

Building a social media presence is much more a marathon than a sprint. There’s plenty of content to develop, place and promote, and there are lots of relationships to build.

Running a marathon requires physical endurance and much more mental endurance than most people think.

I ran two marathons, so I speak from personal experience. I’m crossing the 1985 NYC Marathon finish line in the picture below. Months or years of difficult and sometimes painful training lead up to the day of the big race.

Larry Brauner Completes His Second New York City Marathon in November, 1985The social media marathon requires commitment, persistence and lots of patience, the type of mental endurance needed to complete a 26.2 mile race.

When I wrote Social Media One Bite at a Time back in March, I emphasized the importance of motivation and focus.

In the present article, I’m suggesting that you adopt the mindset of a marathoner. Commit to do whatever is necessary to succeed, and pace yourself, so that you don’t injure yourself or get burned out during the process. This principle is behind most great achievements.

I love the way my running coach Bob Glover puts it, “Start off slow and taper down.” Bob’s mantra counters our natural tendency to come “out of the gate” at full speed and keep running — our human egos at work.

How does all this translate into long-term social media success?

Marathoner Mindset

Here are seven ideas to help you develop the mindset of a marathoner:

  1. Make a serious commitment to do whatever is required to attain your social media or web marketing goals. This is an absolute prerequisite.
  2. Find your “Bob Glover.” I had more than one coach on my way to becoming a chess champion and teachers to help me learn cello and Talmud. I have mentors now and plan to have more mentors in the future. Get yourself a mentor. As I now like to say, “The ultimate shortcut is doing it right the first time.”
  3. Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect for launching your campaign. I’ll always remember what I heard Mike Litman say, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going”.
  4. Join one networking site at a time and take time to master it. Social networking sites can be intimidating at first. Learn a new feature, practice it, and go on to the next.
  5. Start out blogging once a week. It’s hard to begin, especially if, like me, you’re not a professional writer. You can increase your posting frequency later.
  6. Realize that there’s a steep social media learning curve. Do not quit. So many people join Twitter or Facebook or begin blogging and quit shortly thereafter. They expected to sprint a 100-yard* dash, not to run a marathon.
  7. Don’t forget about the “social” in social media. Get to know a lot of people and have a blast!

I invite you to subscribe to this blog and to share your ideas below.

*A unit of length equal to 0.9144 meters, something that even our British friends across the pond can find quaint.

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Larry BraunerI am about to discuss targeting and connecting as they apply to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning networks, the most popular social networking sites for business networking.

I could have broken the material into four separate blog posts, but decided instead to deliver it to you as four articles wrapped up into one long one.

For simplicity, I am assuming that your target market uses each of the sites. Since that may not be true in your case, feel free to adapt these business networking techniques to all other social networking sites as needed.

Facebook

Targeting and connecting on Facebook are pretty straightforward with one caveat. You are limited to 5,000 connections on Facebook, so you can’t afford to cast too wide a net. Be fussy about whom you connect with and remove from your friends anybody who spams you.

To identify people in your target market, search for groups and Facebook networked blogs that would likely interest them. Join the groups and follow the blogs yourself. Then browse the members of those groups and followers of those blogs to find potential connections.

I believe that blog followers as a whole are more active on Facebook than mere group members. However, consider selecting only members with some minimum number of friends such as 100 to weed out people who don’t really engage with the site.

If you’re not sure which groups and blogs to select, try connecting with others in your niche. You’ll be able to see which groups they lead or belong to and which blogs they publish or follow. You can also examine their Facebook walls to find additional potential connections.

Connecting isn’t difficult. When you invite another member, include a short note such as, “You and I are both members of the Social Networking Haters group.”

Please, promise me that you won’t write anything nerdy like, “I’m looking to connect with like minded people.” Don’t use a line like that with anybody anywhere ever. I mean it.

Twitter

The Twitter learning curve is steep. If you’re not well versed with Twitter, try the advice and resources in my Twitter articles. I’m going to assume that you pretty much know what you’re doing.

Since Twitter is bloated with spammers’ phony profiles, targeting on Twitter is difficult and getting more difficult all the time. It’s going to be a messy job, so be prepared. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Do not connect with anybody who has:

  • no profile information or inappropriate profile information
  • no picture, avatar or business logo
  • a lopsided relationship between following and followers
  • almost no tweets or spammy looking tweets

Do follow back anybody else who follows you. Unfollow anybody who spams you.

To identify Twitter members in your target market, start your search by using Find People to look for other people in your niche. Avoid the biggies, since they are magnets for spam, and a large percentage of their followers are spammers.

Look for the ones who have a few hundred to a few thousand followers.

Follow them and follow their followers — unless of course a particular follower looks suspicious based on the criteria I just listed above. A portion of their followers will hopefully belong to your target market.

Unfollow the people who don’t follow back after a few days and repeat the process.

Consider using a tool to manage your account.

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, targeting is fairly straightforward, but connecting can be a challenge.

If you’re a job hunter or a headhunter in the recruiting industry, you should probably connect with as many people as you can. Since the limit is reportedly 30,000, you can afford to cast a very wide net.

In any case you should accept all invitations. Remove any connection who who spams you:

  1. Click on “Connections” which is on the left side bar.
  2. Click on “Remove Connections” which is currently near the upper right corner
  3. Then follow the instructions.

The main difficulty with LinkedIn is that if you invite someone who then indicates that they don’t know you, you get a strike against you. If this happens often, LinkedIn restricts your inviting privileges.

People who are open to invitations and implicitly agree not to indicate that they don’t know you are call LinkedIn Open Networkers, abbreviated LION.

There are at least two groups for LinkedIn Open Networkers:

You can join and browse these groups to find people to link to. They of course have an option to accept you or to archive you, i.e. ignore you. Usually they accept.

If you are not a job hunter or headhunter, you’re probably better off targeting than trying to connect to thousands of people. That’s your judgment call.

You can do both, just as I do. But I admit that I started as a job hunter years ago and built a large base at that time. If I were starting today, I think I would stick to targeting.

To make the best connections, join the groups that people in your target market would join, and participate in the groups’ discussions. You’ll naturally make connections and get some traffic to your blog or website along the way.

Ning Network

Targeting on Ning is a little tricky. Cast a wide net on Ning, since I’m not aware of any upper limit on the number of Ning friends.

Here are the challenges that you face when adding Ning friends:

  • You can only have 100 outstanding friend requests. You’ll have to dis-invite people who don’t respond. Do this from the “Friends” tab of your Ning dashboard at Ning.com.
  • Most of the people you invite won’t respond. Either they don’t know how or they’ve already abandoned the site.

You improve your results by posting a friendly, non-spammy and non-nerdy comment to their profile at the time you invite them.

You also improve your results by inviting people who have recently joined the site, the ones at the beginning of the member list, or people who are obviously engaging with the site.

Find people in your target market by joining Ning networks and groups that are likely to attract these people. Invite a hundred people, and wait a day. Some will accept, so you can invite more.

When you get stuck, trim your invite list starting from the end. While this can be a slow process, it has worked for me and for others.

Be careful not to spam your friends. Don’t invite them directly to join new Ning sites.

The best way to communicate with your Ning friends is to write informative blog posts on a Ning site about something that would interest people in your target audience. Then use the share feature on Ning to let them know about your post.

Read Introduction to Using Ning Sites and other Ning articles.

Now It’s Your Turn

I don’t have a monopoly on online business networking techniques. Why not share some of your own targeting and connecting ideas?

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Larry Brauner

In Social Media vs. Search Engine Optimization, worth a read, I discussed the synergy between social media and search engine optimization.

Today, thanks to heated competition between Facebook and Google, the connection between social media and SEO may become much tighter than a mere relationship of loose synergy.

A More Natural Form of Search

According to the Wired.com article which I referenced in Most Popular Social Networking Sites for Business, “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions a more personalized, humanized Web, where our network of friends, colleagues, peers, and family is our primary source of information, just as it is offline.”

In other words, the endorsements of both web pages and their authors by people in our personal networks will influence the outcomes of online searches we perform as much as or more than the current system which analyzes external links to determine a site’s authority and relevance.

New Role of Social Media in SEO

Facebook intends to leverage the vast amount of member data stored in its global network to facilitate this type of search.

Facebook is adding tons of new data by the second through its site, as well as via its Facebook Connect API that opens a window into a growing number of other sites such as Digg.com.

Google is pursuing initiatives to develop its own proprietary data through Google Friend Connect and the anticipated releases of Google Wave and Google Chrome OS.

Furthermore, all search providers can mine public web data to monitor additional social media buzz about web pages and their authors.

Let’s consider how big this SEO paradigm shift will be.

Social Media Presence

In the new SEO, your online reputation is an integral part of your overall web presence and influences your search results. Social media enables you to nurture the relationships and shape the opinions that underlie your online reputation and social capital.

So important is social capital today that new products and services such as Sumbaa, by Paden Noble Consulting and Morpholytics, LLC, are emerging to meet a fast-growing need in the marketplace.

Webmasters work to build external links to their company’s web pages. Savvy companies are already beginning to dedicate additional staff to build and manage social capital as well.

High Cost of Complacency

Companies that neglect their social media presence will suffer in several ways:

  • They’ll have no influence over their online reputation.
  • Their customers will view them as backward.
  • They won’t receive traffic from social media sites.
  • They’ll receive less search engine traffic too.

Be Proactive

Build your social media presence right away. Pay special attention to Facebook and Google. I intend to write much more about Facebook and Google in future articles.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, please take a minute to join my Facebook and Google networks using the widgets on my right sidebar.

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Larry BraunerMy list of social and business networking sites is updated when online social networking changes occur. If I omitted sites you feel should be included, please leave a comment.

This article about top social and business networking sites is sponsored by the Small Business Network, a new social website for open business networking and lifetime business learning.

Social Networking Sites Becoming the Internet

The rapid growth of Facebook and Twitter the past several years has fueled much excitement and speculation among the public and within the business world.

Alexa ranks the world’s most popular websites. Eight social networking and business networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut, hi5, Ning and Xing are ranked very highly overall among the world’s websites.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Ning networks are the most popular social networks with wide business appeal. From a business point of view, MySpace has become a niche site for the music industry.

Each social networking site is different. Choose a social network according to your individual or business networking objectives, as well as your personal style. Don’t base your choice solely upon site popularity, for each social networking site has a style and features that differentiate it from other social networking sites and contribute to its success.

Facebook

Read the Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out, and you’ll  begin to appreciate ambitious scope of Facebook’s controversial plans, plans that have already started unfolding before our eyes.

The Facebook article has several important implications:

  • If Facebook succeeds, even partially, our influence and the content we post on Facebook will affect Facebook search results. In other words, we can to some extent impact the outcome of Facebook searches.
  • Facebook will evolve to compete both with Google and with other social networking sites. Facebook will implement powerful new features that enhance our networking experience.
  • To profit from an evolving Facebook, we must master Facebook now and start building our influence on the site.

I like the realness of Facebook. Most members use their actual names, provide factual information about themselves, and share interesting pictures, videos, and other content.

I also like the ease with which I can connect with my Facebook friends with a private message or a comment on their wall.

We’ve been discussing spam a lot lately. There’s a 5,000 friend limit on Facebook, so friend slots are precious. If a “friend” spams me, I remove him or her, unless of course it’s somebody I know from outside Facebook, in which case he or she gets an earful about spamming.

Twitter

Some people believe that Twitter is merely a fad. Not I. However, I’m not as confident in the future of Twitter as I am in the future of Facebook or LinkedIn.

For now, Twitter is growing, and it’s very useful if it’s used properly. I have created more traffic using Twitter than with all my other social networking sites and social media sites combined.

The ability to connect with and reach large groups of people makes Twitter attractive from a marketing perspective. I use a simple yet powerful tool that helps me connect with people and manage my profiles and those of my clients.

If you can reach your target market on Twitter and keep their interest, you will benefit enormously.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great business social networking site that is under new management.

LinkedIn’s potential lies in it’s many diverse and successful groups and their ongoing discussions. What better way to network than to participate in the discussions of groups that attract the types of people you want to meet?

You can also build up a very large network on LinkedIn which will enable you to communicate directly with the people you want without having to get past the usual gatekeepers. Members will also be able to search for and find you.

Ning Networks

I’ve written much recently about Ning networks. Many Ning social networking sites appeal to narrow niches, but others have broader appeal. Small Business Network is a new Ning network with a wide appeal.

I appreciate most a Ning network feature that is very controversial, the ability to share content with all Ning friends on a particular Ning network. I can write a blog post and share it easily with hundreds of friends.

Popularity of Social Networking Sites Isn’t Everything

While these are the most popular social networking sites, popularity isn’t everything. Less popular sites may offer you precisely the audience or the features you want. See also my list of social networking sites article from 2008 and my recent review of an excellent business networking book, The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel.

Please subscribe and join me on Facebook.

Most Popular Social and Business Networking Sites was most recently updated 28-Sep-2010 by Larry Brauner.

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Larry Brauner

I’ve written about the problem of spam both offline and online at social networking sites in How Do You Like Your SPAM? and Why Do People SPAM?

With this article, I’m delivering on the promise I made last week to discuss marketing channels you can use to promote yourself or your business — without ever resorting to spam.

Legitimate promotion alternatives fall primarily into these basic categories:

  1. Advertising - Expect to pay — unless you prefer getting marginal results, running around town, lurking in parking lots and posing for security cameras, all while schlepping around stacks of flyers and carefully avoiding people you know. Online, free advertising attracts people without money and spammers, although you may get good results with Craigslist. Offline advertising includes newspapers, magazines, direct mail, radio, television, offline directory listings and billboards. Online advertising includes Pay Per Click, e-zines and online directory listings. I do not recommend using banner ads. Advertising ROI will depend on the net lifetime value of each acquisition or conversion and the cost of each acquisition.
  2. Press Releases - If your business is newsworthy, or if you can create a newsworthy event, then you may be able to get some free exposure. Your press release needs to be well written in a suitable format and distributed either offline, online or both.
  3. Speaking and Contributing Articles - It is an accepted practice to establish your reputation and generate leads by speaking at meetings or contributing articles to journals. Don’t expect to get paid anything until you become a recognized expert in your field.
  4. Strategic Alliances and Joint Ventures - A business or list owner promotes your offer to his or her clients or e-mail list based on an agreement through which you both stand to gain. It’s not uncommon to give a joint venture partner all the profit from an initial product offering in exchange for helping you to add new contacts to your list.
  5. E-Mailing Your List - You can send relevant commercial messages to subscribers who previously opted into your database. Try to avoid using purchased lists. If you must, be sure you know with certainty that the subscribers agreed to receive offers from third parties. Be genuinely helpful and careful not to abuse your list.
  6. Search Engine Optimization - You’ll need a web site, and unless you’re an SEO maven, you’ll have to pay for SEO services. There’s more to doing effective search engine optimization than most people realize. However, SEO will be worth the trouble if it gets you ranked high up in the free organic search engine results that most searchers look at and care about.
  7. Social Media - Social marketing is similar in philosophy to speaking and article contribution mentioned above. You share online videos and articles to educate, inform and entertain people, and to build a relationship with them. If they want your product or service, they’ll be inclined to buy it from you, since they know you, and you’ve earned their respect. Your blog on a social networking site, a blogging community such as Blogger.com, or you own hosting, are good places to share your content. For ideal results, create and post new original content on a regular basis. If your content is geared toward your target market, then you’ll attract qualified customers to you and your site.
  8. Business and Social Networking - Networking is meeting new people and developing relationships with them. You can network at your local Small Business Association, Chamber of Commerce or BNI. I can go to Network Plus, a group in my area founded by Ted Fattoross. Online social networking is more convenient. You network from your computer at any of thousands of social networking sites. My favorites are Ning and Facebook. You build relationships by asking questions and getting to know people. Keep in mind that spamming doesn’t work at all, and exchanging business cards is no more than a cordial first step in starting a relationship.

I like the web marketing channels: my e-mail list, search engine optimization, social marketing and business networking. I coordinate them to benefit from the synergies between them.

Now it’s your turn.

Which methods do you use? Which ones are you hoping to use in the future? What challenges do you foresee?

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Larry Brauner

When I read comments on What is Wrong with Ning and other articles, a recurring theme is that spamming on Ning and on other social networking sites has become a major nuisance.

I often speculate about why people spam — regular well-meaning people like you and me, not the offshore criminal type. What are they thinking? Why do they spam?

Ignorance a Big Factor

While there are many possible reasons, an eye opening experience last week convinced me that ignorance is definitely a factor.

A newcomer to the Internet is repeatedly exposed to the much too prevalent practice of spamming and easily concludes that it’s the way business is transacted. From then on, it’s monkey see, monkey do.

It matters little whether or not they’ve heard that spam is bad, since they don’t know what spam is anyway. Therefore, they don’t realize that sending unsolicited commercial messages or advertising on other people’s pages is spam. To them it’s just advertising, and advertising is good, not bad.

Now let me tell you about what happened last week.

SPAM on My Ning Site

I received spam from a member of my Beyond Business Coaching Ning network, a private message sent to me and other “friends” on the site:

Tool for any business that will put money into your pocket. Lead generation software which automatically extracts leads and traffic from other targeted websites and systematically does the selling for you: http://www.—-.com/?ID=—-

Not only is this message spammy, it’s hypey and a little scary too.

I replied to the sender and to the other message recipients:

The message you sent is a violation of the terms of service you agreed upon when joining, which prohibits spam. Please refer to these two articles about spam:

Introduction to Using Ning Sites
How Do You Like Your SPAM?

I request that you use a more compliant marketing approach.

This should have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t.

I Can’t Believe It’s SPAM

I received a call from a woman I had once-upon-a-time banned from my site and had later reinstated. She had received a copy of my reply quoted above, and she was angry enough to pick up the phone and ring me.

She felt that my rules were too restrictive and unfair. Here her friend was trying to help by sending out useful information, and I was accusing her of spamming. How could I?

I asked her what she considered spam. She said that spam was a message with banner ads or images. She wouldn’t believe that her friend’s message was in fact spam.

There was a difference of opinion, but I tried to be as nice as possible. I didn’t ban anybody, but I did take the liberty of deleting some spammy profile comments that my caller had recently made on several members’ pages.

I naively assumed that this would be the end of the story, but again of course, it wasn’t.

Spillover onto Facebook

A couple of days later I was promoting my Beyond Business Coaching network on my Facebook profile, and the controversy resurfaced, this time taking on a new dimension, our freedom of speech.

Here’s how it started:

Do not join this group unless you like being restricted to what and how you say things. The rules and restrictions are irrational and don’t allow freedom of speech.

Freedom of expression and ideas are not the same as spam!

The comments went back and forth, but this was the essence of my reply:

I’m sorry to say that while there is freedom of expression and ideas in the US, that freedom DOES have limitations.

For example, what would happen if you planted election campaign signs on all the lawns in your neighborhood or painted your ideas on the walls of the Empire State Building?

Fortunately, several people came and supported me.

Stacey Chadwell wrote:

This is an impressive professional site with superb information about social media and marketing. I have been a member for some time and highly recommend it.

I am sorry you feel this way. I’ve written on a few of Larry’s sites without issue. He has always been fair and professional even when dealing with members who spam the rest of us. I applaud him for doing his best to protect his members from spammers.

Jim Canto, creator of mexXcentral Community wrote:

The best part about the Internet these days is the number of free services out there including at least one where you can create your own social network for anything… AND.. you get to make the rules. So, if you feel “slighted” by someone’s rules.. just remember, it’s their house and their rules, same as it will be when we join a community created by you. You make the rules and we the members see if we can live with them.

I have a community of my own,  and I can assure you, it has its restrictions. Why? Because it has a direction and a purpose. To keep it on track, I must make sure I’ve laid the track down, i.e.the rules.

If you want to build your own community, Ning.com is free.

Luc Despres wrote:

I’m a member of Larry’s social network and I REALLY appreciate his rules on spamming.

What next? This can’t be the end of the story.

Better Education

See my article, 8 Great Choices for SPAM Free Promotion, which identifies methods of promotion on Ning and other social networking sites that work without resorting to spam.

To the extent that ignorance contributes to spam, better education might provide some relief.

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Larry Brauner

Social media sites are rapidly altering the web marketing landscape. Now you can use social media to drive targeted traffic to your websites.

You may be trying to determine whether social media is a viable alternative to search engine optimization.

After all, search engine optimization requires extensive keyword research and ongoing content development to achieve top search engine rankings. Is it possible that social media sites might provide a more expedient web marketing solution?

I’ve found in my experience that social networking sites and other social media can generate a modest level of response much more quickly than search engine optimization initiatives. So why not focus exclusively on social marketing?

Social Media AND Search Engine Optimization

Please read The Long Tail and Social Media, and you’ll start to appreciate the extent to which search engine optimization can enhance social media.

Not only does search engine optimization help you promote your website, it also helps you promote your social media content. Your website and your social media together constitute your web presence, and search engine optimization helps you to market your overall web presence.

Interestingly, the converse is also true.

Social media helps your search engine optimization efforts. It adds to the links back to your website generating both referral traffic and credibility with the various search engines.

They key is to coordinate your social media and search engine optimization, creating the maximum synergy between the two through an integrated approach.

The New Online Marketing Professional

It’s no longer enough for online marketing pros to be fluent in search engine optimization technique. They must also fully understand social media sites and their role in building both your online presence and the desired backlinks to your website.

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Larry BraunerCould it be that your website looks nice but fails to help you meet your web marketing objectives? Too often that is the case.

Lots of effort and expense went into building your site, but your return on investment is marginal or non-existent.

Here are possible reasons why your website isn’t generating leads or sales and some ideas that might help you correct the problems.

Too Little Website Traffic

Perhaps you lack an effective strategy for driving visitors to your site.

You set up your storefront but didn’t tell potential customers that you were in business, a mistake I often see both online and off.

Lack of traffic leads to lack of exposure for you and your offer or message.

Don’t assume that traffic will somehow find its way to you through word-of-mouth, search engines or otherwise. It rarely happens that way.

Generate exposure for your website offline via print advertising, direct mail, radio, etc. and online using social media, search engine marketing, search engine optimization and so forth.

Think big. You can dominate your niche, so don’t settle for less.

The Wrong Website Traffic

You have website traffic, but either your website traffic is not targeted or it’s poorly targeted, the result of using bad copy, selecting the wrong media, or choosing the wrong keywords.

For greater and more targeted website traffic, employ a good mix of research, analysis and experimentation.

Direct marketers have been using this approach offline since before you and I were born, and it works like a charm online as well.

Insufficient Stickiness

You have plenty of visitors, but they leave your website too soon.

Consider these questions:

  • Are you targeting the right website traffic?
  • Are your branding and message clear?
  • Are your pages too cluttered, or do you give your visitor too many choices?
  • Is your font hard to read? Try to avoid white on black in all your media, since it slows down your reader.
  • Is important content “above the fold?” Can visitors see your most important content without scrolling down?
  • Is your content up-to-date, relevant and interesting?
  • Do you use social techniques on your website to engage your visitors?

Poor Conversion

You have plenty of visitors who stick around but nothing happens.

Here are more questions to ponder:

  • Do you have a conversion strategy?
  • Does each of your pages have a call to action?
  • If not ready to buy, can your visitor join, opt-in to or subscribe to your site?

If you don’t have a lead capture mechanism and follow-up strategy, you’re leaving lots of money on the table.

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Larry BraunerLet’s face it. Few people are writers. Even fewer are thought leaders or guru types.

What can a “regular” marketer do to stand out and make a strong impression in the social media space?

What if You’re Not a Thought Leader?

Thought leadership is probably not as important in social marketing as is keen interest and enthusiasm.

Certainly some degree of expertise in your niche is desirable and, as I indicated in The 80/20 Rule is readily attainable. However, what you feel about your product, service or brand may be as or more important than what you know.

Several months ago, a close friend suggested that I offer to help one of the U.S. political parties with their social media campaigns.

After serious consideration I decided against it. While I possessed the knowledge I would need to succeed, I was not aligned with that party’s views. Therefore my heart wouldn’t be in the right place to do the top notch work that would be required.

If you enjoy a subject and communicate confidently about it, people will respond favorably.

What if You’re Not a Writer?

Let’s suppose that you don’t write and don’t want to start. What can you do?

Here are a few options:

  • If you have a sizable business, you’ll have a person or a department to do the writing for you. Problem solved.
  • If you’re a small business or working on your own, outsourcing is an important option. You can hire a writer such as Ivo Jackson to develop your content or a virtual assistant such as Denise Griffitts to do all sorts of creative and technical things that you can’t or don’t want to do yourself.
  • On Twitter you can make small talk, post links to interesting content and “retweet” other people’s messages. I have written numerous articles on Twitter. Connect with me @larrybrauner.
  • You can use videos instead of text to spread your message. On YouTube you can create your own video blogs, and if you can sing like Susan Boyle, the sky’s the limit.
  • If none of these ideas work for you, you can use your voice and the voices of others. On Blog Talk Radio you can create your own Internet-based talk radio show blog.

Above all be authentic. As I’ve said before, social media marketing is about people, not companies or products.

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Larry Brauner

The title of this article is purely sensational — as you might expect on April Fools Day. However, the article itself is real and highlights the annoyances and threats that we constantly face when using the Internet and social networking sites.

Before the Net became part of our lives, we worried about pickpocketing,  mugging, burglary, armed robbery and a variety of scams that include make-believe charities, phony investment schemes and identity theft.

Today we must also worry about viruses and malware, phishing and more sophisticated web-based scams including a plethora of silly business schemes, and widespread online fraud and identity theft.

Ning, Twitter and MySpace Attacked

Hundreds of Ning social networks including mine, Outside the Box and Let’s Follow Each Other, were attacked over the past week by “free ringtones” spam. Bogus users popped up everywhere and posted their free ringtones spam on as many member profiles as they could.

Network creators and administrators reacted by changing their site settings to require new member approval. This measure has stopped the free ringtones girl but not without some ongoing inconvenience to both administrators and would-be site members.

Similar spam outbreaks occur frequently on Twitter and MySpace where no simple solution is yet in sight.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Spam is only the tip of the iceberg.

Think BEFORE you click on any link or respond to any pop up including those that offer to upgrade to new versions of your existing software. It’s advisable to write down the name of the software mentioned and check the vendor’s site directly for legitimate updates.

Close pop up windows using Alt-F4 on your keyboard. Do not press ANY buttons, as labeling can be fake and malicious. Pressing buttons can initiate the downloading of some very nasty and hard-to-remove malware to your computer such as Trojans and rootkits.

The most likely places to pick up harmful malware are e-mails you receive, social networking sites, blogs and forums. Make sure you keep your system and virus protection current, but don’t rely on anti-malware programs to protect you. Use caution and common sense.

As far as make money from home schemes are concerned, most of them are time wasters if not outright ripoffs.

If you are serious about finding a legitimate work from home opportunity, contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction. However, it’s a fact that even the best home businesses usually flop.

Very Useful Information

I found the blog PC Speed Guru very informative and helpful. Any Internet security blogs or websites that you’ve found to be useful, please post them below in a comment.

But no spam, please!

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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