Maximizing Your Online Presence: Free Social Networking Guide

Sections of this topic

    Maximizing Social Networking: A Free Beginner’s Guide

    Sections of This Topic Include

    What is Social Networking?
    What is Social Media?

    How to Get Started With Social Media
    Which Social Media Tools Should You Use?
    What Are Uses of Social Media?
    How to Get Started With Social Media

    Communicating on Social Media
    Whom Will You Communicate With?
    How Will You Communicate It?

    Social Media Plans and Policies
    Build Your Social Media Plan Right From Scratch
    Plan How to Evaluate Your Social Networking
    Social Networking Policies

    Example Use: Social Media for Marketing
    Social Media for Marketing – Part 1 of 2
    Social Media for Marketing – Part 2 of 2

    Social Media Tools
    Categories of Social Media Tools
    Major Social Media Tools
    Other Popular Social Media Tools
    Social Media Management Tools

    Online Reputation Management
    How to Monitor Your Reputation
    How to Fight Back When Needed

    Get Help from Experts in Social Media?

    Also consider
    Marketing On-Line
    Public and Media

    Related Library Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Social Networking and Social Media

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    Career Management Blog

    Coaching Blog

    Human Resources Blog


    What is Social Networking?
    defines social networking simply as “The process of creating, building,
    and nurturing virtual communities and relationships between people online.”
    So social networking is the broad type of networking that so many of us consider
    networking to be; however, it is conducted virtually via tools on the Internet.

    Online social networking is viewed by many as the next new paradigm in personal,
    professional and organizational networking and marketing. The following link
    provides a broad overview of social networking.
    Networking (Wikipedia)

    The social network is a vital resource for organizations and is accessible
    to us all. Organizations can usually control the assets that they use, but who
    controls the social network?
    Who Owns the Social Network?

    What is Social Media?
    defines social media as “the collective of online communications channels
    dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.
    Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking,
    social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types
    of social media.” So essentially social media refers to the tools that
    used in social networking.

    This article helps you to take a broader — but more conversational
    — view of social media.
    Telling Responses to 27 Things About Working in Social Media

    Here are some articles that explain why social media is so important to organizations.
    How Social Networking Has Changed Business
    Culture: It Cannot Run and It Cannot Hide (from Social Media)

    How to Get Started With Social Media

    How to Get Started With Social Media

    It can seem overwhelming to think about even where to start, especially because
    it seems that social media can be used for so many applications — and because
    the number of tools seem to expand so rapidly. Fortunately, a lot of the advice
    about getting started seems similar to advice about starting other ventures:
    start with planning. That is the topic in the next section, but for now, it
    will help to read some advice about getting started.
    Tips For Getting Your Small Business Started With Social Media

    Getting Started with Social Media
    6 Essential Steps for Executing Your Social Media Strategy
    To Get Started In Social Media

    What Are The Uses Of Social Media?

    As with any widely used set of tools, it is sometimes difficult to know where
    to start when using the tools. As you can imagine, the uses of social media
    are vast. Perhaps the most visible use is for networking with friends and family.
    Many of us are also used to thinking about social media as being used for marketing,
    public relations, advertising and promotions, and research for a wide variety
    of purposes. People also enjoy immediate access to a wide variety of news media
    and journalism about current events.

    However, more recently, the tools are also used to cultivate citizen participation,
    including to enlighten citizenry about various social causes, as well as to
    mobilize and organize citizens to have a strong voice in their communities and
    Are the Uses of Social Media?
    Uses of Social Media

    As beneficial as social media has been, there have also been a variety of negative
    uses and impacts.
    Negative Impact of Social Networking Sites
    Social Media is Bad for You
    Media Overload: When is Enough Too Much?

    Which Social Media Tools Should You Use?

    Start by taking a broad view of your most important needs in addressing your
    strategic priorities. For example, is it most important now to expand your markets
    and products? If so, then use market research to identify new markets and use
    product development to produce products and services for those new markets.
    In that situation, use social media tools that have has a large number of users
    in order to pose your research questions across a broad range of people, for
    example, use Facebook and Twitter. If, on the other hand, your most important
    priority is to cultivate stronger relationships with your customers, then you
    might use Twitter to regularly send short messages to them. So before you start
    selecting which tools to use, first you should determine what “success”
    even means.
    What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like?

    So to best identify which tools to use, it is important to:

    1. To do planning to know what are your most important strategic needs now?
    2. Think about “success” means, for example, what goals would be
    3. Consider the categories of social media that most closely match your needs.
    4. Consider some of the most popular tools in that category.
    5. Perhaps get some quick expert advice to narrow down your choices.
    6. Start simple, but start.

    The remaining subtopics will help you to select the best tool to use.

    Communicating on Social Media

    The most important part of using social media is not selecting the right tool.
    It’s knowing whom to write to and what to write to them.

    Whom Will You Communicate With?

    Think about:

    1. The different groups that you want to communicate with, for example, customers,
      suppliers, investors/funders, collaborators, community leaders, researchers,
    2. What do you want each group to believe about you and/or your organization?
    3. What messages need to be conveyed to each group in order for them to believe
    4. How does each group prefer to get their communications, for example, short
      emails or tweets, brochures, research reports, etc.?
    5. Who will communicate to which groups, how and by when?

    Put the answers to those questions into an overall communications plan that
    you begin to implement.

    How Will You Communicate It?

    People know that first impressions are extremely important. That is true not
    just in in-person communications, but in writing, as well. The following links
    are to articles to help you ensure that your writing is high-quality.

    Building Blocks of Composition


    Writing Process

    and Organizing
    for Readability
    Your Writing
    Starting With Writing
    Your Writing

    Writing Online

    versus Voice
    of Writing
    for Readability

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    Social Media Plans and Policies

    Build Your Social Media Plan Right – From Scratch

    © Copyright Lisa

    How to Reach Your Target Audience

    In addition to your primary site, social media sites leverage your messages
    online. The wonder of social media is that it naturally connects people who
    have similar interests. You want to reach your friends, and your friends’

    When you engage in discussions online through social media, your message can
    even “go viral”, gaining momentum and reaching well beyond your
    friends’ friends. The ultimate goal of an internet marketing campaign
    is to create a meaningful message that reaches its target audience and is virally
    spread to others who are interested in the topic.

    Social Media Plan Fundamentals

    Build your social media presence and interaction very deliberately. Certain
    basic fundamentals will make your social media efforts most rewarding:

    • Write down your business goals.
    • Find and listen to the conversations that are already taking place online
      about you, your products, your competitors, and your competitors’ products.
    • Find and listen to your ideal customers’ needs. Remember, when you
      offer a solution that solves a pressing problem, fulfills an urgent need,
      or gives them hope and joy, people will eagerly buy it.
    • Choose key social media sites for your target niche and establish your online
    • Integrate those sites for maximum exposure, brand-building, and traffic.
    • Engage in conversations.
    • Build your network or following. Build your email database.
    • Track and monitor activity and results.
    • Tweak to continually improve results.
    • Repeat.

    Listen, Engage, Add Valuable Content

    A site that allows users to interact and add content (comments, links, photos,
    video, etc.) is social. Use first person. Make your interaction sound and feel
    genuine. The people you meet online will be attracted to you (and what you offer)
    when you add helpful, meaningful input. If you’re new to social media,
    it is widely recommended that you first LISTEN to the conversation in order
    to become familiar with its unique style and flow.

    Also see
    Have A Social Media Strategy
    To Create a Successful Social Media Campaign

    A Worthwhile Social Media Strategy Always BEGINS with Goals
    Media Strategies
    Want to Lead Corporate Social Strategy? Read This

    Getting Social Media Right: A Short Guide for Nonprofit Organizations
    21 Ways Non-Profits Can Leverage Social Media
    Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report – Highlights and My Two Cents

    When to Stop and When to Keep Going with Your Social Media Strategy
    5 Social Media Blunders That Prevent Brands From Showing a ROI

    Planning How to Evaluate Your Social Networking

    Remember when you first started planning how to use social media, using the
    guidelines near the top of this topic? Guidelines suggested that you identify
    what “success” really means. Now is when you can evaluate whether
    that success is being met or not.
    10 Social Media Metrics for Nonprofit Organizations
    5 Essential & Easy Social Media Metrics You Should Be Measuring
    Measuring Social Networks
    The Klout Score, a Way to Measure Online Influence
    Online Activities: Online Action Should Create & Support Offline Action

    Social Networking Policies

    © Copyright Lisa

    Blogs, comments and social network postings are very important in businesses’
    marketing tactics. They attract audiences and begin to build relationships of
    trust and engagement. But employee posts can also inadvertently cause PR nightmares
    for business, if even ONE errant post goes viral and causes negative word of

    Legal Risks of Employees’ Social Media Use

    When using social media, companies are exposed to many serious risks from multiple
    angles, including:

    Anti-trust issues
    Inappropriate use by staff
    Intellectual property rights
    User generated content
    Employment practices

    Don’t let your marketing and communications teams run ahead without due
    diligence and risk management controls.

    EXAMPLE Social Media Policies

    Let’s take a quick look at a few companies’ policies and guidelines
    on employee use of social networking. The policy excerpts below offer highlights
    of their own in-house guidelines:

    Yahoo’s Blog Policies – Belief Statement

    “Yahoo! believes in fostering a thriving online community and supports
    blogging as a valuable component of shared media.”

    Mayo Clinic’s Employee Social Media Policy

    “The main thing Mayo employees need to remember about blogs and social
    networking sites is that the same basic policies apply in these spaces as in
    other areas of their lives. The purpose of these guidelines is to help employees
    understand how Mayo policies apply to these newer technologies for communication,
    so you can participate with confidence not only on this blog, but in other social
    media platforms.”

    City of Seattle

    “To address the fast-changing landscape of the Internet and the way residents
    communicate and obtain information online, City of Seattle departments may consider
    using social media tools to reach a broader audience. The City encourages the
    use of social media to further the goals of the City and the missions of its
    departments, where appropriate.”

    Many companies are quite explicit, with well-defined, formal rules. Others
    adopt a more open, lenient culture.

    Why You
    Need a Social Media Policy

    Can Companies Craft the Best Social Media Policies?

    Study: Business Policy and Risks of Employee Social Media Use

    How to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy
    Is Your Social Networking Policy Illegal?
    Who Owns the Social Network?
    to Avoid a Social Media Lawsuit

    Organization Needs a Social Media Policy

    Example Use: Social Media for

    Back to Basics: Social Media for Marketing
    – Part 1 of 2

    © Copyright Lisa

    Simple Steps will Integrate Social Media into Your Traditional Marketing Plan

    As a marketing and small business consultant (
    and social media consultant,
    I am continually astounded at how SLOW small business managers really are in
    understanding, budgeting, and integrating online marketing into their traditional
    marketing plans. Lots of lip service, very little action.

    I realize that this is old news, but if this post motivates even a just handful
    of small businesses to actually START their trek into online marketing, I will
    be thrilled.

    For those of you who have already started – congratulations, and please
    read this in the spirit of checking yourself. Have you covered the basics?

    Why is Social Media Marketing Important?

    Traditional marketing has changed and will never be the same.

    • Technology allows consumers to mute or skip TV commercials – and
      they do.
    • Newspaper and all print circulation is dying. Ads do not get our attention.
    • One-way “push” messaging is now viewed as offensive and hype-ish.
      Bad for the brand.
    • Consumers are overwhelmingly ‘over-messaged’. We are all OVERLOADED.
    • Consumers do not trust traditional marketers anymore.

    Consumers Demand More Attention

    Online, consumers have a voice. If a company’s product or service doesn’t
    match their marketing claims, WATCH OUT! Disgruntled and disenchanted consumers
    now have the power to publish all of their harsh and unedited opinions –
    anytime they want to! Once published online, those messages are likely permanent,
    and business has no control over the backlash.

    Consumers want and demand that:

    • Their voice be heard and ACKNOWLEDGED.
    • Companies be accountable for mismatched promises and actions.
    • Their peers be involved in the most powerful ‘word-of-mouth’

    Business Can Take Action and Benefit Enormously

    Think of it like this: social networks are actually a democratic form of business!
    Customers vote with their opinions. Business has a gigantic opportunity to directly
    impact their customers online, engage them, and develop a real relationship
    of TRUST that will be stronger and longer-lived.

    Businesses of all sizes MUST adopt and USE a social networking and social media
    marketing strategies NOW – or risk being left in the dust.

    Back to Basics: Social Media for Marketing
    – Part 2 of 2

    © Copyright Lisa

    Integrate Social Media Marketing – Brand Advocates

    When companies engage their audience and develop online relationships with
    real authenticity and trust, they have an exciting opportunity to make those
    individuals volunteer advocates of their brand!

    Business has never had a bigger vehicle for positive word-of-mouth advertising.
    Fun campaigns can go ‘viral’ and trigger momentum like never before.
    This takes some strategic planning by management, and some genuine understanding
    of social networks. It’s a new culture that MUST be embraced by the entire
    organization, from the top down.

    7 Steps to Start Strategizing – Target and Engage Your Online Audience

    1. Gather together a company team to strategize social media marketing. Include
      a cross-section of top management, sales, marketing, customer service, and
      a knowledgeable social media marketing individual (bring in a consultant if
      you don’t have this expertise on staff.)
    2. Convene this group for a minimum of four hours. Bring the current marketing
      plan. Ask everyone, “Does our (product or service) delivery match our
      marketing message?” If not, STOP. You must solve these problems before
      you can mount a successful social media marketing strategy/plan/campaign.
    3. Discuss and decide on your marketing and advertising goals. Do your current
      marketing and advertising efforts achieve them? If so, challenge the team
      to set higher goals, and brainstorm ways that social media marketing can be
    4. Identify online communities where your ideal customer congregates or searches.
      For example, if you are a local business, Google: “(your city) directories”
      to find local directories in which you should be listed.
    5. Make sure that you have searched and settled on specific keywords and keyword
      phrases that you use consistently in all of your online content.
    6. Establish 2-6 online “properties” (all optimized for your keywords)
      such as; at least one website, blog, social network site, and directory. The
      more places you exist online, the greater your chances of being found!
    7. Brainstorm online campaigns that help you achieve your goals. Remember,
      social media is effective ONLY if you have an end in mind. Otherwise, it’s
      fun, but can be a waste of time and precious resources.

    Hundreds of creative possibilities exist, depending on your time, budget, and
    goals. Have fun with this!

    Also see
    Your Brand with Social Media
    The Social Graph
    Small Business Social Media Marketing – 3 Success Stories
    Laws of Social Media Marketing
    Social Media to Increase Sales
    and Build Your Social Media Presence

    To Make A Social Media Campaign Go Viral
    Media, Hot Marketing and Nobody is Listening
    Marketing on ALL Social Media Sites Necessary?

    Social Media Tools

    Categories of Social Media Tools

    Before selecting which tools to use, it helps to get some perspective by considering
    the different overall types (or categories) of social media tools and what each
    is used for.
    Key Categories of Social Media Marketing Tools
    Clouds of Confusion – the 5 Categories of Social Media Software
    Categories of Social Media Tools

    Major Social Media Tools

    Although there has been a recent explosion of new tools, the following tools
    are some of the more popular for you consider.


    A blog is an online journal of information about a certain topic. The blogger,
    or owner of the blog, writes or publishes regular “posts,” or articles,
    about the topic. Posts vary in size from 100 words to 1,000 depending on the
    nature of the topic. The posts might be published once a month or even once
    a day, depending on the blogger’s time and energy for the blog.

    A blog is a powerful means for the blogger to establish relationships with
    stakeholders by sharing his/her opinions and expertise on a regular basis. Stakeholders
    could include, e.g., customers, investors, employees, community leaders, collaborators
    and suppliers. The stakeholders read the blog posts to learn more about the
    topic and even more about the blogger.

    Business Blog FAQ
    Advice for New Bloggers
    Blogging Mistakes That Small Businesses Make

    for Your Online Business

    The Spiders Say It’s Time You Got Started

    Use Email Marketing to Grow Your Blog
    5 Tips on Business Blogging With Minimal Resources
    The Short Post Vs. The Long Post. Who Will Be Victor?
    Blog Posting Frequency Overview
    Your Blog


    to Find Endless Topics for Blog Posts

    Here’s a link to a list of directories, each of which lists many blogs about
    various topic.

    of Blogs About Management Topics


    LinkedIn is sometimes described as a “social networking service for adults.
    It’s a very useful tool for quickly informing people about your professional
    experiences, skills and interests. You also can use LinkedIn to conveniently
    network with others who have similar backgrounds and interests. Compare LinkedIn
    to Facebook, below, which tends to be about more informal topics, such as personal
    background, interests, family, hobbies, friends, etc.
    LinkedIn (Wikipedia)
    – Social Networking for Professionals

    Missing Link (myspace for adults)


    How to Grow Your LinkedIn Network
    Tips for Individuals to Help Companies Get More Out of LinkedIn

    Company Pages
    Leveraging Social Networking Sites to Generate Business


    People can join Facebook to share information about themselves or their organization.
    Information about themselves tends to be rather informal — more so than LinkedIn.
    Organizations increasingly use Facebook as a public relations tool, to inform
    the public about the organization.
    Facebook (Wikipedia)
    of Facebook

    Facebook to Capture Customers

    How to Use Facebook to Drive Higher Sales
    to Create an Effective Company Facebook Page

    Marketing Q & A – The Essentials for Small Business Social Media Marketing

    Convert Personal to Business

    is a Facebook “Like” Worth? Part 1 of 2

    is a Facebook “Like” Worth? Part 2 of 2

    Facebook Landing Pages


    Instagram is a free tool for sharing videos and photographs. Research shows
    that a large percentage of people prefer to communicate visually rather than
    by reading. Instagram is very useful for people who prefer visual communications,
    especially via their smartphones. Research also shows that people are immediately
    more affected by images than by words.
    is Instagram so Popular?
    Reasons Instagram Will Overtake Facebook
    is Instagram and Why Is It So Popular?


    Twitter is a social networking site that allows the author to quickly share
    messages, or tweets, of up to 140 characters and with huge numbers of people.
    While 140 characters might seem quite limiting, an increasing number of people
    and organizations use Twitter to share opinions and even to advertise products
    and services. Some news organizations use Twitter to quickly broadcast up-to-the-minute
    news items.
    Twitter (Wikipedia)
    Five Ways Twitter Can Help You Conquer Distraction
    Five Things Wrong With Twitter When It Comes to Marketing
    How to Twitter and Get More Followers
    Why Should I Be on Twitter and What Should I Do First?
    Mistakes to Avoid


    Twitter Tips

    Wit: Is It Time for Subtle?

    Specific Ways to use Twitter for your Business

    Alyssa Milano’s Twitter Followers


    YouTube provides a forum in which people can show videos about a broad range
    of subjects, including about themselves and their organizations. The videos
    usually include audio/sound, so YouTube is a very quick, convenient, low-cost
    way to broadcast information about yourself and your organization. It’s viewed
    by millions of people.
    YouTube (Wikipedia)
    Mashable (about social networking

    to Use YouTube for Marketing Your Business

    Other Popular Tools

    When determining the most popular tools, it is important to know what type
    of tool that you are looking for. For example, in 2019, Facebook has the largest
    number of users, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Instagram.

    7 Biggest Social Media Sites in 2019
    15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites and Apps [2019]

    21 Top Social Media
    Sites to Consider for Your Brand

    65+ Social Networking
    Sites You Need to Know About

    Social Media Management Tools

    There are so many tools that there now are social media management tools for
    managing the many tools that you might use.

    7 Best Free Social Media Management Tools in 2019

    The 9
    Best Social Media Management Apps in 2019
    13 of
    the Best Social Media Management Tools

    The 25
    Top Social Media Management Tools for Businesses of All Sizes

    Online Reputation Management

    Social media permits you to expose your values, opinions and activities to
    a much wider audience than ever before. While that comes with many benefits,
    it also comes with a price. You have to be more diligent than ever before in
    monitoring how others are perceiving you and what they are saying about you.

    How to Monitor Your Reputation

    In effect, your online activities create a reputation about you as much as,
    or more, than your in-person activities. That has spawned a new field of practitioners
    who help you manage your online reputation.
    is Online Reputation Management?
    Social Media Monitoring

    is Social Media Listening Important?

    Management (vast resources)

    How to Fight Back When Needed

    When something negative is said about you, it can seem impossible to “un-ring
    that bell” because that information can spread like a wild fire. However,
    as more people have suffered from negative publicity, more tools and methods
    have sprung up to deal with these situations.
    and Repairing Your Online Reputation
    Back with Social Media

    Management (vast resources)

    Get Help from an Expert in Social Media?

    You might consider getting the advice of an expert in social media. If you
    have followed the guidelines in this overall topic, then you can already provide
    a great deal of very useful information to the expert, which will likely decrease
    the amount of time needed from that person, as well as decreasing the fees that
    you would pay.

    to Hire The Perfect Person To Run Your Social Media
    This Before You Hire A Social Media Expert
    Musts Before Hiring a Social Media Specialist

    Also see
    to Successfully Hire and Work With an Excellent Consultant

    For the Category of Social Networking:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
    want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
    Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

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