The Ten Commandments of Social Media

by Simon. Average Reading Time: about 5 minutes.

If you’ve ever wondered how to go about the whole social media thing, Lon Safko, author of the Social Media Bible suggests 10 commandments that go a long way to embracing the phenomenon:

Commandments 1. Thou Shalt Blog (like crazy)

Blogging, although possibly now considered old school is a first priority. Set up a blog, a personal blog, a business blog, says Safko, It’s easier than you think. There are a multitude of Blog providers and software for self-hosting. My clear favourite is WordPress, which provides a hosted solution much like Blogger.com or GoingOn.com, or in my case, the software to setup and manage your own blog.

Commandments 2. Thou Shalt Create Profiles (everywhere)

Create profiles on the websites that interest you; do it now before someone else takes them. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. That’s commonly called cyber squatting. So get out there. If you have a personal brand, set up all the profiles you can against that brand, alternatively just use your name. For example, You can see my Google and Facebook profiles, the later of which has allowed me my own distinct URL. You can see more of my profiles via the links in the footer of my website. For the technically-minded, you can use Open Social to make filling in your profiles as easy as a click of a button.

Commandments 3. Thou Shalt Upload Photos (lots of them)

Upload photographs. You’ve got them, afterall you probably own the latest and greatest digital SLR from Canon or Nikon. Don’t upload the one with you with a lampshade on your head, that’s somewhat counter-productive; but other photographs? Absolutely; show your creativity and interests. Customers want to see and participate. You want to give people a face to go with your company. Sites such as Flickr, known for hosting some stunning photographs, are regularly used as a private area through which not only photographs, but product designs can be discussed and developed with clients. Photobucket is another example, albeit more consumer orientated.

Commandments 4. Thou Shalt Upload Videos (all you can find)

Safko, like many others, sees videos becoming an important part of business interactions: You all have got videos. I don’t care whether it’s training videos or customer videos, grab your video camera and go interview some of your customers. What’s better than seeing your customer’s smiley face on your Web site? And it doesn’t cost anything. Fortunately, much like the plethora of photo sites, there are some really great video websites out there. My favourite is Vimeo, but you could also use the more familiar and popular YouTube.

Commandments 5. Thou Shalt Podcast (often)

In my opinion this is a tricky one, much like video. Safko suggest if you’re too cheap to get a camera, use the free audio software that’s in your computer. That’s what I did. I created 48 audio podcasts. If you take the podcasts I did for my book and played them back-to-back, they run 24 continuous hours of interviews. You can do that. It’s free. It just takes time. But like video, people don’t necessarily have the time, budget or talent to produce relatively decent Podcasts. If you’re going to create decent Podcast, however, put them on iTunes where they can easily be found. If you have a smart phone, you could also try the AudioBoo and Qik, they are simply awesome at recording and publishing Podcasts and Videocasts respectively.

Commandments 6. Thou Shalt Set Alerts (immediately)

Set alerts. People are talking about you. You probably need to know what they are saying and you want to participate. A simple approach would be to use Google Alerts or Technorati and the soon-to-be-released Twitterati. If you have a greater concern, companies like Brandwatch dedicate their lives to spidering the web and garnering what they call company sentiment based upon conversations.

Commandments 7. Thou Shalt Comment (on a multitude of blogs)

Commenting is like going to a cocktail party says Safko, You wouldn’t walk into a networking event, walk up to a group of people talking, and tell them your name and what you do in your business. That would be rude and unacceptable. Listen first. Read the blogs and add comments. You can be controversial, that’s okay. But participate. Get involved. Many blogs allow comments and there is also a 3rd-party services, such as Disqus, that help you keep track of all your comments.

Commandments 8. Thou Shalt Get Connected (with everyone)

Get LinkedIn. Put it in your email that you have a LinkedIn account, you have a Facebook account, and that you have a Twitter account. Make it a part of your heading on your letterhead, because that’s how you propagate. That’s how you sell it.

Commandments 9. Thou Shalt Explore Social Media (30 minutes per week)

Explore social media. Safko suggests give it thirty minutes a week, that’s all I’m asking. Friday morning grab your coffee, lock yourself in your office, and give it thirty minutes. Just Google something. I promise you within the first 30 days you will be excited. You’ll be as excited as I am. You will get excited because of the ROI. I would contend that 30 minutes per week isn’t enough. Spend 30 minutes per day, exploring and keeping up-to-date with what is happening out there in the big-bad-world.

There are tools that make this a lot easier; they’re called social media aggregation or lifestreaming. FriendFeed is one of the best social media aggregation and discussion tools available, with numerous widgets and 3rd-party applications. It currently supports more than 40 social media websites. SocialThing allows you to see everything that’s going on with your friends on all of your social networks and allows you to interact with multiple sites at one time. Importantly, SocialThing interacts with the 3rd-party APIs, so data is sent to the source service, unlike FriendFeed. Alternatively, Flock is a web browser with a built in social aggregator, which allows you to interact with sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is not as wide reaching as its online rivals, but does boast a blog editor, drag-and-drop image uploading and an RSS aggregator.

Commandments 10. Thou Shalt Be Creative (go forth and create creatively)

Safko’s final commandment is all about creativity; And the most important commandment is creativity. That’s all. It’s just creativity and having fun. But you know what, that’s what your customers want. They want to see transparency. They want to see authenticity. They want to see you having fun. They want to be able to relate and communicate.

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