Growing your organization or business with the help of social media requires informed strategic thinking and time. The more informed and strategic the approach, the less time it should take to get traction in the online social universe. The quest to increase Friends, Likes, Followers, and Connections, to build a community, is one leg of a 4-legged stool. The second leg is page interaction with those friends. The third leg is the viral sharing of your messages and the fourth is conversion – your social media followers doing business with you. These desired results are far more likely to happen if you adhere to a few sociological principles.

People are on Social Media mostly for 4 reasons – the 4 E’s of social media engagement: Ego, Entertainment, Education and Enrichment. Companies have to feed those needs and desires or they will be ignored in this space. When interacting with Likes (Friends), Connections, Followers, Circles, Fans, etc. you’re really networking with them online and you need to bring something to the table or you’ll be thought of as just another self promoter or corporate advertiser. So what are you willing to give your potential brand advocates that they will appreciate and want to share with their friends? Contests and giveaways work well for consumer and retail businesses.

Social media is really about online networking more than anything else. The same principles apply as when meeting people face to face. You need to share ideas, develop relationships and nurture friendships. The best B2C (business-to-consumer) brands on Facebook interact with consumers in a way that feels one-on-one to them. Coke, Starbucks, Oreo, Redbull, Converse, Skittles and Playstation are among the most Liked brands on Facebook. Check out their pages and see for yourself how well they engage consumers.

When dealing with B2B (business-to-business) social media, LinkedIn is a great forum to share ideas, best practices and connect with like minded business people. Twitter is a world of real time discussions in countless categories. It’s a wellspring of ideas and fresh information. It’s also an amazing search engine for online conversations surrounding narrow and broad topics alike. Facebook is a great connector of people to share one-on-one or group dialog. Its potential reach is enormous!

Additionally, Google+, YouTube, Foursquare, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, biznik, blogs… there are so many platforms today. They all keep us linked and grow our networks, leading ultimately to profitable relationships so long as we devote time and stick with the 4 As & Ps of social media; You need to be:

Active; Participate.

Attractive; Position value.

Alert; Pay attention.

Accessible; Permit dialog.

Be social when attempting to grow your businesses using social media. Your friends and followers are just like you and me. Remember those 4 Es. We all have Egos and love to be recognized. Everyone enjoys Entertainment. Our inquisitive minds seek Education. For ourselves and our families we want Enrichment.

How will your business feed those desires online using the social media platforms freely available to you?

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