Conversations and communicating

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Conversations and communicating

Mar 26, 2010 10:50 AM, By Franklin McMahon

Success with getting the most out of social networks comes down to communicating back and forth. Chatting back and forth, posting on friends’ walls in Facebook or commenting on other’s tweets on Twitter, is the single most important element in growing your network and getting a lot out of it. So how does that happen?

With Facebook, the easiest part is just typing under “What’s on your mind?” at the top of your profile page. With Twitter, just type under “What’s happening?” to post an update. Some people, especially some professionals, will discount both networks and say, “People are not interested in me posting what I had for lunch.” Don’t be so sure. Your friends are interested in what you are doing, and you are usually intrigued with what your friends are up to. Posting casual notes is why millions are on these services. You may get stuck with social media writer’s block, where you want every update to be a finely sculpted pearl of wisdom. It is not about that. It’s an engaging, ongoing conversation that is rough, raw, and fun.

The more you post (within reason), the more responses you get back. In turn, the more you comment on others’ posts, the more dialogues you are involved in. With Twitter, you reply to a post, that person’s username appears in your reply and it pops up on his or her Twitter account as a mention, so he or she will see it. With Facebook, you can comment on someone else’s post, or even just click the Like button to say that you approve of what he or she said. Like Twitter, that person will get a notification that someone has posted or commented. Often, a question is the best conversation igniter. Posting a question on Twitter or Facebook usually produces a nice flow of responses and a hearty dialogue.

Both services have a private, direct way for users to contact each other as well. Twitter has Direct Messages (DM), and Facebook has Messages (often referred to as Facebook Mail). Both are good for occasional off-line communication, but most power users stick to the pubic discussion because that is where you really grow your presence and use the networks for transferring information. It is perfectly fine and accepted to ask friends questions directly on the Twitter timeline and to post a question on their Facebook wall or for them to respond on theirs. The activity keeps you publicly in the mix, and others noticing the conversation may jump in with a suggestion or two. Going back to the network cocktail party scenario: You don’t need to pull people aside to ask them something privately. Just ask the person while in the mix with others.  

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