January 20

The role of foreplay in social media

If you’re spending time in the social media space strictly for the joy of conversation, you can skip the rest of this post.

BUT if you’re spending time on social networks with the goal of building a tribe of Social Agents that you can activate to grow your business, help a cause you care deeply about or just call on when you need more brainpower than you can muster on your own, then you want to invest a little time engaging in a bit of social media foreplay.

As I’ve noted before, social media isn’t just about conversation and your follower numbers do matter. Both of these points are directly related to leveraging the incredible power of social media and social networks to achieve goals related to commerce or cause.

And if you’re trying to do business here… maybe consider giving these five things a try before you make that first ask.

@them baby. One of the greatest things about Twitter is the “anyone can talk to anyone” culture that exists on the platform. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn where you must first establish a relationship to communicate, Twitter is the ultimate cocktail party. Someone once blogged that Facebook is where you go to talk to friends and Twitter is the place you meet new ones… or something to that effect. So don’t just find people and follow them. Take the time to actually Tweet with them – regardless of how “famouse” they appear. Watch their stream and find a place where you can drop something to show them you see them and that you’d really like to be a part of their Twitter. Just yesterday I was reminded of how easy this is.

Screen shot 2011-01-19 at 8.50.47 AM

John Refford asked about innovative Valentine’s Day ideas for a gift. John is on a Twitter list I follow and I thought, what a great way to say hello. So I tweeted him and suggested he get a local florist to agree to send his wife flowers once a month for a year. I’ve done it for my wife and she loved it. I also took the opp to read his blog and comment on a QR post he wrote.

Then this morning – I see that he’s updated his post and included my comment in the body of the post. Now that wasn’t my goal of this interaction… BUT, that’s what makes it a perfect example of how investing in a little foreplay can lead to the building of a relationship that can someday be called on to help you achieve a goal.

DM them. Use this one sparingly. Most folks seem to guard their DM box more than their eMail inbox if you can believe that. This is probably why this channel can be such a great way to extend the conversation beyond what you feel comfortable talking about in public. With the DM channel you can get a bit more personal and begin to really build a better bond. A bond that can lead to the next step…

Friend or Link to them. Most folks will probably be more likely to link with you on LinkedIn than friend you on Facebook. So go ahead… find them on LinkedIn and remind them that you met/chat on Twitter and you’d like to add another channel of connection. Think you’ll find that most will take the offer and presto – now you get to see a whole other part of their life — their professional life. You can see what they’ve done, who they’ve done it for a and often who they’ve done it with. And for those times where you need action — knowing who your friends are linked to can be very important. With that data you can selectively activate your tribe versus just blasting everyone with a call for help. Funny how selectively asking for help vs the blast and see method enables you to tap your tribe more often and get better results.

Call me. Yes, it’s not just a movie cliche. If you really want to form a relationship with someone you “met” on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn — call them or better Skype them via video. Steve Woodford first taught me the true power of this when he invited me to video chat with him. To this day I’ve never met Steve in person but I think he’d agree, I can count on him to help me when I need it and he knows he can count on me. That’s the power of investing an hour and a cocktail in a video call.

Get on a damn plane. Yes, that’s right… go actually meet someone in real life. Make the ultimate gesture of interest…spend your hard earned money to go visit the people you wnat to meet or just catch up with after a long time of not seeing them in person. I love this particular kind of foreplay because it comes with a great side benefit…. you’ll often meet new people that you can add to your tribe. You never know when one of your Twitter buddies will decide to host a lunch in honor of your being in town so that you can meet even more people (looking at you Stacey Hood).

At the end of the day, we all want to feel loved, important and that we matter. We want folks to see us — in the Avatar sense. So often we’re asked to do for others before they’ve done for us. Don’t make that mistake. Use social networking tools to find and initiate contact with interesting people. Then use a bit of social media foreplay to develop a relationship with those folks. You’ll be richer for it, and I don’t just mean in terms of conversation.

Special thanks to fellow #UsGuys member Carl Sorvino for tweeting the impetus for this post.

And hey, if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing so you can have posts from this blog sent directly to your eMail in box. And don’t worry, I’ll never share your email with anyone and I don’t send anything but blog posts… because that’s not what your here for right?

photo by NeoGaboX

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