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Rules of Engagement

So you have either just started your Social Media journey or you are venturing deeper and deeper into the online Social Media jungle.

Just as itís important to know the rules of the road and driving etiquette before driving on the open highways, so it is equally important that you have an understanding of the customs of Social Media. Although no hard legal rules exist, there are many good manners to follow if you want the vast crowds of the Social Media world to follow you.

Here are a few ďRules of EngagementĒ that will help you navigate more efficiently:

Give More Than You Take
The more you contribute to conversations and discussions, the more people will recognize your name and what you stand for. Over time you will establish credibility and build value. Remember the well-known adage; the more you care, the more you share.

Be respectful of the community, the members, the groupís overall goals, etc. Social Media is a participatory sport and that means that you are one of many. People can chose to communicate with you or they can chose to ignore you. Treat others as you want to be treated.

Listening and receiving comments and feedback are two of the greatest strengths of Social Media. They represent first-hand interaction with your customer. By listening to them you gain unfiltered feedback about your products and market.

When people comment or leave messages for you itís only polite to respond in a timely fashion. By responding you are validating to the online community that you are an individual that values and acknowledges others. This adds to your credibility as an individual.

Build Relationships
Itís called social networking for a reason. Make sure you build relationships with everyone that communicates with you; establish conversations, ask questions, respond to questions, etc. Discussions and relationships encourage people to return to your page, thereby building a meaningful community.

Be Authentic and Transparent
Be sincere and honest; be yourself. With Social Media displaying your profile, message and comments it is critical to your success that you are genuine and dependable.

Do Not Become a Nuisance
Itís generally agreed that spamming is bad, but itís also important to avoid becoming a Keyboard Gangster, Envelope Pusher or a Social Saboteur. More about these different types in my new Social Media Report.

Social Media is a collective medium. This means that it uses the knowledge or wisdom of the whole group; not just a single individual. For that reason, information obtained in Social Media on Wikis or reviews is seldom entirely wrong. On the other hand, itís often not 100% right. As a result, there is a strong need to work together, updating and constantly adding value to improve the quality of the content.

Add Value
Every member of a community must contribute his or her fair share. What is your contribution? Remember that contributions come in many different shapes and actions: providing information, being a resource, answering questions and redistributing information.

Consider Opportunities in the Long Tail
In Social Media, every service offering has some degree of value.† Itís not always wise to just focus on the few services that command a high frequency of interest among a few niche groups and the requisite competition that introduces other service providers.† As technology continues to erode communication barriers, value will also come from the many niche groups in ďthe tailĒ that demonstrate interest in services that conventional (competing) service providers would otherwise consider having little value.

About the Authors
These are extracts from the new Swanepoel SOCIAL MEDIA Report 2010 written by Stefan Swanepoel (author of 15 books including the annual Swanepoel TRENDS Report) and Mel Aclaro founder of MindBridj.com, a company servicing web video solutions for speakers, trainers and coaches. This Report is due for publication on October 2nd and can be preordered at www.RealEstateBooks.org.

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