Don’t ask what your friends can do for you, but what you can do for your friends. This is the key and if you get this, you don’t need to read further, but you do need to Tweet this, Like this, Stumble this, Digg it or otherwise share this to spread the word, because it’s clear that there’s a lot of people out there who don’t get this, and we can make the world a better place by helping everyone to start thinking of others.
In another post, I talked about how making and keeping friends is the whole point of social networking. In this post, I’m going to talk about how to do that.
I’m not an expert on making friends. I have more friends on the internet and in other parts of the country than I do nearby, and that’s because I live in the country, I have no extra money for social events, I’m not good at parties and I tend to favour creative pursuits and working with a volunteer organisation over putting effort into making face to face friends. However, when it comes to the internet, I’m good. I’m also a faithful friend, I really like to help people and I get a lot of satisfaction from doing so.
Be a good friend and you’ll make friends and keep them.
A good friend is someone who
- cares about you
- listens to you
- engages with you in meaningful ways
- goes out of their way to do things to help you
How this translates into internet behaviour.
A lot of it is common courtesy. I invite you to tea, you invite me back, that sort of thing. It is interesting to note also that most of these things are also things that will get you more visitors to your blog. (See, I told you this is the way the system works.)
- visit people’s blogs, read their posts and leave a comment. Always be polite but genuine in your responses. Subscribe to the comment thread so you can chat back if appropriate.
- Subscribe to the blogs you like either by email or in a reader so you can visit and comment often. This is the way to develop genuine relationships.
- Return visits to your blog by visiting the blog of anyone who comments on your blog and leave a comment back if you can.
- Create a link on your blog to other people’s blogs that you like.
- Share links to blog posts that you like via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Stumble upon etc
- Retweet things that will help your friends.
- Check out your new followers on Twitter and follow back unless there’s a reason not to. When you get into numbers too high to reciprocate with any sense of actually being able to follow those people, you can organise them into lists.
- Reply to people’s tweets – this is very important because you really appreciate those who do it for you and you remember them. There’s nothing worse than asking all your followers a question and no one replies – gee guys, I thought we were friends!
- Follow people who reply to your tweets – this is really important too because they took the time to show interest in you and you can always unfollow later if you find the relationship isn’t working.
- Write blog posts about your friends.
- Be kind, helpful, respectful & genuine in all your interactions
- Remember that there’s a person just like you behind every name & icon.
- Make sure that people can contact you & reply to messages that require it. There’s a load limit here. Once you get a lot of followers, comments etc, people don’t expect the same kind of level of engagement from you, but if you can manage to reply they will love it. If you’re famous, consider having a helper to sort through your mail for you.
- think only of yourself – if you can avoid this one, you’ll avoid all the bad behaviour that come from it.
I find it interesting to watch my own behaviour here. There’s lots of authors whose work I admire, but there’s no doubt that the authors whose work I actively support have all communicated with me personally and have followed me back. I can think of a few that I communicate with on Twitter, whose work I probably would have forgotten if they hadn’t replied to my tweets. As it is, I retweet everything about their books and I’ll be buying their next book without hesitation. I consider them friends.
I found two authors whose tweets about their work I had retweeted several times and who hadn’t followed me back (not big names, that’s different, these are people like me who are just starting out) and I felt kind of cheated. I don’t retweet in order to get followers, I do it because I want to support someone or I like the tweet, but it still felt a bit off because I thought these people were my friends then discovered that they weren’t.
Automated Tweeting has its place once you’ve got thousands of followers, but don’t make it obvious and don’t make it the only tweeting you do. Nothing takes the place of genuine interaction.
What do you think?