How to Be Strategic With Social Media

A group standing in a circle with smartphones.


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These social networking tips and tricks will help you build a stronger network and take your online presence to the next level. All are designed to make you think strategically and take advantage of time-saving tools to boost your effectiveness.

Ways to Boost Your Social Standing Online

Listen to Your Audience

The three most important factors in social networking are audience, audience, audience. Identify what kind of people you're trying to reach and pay attention to what they're saying. Build RSS feeds and monitor conversations using listening tools like TweetDeck, Social Mention, and Seesmic. (Take this 10-step tutorial on how to use Social Mention to monitor many social networks at once.) Learn the basics of social metrics, or what to measure and why.

Participate and Collaborate

Set goals for engaging your contacts and monitor how much activity your efforts generate. How many retweets do you get on Twitter? How many reposts does your blog generate? Use third-party tools like Retweetist and the Retweet iPhone App to measure your social media influence and impact on networks. Klout is one such tool that lets you track your impact on multiple social media networks.

Join Specialized Networks

Whatever your passion, there is a specialized social network for you. Try Digg if you're a social news hound, Kickstarter for fundraising, for music, for artists, fanvibe for sports, or ozmosis for doctors. To find your niche network, run a Google search on "yourtopic and social media."

Use Social Media Dashboards

Save time by using social media management tools like HootSuite to manage your accounts and activity across different social media services, including Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, Foursquare, and others. HootSuite lets you post and read messages, track mentions of you, and lets you prepare posts and updates for automatic posting later at pre-scheduled times. Most of the best Twitter clients, for example, also let you manage other social networks.

Ask Lots of Questions

Asking questions is a great way to engage your contacts, attract fresh links and learn new things. When people reply to your questions with comments or posts, it boosts the visibility of your content on that particular network. But take care to read and respond to answers.

Link, Link, Link

Links equal love in social media. So liberally add links to your posts, status updates, tweets, and other content. Cross-link to your tweets from your blog and vice versa. On Facebook, you can tag your pals to hyperlink their names. All it takes is adding the "@" symbol at the beginning of your friend's name when you write your status updates. You can also upload files and link to them. Try the TwileShare app, for example.

Time Your Tweets

Noon Eastern Standard Time is a great tweeting time to reach bigger audiences. American West Coasters are showing up for work then, while East Coasters are starting lunch breaks. If you really want to expand your audience, check out this guide to writing good tweets. Timing your posts in other social networks is an art, too, as this guide to social media frequency explains.

Use Mobile Helpers

If you have a smartphone, install special helper applications to send and receive information faster on your favorite social networks. Instagram, for example, helps iPhone users spice up their cell-phone photos and share them quickly across different networks -- Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and others. There are plenty of Twitter helpers for cell phones and tablet computers. Trickle, for example, displays tweets on the iPad one at a time.

Create a Visual Identity

Tweak your Twitter profile, Facebook profile and other social network home pages to create a unique visual identity. Create a custom Twitter background to add more bio information and give your Twitter presence personality. Many custom backgrounds are available for free downloading at sites such as Users can even create custom header images on their LinkedIn profile, for example.

Back Up Your Virtual Self

Once you've taken time to build a strong social network, don't let your social identity go up in digital smoke. Make use of available tools for backing up your profiles, photos, and status updates. Facebook's backup tool is under "download your information" in Account Settings. For Twitter, try a third-party tool like TweetStream or TweetScan. WordPress lets you export your posts to a downloadable XML file, which you can save and import later into a new blog in the event that one of your best social blogs accidentally get zapped into oblivion.