Sure, there are dozens of ways to sit down and socialize with people on social sites like Twitter, Google+, and Facebook, but what is the right way?
Is it even fair to say there's a right way and wrong way to use social networks?
Being socially active online is, after-all, exactly the same as being social in the real world (right?). You show up, listen, and offer insights when the appropriate time comes up and you're golden. That's all there really is to social networking. There, now you know the secret.
However, the good old-fashioned "be somebody worth knowing" approach to social networking takes a lot of time. Even with the ubiquitous and instantaneous connect-ability of the web, building a social network will take time.
Unless you use some one of the following strategies for getting your social networking right, of course.
Be really interesting, all of the time
If being interesting all the time sounds like a big task, it is. But not with the right tools. Consider using tools like Timely.is for managing a constant stream of interesting updates to your social profiles.
All it takes is a few minutes every day browsing through RSS feeds and talking to close friends (I spend 10 minutes in the morning doing these things) and you'll have enough tweets and status updates ready for the week. Which means you can sit back and focus more time on other things, like actually communicating with your followers and fans (which I spend another 10 minutes doing every day).
Be helpful, not annoying
One of the best tools ever invented for social networking is Twitter's search functionality.
Get this: if you're a book seller you can find people who are actively seeking out the books you have via Twitter search. If you offer SEO services there's an entire world of people talking about things you can help with right now. All you have to do is spend 10 minutes looking up your keywords and a question mark on Twitter search to find people you can actually help (people who will undoubtedly follow or retweet you once they see how helpful you can be).
So the next time you want to hop on Twitter and do some networking, consider being helpful rather than simply broadcasting annoying messages all day. Go out and answer at least five people's questions once a day (without selling yourself) and you'll find yourself being someone who is suddenly very popular.
Be a familiar face
Showing up is a winning strategy for most areas in life. Why, then, would social networking be any different?
You want to be someone who is recognized for what you do, right? Then regularly communicate with the movers-and-shakers in your industry, often participate in hashtag conversations, and be someone who often shows up when big, industry-related things are going down.
You can even take the familiar face strategy off of the networks themselves by commenting on top user's blogs and websites and attending real-world events where you make yourself known.
Even if you don't have hours every day to do social networking, these strategies really only require a few minutes every day (10 at most) and will make you somebody worth following online. Guaranteed.
And this is just the tip of the social dominance ice berg! What are your tips for being a social media power player? What have you found that works, and what doesn't? Leave a comment letting us know.
Oh, and don't forget to follow SEP on Twitter for all of the best search engine and social media tid bits and goodies.