5 [rules | steps | ideas | propositions] on Social Networking

I promised people that one day I would actually write down these ideas and present them in a more human readable format so here goes. Feel free to mix up, mash up , mediate up the ideas or just ignore them

These are by no means fixed or ‘required’ rules and theres no official guidelines to say that this is any better than any others but from Observation, Experience, Experimentation and Evaluation I would say that these ‘rules’ provide an excellent guide to getting started in Social Media.

1. Arrive

You cant take part in the conversation if your not at the event so you need to Arrive , Sign up , Login , Observe. There is however more to signing up to a service than just a Username, Email address and a password. Consider the following when you Arrive at a new Social Networking Site.

Be Human, Be Genuine and Be Clear.

When choosing a Username for a site avoid using numbers or unusual characters in your name. You might want to add a space or use an underscore to create a more readable name but in the long run your making it hard for mobile users to interact with you. Further if you try to include Numbers or Initials into your Username then your probably going to be mistaken for a Robot or an Auotmated process rather than a human.

I use Loudmouthman because everywhere I go I sign up as Loudmouthman as a result people seeing Loudmouthman on a website are more likely to believe it is me. Further it stand out better than NikButler or NicholasButler. Its going to be easier to find Loudmouthman in Google than Nicholas Butler.

Whilst I dont always recommend the use of Nicknames for Usernames it does have a ‘added value’ of creating an additional way for people to easily tag and categorise you.

How will people know they have met you before ?

When signing up to a service I try to keep three things the same everywhere

Username : its usually Loudmouthman everywhere

Profile Photo : I have a profile photo I tend to use on every site. its a Picture of me.

Website  : I tend to promote http://www.loudmouthman.com

Have you a clear association with the group or are you an observer ?

Understand your reason for accesing the site and its community. You might just be registering your Name and Username on the site just to ensure that another member cannot steal it away from you. You might be on the site because your looking to overhear the conversations or you might have recieved an invite. However if the group is utterly new to you and theres no one you know on the site then the Rule no 1 to 3 are going to help you integrate better.

2. Listen

Depending on the website your going to have a number of ways to listen to the conversation. We have seen a change to the front page of twitter that now indicates they are firmly moving into the live search and trending data field. For the end user this means there is plenty of ways to locate groups and individuals within a social network who are sharing your interests or ideals and follow them or just add them in.  Listening allows you to find a way to overhear and then start a conversation with a user. its easier than a direct blurting or spamming. Bear in mind here its all about the listen, not the talking.

How to Listen ?

On Twitter you can use search.twitter.com to locate people talking about topics of interest. Twitter searches can be carried out from your profile page and from there you can save searches on your profile page.

On Facebook, Searching for groups to join where discussions match those which you are seeking. Use this listening as an opportunity to go outside your comfort zones. As you add more people to Facebook your going to see groups that they are joining or taking part in. as you join a group that information is shared on your facebook profile for your friends and fans to see. Its a useful way to see popular groups and communities especially mutual friends whom have joined that group.

On Linked-In groups similar to Facebook exist that you can join.

When Listening to groups and individuals use the Follow or Add Friend feature of the social network site to add that person into your group. Some sites dont require a mutual following to communicate ( like Twitter ) others may need them to approve your request. Dont forget to send a short message explaining why youd like to add them.

3. Ask

A good opening gambit in any conversation is to ask a question relevant to the group or community. Staying on topic or picking a topic recent to everyones awareness makes it easier for others to open a dialog with you. In turn their responses to your question will be seen by their friends, followed, groups and this bring you to the attention of a wider audience. All the while you are demonstrating an ability to listen and take part and be human, be genuine and be constructive. People love to have an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge or aptitiude and using a question is an invaluable way to open the door.

Consider your question though. It should not be personal, intergatory or invasive direct questions or ones which in hindsight are inflamatory can lead to you being percieved with a label or defintion you may not have sought.

Many people arrive in social networks and do nothing but Ask and they rarely progress into Provider, Delivers. Whilst they feel that they are consuming a lot of knowledge and understanding it soon becomes clear to the community that these users will constantly take from the community and rarely provide.

4. Provide

It suprises quite a few people that it takes this long in the process to be able to start responding and communicating well within a group. There is a subtle difference however between Provide and Deliver.

When Providing the aim is to answer questions of other users , effectively responding to people acting on Rule 3. you want to avoid using this as an opportunity to promote or spam the user with content core to your reasons for being online. Not every answer needs to be related to how you can provide a service, an answer or a solution.

Providing answers that borrow on the experience of Arriving and Listening within the group. Promoting other users content or directions earns you the respect of the social network in that you are not percieved as being selfish or simply trying to maintain an authority of your own.

5. Deliver

Having taken time to consider steps 1 to 4 of these rules the final process Deliver is where you are able to directly provide content and information that relates to your own agendas. It represents only 1 quarter of your activity in the social network and your conversation and oppotunties should reflect this. Quite a few Users ina social network grow a large community and after a while they clearly become just Deliverers. A large community around then may reflect and provide content around them but these ‘Deliver’ only mentality users soon burn the communication bridges they built.  When using a network to promote your own agenda or opinions bear in mind that the group are more willing to accept and embrace this if they can see evidence of Steps 2 to 4 in your activities.


Use the rules to build out your interactions with online networks from Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and it gets easier to build a credible online profile that people will recognise ( as a brand ) and respect. It will be easier to take part in discussions or launch new websites since the community will add credence and visible history to your involvement.

Thanks for Reading

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7 Comments on “5 [rules | steps | ideas | propositions] on Social Networking

  1. A very useful overview there, Nik. I’ve been speaking to several of our authors about joined-up social-networking-thinking in the past few weeks, so I’ll be sending them the link.

  2. The kind of advice that will have so called Social Media Consultants shaking their fists in anger with you for giving it away for free Nik. Thank you for sharing.

  3. All good stuff – though more shaking of fists in anger at your use of “your” where it should be “you are”, naturally.

  4. hahah, Fantastic thanks for spotting that you’re reward is sure to be in heaven. I’ll go edit the typos later then.

  5. That’s great @loudmouthman aka Nik. Very clear and nicely put. A short but extremely useful guide, for amateur and professional alike.

  6. Pingback: 5 [rules | steps | ideas | propositions] on Social Networking | Loudmouthman » Social Marketing

  7. Nik,

    An excellent guide/reminder for social media users, whether new or established.

    We are increasing our online presence across West Sussex, and I’ll ensure that this informative, easy to understand and essential document is sent to our staff.