The Reality of “Connections”, “Liking”, and “Sharing” in Social Media . . .

What do we need to consider when we make or accept connections, how we build value for our network, and what should be expected in liking and sharing posts on social media?  The way we handle these things can help assure our success in what we desire to accomplish using social media, so it’s important that we spend a little time in planning how we will handle them.

Your Connections

Most of us understand connection quality vs. quantity.  We should each have a connection strategy, something that outlines who we will invite, and who we will accept invitations from (see my strategy below).  This strategy will be based on who your “target connections” are (the people you want to connect to).  You might want to identify your strategy on your profile to limit unwanted invitations.  If you want to maximize the value of LinkedIn, you will want to have a way of allowing or encouraging desirable invitations, so be sure you allow invitations in your security settings (In LinkedIn, go to “Settings” “Email Preferences” & “Select who can send you Invitations”).  You might also want to include an email address in your Contact Settings or in your Summary (I still recommend a dedicated email address for LinkedIn or even social media in general).  Of course there will be a few exceptions, but hundreds of unknown or unrelated connections don’t help much, and might even discourage people from connecting to you because they can presume you won’t be able to help them as you can’t possibly know all your connections.

My Connection Strategy

My personal LinkedIn connection strategy is to: (1) personally know my connections including family and friends, (2) worked with them in previous jobs, (3) have common ministry goals including deliverance, inner healing, and career coaching, (4) they are members of my LinkedIn groups.  If I receive an invitation, and it includes a personal message of why someone wants to connect, I almost always accept.  If the invitation is not personalized, I take the following steps; (1) look at their profile to see if common values or goals are indicated, (2) look at their groups to see if they indicate common (or conflicting) values, (3) look at their websites and links to see what they tell me about the person, and finally, (4) check out their work, education, recommendations, and the apps they use for additional input.  My connections either contribute or detract from my personal brand, and the value of my network.  I respect and value my connections as valuable resources, and generally will go out of my way to help them if I can.  My connections move from valuable to questionable if I get a message from them days after connecting, asking me to engage in some type of business with them.  Take time to build trust first, and make sure you only offer things that they have indicated they want or need.

Group Connections

Joining Groups is one of LinkedIn’s important benefits if you want to connect to people you do not currently know.  You will want to join groups that have common values and goals, and groups where your “target contacts” will be members.  If you join a group and immediately try t sell them something you will lose any credibility before you begin.  By participating in group discussions with valuable input, you can create your personal value and credibility to those that you want to connect to.  If you started a group, it’s a good idea to let potential members know what any membership qualifications might be.  Be aware joining a LinkedIn group can contribute to your personal brand, so always be cautious that the group profile is consistent with your values and goals, as well as the group’s rules are what you want to accept.

The Value of Your Connections and You

Your network is only as valuable as you make it.  It takes work to build that value.  One of the best ways to add value is by adopting the “pay it ahead” philosophy.  You can do this by sharing valuable and interesting information that you believe they will benefit from, and help them solve problems they might have.  As I mentioned above, that does not include selling your services to a new connections before you get to know them.  To my connections, I do recommend my two groups to those that I feel might benefit, but the groups are strictly voluntary and have no expected monetary return.  I fully intend both groups to be a “pay it ahead” gift, but I do occasionally sense reluctance that there is a catch coming.  There is not a catch, and there never will be in my groups.  Recommend books (keep these to other authors unless directly asked for your publications) and recommend groups that will help them succeed in their business and ministry.  We all have unique experiences, knowledge, and wisdom that can help others.  As a trainer recently told my son, you are a truly unique creation that will never happen again, not sharing your talent and gifts will keep others from ever having the opportunity to receive them and grow in the path that God desires for them.  Those more active on the internet will frequently find valuable articles and web pages that our connections could miss.  Finding a way to share those things should be a continuing goal to build our relationships and the value of our network.  A great way to add value is starting a LinkedIn group that has a focus to help your connections (preferably one that doesn’t already exist), and frequently start and contribute to the discussions.  That was exactly the goal for both my “Linked4Ministry” and “Anothen Life Deliverance and Inner Healing Network” LinkedIn groups.

Expectations of your Connections

What do you expect your friends to do when you write an awesome blog article, update your LinkedIn status, post a photo or story on facebook, or share a link on Twitter?  Should your friends read it, or comment on it?  If they are really friends, do you expect them to “Like”, “Share”, or “Re-Tweet” it?  Living in today’s Entitlement Society certainly gives us some expectations of our social media connections, but are our expectations realistic?  Actually, our connections don’t owe us anything just because they accepted our invitation, or we accepted theirs.  We must earn their respect and trust before we can expect them to help us.  When we consistently “pay it ahead” by contributing things that add real value, we build our credibility, trust, and respect.  Is that enough to get them to “Like” or “Share” our ‘stuff’ to help us reach a larger audience?  If you are connecting on social media to help people without worrying that it will have an ROI (return on investment) then you will most likely be successful.  If your goal is to monetize everything you do, then you won’t garner much support.  Expecting reciprocity on social media is just like life, it doesn’t happen without relationship, and happens frequently for those who ‘pay it ahead’ without regard for personal gain.

Liking and Sharing

When you “Like” an article or posting by a friend or connection, it is generally noted on your home page or status, and it raises the awareness of the posting, giving it additional exposure to your connections.  When you “Share” an article or posting, you can add your own comments (which is actually a recommendation or critique), and your comments will be seen by your connections giving them the added incentive or warning to click on the link or support the cause.  If the posting adds value to your connections, consider liking or sharing it with your connections, but always consider what type social media you are using.  I believe too much liking or sharing by a single individual too close together on LinkedIn degrades the value of my network updates, causing me to be frustrated with having to scroll through too many updates that don’t interest me, and possibly causing delays when I have to click on “more” to see the rest of my network updates that moved off the screen.  Facebook has some of the same issues but is sometimes less offensive because of the ‘social’ slant.  Twitter, on the other hand is all about lots of liking, sharing, and re-tweeting to help the postings gain large amounts of additional exposure.

In LinkedIn, the two extremes of not liking or sharing anything on social media, or liking or sharing so much that it looks like a Twitter stream does not provide value to you or your network.  A proper balance of liking or sharing to highlight things that others will benefit from, or will enjoy, adds value to your network.  When it’s done without expecting anything in return, increases your value, trust, and credibility to your network.  We still shouldn’t expect others to like and share our material just because they are connections.  If we ‘pay it ahead’ and ‘do it without expecting reciprocity’ as a way of life, we work toward gaining other’s support in a natural and easy way.  When and if our connections do reciprocate, and like or share our material, we know we are working in the right direction to building a valuable network that everyone benefits from.

Reciprocity in social media games

A final (and perhaps extreme) lesson in reciprocity on social media, and a good lesson in marketing, comes from the use of social media games like Farmville.  A lot of action in these games is all about reciprocity.  People give you things in these games, and they expect you to return the favor.  Ernst Fehr, an economist, did a study where players are asked to choose between keeping $10, or giving $40 to another player.  The expectation was that if the second player chose to accept the $40, they would split it with the first player, but knowing the second player could just keep the $40, might cause the first player to just keep the $10.  In the study, people were found to be generally trusting, and usually willing to take the chance of giving the second player the $40.  This strategy in marketing Farmville has made it extremely successful, and many players spend a great deal of time playing it.  I’m not sure how we apply the Farmville marketing strategy to ministry, but the strategy of providing value, and providing more than others expect, is always a good marketing plan.

 

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Linked4Ministry & Anothen Life Ministries

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. […] to get your friends and readers to “Like” or “Share” your content with their friends.  See The Reality of Liking and Sharing for additional […]

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  2. Social media has been used to keep up with long-distance friends and find out more information about new acquaintances. In recent years however, social media has become not only a place to store biographical information, but also a place to share all types of knowledge- from news articles to popular restaurants.

    Reply

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