In this context participation means being part of the ongoing conversation that’s present in your industry.
Doing so is to fully embrace the culture of social media.
Some of these characteristics would include being personable, having a unique voice, being open to dialogue, and participating through contribution (vs. only promotion).
Why This Is Important
People forge relationships with other people, not with a “brand” or a business. Humans make the connections.
Social media has opened up a world where dialogue is easier than ever before. And therefore, it’s now expected. If you want to have an audience that wants to talk to you, you have to talk to them – first.
They’ll expect you be human.
That means not pushing links and promotions and “buy me” stuff all the time – or at all for a time being. Trust is a fragile thing. It’s built on the back of relationships rooted in honest conversation.
How It Fits Into Your Plan
Think of this as an extension of who you already are – your personality.
Akin to picking up the phone or sending an email, having a meeting, or joining a community organization, it’s a point of contact for conversation.
You’re hopefully spending time talking to your customers, leads and prospects already, so work this into your everyday efforts to converse with the people that drive your business.
Try three hours a week to start with.
And don’t forget the follow through. Never leave conversations dangling.
Ways to Get Started
Search http://blogsearch.google.com/ to find blogs that are of interest to you (in your industry or market).
Spend 2 hours each week or more commenting on other blogs, without pitching or promoting your company in any way. Simply add your perspective to the conversation, just like you’d do at a face to face social event.
Focus one level up from your business.
Rather than blogging about specific products or services, write about the experiences that drive these products and services.
For example, if you were selling real estate service (or an agent), you might talk about financial challenges, the current market and best practices for finding/selling a home.
Read other blogs in your niche to get a sense of tone, post length, and content that feels comfortable for you.
Build profiles on key sites, using a real picture (not a logo) and using your real name.