A few months ago, I asked some of Experts Exchange's (EE) Experts what social media sites they use (if any) and why they use them. I received some great responses, with the general consensus being something I’ve heard from many people outside of EE as well: I don’t want to share that much (personal) information with people and even if I did, who would want to hear it? What’s the point?
I can’t argue with everyone’s logic. I’ve often wondered why anyone would care what I was doing, thinking or reading at any given point throughout the day…but I usually hit the “Send (Tweet)” button anyhow. That being said, I do think that if used properly, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can provide value to their users--and to Experts Exchange itself-- through their networking power and the ability for their users to share knowledge with others.
In this article, I will give a brief synopsis of specific features I find valuable on Facebook and Twitter and explain how I think those features can help you share your knowledge with people outside of EE and maximize the number of views your article on Experts Exchange receives.
With over 350 million users, Facebook has grown to become one of the largest social networking sites of all time. After signing up for a free membership, the site allows you to find other people you know and send them a “friend request.” Once they accept your request, they are in your network of friends and can see any updates you make to your Facebook profile, any content you choose to share on your page and any actions you choose to take on the site.
The list of updates you can make to your personal Facebook profile and page is endless. You can update your profile picture, your personal and professional information, and your status (ex: I’m currently answering questions on Experts Exchange), just to name a few. To edit this information, go to the Info tab at the top of your profile page and click “Edit information.”
The Personal Information and Education and Work information sections are good places to showcase the work you do for EE. Suggestions include:
Listing EE as one of your interests and posting a link to your EE profile.
Posting links to some of the articles you have written or the questions you have answered on EE in the Activities section of your profile.
Mentioning EE in the About Me section of the profile
The key to all of the suggestions above is to post a link to a corresponding page on EE. This gives people more information about you and your work on the site--and gives EE a back link, the importance of which is detailed in dhwake's article
Other ways to display your involvement on EE on your Facebook page include:
Finally, and perhaps the best way to share your expertise with the Facebook community is by sharing your question, solution or article on your Facebook wall. (Your Facebook wall is the page you are taken to when you click on the "Profile" link at the top of your Facebook account. You can also navigate to this page by clicking the "Wall" tab in the secondary navigation on your profile page.) Sharing a question, solution or article will cause that particular piece of content to show up not only on your personal Facebook page but also on all of your friend's Facebook home pages (also called the Newsfeed page). So theoretically, if someone you are friends with on Facebook is interested in learning more about MySQL and you share the article you just wrote on MySQL on Facebook, they would see your article and instantly learn more!
Sharing is now even easier on the View Article Page on EE, as the "Share" link is part of the “Actions” box that is in upper right hand corner of the page and specific sharing options have been added to the bottom of the View Article Page as well. After clicking on the "Share" link in the “Actions” box, a list of possible sites to share your content on pops up; and Facebook is one of the options. In addition, Facebook is one of the options for “instant sharing” at the bottom of the View Article Page. Whichever way you choose to share the article, just click on the Facebook icon and EE will link up to your Facebook account and automatically generate the question or article title, a link and sometimes even a picture for you to post on your wall. And Viola! You’ve instantly shared knowledge with other people!
I can see some of you moving that mouse to navigate away from this article right now. The mere mention of Twitter makes a lot of people groan or roll their eyes or all of the above. But hear me out...
Sure, there are a lot of people on Twitter who just want to tell you how great the Mexican food they ate for lunch was...or something much more inappropriate than that; but there's another group of Twitter users who legitimately want to carry on an intelligent conversation and exchange knowledge and information about a variety of topics, including all things IT related. In fact, a number of EE Experts (and I’m sure many others who I have yet to discover) are doing just that—and helping others in the process.
The key to using Twitter as a resource for yourself and for others is to find out who is Tweeting about the topics you are interested in and follow them. Once you are following someone, you will see a live stream of their Tweets on your Twitter home page. In order to find these people, I suggest two things:
1. When you’re reading blogs or articles on your favorite websites (EE included), take a look at the profile of the person who wrote the post (or answered the question) OR click on the “About” section of the website. More often than not, the author or website will have a link to “Follow” that person/site on Twitter. Clicking that link will either automatically subscribe you to that person’s/website’s Tweets or take you to their Twitter profile page where you can see their Tweets and then click the “Follow” button to subscribe.
Tech sites I follow include: EE (@ExpertsExchange), Tech Crunch (@TechCrunch) and Laptop Magazine (@laptopmag). Tech people include include: EE members tzucker
(@MeinTeil) and GLComputing
(@GLComputing), social media guru Brian Solis (@briansolis) and Microsoft Windows blogger Paul Thurrott (@thurrott).
2. The second way to find people you might want to follow on Twitter is by performing a search for the topic you are interested in. For instance, I just search for Windows 7 and many of the results provided me with links to useful articles about Windows 7 from reputable sites like Lifehacker, Geek.com and Engadget (maybe I should start following those sites too…).
Take a look at some of the profiles of the people who are tweeting about your topic. Chances are, they have a blog or website. Check that out. Also, take a look at the number of followers that a person has. As a general rule, the more followers a person has, the more informative their Tweets are. (DO NOT HOLD ME TO THAT LAST STATEMENT!) If you like what you see from that person’s blog and/or Twitter profile, follow them! You can always click the “unfollow” button later if you find their Tweets are useless.
As for how to share articles from EE on Twitter, it’s easy: You can use the “Share” features described in the Facebook section above, or you can use a URL shortening service like bit.ly to shorten to “shorten, share and track your links” on any social media site—including Twitter.
How to Make Friends and Influence People—on Facebook and Twitter
So, I know what you’re thinking: What if I don’t have any Facebook friends or Twitter followers? How will people see the content I share?
Let’s start with Facebook…
Like they do with Twitter, many websites or bloggers will also have a link to their Facebook page somewhere on their website.
A great place to start finding Facebook friends is the EE Group and Fan Page. If you go on to either of the pages, you will see that many of the group members and fans have posted their EE member names, so you’ll be able to identify them. (And I personally think it’s kinda cool to put a face with an EEple.) I’d also suggest posting your EE member name on the group and fan page walls so that people can identify and “friend” you!
The second way to find friends on Facebook is by doing a search for a person’s or company’s name. After you’ve entered your search terms, Facebook will pop up a list of people, pages and groups on the site that match your search criteria. In addition, Facebook is “smart enough” to suggest people you might know when you first log on. I THINK (but don’t quote me) that it has to do with the email address you use to sign up for the site (e.g.- If you’ve emailed with someone who is on Facebook, the site checks email addresses and matches you up with the person you’ve corresponded with); and I’m SURE Facebook’s friend suggestions have to do with the networks and groups you join as well as the friends you make once you’re on the site.
And now for Twitter…
Once you’ve selected people (using the suggestions in the Twitter section above) to follow on Twitter, you need to try to get them to follow you back. How do you do this? By Tweeting at them or Re-Tweeting them.
For instance, to identify myself as a fellow member of EE, I Tweeted at Tzucker (@cyberdad) to tell him that I liked his article on EE. I also posted a link to his article in order to give him a little “shout out.” He Tweeted back and we began to engage in conversation, ultimately resulting in him following me on Twitter. To check who’s Tweeting at you, click the link on the right side of your Twitter home page that has the @ symbol with your username beside it. Even if I don’t know the person who has Tweeted at me or I don’t choose to follow them back, I usually reply to the people who Tweet or Re-tweet me (unless their message or their profile is ultra-spammy). The point of Twitter is to “join the conversation” so if you want followers, engage, engage, engage.
I know this article is already insanely long. (My thanks in advance to the PE who edits it!) But the last thing worth mentioning about both Facebook and Twitter is that even if you don’t have many friends or followers, people can still find your content. Both sites offer a universal search feature that shows content posted everywhere, by everyone, on the site. So, if what you post on Facebook or Twitter is about a subject that other people are searching for, they will find you!
I hope this article has demonstrated at least some value in using Facebook and Twitter as a place to share and discover information—particularly the articles you write on EE! Feel free to post follow up questions in the comment section; and if you’re interested in reading more about social media for businesses, check out seiko_08’s article on Social Media Best Practices