It is certainly true that everything has changed since the arrival of social media. In the beginning of the Web, it was unclear how money could possibly be made through Web page content. But then came AdSense from Google, followed by a rush of competitor programs and people producing good content. These individuals paid attention to their ads, and patiently and with care built their sites, and saw their incomes take off.
But these early efforts were totally impersonal. While websites provided information, there was a distinct lack of connection between the Web publisher and the reader. Blog posts–which ranged in subject from the writer’s life to baking the perfect souffle–came closer to personalization by directly reflecting the writer’s voice.
Still, though, blogs are mostly a one-way conversation. The blogger writes and publishers, readers can comment, and once in awhile the blogger might respond. But there isn’t much of a conversation, really, between that writer and the readers.
Social media has brought down that barrier, and the different sites have done it in different ways.
Facebook limits me to 5,000 friends but it gives a broad picture of who I am. Those friends can see my updates, they can look at videos and they can see photos of me at talks and conferences. They can also comment on my posts, and because they’re informed when other people also comment, the conversation is active. They can come back and respond to someone else’s comment.
Twitter takes that active conversation even further. Anyone can contact me through Twitter, ask me questions and contact me directly. More importantly, it’s completely open which gives it huge viral power. When other people see my conversations, they’re free to join them. Chatting on Twitter helps to cement my community and to build it too.
And LinkedIn has a more professional feel. It’s a place that shows off my experience and my qualifications. It tells people who I am, who I’ve worked with, and what I love to do. It’s a place that helps to build trust, the glue that holds communities together.
Each of those services helps me to build a relationship with people who want to know me and the kind of information I can supply. It’s that relationship that social media sells — and it’s that relationship that can produce sales for any savvy entrepreneur.
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