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Ten Commandments for Effective Online Social Networking

by Paul Chaney  |  
December 1, 2009

I want to share a 10-step game plan for social-network involvement that I think will work for you. You don't have to think of these steps as commandments; rather, they are practical guidelines that will make you a better member of the social-networking communities in which you participate.

1. Pull, Don't Push

One of the first lessons you will learn very quickly when engaging in social media is that old-school marketing tactics don't work. Don't come out of the gate pushing your products or services. New tools require new rules.

For example, don't respond to new Twitter followers with a "Thanks for following. Visit my website for a free... [insert promotional message]."

Such a response is a dead giveaway that you are new to social media and do not yet understand that it's a "pull" medium, not a "push" medium. If I want to review your credentials, I'll read your bio. (You did complete your bio, right?)

2. Win the Right to Be Heard

Social-media engagement is a conversation, and participation in the community is required. In fact, you might say that participation is the fifth P of marketing. (The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion.)

Your value as a participant is judged by the value you provide to the community as a whole. Be a "glory hog," and you'll garner little attention. Share freely, and you will become a respected member.

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Paul Chaney is a veteran digital marketing consultant, trainer, writer, editor, and author of four books, including The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media. Reach him via

LinkedIn: Paul Chaney

Twitter: @pchaney

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  • by Erin Wiles Tue Dec 1, 2009 via web

    Good article! The 10 commandment bug must be going around. Here is another recent post from Noupe on 10 Commandments of Social Media ( and I published a blog yesterday on my ten twitter commandments ( Thank you for providing us with helpful guidelines.

  • by Chloe Wed Dec 2, 2009 via web

    Thanks for sharing, this is a good article and it's truly helpful.

  • by chris marentis Thu Dec 3, 2009 via web

    I would add to this list an 11th commandment...if that is "kosher":-)

    All the work you do in social media marketing, including as you point out conversion, is not worth anything if you do not have a system and strategy to follow up.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • by PLANETwebfoot Wed Jan 6, 2010 via web

    All very useful and important tips on social networking, thanks for sharing. Each point is important, but I find #6 - Give, and You Shall Receive so true.

  • by Peg Mulligan Mon Jan 25, 2010 via web

    #3 Content Is King, but Conversation Is Queen really resonates with me. As a new blogger, last year was all about building up content and finding my own voice. This year's resolution is to focus as much on conversation, which dovetails with #2, "Win the Right to Be Heard." Earning one's place in the community is a gradual process and really separates out those who are here for the long-term, as well as those who have a genuine #8 social media mindset. It's all a Ying and Yang balancing act, between content and conversation.

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