Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn are great marketing tools because they provide the ability to reach an almost limitless amount of people.  Someone with a new product or message to share can vastly grow his or her audience through these sites.  While some people handle self-promotion through this method very well, many people new to this type of networking make mistakes without even realizing it.  Self-marketing/promotion can seem foreign for some, but when you are trying to make a name for yourself there are rules to be followed.

Take your time and be thoughtful.

The majority of work that goes into a product is (arguably) spent after it is finished and available to the public. When you pour so much time and energy into making something, you are proud of your work.  You wouldn’t want to belittle your accomplishment with rushed, sloppy, self-promotion.  Take the time to do some research and figure out what’s going to work best for you.

Be professional and friendly.

You are far more likely to garner attention if you come off as a reputable and knowledgeable resource.  Provide links to products and research to back up anything you might say.  The internet was created for convenience, so make your introduction easy for your audience.  Above all, keep your business and pleasure separated.  You will have a much harder time reaching people if your Facebook page has a picture of you doing a keg stand on it. That said, you should always strive to be authentic and to build relationships. Don’t make it all about selling, or people will start ignoring you.

“I don’t like Spam!”

It is always great to see people promoting themselves and their new project on one of the many social networking sites available.  Being excited about your work is one thing, but spamming people is another. Every week I come across someone on Twitter who repeatedly posts the same “buy my book” message. Few people realize the actual scope that the internet and social networking can offer. For example, if you post information about your book on five of your friend’s Facebook walls and they have five friends each, you just pushed your message out to 25 people, its actually pretty cool.  Unfortunately, no matter how excited you are about something, it can come off as annoying if your message is repeated over and over.  This ties back into taking your time to get your message across.  Think of it like going to a party, could you have a discussion with someone if they kept yelling the same thing at you or would you leave?

Social networking should be “social.”

Social networking is conversational by nature.  It is a two-way channel that allows communication between the seller and the audience.   The best self-promotion in this setting comes from being personable, friendly, and topical.  Give your work value by making it relative to your audience’s interests. Pay attention to those who are interested and get to know them.  Nobody likes the guy at the party who only talks about himself, so listen to what others have to say.

Self-promotion through social networking really goes back to what your mother always told you:  “treat others the way you want to be treated.”  As long as you approach social networking with common sense and consideration, you should be pretty well received by those you reach out to.