The QuickStudy Guide to Social Networking

Social networking is radically changing the traditional marketing landscape. This weekend, two of my business associates asked me how they could get up-to-speed quickly. After I found myself repeating the same information twice, I thought, Hmm. Maybe I should capture this in a blog post.

Photo courtesy of ©, Image #6391154

Photo courtesy of ©

To become fluent in social networking, I recommend you do the following:

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  1. Just do it. There is no substitute for first-hand experience. You have to dive into social networking head-first to really understand it. There is a difference between knowing something and knowing about something. You will never know social networking until you do social networking.

    If you haven’t done so already, sign-up for a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and a blog—in that order. I also recommend that you read the following posts on my blog:

    With regard to blogging, you might also watch my presentation on blogging from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference.

  2. Subscribe to social networking blogs. There are some great resources on the Internet for free. Currently, I am subscribed to the following blogs (via RSS):

    I also follow these social networking gurus:

  3. Read a few key books. These are the best books I have read so far on social networking, I have reviewed Tribes here on my blog. If you can only read one book, it’s the one to read. I plan to post my reviews of the others as I have time. (The links below are Amazon affiliate links .)
  4. Attend a seminar. I highly recommend the LifeWork 2.0 seminar taught by Randy Elrod and Spence Smith. They will teach you more in a day than you can learn on your own in months of study. This is a day-long, fast-paced seminar that will leave your head spinning. But you will also know exactly what to do next to use social networking as the powerful marketing tool that it is.
Question: What other resources have you found helpful in learning about social networking, particularly as it relates to marketing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jeff Brown

    I agree 100%. Was glad to see too that I already subscribe to 6 of the 7 blogs you recommended and 3 of the 4 gurus you cited.

    I'm adding the others right away. Now, if I can make time to do a little more reading (audio books here I come).

  • MaurilioAmorim

    Well put. I run into people who dismiss social media before they try it. Give it a go for a month and then decide if it works for you. If you still don't like it, you'll at least have a better perspective for your position.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I started using Twitter because @recreate challenged me to try it for two weeks.

  • Karin Haubold

    This was very timely for me. I am trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the 2 businesses that my husband and I own.

    I have a bookkeeping business and for that I have a facebook page, a twitter account, a web page, and want to start a blog.

    My husband (a non-techie) has a painting and remodeling business and we have a web page for that, but am thinking of adding a blog and twitter account for that too.

    I also have a personal twitter, facebook, and blog. And I haven't been very disciplined doing any of it yet.

    The downside is that it would be me updating all of this info, and I don't want to get overwhelmed.

    We live in the Chicago area, my parents used to own Christian Bookstores (I remember Wolgemuth & Hyatt!!), and I am finding it difficult to find good information on this in our local area.

    Thanks for the info, I need to sit down and map out objectives for all of this.

  • Jeff Gibbard

    This is a fantastic post Mike! I am making this a Twitter favorite and will be sending it to anyone I know getting into social networking.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Wow. Thanks!

  • Phillip Gibb

    Great stuff.
    Couple of books and blogs there that I will really enjoy.

  • John_Gallagher

    I have Tribes on my To Read list. Currently, I need to do some time blocking (Building Champions client!) to ensure that these forms of media don't engulf my time. Currently, I am reading Ready for Anything by David Allen. As far as other resources, I think following those who share interests with you are the best resources of 'how-to'. As a Realtor, I specifically use some blogs there that help, including the Tomato Blogging Coach.

  • justin

    I am starting to use the social networking site It's new and I think with that name it will take off. People will find me and I will be at the top as a new user on a new site,

  • kimmi

    Thanks, Michael. I too shall be sharing your awesome "Guide To Networking" with others, but alas, I will never ever Twitter. As for the Facebook: I found it to be too invasive–too much ado about nothing for me, and with virus and such, it became too much … More importantly, I personally felt it would be setting a bad example for my teen.

    But again, excellent post!

  • Donna Farley

    I love the "Networked Blogs" application on Facebook. It lets me keep all the blogs I follow in one spot where I can see the new post titles at a glance. It has helped me connect with other bloggers and blog readers with common interests via topic tags. And it lets me share blogs I like with my Facebook Friends. I also run a Facebook group promoting one of my blogs….which in turn is a tool to promote my upcoming books.

  • Brad Smith

    Hi Michael – from the shadows I've been a long time reader of your blog. With so much information going around these days on social networking, its hard to sift through all the fluff and noise. You have summed it all up with a great list of references from which to begin.

    Thanks for the great post. Much appreciatted.

  • Amanda Herrold

    Facebook- check
    Blog- check
    Twitter- check (although I truly don't understand twitter and don't know why I need it!)

    • Jeff Brown

      Assuming you connect on Facebook with people you know, but are interested in occasionally connecting with new people, I highly recommend Twitter. It's especially powerful for me in bringing to me insights from people I might not connect with otherwise.

      For many thought leaders, it's an extension of their blog. They often "tweet" exclusive content on Twitter or suggest links to stories and blog posts I wouldn't otherwise know about.

      That along makes it well worth it for me.

  • Lynn Rush

    Great post.

    I stumbled across Terry Whalin's blog and he talks about social networking and marketing quite a bit. He seems to know a lot about it as well.

    I just recently got TweetDeck for Twitter, and I'm lovin' it!

    Thanks for the post.

  • Michael Hyatt

    Terry's stuff is great. Highly recommended.

  • Michael Hyatt

    Twitter is one of those things you won't understand until you try it. Why not give it a week and see what you think?

    • Amanda Herrold

      Oh, I'm on and trying. BTW, what's your twitter? I'm LazyMomAmanda. We exchanged emails a couple of months ago. David Dunham is representing me. Great blog!

      • Michael Hyatt

        MichaelHyatt (all one word)

  • Jonathan Dison

    Great post. I have begun to follow your blog, and I find it incredibly useful. My company – a consulting firm – is new to blogging and Web 2.0. The key for us is to narrow it down to 2-3 things… and make sure we do them well.

    Our blog is now up, and we have developed a significant amount of postings (40+). We are trying to determine how to "market it", as well as where to give and receiving comments. We feel it is important to participate in the "dialog" related to our business – but can't figure out where.

    I believe we have a lot to add… given that we are on the "front lines" of transformational projects for Fortune 500 companies. We just can't find the dialog!

    Do you have any advice on how to conduct this research? I have used the search function in my Google Reader, but most blogs are "news content driven". Maybe some of the McKinsey, Harvard Review locations. Those are more "thought leadership" locations.

    Thanks for the great efforts!

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  • David Lowry

    Great Stuff Michael! Thanks!

  • Jackie_Chazan

    I'd like to illustrate the importance of social media as a marketing tool.
    From a blog: Late Tuesday evening, around 10:00 pm, I received a call on my business line from a local area code (my phone was forwarded to my cell phone as I was out of the office for meetings). The person was not already in my address book so all I got on my caller ID was the phone number. To answer or not to answer … that is the question. I always answer my phone if I am available. The gentleman on the other end is interested in franchising, actually, interested in starting a franchise concept from ground zero. It’s a great idea, I think, and he has a lot of the work started. After a brief conversation my question was, “How did you find me?” “Well,” he says. “First, I searched the word ‘franchise,’ found and I saw your profile. Then I decided to search your name, Jack Someone, in Google. From there, I found your blog and also your website. Your phone number is on your website.”

    Let’s suppose Jack is not a person but a product, and the caller is a customer. This puts into perspective the efficiency of social media as a marketing, advertising and PR tool. With social media you can target a specific segment of the audience. For example, your product is a mug with business messages written on them. So you want to look for 30 to 65 year-old, males/females, hot beverage drinkers, CEO/Manager/Purchaser of businesses who may be interested in your product. You go to blogs written by and read by your target audience and fine-tune the message to their interests and lifestyles and…voila! You save time, money and effort by targeting your product to the right audience.

  • tim milburn

    Great recommendations. I think the cardinal rule of social networking is to "just do it…for a period of time." You can't tweet once and understand twitter. One must find ways to integrate it into the workflow. I made the conscious choice in December to learn it, use it, and get others to use it. It is now a natural part of my daily routine.

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  • Christine Grogan Taylor

    You can aggregate all your blog watches with Alltop I is very easy to customize.

  • Anthony TAG George

    Michael thank you so much for your insight here with this post on social networking. It is very informative. I am curious if you have a minute would you mind clarifying a couple things for me, I have a great kit over at my blog for interacting with you, and who knows you might also find the kit called a js-kit useful someday. I was also interested in your thoughts on what I wrote about social networking. Thank you in advance Anthony (TAG) George

  • Morgan Rainer

    I have been a big reader of both your blog and your tweets since I have been on Twitter–I am a huge fan! I have always had a lot of respect for Thomas Nelson, and having a face on the organization works wonders! You have done an excellent job representing your company.

    I am currently writing a term paper for a public relations class about the influences of social media (specifically Facebook and Twitter) in organizations today. I have found your blogs to be ultra beneficial to my research.

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for the new generation of social networking and your eagerness to inform and advise others!

    I have a professor that has actually asked me to help him look for some books that would make good classroom “textbooks.” He is wanting to offer a class on social marketing in social media and has asked me to help him out with it. Do you have any suggestions for a classroom book?

  • Raquel

    This was very helpful to me. Taking responsibility for my own success is not only enlightening its empowering.

  • Michael J. Altman

    Michael, I really like your advice on using these tools. As someone working in the academic field I think we are way behind other fields in using these things to our advantage. To that end I have started using my twitter account more often and even started a blog. Thanks for the tips.
    My recent post Random Tips for Effiecient PHDing–in no particular order

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  • Colby Benjamin Brown

    Great post! I recently hopped back on Twitter and just created a new blog – Living On the Next Level. This is a great guide. Thanks for the post!

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  • Kirkpetersen

    Hey Michael… thanks for the overview. You need to update some of your links under #4 as they’ve switched sources. How do I find out about LifeWork 2.0 and where they are doing these seminars? @AlphaPDX

    • Michael Hyatt

      Kirk, I am checking now. The correct link is Lifework 2.0 Seminar. However, it is currently showing that the site is in “Maintenance Mode.” I am checking with Randy and Spence to see what’s up. I’ll report back when I know more.

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  • Byron Underwood

    Succint post that will take a week to get through! Thanks!

  • Sean Sankey

    I think we need to help people who are starting at ground zero (or not far from it) to understand what RSS feeds are also (i.e. flesh out point 2). The biggest overwhelm factor for the folk who are resisting / catching up to engaging in social media  is that it all seems too much… too many pieces… to many threads to try and pull together… However, help someone get their head around say Google reader and Hootsuite – two straightforward platforms for helping integrate all the bits and bytes and subscriptions then you disarm a lot of the fear that’s gripping them… Once someone understands the basics, important to move quickly into integration before the overwhelm kicks in.

  • Heather Holleman

    I’ve learned how much I love twitter to connect with writers who talk about writing every day. I didn’t understand how easy and effective hashtagging is to find people and build a real network. I follower publishers and agents and have learned so much about what folks talk about in the business!

  • Mark Meloon

    I want to add one more thing to the “Just do it!” philosophy. Yes, get started doing something — anything — so you aren’t stuck with paralysis by analysis. But then set a reminder in your calendar one or two months out to regroup and spend some time thinking strategically. As a social media professional, I run into a lot of people telling me “I tried it and it didn’t work” but that’s because they just did stuff without thinking of what they were trying to accomplish.

    Most people will use development of strategy as an excuse to not do something so, yes “Do it!” Get your hands dirty and get familiar. But you definitely want to think about strategy not too far down the road.

  • Aaron McCullough

    You forgot to add “Platform” to the list of books to read…