Originally Posted by vangogh
I'm curious your success with an opt-in or contact list. The reason is that from what I've seen people wouldn't take too kindly to someone using their info at a social site for those kind of lists. While you might gain some short term success I think you might also be upsetting people and losing out on the greater potential of long term success.
Are you meaning it more as a way to network with people who you might later do business with or are the lists meant as a direct sales mechanism?
If you mean it more as a list for networking then I agree on the value, but that's also where the time comes in and again it depends on your industry. For example I connect with a lot of people in the SEO and marketing worlds. There are a lot of people in both industries using a variety of social media properties and if you want to gain their attention in order to network there's a good chance you need to spend a lot of time at a lot of sites. That's where the time comes in.
A different industry where there aren't as many social networkers involved at the moment would need less time to make those connections. I think the ReadWriteWeb article probably comes at things from the perspective of the industries where it is more time consuming.
No, I didn't mean simply using email addresses or contact info from social networks without the consent of those it belonged to. I mean building a relationship with other like-minded individuals who take an interest in what I'm doing on their own, and opt into my list themselves. I'm not a fan of spam or renegade collection. Those aren't going to be qualified opt-ins in my opinion.
I have used many of my various social networking profiles to introduce myself to other professionals. My profile just happens to contain a link to the site I'd most wish them to visit, and that site is equipped with an opt-in form. As I built relationships with others on these social networks, the traffic began to flow to my site and those who took an interest in my content or offer decided to sign up. I have had more success with this than with most other methods of generating leads.
There are many social networks which allow you to build your own "network" within the parent network. It becomes understood that whatever info in on your profile will be visible to others once they join your network or you join theirs. With that comes an understanding that we are there to promote our services and network. When this is the case, I expect to receive offers and info from others in my network, and I should think they'd expect the same. However, I don't take that for granted. I still work to build a relationship first so that when I am ready to send them my offer or an invite to join my list, it will be better received.
And in terms of building a business contact list, social networks are one of the best places for this (and again, it's easy to do without spamming). I have found many a partner through social networks for my various projects. I also turn to social networks whenever I have a client who is in need of a service that I don't offer (or could do but probably not do as much justice to as someone who specializes it). If I've build my network of contacts carefully (monitoring who invites me or requests to join my network) it will be easier to give referrals as the need comes up. I have found that if you're ready and willing to send a little business someone's way, they'll be more open to helping you (either by doing the same or perhaps by purchasing from you if you offer a service that they need). That's what networking is all about.
Myspace can be viewed as the spam capital of the Internet unless you know how to work it (and personally, I've known much worse networking sites in regards to spam). I use Myspace for specific things, and those don't generally include networking unless I'm looking to reach a specific market at the time (emerging artists, actors, film directors etc.). However, there is the rare occasion when I come across a newly-emerging artist in need of marketing assistance, and am able to get business. Mostly, I use Myspace for it's traffic and rankings. Videos posted to Myspace generally get indexed quickly and ranked well by Google. So whenever I have a video segment or virtual tour that needs exposure, I'm careful to include Myspace in the upload/syndication process.
This is why I say that each professional or business owners needs to make time to sit down and explore each social network to see how relevant its features are to their product or service. Myspace can be a great resource for some industries in terms of viral marketing and social/environmental movements. Anyone looking to promote anything remotely political right now needs to be on Myspace, for example. It may seem like a younger crowd, but they are Web-savvy and passionate about certain issues and causes. If your product or service has anything to do with those causes, being on Myspace will position you in front of a very passionate, active market. I have a friend who has built a local empire through Myspace selling political and environmental paraphernalia (shirts, hats, bumper stickers etc.) with his original art. So don't tell me Myspace is all spam! You just need to know what the strengths and weaknesses of each social network are, and only incorporate or give time to the ones that are most relevant to your business, or that will provide you with the most benefit.