Twitter, Facebook and blogs are perfectly suited for building a relationship with another person. When you think about building relationships, the same tactics that fail in face-to-face meetings fail on social media.

Imagine meeting someone who tells you all about themselves and never asks you a single question. How much fun would it be to meet a new person at a social gathering, and be greeted with, "Hi, I'm Joe, would you like to buy a house? " Or how much do you enjoy talking to someone who speaks in a monotone? And how excited are you to talk to the person who extends you a sweaty hand to shake?

You need to approach social media just like a conversation. Remember that every interaction should include give and take. Strive to listen and share information from others more often than you talk about yourself or your firm. By showing genuine interest in others, you will be more interesting to them. Pause long enough in your own communication to allow others to interject their thoughts. And about that sweaty handshake ... please dry off your palms before you take to the Internet.

Here are 12 ways to improve your chances of being heard:

1. Share interesting or informative tidbits. If you discover something of interest, share it. Your followers may find it interesting too. If they retweet it, they have given you evidence of their interest in that subject or link. That means you have formed a connection with someone else - consider it a firm virtual handshake.

2. Have a unique tone or voice. Convey your personality in your tweets. I try to make some sort of personal commentary about anything I retweet, whether it is a quote or a link. I am usually motivated to tweet about something that makes me laugh.

3. Comment on other people's content. Comment on shared links if they resonate with you. Or use the Like button to quickly agree with someone's shared insights on Facebook. If you are on Twitter, retweet someone else's pithy comment. Other people will be as surprised and flattered as you are when someone actually notices what they post/write/tweet.

4. Don't overdo the communication. Some people appear to have nothing to do but update Facebook or Twitter. Too much information and too many feeds can get overwhelming. Eventually people will just get tired of listening. Take periodic breaks from tweeting, writing or posting, and spend some time listening to other people. You can learn a lot from fellow bloggers, Twitterers/Tweeters/Twits, and Facebook enthusiasts. Some people create a posting or updating schedule for themselves to help them manage time and keep their audience engaged.

5. Use pictures. Pictures are a fabulous way to connect with people. Post them on Facebook, share them on Twitter, use them as a centerpiece in your blog post. Extra points (and extra readers) for pictures that involve pets. People love to see pets.

6. Be conversational. Don't try to be formal in your communications. Your goal is to be approachable and real, not intimidating.

7. Focus. If you have a specialty, look for information that relates to that area. The more content you share that is on track, the easier it will be for your audience to identify who you are. Once they know your perspective and the kind of content you share, they can decide to join the conversation or not.

8. Be responsive. Once you get someone to comment on your blog post, Facebook wall posting, or Tweet, make sure you acknowledge that person. Remember, they are trying to establish a conversation too. So don't be the person who fails to respond - by doing so you are presenting them with a virtual cold shoulder.

9. Reel them in. You need an attention-grabbing headline to get anyone to read your content. Headlines are important for any written content, and even more so when you are dealing with the short-attention-span world of social media. Your audience has to be drawn in quickly. Headlines are important for wall posts on Facebook and in blog posts. Twitter is basically a headline-streaming tool. Use Twitter to refine your headline-writing skills and then apply them in all of your other forms of communication.

10. Avoid begging. People want to follow winners. Tweets or Facebook wall posts that begin with, "Please retweet" or "Please share this with all of your friends" are a sure-fire way to get ignored and to lose followers or friends. These messages sound like pleading or, worse, they are reminiscent of the opening for most chain letters. If you regularly share interesting content and have an important cause to support, you won't have to beg to get your link shared and your cause supported.

11. Have fresh messages. Even if you need to promote the same event multiple times, at least have the decency to freshen up your post or tweet so it is phrased differently. People will see you as boring if you just keep chanting the same refrain numerous times.

12. Create an interesting profile. If you have taken the time to create a Facebook page, blog post or Twitter account, take another five minutes to come up with something interesting to say about yourself. The idea is to connect to people, remember? No one wants to connect with a faceless name that lists only your job description. I bet no one ignores @SpreadsheetGirl when she chooses to follow them. Her profile says this: "Cartoons and random thoughts on the continuing adventures and misadventures of a gal's day at the office."

She had me at "Spreadsheet."

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access