Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Angela Crocker believes that social networking is part art and part science and that it can be done in no time at all. She is the creator and CEO of Beachcomber Communications and the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Social Network.”
Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Angela, it is great to have you. What initially attracted you to social media and why did you decide to specialize in social networking?
Angela Crocker: Thanks for including me here, Cendrine. I was drawn to social media because it allows the Internet to become a never-ending conversation on an infinite number of subjects. It also gives a public voice to everyone who wants to participate.
I specialized in social networking because I think it’s the process of connecting with other people that’s most important not the social media tools themselves. The tools will change over time but the communities we build will exist for much longer.
CM: With Beachcomber Communications, you help heart-centered entrepreneurs and business owners build online communities. Would you tell us a little more about that?
AC: The clients I work with are often undecided how or where to build a community with their clients. They have started with Facebook or Twitter but they’re uncertain on all the functionality available. I help them decide what tools to use, teach them how to use those tools and am available for ongoing consultations and encouragement if they need me.
CM: I am intrigued by the phrase “heart-centered business”. What does it stand for, exactly?
AC: I’m drawn to working with expert entrepreneurs who do their work with a sense of purpose, tremendous passion and endless energy. Many are solo business owners or “solopreneurs”, if you will, who have started their business to promote a particular product, service or cause in the community. I like working with these individuals because the persona of the business is the personality of the owner. This gives us a constant point of reference to be true to their brand and is a great source of social sharing content.
CM: How do you usually work with your clients?
AC: Most often, clients learn about my work from one of my public speaking appearances or they take one of my courses. I’m honoured to be teaching at Douglas College, Vancouver Island University and Ridge Meadows College this fall. Once clients see the potential for their business they need more personalized help and that’s where I come in. I can help them figure out what tools to use, train them to use them, create a productive workflow and set up content generation and social monitoring systems to help with their ongoing efforts. All of this can be done in person, by phone or in my virtual classroom.
I guess you could say I’m part technical instructor, part content counsellor and part cheerleader.
CM: In “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Social Network,” your first book, you share tips to build successful communities. Why did you decide to write it?
AC: To be honest, I hadn’t planned on writing a book. My friend and client George Plumley had written the “24-Hour WordPress Trainer” and was approached to write my book. He generously introduced me to his literary agent and suggested I’d be the best person for the job. Within days I signed with the same literary agent and within weeks had my first book deal with Alpha Books.
CM: Would you share a short extract from “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Social Network”?
AC: I’d be happy to. Excerpt from Chapter 16.
Quality vs. Quantity
Another factor to consider is the quality versus quantity argument. In social networks, this point arises in two different contexts – participants and interactions.
When we talk about quality, we’re talking about the value – the social net worth – of each participant or interaction. Conversely, quantity is the sheer numbers game of counting how many members you’ve got.
There are a great many theories about the ideal number of people to have participating in your community. One argument suggests that the human brain can maintain only about 150 relationships. Another theory is just the opposite – I call it “Go Big or Go Home” – where the goal is to have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of followers. If you’re on Twitter, I’d be willing to bet you’ve had a so-called Twitter guru offer to sell you thousands of followers if you send them just $79.95.
For me, the ideal number is somewhere in the middle; the exact answer depends on your business and your social networking objectives. – Copyright © 2011 by Angela Crocker (“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Social Network”)
CM: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Google+. Do entrepreneurs need to use all those social networks to build engagement? Which one do you recommend?
AC: I think entrepreneurs should use as many social networks as they’re willing to participate in. There’s limited value in having a profile on a network you never log-in to! The four networks you’ve mentioned are certainly the big 4 at the moment and which one or two to choose really depends on the nature of the entrepreneur’s business so I can’t make a blanket recommendation that will suit every situation.
CM: According to you, what are some of the most basic steps a business/entrepreneur should take to launch a successful social media campaign?
AC: I encourage all businesses to do their research first – who are you trying to connect with, what are they interested in and how can you serve them best. There may be 750 million active users on Facebook but which of those users fit the profile of your ideal client?
Next, I really encourage people to listen to the conversation. Get a sense of what’s being said, the tone and the variety of subjects. By understanding the ebb and flow of the dialogue it’s much easier to join the conversation in a way that you’ll be heard.
CM: How can people get in touch with you and purchase “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Social Network”?
AC: I’d be thrilled to connect with your readers who are interested in learning more. You can find my blog at www.BeachcomberCommunications.com and that’s also where interested folks can subscribe to my email newsletter – The Social Media Minute. Readers can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. My book is available for purchase on Amazon, through local booksellers and in all the major e-book formats.
CM: Any last words?
AC: Remember social networking is about creating community something that business owners have done for centuries. The tools of communication have changed but the basics of courtesy and conversation remain the same. Be helpful, informative and friendly and you’ll be off to a great start in building your online (and offline) community.