The primary goal of your social media activities—whether for your personal brand or your organization’s brand—is to establish yourself as a fascinating subject-matter expert. The only exception to this is if you are a household name celebrity like Lance Armstrong, Oprah or Barack Obama. If you are this level of celebrity, then tweeting or updating, “I'm at Starbucks on the way to fly VirginAmerica to Vegas” is cool.
For the rest of us, the challenge is to achieve a consistent level of fascinating information about your area of expertise. The answer is simple. First, it helps if you actually know what you're talking about. If you don't, it may be better to let people wonder if you're clueless rather than participating in social media and removing all doubt. But let's say you've crossed the Rubicon.
Then it's all about finding good stories, videos and blog posts about your subject and providing links to these sources. For example, if you own a restaurant, then you could post a link to The Second Annual New York Foodie Photo Scavenger Hunt, Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault, and Check It Out: Get Your Groceries At The Library. Do this for a few months, and people will recognize you as a food expert. And guess what? They’ll come eat at your restaurant.
Then the next question is how you can find these stories, videos, and blog posts. I have four methods for you to use:
- StumbleUpon. If you sign up for the service, you can tell it the subjects you’re interested in. Then when you “stumble,” it will only take you to pages that other StumbleUpon users have liked in that subject. To really use StumbleUpon well, gets its toolbar. Like 14,846,969 others, I use the Firefox version because it lets me pick categories and share pages via Twitter, Facebook and email.
- SmartBrief. SmartBrief is a company that’s in the business of providing associations with good content for its members. As such, they have subject matter experts who search every day for good content. All you have to do is go to its website or subscribe to its email newsletters to benefit from their effort and expertise.
- Interns. You could hire people—usually interns—to find stuff for you. For $10 to $20/hour, there are lots of starving, smart people who will comb the Internet to look for good content. They’ll probably use StumbleUpon, SmartBrief, and other tools, but what do you care if they’re doing what you could easily do for yourself? If you did everything you could do yourself, you’d be licking stamps too.
- Alltop. Alltop is the online version of the magazine rack in your bookstore except that it has 900 subjects and is free. It aggregates news by topics, presents the five most recent stories from the best websites and blogs about a subject, and gives you a preview of each story. Going back to the food example, I found all those stories using Food.alltop in less than two minutes. (Disclosure: I am the co-founder of Alltop.)