Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?

Is your Facebook fan page a cocktail party, a barbecue, a conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party. Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference, a yoga class or a drum circle?

The funny thing about social networking is…we often forget that it’s just a virtual party. It’s not about amassing tons of “fans” so you can have the biggest party — it’s about inviting the right people and serving tasty snacks and drinks.

It’s about playful banter, music and laughter.

You know what happens when you talk sex or politics at a party — dead silence.

A cocktail party is NOT the place to pull out a gigantic billboard and say HEY BUY MY PRODUCT! (Unless you are a paid sponsor with a table or booth.)  And imagine if you pulled up your shirt and showed off your appendix scar?

But people do this all the time on Facebook! They forget it’s a party.

A great Fan page is an authentically engaged community where you have a conversation — even better if your tribe cares about what you have to say and shares it with their communities. At a party this is called gossip and word of mouth. On Facebook it’s called sharing and viral marketing.

Remember — a great party is not about QUANTITY it’s about QUALITY. Be selective. Invite the right people. Dress to impress — or stand out in the crowd. Serve good spirits and keep the music upbeat and the conversation as bubbly as champagne.

We are not collecting fans or contacts for Ego — we are collecting real human beings and we should care about them as much as we hope they will care about us.

Think about the real world equivalent of your Fan page. How would you interact in these different real world parties or events?

50 friends or less = backyard barbecue, workshop,  a drum circle.
150 friends or less = a tribe, a retreat, a big party, wedding, etc.
1000 friends or more = a conference
2000 friends or more = industry trade show, music festival
10000 fans or more = sporting event or concert
100,000 fans or more = gigantic stadium event
1 million fans or more = broadcast on television

And here’s a great metaphor for Fan pages from #socialmediamixology:

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Social media dos and don’ts from Obama’s website

Everything you need to know about Social Media you can learn from Obama. Here’s a social media do and don’t lesson from the White House.

Do: Integrate your social networks into your website

President Obama’s website, and the “Organizing for America Campaign,” is slick and fabulous. It is one of the best examples of integrating social media with your web presence I’ve seen for any public figure.  At the bottom of the page are custom buttons linking to all of Obama’s social network pages.

Do: If you’re a public figure, make your pages freely available.

Everything is public, except Mr. Obama’s Linked In connections. Though it was interesting to see that four of my LinkedIn connections are directly connected to the President, so I am am only one degree removed from the CEO of America.

Do: target your message

The pages themselves are targeted to the special interest niches they serve, and are customized with lots of photos, videos, graphics and messages.

Perhaps that’s not a surprise, given the resources the President has at hand.

Do: Discover and join niche social networks that serve your customer groups and markets.

But what’s more interesting are the social networks President Obama’s team has deemed important.

These include the usual: Facebook, MySpace, You Tube, Digg, Twitter, Eventful and Linked In — and targeted social network sites that serve the constituencies that elected him. In all networks except Gay/Lesbian (where is is identified as “straight”), the President has lots of friends. It’s smart networking both in the real world and online to identify multiple groups and present yourself slightly differently in each one, yet with a consistent “brand” in each “target market” — as Mr. Obama has done brilliantly with the Change logo and color scheme.

Click the links below for Obama’s niche social nets, some with profiles targeted for each niche:

Black Planet (a Black social network)

Faithbase (Faith, gospel)

Eons (for Boomers and beyond)

Glee (gay/lesbian)

MiGente (Latino)

MyBatanga (Latin, in Spanish)

AsianAve (Asian)

DNCPartybuilder (Democrats)

Don’t: Forget to keep your social pages and status updates current.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama, being the President after all, is perhaps so overwhelmed with urgent presidential duties that his status updates are woefully out of date on most of these pages, which has somewhat stagnated the dialogue with the American people. Some of the blogs and status updates have not been updated by his team since October 2009. I think there’s a job to fill for a White House intern. I’d get on it right away if I were managing the President’s PR crew, as having an outdated profile in a special interest group niche could give one the impression that you’re not paying attention anymore to that constituency and its needs.

Do: Update the status in your pages simultaneously by feeding Twitter to multiple sites.

Ping.fm is just one of many ways to do this. Facebook for example, also has a Twitter to Facebook integration feature — though it can be somewhat annoying if you Tweet frequently. This would solve the President’s updating problem, at least superficially, though the messages would not be targeted, which may be why his staff isn’t doing this.

Don’t: Play it so safe that there is no personality in your profile. Make sure it feels like you’re really there — or hire someone who knows your communication style to do your updates for you.

Be daring (within reason) and share some of your thoughts once in a while. Share a song you’re listening to, a favorite quotation, what you’re doing, where you’re traveling, how you feel, what’s the weather. His profile is a bit too corporate and businesslike on MySpace  — it would be nice to see some of his favorite bands or some casual family photos, for example.

Social networking was brilliantly used during his election campaign, but recently there’s no there there behind the President’s profiles, and that gives us a feeling of abandonment or stagnation. Keep the news flowing and think of your updates as little mini press releases you send out, reminding your customers/followers that you’re busy, not absent.