Monday, February 11, 2008

How to Make Friends like Tila Tequila: 5 Tips for Social Media Networking

Before MTV let Tila Tequila have “A Shot at Love", the model/actress/musician's #1 claim to fame was having the most Friends of any artist on MySpace.

While it's easy to attribute Tila's mass appeal to her status as a bisexual bikini model, there's no shortage of similarly branded ladies on the Internet who don’t have upwards of 2.5 million friends. Tila’s social media networking success is not an accident.

Here’s what marketers can learn about social media networking by following Tila's example:

1. Know where your brand fits in.

After being kicked off of Friendster multiple times, Tila Tequila moved her online presence over to the newly created MySpace. With its somewhat flashy and trashy feel, Tila fit right in. It’s hard to imagine her finding the same success on a site such as Facebook. Due to the site’s “preppy” image and the restrictions Facebook places on whose profile users can view, Tila would have been hard-pressed to build a fan-base on the same scale. When selecting a social media outpost for your brand, don’t just go for the biggest or newest site out there. Try to find a social media site which fits your brand’s style and puts you in touch with the right audience for your message.

2. Don't be shy.

You can’t sit around waiting for “friends” to come to you. Reach out to your real life contacts, post an invite on your main Web site, and interact with the social network’s existing members. Tila started her MySpace fandom by inviting 30,000 to 50,000 of her closest friends to join her at the site. "Once they saw how I worked it, everyone did what I did and started promoting themselves," she told Time Magazine. "That's how you maintain your popularity and keep it alive."

3. Engage other users.

The biggest issue marketers have in adjusting to the social media is the “social” aspect. You have to pay attention to what your fans, customers and critics are saying and respond in kind. Not only does this force marketers to relinquish some control over their message, it requires a tremendous amount of resources to monitor the conversation and stay involved. Not everyone is willing to put in the effort but, for those who do, the payoff can be huge. According to Tila’s interview in Time, "There's a million hot naked chicks on the Internet. There's a difference between those girls and me. Those chicks don't talk back to you."

4. Keep things fresh.

Who would you rather spend time with: The guy who, when asked what he did over the weekend, says “Nothing, just hung around the house” or the guy who always seems to have something new and exciting happening in his life? I’m going to bet that most people pick the second guy.

This principle applies as much in online communities as it does in the real world. If you want to attract attention and keep people coming back for more, you have to update your profile or blog on a regular basis. Even after all these years, Tila provides frequent updates to her MySpace profile and has even created the “Tila Zone," a site that offers clipart, layouts and widgets for use on other social networks.

5. Don't forget the community.

Too many marketers make the mistake of abandoning an online community once the campaign ends. Even though she’s hit the big time with a reality TV show, an album, a clothing line and various other ventures, Tila tells, "[It's] not just about the numbers for me, it’s about the fans, the interaction, and I am talking to them everyday. …. It is unbelievable that so many people are interested in what I do. I love them for it so I always try to leave everyone comments back. Especially those really loyal fans that help me spread the word about my music and page."

So if posting pictures of yourself posing in a bikini hasn’t worked, try Tila’s secret to social media success: Find a place where you can fit in and build a real relationship with the community.

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