Create an Iron-Clad Social Network

“‘I am Iron Man.’  You think you’re the only superhero in the world?  Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe.  You just don’t know it yet.”

Nick Fury

How strong is your network?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this post is about Iron Man 2.   Yet, it’s also NOT about Iron Man 2 at the exact same time.  I want to talk to you about your social network.

Marvel is doing something amazing in the world of film right now and I’m not sure you have noticed it going on.  There have been “easter eggs” hidden within many of the newest Marvel superhero movies starting with The Incredible Hulk and ending with Iron Man 2.  Marvel is creating a related network through the scripts of their films that tie all the movies together to bring audiences a bigger, more involved story.  If you were unaware, Universal is planning on releasing an Avengers movie, but in order to do that, they wanted audiences (outside of the comic book world) to be familiar with the characters so they have been filming individual movies that all tie together in some way.  All the movies stand on their own, yet they become building blocks to a bigger universe at the same time.  It’s quite amazing.

If you are unfamiliar with The Avengers, let me introduce you to them.  We have Iron Man, War Machine (Don Cheadle from Iron Man 2), Thor, Loki, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hulk, and Captain America.  There were others in the original comics, but those are the ones being resurrected for the new film.  You may recognize a lot of the character names and if you don’t, you will in a year or two.  Both Thor and Captain America have films in the works and they were both referred to during Iron Man 2.  The actors and actresses will all reprise their roles for the ensemble film, furthering the universe’s consistency.

What can we take from this?  I think it’s as clear as the reflection in Iron Man’s chest, but let’s walk through it together.

According to a survey done by the ever-insightful Jeff Bullas, 30% of the companies he polled used 3 social media channels to get their ideas across.  Only 8% of companies utilized 11 or more (You can read his entire blog post here).  How many social networking sites can you name off the top of your head (Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, Reddit, Digg, Blog, Delicious……)?  How many is your organization a part of?  How many should you be a part of?  Here‘s another great blog about the importance of creating a strategy before delving into multi-channel networking.
Networking can be the best thing you can do for yourself or your organization, but it can also lead you astray.  Make sure not to spread yourself too thin.  I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and I write this blog.  Those are the ones that I can justify spending enough time on to get something useful from my time.
Each social networking site has it’s strengths and weaknesses and it’s important that you know what you are dealing with as you create goals for your networking presence.  There is a good post that breaks down the main differences of some of the main sites here and let me add a few they don’t mention.
1) LinkedIn: Works very much like a Facebook for business professionals.  The site allows individuals to create profiles that highlight their professional history and maintain connections between people they have worked with or might work with in the future.  The tone is much more serious than Facebook and Twitter and it appeals to business-minded people who are looking for jobs, looking to hire applicants, and people looking to enhance their business networking abilities.
2) Company Blog: Although not an official social networking tool, a company or personal blog allows the author to write about anything and everything that is on their mind (just look at what I’m doing now).  From a well-written blog an author or company can be featured on Digg, Delicious, Reddit and more creating a greater return in their SEO and bringing more people to them.
Just like The Avengers, every networking site has strengths and can stand on their own as a movie or a superhero, but only when the network is created and they join forces does the story reach epic proportions.  How thick can you grow your connections?  Is it time to recruit some more superheros to fight alongside you in the arena of social networking and online brand marketing?  Or maybe it’s time to discover an entirely new element to give you the power to bring together your network (just go see Iron Man 2 to get the reference).
What do you think?  What are some of the best ways to grow your network?

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About Joey Strawn

Digital marketing sociologist and public relations specialist with experience on national and local campaigns with a love for film and the things it says about our culture and business. Joey is the Senior Social Media Strategist at ISM in Nashville, TN and is in the business of helping people and companies deal with the new universe of social media in their marketing and PR endeavors.
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