Out of all the many social media sites, the three most used are Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

facebook_xsThe number of registered users on each are –

FaceBook – 1,280,000,000

twitter_xsTwitter – 645,750,000

Linked In – 255,000,000

in_xsThat’s a lot of people even when you know that some, like myself, are on all three sites.

Facebook and Twitter are more generalised, social sites and Linked In is geared more to the business world.

Facebook and Linked In are not only made up of the individual registrants but also have separate groups of special interest.

They each have a search function and the Linked In site told me some very useful information that the other two couldn’t. It told me that on that site there are 229,511 people connected to Portsmouth. That is 229,511 people with whom I could have a direct connection to, if I was so inclined. 229,511 potential Labour voters.

To help me explain how to use these sites I’d like you to imagine each one as a separate building. Each building has separate rooms for  each different group and in each room there are, of course people. There’s one for Portsmouth Labour Party, one for Momentum etc. To give you an idea of the size of the building on Linked In, there are 113 Portsmouth related groups.

Registering, or joining a group is the same as going into a room. What do you do when you enter a room full of people? Do you immediately start spouting off political rhetoric? Of course not. You might look for people you know and start chatting or see what others are talking about and contribute where you can.

If there is one tip I want to get across more than any other about social media it is to treat it just as you would any other real  room full of people you go into.

Once in stop. Watch. Listen. Maybe say thank you for being allowed in. That’s a good way to introduce yourself. Another would be to simply agree with what someone else has posted. Take your time. Make comments to some other people’s posting but don’t be too controversial.

As in a real life situation, in social media people will only listen and open up to people they know, like and trust. The secret to getting your message across on social media as in real life is patience. Wait for the right opportunity. These can be helped by going to such meetings as our All Members Meeting and putting faces to names.

I repeat what I said earlier when I said you should treat social media just as you would walking in to a real room full of people. Watch, listen and learn.

I have been actively involved in online and face to face business networking for the best part of 20 years. The techniques I use are not just my ideas but those of people much more expert than I.

In order to get people on our side I wouldn’t bombard them with political rhetoric. A much gentler and productive approach I find is simply talking to people about themselves. Find out what their views, thoughts and interests are.  Ask and most importantly, listen. Then you might put the Labour point of view and see what their response is. If they still disagree then they still disagree. Leave it. Don’t batter them however emotive as you might feel about the subject.

One master of this technique is our esteemed leader Jeremy. I’ve seen him use this a few times in PMQs. He is standing talking. The Tories are baying like hyenas. Does he get rattled and annoyed? No. He stops. He looks sternly at them and waits for the Speaker to regain order, then he continues.

He knows that Cameron is never going to admit he is wrong. In social media, as in life, take it steady and easy.

We can win many people to our side as much by using social media as you can anything else. Use them all and we can win much more.

Michael Birchmore