Inspired by Jay Boer’s 5 Ways to Add Marketing Helpfulness (which is a great article by the way) I’d like to expand on ways to use social media to increase helpfulness. Essentially, the idea is that if your business is helpful to your consumer, they will remember that next time they are in the market for the product or service you offer. I mention this very same topic in my recent interview with Tractor Beam Marketing.  I say that social media has karma and businesses aren’t really used to having to consider karma in the way they do with social media. Its a new platform and a new way of understanding. I think its particularly powerful when what is shared is not directly self-serving.

Jay’s example’s were awesome, articulate and interesting, but I wanted to add some of those tools which I recommend to my clients where we are discussing “adding value”.

I discuss adding value to the conversation with my clients often in the context of social media. Its one of the reasons I think content is so important.  I often get resistance to this topic in the form of “wow, that sounds like work.” What I remind people is that ALL relationships take work. Social Media IS a relationship. The distinctive element of social media vs. other forms of marketing is its interactive, sharing component.

Here are some ways that you can add value to the conversation via social media:

LinkedIn Groups: There are many ways to share in LinkedIn, above and beyond posting your latest blog post. Whether you decide to start group to benefit your industry or whether you participate in them vis’a vis answering questions, volunteering for managing the group (I’ve received three emails from over burdened group moderators this week as for volunteers), or by participating to create conversation you helping the community at large. Even when you start a conversation that brings dissent, you’ve been the starter of a conversation – that has value to the audience at large. Yes, you may also benefit, but only as much as others do.

Read. Alot. And Share.: Sometime’s I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that I want to read. But I try to find at least an hour a day to read. Why? Because its good to keep up. More importantly though, I know I’ll have a chance to share the info. I never share info that I haven’t personally read, because I feel like if I am passing it on, then it says something about me and my belief structure.  This allows my fans, followers and friends to sift through piles of information and get to the info that is sent to them by someone they trust. Information from a trusted source is the panacea of information overload.  I also share articles of interest with colleges via email, basecamp, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Groups and social bookmarking sites like Digg, etc. I pass it on and hope they’ll do the same.

Blog: When you blog, you share. You give insight, suggestions and get the wheels spinning in others. Your giving back to your readers. Make your blog relevant to your clients, don’t make it overly self-promotional and invite engagement. Your adding value by having and regularly posting to a blog so long as you discuss topics that resonate. If your product is aimed at new Moms, blog about reusable diapers. If your an event marketing company, blog about the a recent example that you appreciated and tell why.

What other ways do you add value to the conversation through social media? How have you shared today?