However do not forget that your every move is a cellphone photo or YouTube video away from public accolade or humiliation. Photos of you at a friend’s party are not how you want the board of directors to think of you, says Carol Meerschaert of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.
Don’t get started on social media if you have significant product weaknesses or reputational issues. Engaging with social media makes good products more successful and bad products… dead. But don’t delay for long; address the issues and then jump in. However, do the same up-front planning you would for any important business initiative. Define your target audience. Detail how you intend to create value for them. Map out how you expect them to create value for you. Document your approach and objectives per medium (blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
Listen, Listen and Listen!
As a business, don’t use social media to overtly market or sell. Instead, keep it simple with customised messages and fresh material that will educate, inform and entertain your audience. In this way, you will position yourself as an expert in your field.
Listening is an art that also applies to social platforms used for business. As a result, do listen and learn from others for a few weeks and before responding in general. Spend twice as much time listening as responding. Impulsive responses may be catastrophic for a business; patience pays off in the end.
Keep in mind that social media is a two-way conversation. Conversation builds trust; trust leads to more sales. Listening can come in the form of feedback forms and online surveys. Learn from your audience (as they will learn from you). Be prepared to rapidly evolve your products and services to meet their needs. They will suggest valuable ideas you never thought of.
Whether as an individual or an organisation, don’t ‘set it and forget it’. This makes you look worse than not showing up at all. Once you get started, sustain your participation and interaction. Thus favour timeless content over time-sensitive content – timeless content will have value to new readers weeks, months or even years from now.
‘Push’ Is Out and ‘Pull’ Is In
Remember that ‘push’ is out and ‘pull’ is in. Direct mail, traditional advertising, and unsolicited e-mail are forms of ‘push’ – the content producer chooses who to target. ‘Following’ on Twitter, ‘subscribing’ to a blog or podcast, or viewing a video your friends ‘liked’ on Facebook are forms of ‘pull’ – the content to which the consumer decides to listen. In today’s information-rich world, people want to opt in, choosing where to spend their valuable time. Give them a reason to choose your content.
As an individual, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can separate your business, personal and private social pages, for the truth is that nothing is private! Have a professional profile picture taken by a friend, and make sure to look your best. Your clients and potential clients will look you up and judge what they see. Your online image is as important as when you shake their hand in person. Don’t show cleavage – a great smile or your artistic side will do just fine.
There is a simple rule that you should never forget, whether it’s after attending an interview or signing a lucrative deal, but the norm is to tend to forget to apply it to social media as well. When people allow you into their network, be overly polite and say “Thank you”.
Easy Does It
An absolute ‘no-no’ for social-media sites is to build up your network too quickly. It may be all well and good to say you have so many followers, but you place yourself at risk of diluting your network. At worst, you can be banned from a particular site.
Do not rely on one application to send your messages, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. However, whatever application you choose to use, be consistent and do not be a generalist. Always focus on one topic, and do it well – the narrower the better. Keep in mind that everyone can tailor their consumption to their interests.
Privacy settings are on social media for a reason, so do use your privacy settings. For example, there are a few options on Facebook when you post. You can post something publicly (meaning anyone could potentially read it), you can post it to your friends only or you can even post it to people in one particular city. You might want to post your baby pictures, but that’s something that people you’re doing business with may not necessarily want to see.
Keep your eyes open, as you never know when you might hit the jackpot. Use Google Alerts, relevant LinkedIn Groups, Ning networks, and other sites to monitor or ‘listen in’ on conversations about your company, your competitors, and the best practices in your industry.
Social Media: The Do's and Don'ts
Social media has evolved over the years. It has grown from being just a social platform for individuals, to becoming a playground for businesses that want to keep adapting to the ever-changing environment. As a business, absent yourself from social spaces at your own risk, but, if you are within this sphere, whether as an individual or a business, there are certain behaviours that can make or break you.
If your company has not yet stepped in, it’s time to jump in before your competitors beat you to the punch. What should you be doing and what must you not do in order to achieve success with social media? I shall explore with you the do’s and don’ts of social spaces for both business and personal purposes. Important to note is that, with so many platforms available, you cannot cram your whole persona into one platform lest you lose your identity. So, carefully craft an online persona. Use Pinterest to show hobbies; Facebook photos to show you at work and at play; and share business and leadership articles on LinkedIn.
by Andrew Ngozo