The professional image is necessary, even today. While social media is a great way to reach out to the “people of the internet” it will never replace the searchable, relevant website that shoppers are looking for. However, social media mistakes can destroy all that you are trying to accomplish.
Think twice before employing a third party to do your “social media” as there are several “social media blunders” we see many of these so-called professionals making. Social Media was always intended to be personal, and to hire someone to do your social media for you is in most cases a direct violation of terms of service. Govern yourselves accordingly.
Blunders we see:
- Forgetting the real reason for social media
- Succumbing to all the latest polarizing “memes”
- Raiding contact lists
- Over posting
- Treating all social media contacts as potential customers
- Neglecting the second level networking
- Destroying internet reputation
Forgetting the Real Reason
Social media is intended for people to interact. While interacting people display their personalities and develop a reputation. We see many of the “experts” forgetting to consider the effect of the marketing posts. Social media was not originally intended for marketing and savvy internet people understand that. No one wants to get on a social media site and be bombarded with ads. That is not why they are there.
No one likes SPAM
This word was originally intended for those automated emails that went out to millions of recipients, selling something with the hope of maybe a .5 to 1% return. It is becoming more common in social media use however, to delineate unfavorable marketing behavior. While we all have an occasion to market something once in a while it helps to remember the important rule of sales:
Rule 1: “Nobody wants to be sold but sooner or later, everybody buys.”
It is important to be judicious in the use of marketing posts. Let’s give an example of how to do it wrong. Say you have an event you want to publish on Facebook. You are a member of several groups who share similar interests. The natural inclination is to post that event on all the groups that apply right away. This is not a good idea. In every case we have seen, there is a lot of common membership between groups of same demographics, so your post is now being seen multiple times by the same person. Picture this in your viewer’s mind: First viewing – “Wow that’s an interesting event.” Second – “OK I saw that already.” Third – “OK I GET IT!” Fourth – “Gee what a SPAMMER!”
It may be wise to space your postings in different groups many hours apart, so it does not appear that you are just “flashing” all the groups (also called “shotgunning”). Each group leader believes his or her group is very special, and will appreciate your judiciousness. It is also a good idea to get permission before posting in a group where you are not an active member.
Polarizing Yourself with Memes
From Wikipedia: “A meme is a term employed in certain theories of culture to refer to ‘an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture'”. Remember the purpose of interacting. It is to get to know people, not to upset them. Remember, that many of these memes are very polarizing and people have strong feelings about them. Stay off the soap box. You will have some people agreeing with you but just as many will think you are “a jerk” either way. Resist the urge to change your profile photo to support some special interest group, you will upset many more people than you convert.
Raiding Contact Lists Will Hurt Your Reputation
We’ve sat in seminars from “experts” who say “the first thing you do is send contact invites to everyone on your friends contact list.” Wrong. Not only is this a serious violation of terms of service of most sites (who specify that you should know the person) but you will quickly be marked as a “spammer.” Corollary: Do not post something on someone’s wall or profile without their permission.
Over Posting is Annoying
We’ve all seen those people that check in to their sites once a month or so and then share every picture, meme or touching story about cats they can find. It’s information overload. Social media sites (such as Facebook) should be checked once a day or so, and maybe make a post or two each time. If you make three posts in less than an hour you are going to draw negative attention to yourself. (Note: your writer has been guilty of this before and speaks from experience.)
Treating Your Contacts as Customers
Who wants to be “friends” with someone who views them just as a customer? Refer back to rule 1 above. Be careful how you treat your on line friends, just as you would in person. We like to think of your social media space as an extension of your living room. If you wouldn’t say it in their living room, don’t say it on line.
Second Level Networking
One of the truly great things about business and social media is that your friends can become referral sources for you. It’s not uncommon to see someone asking for a solution through the social space. Many referrals are generated that way. Rather than treating your contacts as prospects, treat them as trusted advisers. They can provide many sources of business you hadn’t been able to reach before.
Like anywhere else (or as the kids say, “in real life”) you have a reputation on social media as you do in the workplace. Social media is an excellent place to develop the reputation of a contributor, a positive source, or a positive influence on others. The converse is also true. It is not a good idea to place negative statements on a media that can’t be erased. Oh you may think you can delete posts, but they are stored somewhere, and can be accessed by someone who has the technical savvy. Never post when angry!
What should I do about my business then?
The key word is patience. Opportunities will arise to help someone who has a problem that you are qualified to fix. In this way you will develop your online reputation. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t imaging that “opportunity is slipping away.” What good is an opportunity that is short-lived anyway?
Be in for the long haul. Be solid, be dependable and above all, be positive.