I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’m sure most of you feel the same. The online world can be intrusive, fear-inducing, anger-fueling, annoying and often tricks us with lies and exaggerations of the truth. But let’s face it, social media is a necessary tool and can be our greatest ally when we need to reach more than one person at a time. And the channels of social media can also funnel informative, inspiring, engaging, entertaining and educating material our way and help us create connections we would never have been able to make in the “real” world.
I do prefer real, human conversations to cold, static texts; and I would rather have a face-to-face meeting than play email tag or struggle through uncomfortable Skype conversations; but in this busy, hyper-connected world, we need to keep up with the times or throw in the towel and live a hermit life in a mountain cave.
It helps me to relate the online social world to the real world so I have a better understanding of what should be shared through each platform. And it helps to envision the people using each platform as a different audience so I can tailor what I have to say. I spend a lot of time helping other business people succeed on social media, and make connections that count – and I have to continually remind myself of “What” goals we need to accomplish, “How” best to accomplish those goals and “Where” the best place to accomplish them is. It helps me to picture each social media site in the following ways:
Your Website is your storefront and you want people to enter, browse, and stay a while. You attract people there by keeping content fresh with updated blogs and relevant articles and by directing people to your website through social media platforms – where your potential clients and collaborators gather. Provide info that people want to know about – helpful tips and secrets, newsletters, and calendars of events through easily navigable pages and posts.
LinkedIn is an extension of your website – your online resume and brag sheet. It is the boardroom, where you gather with your contemporaries and peers to share ideas, problem solve, meet with potential clients and build on your professional development.
LinkedIn is a tool where you can:
- Seek out people you would like to work for, work with and mentor.
- Find your future work and team build by joining groups, commenting and sharing with other LinkedIn members.
- Offer and request recommendations.
- Endorse peoples’ skills and thank those who do the same for you.
Like a resume, you are continually adding to it as your business and client list grows. There is a steadiness and a consistency to LinkedIn – it’s a “Club” mentality there and if you are in the club you have longevity and staying power.
Use the first person when filling in your profile, and make sure to fill in as many sections as possible – you never know what might “link” you to someone else.
You should share your advice, tips, blog posts and the same from contemporaries you admire and wish to collaborate with through the post feature so that others can share your posts on LinkedIn and other social sites.
Facebook is the water cooler you all gather around on your break to talk about what you did last night, which video you found interesting and the joke you overheard at the grocery store. Your personal Profile is where you can get a bit more personal, but if you have a business Page, you should be careful not to be too political, religious or opinionated—unless you are a politician, religious leader or looked to for your opinion, of course! It’s where you share your snippets of info, advice and words of inspiration in short, clear blurbs so people can get back to work. This is the place where people get to know the “face” of the business. Be true to who you are and what your business stands for. Tell your story in different ways.
The only way your posts have life after 15 minutes is to get people interacting on the posts. Ask for feedback or create posts that people will react to and want to share; and once someone Likes, Shares or Comments, the post is shown on more people’s timelines—and the more people who respond, the more people on their friend list will see it, and the Reach of the post grows exponentially. Careful content creation and regular topics like “Tuesday Tip” or “Throwback Thursday” works because people like to know what to expect of your Page and the quality and quantity of the info. If it changes suddenly or contains content that is overly “Sales-y”, people will UN-Like the page. Create Events and Tabs to link to newsletters, sales and coupons. Make your Facebook page somewhere people would want to spend their valuable time visiting.
Google + is a combo between LinkedIn and Facebook. Not as popular yet in some circles, but businesses are getting the hang of it and Google likes it when you are active there so it is important to have a presence on Google+. Posts should be a combo of Facebook and LinkedIn posts. Your space here is a representation of who you are and what your business is all about. Lots of sharing and “+”-ing or “Hi-fiving” going on here. Like Twitter you can put people into groups and follow them to see their posts in your feed. Great place to find advocates for your business.
Twitter contains your random thoughts, nuggets of wisdom and short info blasts. It’s as if your head were made of glass and the whole world has a front row seat to your shenanigans. It’s what is happening right now and the shelf life is mere minutes as the next thought whisks into view. If you have a lot going on, Twitter is the place for people to keep up with you.
Tweets do not live long as they disappear down the page on everyone’s feed as new tweets populate the space. Twitter is a crowded and noisy market and you have to repeat yourself often and be present to be heard and catch the important Tweets that whizz through the space. You need to shout over the other people BUT your info must be relevant and engaging and not just noise or you will be UNFOLLOWED and silenced. This is a good place to organize the businesses and people you follow into groups so you can target specific messages.
By creating my own imaginary world in the social spectrum I have been able to make some sense of it all and be clearer about the type of content I share on each platform. We all do what works best for us.
Experiment with each platform – you might be surprised. I had one client who was strictly on Facebook, and I kept hinting that Twitter might be better for her type of business, but she was wary of it and stayed away. Then one day she emailed me and told me she had given it a try and LOVED IT! She found it more convenient to tweet out what she was doing in between client sessions and send out relevant info as it popped into her head. Sitting down and writing blog posts and creating Facebook content intimidated and overwhelmed her, but she found Twitter was fun! And if something is FUN, it WORKS! So, my biggest recommendation for social media is HAVE FUN!
What is YOUR favourite social media platform, and WHY?