In this day and age, social media isn’t just a game — a place people go to in order to connect with long lost friends. It’s a world-wide, online forum where most of the consumer world goes to find out about what people are saying about you, your business and your services. The same hold true when you’re looking to sell yourself and your services as a social media “expert.”
Last month, I finished two contracts and began to look for more to fill the void. The first thing I did was update my LinkedIn profile, along with my Facebook Page and Twitter profile. As someone who works in social media, making sure that each and every only profile is up to date is critical, especially when looking for work. Before even attempting to contact you about your businesses will turn to social media to see who you are. Ensuring your LinkedIn profile is up to date, your Facebook Business Page is clear and inviting, your Twitter profile announces how well you engage with others and so on. In today’s social world, we are the sum of our social media profiles. Our calling card to those who ask “what can you do for my company.”
It made me think that since so many businesses, employers, consumers and clients turn to social media for information, how can small businesses still say that they have no need for social media or question how it will improve their business. It’s pretty clear that the online forum is likely the first place that we go to to find out about who we are hiring, what services people offer and how they are doing in terms of customer service and product reliability. By not having a social media presence, you are basically disappearing into the void of anonymity – a place you do not want to be when trying to create a Brand or increase your business visibility.
Using social media to engage with your customers can be one of the most personal and immediate way of connecting, if done properly. It’s not worth it to just throw up a business page and hope people like you. Blogging, letting your audience know who you are and what you stand for, can create a sense of kinship and camaraderie that is the cornerstone of business relationships. Twitter can help provide a sense of legitimacy and communication with a worldwide audience but it can also be used to let your local audience know what’s happening on a day to day level. Facebook is a way to really understand and listen to what you customers want and how they feel about your businesses and services.
So when a business owner says to you “what can social media do to enhance my business,” please let them know that in this digital age, social media is your calling card. It allows the world to see who you are and what you do in a way that open and engaging. The same goes for you as an individual. It’s important to put yourself out there for the world to see you as a transparent, professional and reliable.
So go ahead and make sure you have a complete social media calling card. Go. Now.
Last week, I was trying to connect with a new business to offer my services as a freelance writer. I had forwarded the potential client the link to my LinkedIn profile and links to my various online articles. After a bit of an email interchange, he asked me for a résumé and I admit, I was a bit shocked.
As someone who works in social media, I do keep my online profile, especially LinkedIn, very up to date. It has a chronology of my work going back many years and it also includes links to my other various online profiles so why was this guy asking for a résumé?
With the increase on social networking, it’s not unusual for a prospective employer or client to take some time to check out your various online profiles, both social and professional. These days, businesses are more likely to make hiring decisions based on your Facebook profile and a quick Google search rather than what they read on a flat piece of paper with little or no personality.
In speaking with some colleagues, especially those in the high tech/social media world, many have gone so far to say that they no longer look solely at the paper résumé – which has become just a laundry list of education, skills, awards and activities. They acknowledge that as a potential employer, by checking someone’s digital footprint, they are better able to get a sense of, not only the applicant’s accomplishments, but their personality, communication ability and plain old common sense judgement as they read through an applicant’s Twitter feeds, Facebook posts or personal blogs (Yet another good reason to stop posting drunk pictures of yourself online).
So I say, why bother with a boring old résumé. If you are job hunting, send people to your LinkedIn page instead of sending of your résumé. In addition to your self-proclaimed qualifications, an up to date and complete LinkedIn profile includes testimonials from colleagues, clients, and employers. Sending someone a link to your LinkedIn page is really the most efficient way to convey your relevant experience.
So are résumés obsolete? I say they’re on their way. What do you think?
In social media, it’s pretty clear that one of the main goals we all have is to raise our visibility, whether it’s our personal visibility or brand visibility, by making connections on social platforms. Maybe it’s just the way I am but when I started out on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ I did my best to find out the best practices of each platform before diving in. It really wasn’t that hard. I just picked a few key players to follow, read a ton online about etiquette and proper online manners, and I remembered the lesson I learned in kindergarten – mind your manners, play fair and give everyone a chance.
That being said, I’m still puzzled when I see some people, these self-proclaimed social media experts and gurus who can’t seem to understand some simple rules when it comes to how best to encourage people to follow you. So I’ve come up with a list of how what to do if you want to piss people off so that they won’t follow, connect, circle or like you. Feel free to use this list at your discretion to decrease your fan base.
- Telling me to like your Facebook Page: If I see your page and I’m inspired, I promise I will click Like without you telling me too. We all want likes, I get that. But one of the first things I learned in social media is that organic is best. And while I admit that in the beginning, I did ask friends and family to like my page, I stopped asking pretty quickly because I knew that in order to really get a good idea of whether my business was appealing was if my page, with no urging from me, was engaging enough to suddenly inspire others to click Like. That way, I know that they really are a fan and are more likely to stick around.
- Don’t bother to upload a profile picture: For heaven’s sake, how often do you do business with someone while blindfolded? I’m going to wager a guess and say never. Being online is a bit like real life. We like to see who we’re doing business with. I like to put faces to names and credentials. The same goes with filling out a complete bio. I often ask for references in the offline world, why should I know who I’m doing business with online.
- Talk about yourself in the third person: Unless your name is Lady Gaga and have a following in the millions, talking in the third person is a sure way to alienate your audience (and really, even Lady Gaga uses “I” in her bio). We are all here to connect on some type of personal level. Using the third person says that you are just a step above the rest. And if you really feel that you’re better than me, I’m not sure I’m worthy enough to follow you.
- Talk incessantly about your business and your products: I don’t know about you but I just love hanging out with others who only talk about themselves. Ok. That was a bit sarcastic. But social media, while an integral part of a marketing plan, is not the same as traditional advertising and cannot be used in the same way, no matter what your business. Remember that social media is a talking WITH conversation, and not a talking AT.
- Always offer TMI: With the anonymity of the Internet, it may seem that everyone online is friends and very casual but most of us are still trying to maintain a professional air when running our business. Unless part of your brand is telling the world about your recent trip to the emergency room, maybe you should keep it to yourself. By offering to much information, it’s very likely that people will get turned off and unfollow you pretty quickly.
Bottom line: Treat your social media following the way you want to be treated yourself and it’s likely that they’ll reward you by connecting, circling and liking you. And while social media isn’t just a numbers game, having lots of followers can have its advantages when you are trying to build a name for yourself and your business online.