Heather Tranen is spot on with this blog. Read this if you plan on tweeting during an upcoming professional conference!
I think one of the hardest parts of social media for professional or business use is determining your “voice.” What do I mean by voice? I’m talking about the feeling you give to your readers about who you are and what you (or your business) represent. It’s your personality. Your “it” factor. It’s what makes you different that anyone else posting about the same topic.
I’ve struggled with this personally myself. I currently coordinate the UGA Career Center’s Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest accounts and figuring out my voice on those accounts versus my personal/professional Twitter & Facebook accounts has been difficult. Being in a field where teaching professionalism is your job also makes it hard. Personally, I love entertainment news and following humorous accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but is it appropriate for the Career Center? Is it appropriate for any “serious” business to delve into pop culture and try to sound that way?
I’m still on the fence. On one hand, you don’t want to step too far to where you start losing credibility. On the other, you run the risk of being to stiff or boring. The key thing you need to ask yourself is who’s listening to me and who is most likely to interact with me on social media? The answer may be different depending on the site.
The companies that I find to be most successful answer questions directed towards their accounts quickly and politely. If their focus isn’t creating conversation with consumers, you either need to be funny or informative with a dash of random. The dash of random is what humanizes you and your business. It may sound silly, but without it you lose something. Businesses are trying so hard to figure out a way to monetize social media and by doing so they miss the point of why social media was created: to create real relationships. Many of us choose our friends because we have something in common with them and they let us in. They let us see both the good and bad aspects of their personalities.
Do I think businesses should expose the bad parts of themselves? No, not necessarily. However, if all you’re doing is posting information that can be found directly on your website or Googled, you’ve missed the point and even if you have a lot of followers, you don’t have an audience. You’re a part of the noise.
You’ve probably heard that millenials and Gen Y as a whole is the “trophy generation,” meaning they think the mere act of participating in something should result in an award. Many grew up with teachers and coaches that gave them a trophy for virtually everything. You may think of this as coddling or ridiculous, but businesses and higher education would benefit if they would stop fighting the “helicopter parent” mentality and show some appreciation not only to Gen Y, but to their customers as a whole.
Celebrities are the best at this. Take this scenario: Kim Kardashian will occasionally retweet a fan’s comment. Fan freaks out. Tells all her friends on Facebook & Twitter. However many friends that fan has, now knows about Kim Kardashian and is more likely to see who she is and what she does. Conveniently, there is a direct link to her new perfume on her Twitter profile. Coincidence? I think not. That is the mark of a savvy businesswoman. By the simple act of recognition, her follower becomes an even more avid fan, and new followers may engage with her social media presence that might not have done so before.
You may be thinking that you’re not a celebrity, so obviously the same scenario couldn’t happen to you. I’ve got a few examples that would beg to differ, however. This phenomenon is an example of a new trend in consumer behavior: recognition. They want to have their questions answered. Be featured on your social media pages. Thanked for sharing your posts. Feel like someone is paying attention to them period.
My definition of recognition is a little broader than the trophy concept. It’s showing your customer respect. Respect for their opinions, showing that you listen, and demonstrating that you act based on what you heard.
How do you show that you’re paying attention to your fans?
Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Twitter. It’s a great tool that I find really useful for researching what’s going on in social media and career services (my two main areas of interest), but we can have a love/hate relationship sometimes. She is VERY high maintenance and requires a lot of attention.
Because of this, I really enjoyed reading this blog. It’s always good to go back and remind yourself “what’s my purpose?” Who is my audience? What am I trying to say? It’s easy to get stuck in the mindframe of mindlessly sending out content just to get something out there. To be considered active on Twitter, you should already be posting a minimum of 2-3 times a day if not more, so it is tempting to tweet just for the sake of tweeting.
If you’re starting to get tempted to do this, here’s what I recommend:
- Start asking your followers what they would like more information on.
- Retweet (useful!) content your most interactive followers are posting. This will help further build your relationship.
- Start commenting on other Twitter users’ posts in the meantime until you have an idea for new content.
- Google it! Tweet interesting articles, video or blogs.
This should be a good start to get you out of a Twitter rut. Do you have any other ideas for tweets when you run out of original content?
The title says it all. A common worry I hear expressed by people looking to use social media professionally is that they don’t have enough time in the day to manage it. I agree that it’s tough, but as I explained in my previous post about Hootsuite, you can easily schedule future posts and monitor your presence on multiple sites through one source.
One thing that I did not touch on in my last blog was WHEN to post. Think about when your audience would be likely to see your Tweets, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates. Even though you may have time to tweet at 8am in the morning, ask yourself if your audience is going to be up at 8am diligently looking for your post. They just might be…or they might not.
This is partially why I use bit.ly in conjunction with Hootsuite. It’s easy for me to quickly scan down my shortened link list to see if my audience is clicking on my links. I also monitor Facebook Insights to see how far my post was able to reach.
The only way to figure out if your timing is good or bad is to monitor your clicked links (can be done through bit.ly or Hootsuite) or to check your Facebook insights. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the timing of your posts. One of my most viewed links came from the day after Christmas! Check your statistics often and you may begin to see some trends of when your audience engages with your social media sites.
In a previous post, I mentioned the importance of identifying the leaders in your field–social media field that is. Twellow, WeFollow, and Listorious are all great sites to identify the leaders in Twitter when you are getting started.
While it is important to benchmark and constantly survey the landscape to make sure you’re on par with your competition, at some point it is important to branch out. To try something new. To take a risk. If you do the same thing as your competition, what sets you apart? Instead of being a barnacle that clings on to someone else’s idea, be the foundation others wish to emulate.
Easier said that done right? The way that I try to “branch out” from my peers is to bounce ideas off of other people I trust. It’s okay if some of your ideas seem crazy or off the wall. Some of the best ideas seemed crazy at first I’m sure. Even if your ideas end up being deemed “too crazy” and not feasible, the exchange of ideas might lead to another insight that could just work.
Great leaders also surround themselves with great people. My social media intern came up with an excellent idea: have a “theme week” or topic to focus on that week. It keeps people engaged in your topic and so far we have had a lot of success through implementing this new idea.
Try it out and see if it works for you!
Recently I’ve noticed quite a few businesses tweet out job listings. Sounds like a good idea right? In theory yes, but I’ve found that many of these links are broken or those that have good links lead to job descriptions that don’t match what the tweet indicated the job would be. If your followers click on your link to find out more information and are taken to something completely unrelated, why would they continue to follow you or read your content?
When I looked a little deeper into the company accounts, I found that some had a large amount of followers that were spam accounts, competitors, or people that were not remotely qualified for the positions they were tweeting about.
So what should we take away from this?
- Make sure your tweet is clear and aimed to your target audience. Have a job title, location & what you’re looking for clearly indicated to make your followers more inclined to click on your links.
- Search for the leaders in your industry and follow them to find potential employees. Follow the leaders followers too. This will make your potential prospects at least aware of your account.
- Consider sending a DM (direct message) directly to leaders in the field to see if they will retweet your information or to those you think could be good prospects for the job.
Ultimately, you want to give people a reason to follow you. If your message is consistent and is related to what your 140 character profile states, you will emerge as someone worthy to follow.
To follow or not to follow…you never want that to be the question.