Social media is an astounding tool in the new world of media. There is an opportunity to monitor ‘buzz’ (if that matters), make introductions and invitations, appreciate and recognize remarkable, tell a story and use as a customer service tool.
When you want to know the latest about volcanoes in Hawaii or hurricanes in Florida, there is no longer a need to wait for the 5:00 News. Twitter to the rescue, Facebook photos and videos are available. Many are provided by the humans who carry a camera and mini-computer connected to the Internet in their pocket. Government agencies and news companies are catching up and use social media tools to deliver ‘the latest’.
Social media is also dangerous.
- Businesses may create an impression of ‘big’ or ‘influential’ but can be as empty as the Hollywood movie sets, buildings with just a front wall that looks good.
- Marketers can make things appear probable when they are neither possible nor practical.
- The takers and fakers use social media tools to rant, deliver fake news, phish as your long-lost friend or pretend to be someone they are not. (There are also fake Twitter generators.)
- We can’t leave out those companies that own many social media accounts with different names and has them talking with each other to make it appear as if they are loved, appreciated and engaged.
“Truth” is suspect and it is necessary to ‘trust but verify’ at every step. (Which is not different than any other previous mechanism such as telephone, fax, email, mail… or even in person contact.)
And yet there is value from social media.
A large number of followers with no/low engagement offers low value. (But is good for the ego.)
A low number of followers with high engagement is probably an indication that you are connected with those you serve best and you are offering information, products, services and value.
Social media tools can offer ‘social proof’ for businesses building a brand, getting testimonials, offering ‘instant service’ 24/7 for people in trouble. When someone shares a website, product or service, they often do it via public or private personalized messages. It is easy and simple since it can be done with a click and a short note. Get enough people excited, they click fast and furious as people like to talk about themselves, what they did, what they bought (and the latest restaurant they love.)
Just as with any mechanism, it’s effectiveness depends on the skill and wisdom of the user. Most are ineffective but, on the surface, appear to have ‘influence’. The TV news shows do spend a portion of their show reporting ‘this is what Twitter followers and Facebook followers are saying.’
“Chatty Kathy” who loves to talk on the phone is likely to enjoy social media ‘chatting’. She is special, unique, personable but it is the activity she loves. She is not as concerned about what is delivered, the impact or the outcome. (People smiling and feeling good is enough of an outcome.)
“Critical Charlie” is in love with analysis and finding problems, holes, inaccuracies and is critical for its own sake. Unfortunately, he is often correct with his findings because there is ‘always’ one little detail that was missed and two sides to every coin.
I am not as concerned about the personal use of social media. Each person has their beliefs, connections and reason for ranting, connecting, sharing and celebrating.
I am concerned about how companies and teams are thinking with profitable revenue top of mind. If the online tools are expected to help a team reflect the best of who they are, it is important to keep these essentials in mind.
“Create a story, tell the story”
Before social media sharing there is ‘the story’. “Create a story, tell the story” should be understood as a foundation for using the many digital tools. The stories are those of the past and of the future. This is what happened, here is what is going to happen. The more employees there are on a team, the more stories there should be. These can include:
An article, webinar, whitepaper, checklist, tool, presentation, event, volunteer, accomplishment, product change, service change, upgrade, new staff, new ‘anything’, new collaboration, success story, read an amazing book, what you learned today, and the list goes on.
Hopefully a team/company are creating/building/participating in things that make an impact vs just doing tasks to keep the boss happy.
Next, we focus on the second part of “Create a story, tell the story”. Once the story happens (or is scheduled for the future), social media tools are a mechanism to tell the story. Without creating or building, most fall back on repeating what others say, post ubiquitous fluff, are friendly and fun (or opinionated) and have conversations without adding value.
Small companies, or those who are beginning to “Create a story, tell the story”, may instead tell the stories of others and recognize/appreciate/celebrate their accomplishments and events.
Personalized vs Broadcast
If a company chooses to use social media as a broadcasting tool and ‘post’, they rely on chance, luck, fate. Who will notice the post? Since social media platforms continuously change their software and default settings limit the visibility of posts, a ‘post’ can feel good as it is checked off the list but when you drill deeper they are seen as frequently as flier posted on a grocery store bulletin board.
With automated social media posting tools available, the simplicity of short messages, the ease at which mobile devices can ‘click-share’ are advantageous but usually lead to more broadcasting of posts (with hope that someone might see it).
A broadcast post matters to no one or might matter to someone if the timing is perfect and the social media software works well.
With a very small change, a broadcast post can become ‘personalized’. It requires a moment to know the person or company’s name (or handle).
i.e. @resultist is my Twitter handle. Instead of broadcasting and gambling, post on Twitter with @resultist. “@resultist, your article about social media was very insightful! Thank you!”
This is true for LinkedIn and Facebook as well. Creating a post with the names/handles in a social post ensures that each one of them gets a message about the mention.
Public personalized posts are powerful.
When at a networking meeting people hesitate to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation, even though that was the intention of attending. The same happens with public personalized posts on social media. There is a risk of rejection of being ignored. If someone is rejected on social media, it is usually in the form of silence… and no one notices. (Vs in a networking event where someone can run from you screaming ‘stay away!’.)
Those who are serious about using social media as a tool will offer public personalized posts. To be successful, the right type of person with specific Core Values needs to be the driver.
Point to self (Self-Promotion)? or Point to others (Add Value)?
“I want to tell you about my stuff!” gets old fast. This can be easily tested by again attending a networking event. Interrupting a conversation with “I have a new product” is like tossing pickles on marshmallows. Using social media to share either publicly or personalized posts will be ignored unless you have confidence to know it is relevant to their conversation.
If 90% of social media posts (broadcast or personalized) are about: company this, company that, this company is best… it becomes apparent that the most important thing is ‘the company’.
If the company has stories to tell, the impression of ‘self-promotion’ goes away and the company builds an aura of ‘awesome’. We hope that a team does not need to invent stories or create them for the sake of having something to share. We hope that a company has already hired exceptional people who do more than survive the day to day rat race and are looking forward to more success.
If a team has the awareness of heroes in the community, has an appreciation for success, and keeps up with industry news, pointing to what matters, what to cheer about (and maybe even what to avoid) are things to include in social media posts. “Pointing outwards” to past/present/future clients, vendors, community leaders, undiscovered community leaders are an opportunity to ‘pay it forward’. At a networking event, it makes sense to listen, observe, compliment, recommend, make introductions. These are signs of character. As trust grows, people listen, get curious and are open.
“Experts” say promote yourself once, offer value and share others at a 1 to 10 ratio. Considering that after the 2nd self-promotion people think they know what’s coming next and tune out the rest, the perceived lost opportunity is a reality only in the mind of someone who measures success by their own activities.
There you have it. If you can remember three key essentials, you will be surprised at how different your company and team will be viewed and the authority you can build.
- Create a story, tell the story.
- Prioritize personalize over broadcast.
- Persistent self-promoters are soon tuned out. Add value.
The goal of ‘more connections’ and ‘better relationships’ can happen with social media tools. There is a point where a social media ‘relationship’ evolves into one where serious conversations and work needs to happen. A CRM can help you to manage who’s where, when, and what’s next.
If you plan on ‘going bigger’ with social media tools, what are your stories, are you ready to take the time (and take the risk) to personalize and are you willing to do more than self-promote?
If so, the BIGGEST opportunity with social media has less to do with your activity and more to do with the people who are compelled to follow, share or take action to learn more.
Social media is a connection/communication tool. And when we offer something AWESOME “they” communicate it with their connections. All we can do is spark the fire – they spread it.
… which means it is time to build (create) something AWESOME. (Remarkable)
For instance, I recently upgraded and updated the Revenue Development Action Plan. It is an important tool I continue to rely on as I work with teams to go bigger. Fair warning, this latest version is quite comprehensive. You can get the Revenue Development Action Plan here. I hope you find it helpful.