This is a common question asked by executives, entrepreneurs and, small businesses especially. Should you tweet or post content from a Facebook page as yourself or as your company? Ask yourself this question: On Twitter, would you be more likely to follow and engage in conversation with a person who happens to work at, or own, a particular company, or with the logo of the company? You know that there is a person (most of the time) sending out the information on the company’s behalf, but which is considered more transparent and authentic? The REAL person.
Take a look at the company, Zappos. For those of you who are not familiar with this company (shame on you!) it started as an online shoe retailer but now sells clothing as well. I believe Zappos is a customer service company that happens to help you look great! The CEO, Tony Hsieh, says they deliver HAPPINESS…and when shoes are delivered…it is indeed HAPPINESS! But if you do a search on Twitter for Zappos, you will find over 40 individual accounts that have Zappos and then the person’s name within the company that is using Twitter to reach and engage her own community, including Tony Hsieh. People want to connect to brands that they love and if there is a real person behind the brand, it is a bonus!
Remember, social media is about the conversations, not the pushing of your goods and services. Once I like you, I will be more likely to buy from you. If all you do is talk without asking my opinions or listening to what I am talking about, you might as well keep wasting your money on those slick postcards that I love throwing away!
Now on Facebook it is a little different. You may want to allow individuals within an organization to send or post content on behalf of your company from their personal profile pages, but I would use extreme caution (OK I would really ask you “ARE YOU NUTS?”). If you are a small company and you want your team members to help you get the word out on certain company campaigns or messages, have and communicate clear policies around what type of content should and should not be shared from a personal Facebook profile. “Company picnic today at Synapse” is fine but “Boss man getting married AGAIN…this time to our marketing VP” may not be the message you want getting out to all of Facebook Land! Facebook has PAGES that serve the business world and provide a great place for you to engage with your community. I suggest that companies create a PAGE that does not have an individuals name, but the company or the service you provide.
Twitter and Facebook profiles are more about the personal conversations, while PAGES (formerly FAN PAGES) are about great content and engaging your community -whether around a brand name or common interest group.
So who’s face do you use? I will leave that up to you…but unless your logo has a shoe somewhere in there, you may not get me to engage! Share your thoughts with us~ What PAGES do you engage with most and is it a person’s name or an organization? Come on…take off that mask and talk to us!
A good friend of mine is an expert in his field. He is a great guy and is booked regularly for speaking engagements. He jumped on the social bandwagon over a year ago with a Facebook page and a Twitter account. The problem is he has outsourced the posting of content on his pages to someone who obviously does not know how to LISTEN to the community he has tried to engage.
There are regular info-dump posts with tips or links to his site with information about where he is speaking next, but you never see comments on the Facebook PAGE or replies in the Twitter feed. There is no conversations going on. Why bother? Your website is already playing the role of stagnant information dumping ground (assuming there is no blog). There’s nobody home.
Social engagement tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and your blog are about conversations and building relationships. Part of a good conversation is listening and responding to the people you are wanting the relationship with. If you don’t believe me, try maintaining a healthy relationship with someone (significant other, children, co-worker, etc) without responding when they speak to you. That relationship won’t last long.
Here are 3 tips for making sure the lights are on and people know you are home:
1. Mix in questions with your tips and information that get posted. Asking questions shows you care about what your community thinks. For example, your Twitter profile and Facebook PAGE should be sprinkled with great content and conversations.
2. NOW LISTEN and respond to the answers your community posts. Yes this means replying to every single comment. You can bundle your reply to several people at a time but show you heard them.
3. Look at what your community is saying (this is made easier by using a tool like Hootsuite or SproutSocial to filter the flow of information) and jump in on the conversation occasionally with a comment, a LIKE, a ReTweet, or a reply (shoot for 5 times a day to start).
Be sure you are applying these tips to all of the places you have hung your SOCIAL sign out–your blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, etc. Remember, don’t leave your lights on if no one is home!
After two years using Twitter, and spending 6 months writing my Gettin’ Geeky with Twitter book, I have pulled together my top Do’s and Don’ts for using this powerful social engagement tool. There are so many tips and techniques for Twitter success, but these will be a good foundation for anyone wanting to build their business and manage their brand using this simple social engagement tool. You may not agree with all of them (and I encourage you to add your tips to this list in the comments), but I have found these the best way to build an authentic Twitter feed with minimal spam and maximum conversation that leads to new friendships, new learning and yes, new sales!
1. DO start by writing down your goals for being on Twitter. Is it a PR tool for you? Will you just be a Twatcher (someone who reads tweets but never posts anything)? Is your goal to connect with potential customers, or send readers to your blog? Write this goal down and keep it near by. Without a goal you can easily get sucked into that Twitter trap of sitting for hours and reading everyone’s posts and adding useless content to the already polluted stream. Having 1,000 followers is NOT a good goal. I can show you 1,000 naked spammers if that is your only goal.
2. DO take time to build your nest before starting to fly. Fill in your profile, giving people some information about you, a link to your website, blog or even LinkedIn profile, so they can see you are a REAL person and learn more if they want. Show your personality in that 160 character bio-HA! Most importantly is to be sure to load a good headshot of …YOUR HEAD! Don’t load a picture of your cat or truck or baby picture. People want to connect with a person, and more importantly, they want to connect with YOU!
3. DO follow SMART people. Start by following writers and thought leaders you enjoy as well as those in your industry that you can share information with. Don’t get caught up in following the “Recommended” twits that Twitter suggests or celebrities, unless this is your industry. You can sprinkle those in later, but it can derail your focus as you read hundreds of possibly useless posts.
4. DO use a Twitter tool to manage the information flow. If you start feeling like it is information overload, realize that it is “filter failure.” Tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite will help you manage the information flow. You do not need to read every tweet that comes raging by like a fast moving river. These tools will help you “pool” the tweets from your favorites into different columns or lists that you set up until you have time to read them.
5. DO ReTweet good stuff. If you are following smart people, you will be getting smart info in your stream. When you retweet, you let others know you appreciate their information as you provide good content to those following you! (Be sure to use the RT etiquette which is to always give credit to the originator of the content)
6. DO jump in and reply to tweets that you have something to say on. Show people you are here for the conversations and not just to dump your information. If you look at your Twitter stream (look at your profile page) you should see a good mix of @replies, RT’s and great content from you.
7. DO think before you tweet! Before hitting send on that nugget of information, ask yourself if it is interesting or helpful. Many of you know my motto is “Be Interesting, Be Helpful, or Be Quiet!” Sharing personal information about watching television or what you are eating is neither helpful nor interesting. If you are telling me what movie you’re watching, perhaps you can give us a great line from the movie and have people guess, or you can tell us a lesson learned from the movie.
8. DO anticipate people ReTweeting your great nuggets. If you are posting something that you feel is helpful or interesting enough, then help people ReTweet it by making it short enough for them to fit a short comment and their Twitter name. To do this you want to aim for 120 character tweets–I know, it’s not easy!
9. DO make your links “clickable.” When posting a link to a blog or website, on Twitter, you must start with http:// instead of www. The http:// makes the link clickable. The only person who will go through the trouble to copy and paste your link into a browser is your mom, and even she will wait until later to do it. Bottom line, make it easy for folks!
10. DO add pictures, videos and other fun add-ins to your Twitter stream to allow us to SEE into your world. Most mobile devices can snap a pic and upload it to Twitter either via MMS messaging (text) or by using an app. Write a short tweet with the pic and share!
11. DON’T send people an auto Direct Message that tells them you are a cheesy spammer right off the bat. If you ARE a cheesy spammer, you may not want to tell us to unfollow you so quickly. When I get a direct message (DM) from a new person I follow and it reads “Thank you for following me, I can help you make thousands of dollars from your Twitter stream. Here is my gift to you: http://ImAnIdiot.com” I click UNFOLLOW and depending on what the spammer said, I may UNFOLLOW and BLOCK! Direct messages should be real messages from you to the other person that are not intended for anyone else to see. Here’s more information on how to use the DM feature.
12. Don’t protect your tweets. Go back to your goal-why are you on Twitter? Unless you are using Twitter for an internal communication tool (in which case, most of these tips will become useless to you), you really shouldn’t care about who reads your helpful nuggets. You do not have to follow them all back. Remember people who are following your posts will only see what you decide to send out. Make it easy for people to get your information. Protecting your tweets is a hassel for others.
13. Don’t use the verification services that make followers authenticate themselves to prove they are not spammers. YOU do the work. Remember, you don’t have to follow everyone back, but don’t punish those you were trying to attract in the beginning.
14. Don’t send every tweet to Facebook and LinkedIn. Be selective on what posts go where. Each of these sites reaches a different audience (for the most part) and requires different information. There are some nuggets that will go everywhere and some only to one or two of the sites. Using a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite will allow you to pick and choose which sites will receive your post.
15. Don’t listen to every so called “expert” telling you her Do’s and Don’ts on how to use your Twitter account. If you jump in and explore you will find the tools you like and a way that works for you.
I love spring and summer. I love sleeping with the windows open and hearing the birds in the morning. I love waking up at 5:30 to go out in my garden to water the flowers, skim leaves out of the water fountains, making sure the water levels are up, and frequently planting a new potted plant that I found the night before. I even enjoy pulling a few weeds here and there. My husband asks, “Is the garden ever finished?” I try to help him see that a great garden is a daily commitment. It is never finished, it just keeps getting better and better.
Growing your social community is a lot like a garden. It takes a daily commitment to do the work each day. You will need to check on your relationships, nurture a few that are wilting and even pull a few weeds each day. Too many people want the beautiful garden without doing the work. Those are the people who end up buying fake plants or paying someone to come each week to do the work for them. Let’s take a peek into both of those Social Media Gardens:
Buying fake plants is the same as those who jump into the social media arena and connect with thousands of people that they have nothing in common with or that they really have no interest in conversing with. They just want the appearance of a big garden. Take a look at the “FOLLOWER” list of some people and you will see it filled with spammers, porn accounts and the default Twitter bird picture that shows it is most likely a spam account. Now look at the profile page of that gardener and you will find one way conversations that are most likely automated. Little if any @replies to people because this gardener is simply focused on sticking more fake flowers in the dirt.
While there is nothing wrong with paying for a little help, and who wouldn’t want a gardener to come and help make your garden look its best each week, BUT you have to be careful that the gardener doesn’t take over your vision or your garden might end up looking like Disneyland with sculpted Mini and Mickey in the front yard! There are tools that can help you automate SOME of your social media chores, but you still have to get out in the garden to nurture the relationships each day. An example of a problem that can arise when you replace your presence in the garden with automation, is posting Facebook PAGE updates using fabulous tools like TweetDeck, Hootsuite or any other third-party tool and not paying attention to comments or questions that might be posted. You will not always see comments or questions unless you walk through the Facebook Page garden.
If you are going to hire someone to help you, be sure you don’t abandon the garden. There’s just no way around the fact that SOCIAL media tools are still about the SOCIAL! Without the daily work, all of the time and effort you put in to start your garden will return nothing but weeds.
Here are 4 tips to simplify your work in the garden.
1. Start with a plan. What kind of content will you be providing? Who is the community that you will be connecting with?
2. Log in to each of your sites each morning. Welcome newcomers, provide value to your community, respond to questions or comments. Be social.
3. Use automated tools (TweetDeck, Hootsuite, etc) to schedule posts for regular events or tips that you provide.
4. Take time to enjoy your garden- post fun content – recognize loyal followers- show your personality!
What are your tips to keeping a beautiful social media garden? Share them here with other gardeners!