January 17, 2017
Social Media: Personal vs Professional
We all know those people on social media who are incredibly proud of their small business, startup, or work ethic. And of course we know those Facebook friends who share every intimate detail of their day and their life. The question that interests me is which is a better use of social media and which is more appropriate. Even as I type that last sentence I struggle with such a harsh and complete distinction of a right vs wrong use of social media. Let’s look at the pros and cons for these two approaches and then see if we can draw a conclusion about the right approach to a social media strategy.
There are many different types of social users and I still vaguely recall reading a humorous post at some point in the past about the top 10 different social profiles. Although that post was shared with light-hearted joking there was value in the labels. And so even though I am only drawing attention to a couple of those profiles I want to focus on them for the sake of comparing and contrasting them.
The Eternal Professional
This is the person who is forever posting business advice, their tips for success, or re-sharing the latest Simon Sinek video with the cliche comment, ‘this is how we do it at my company”. The eternal professional is constantly seeking new ways to say the same thing. “Here’s my business, you should be interested.” The problem with this approach I believe is the failure to understand their audience. How many people truly want to see what you’re doing in your business on a daily basis. At what point does sharing your business dealings become a cold and impersonal advertisement? The risk of the eternal professional is a lack of interest from their friends and followers. Gradually you’ll lose their attention, they will scroll past your posts faster than you can say, “business brag”. But there has to be some upside to this approach to social media right? I believe there is. Just like the old adage says, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, there is certainly some value in being the loudest proponent for your own startup. You’re actively putting your brand in front of the eyes of your fans. Whether they read your post or quickly continue their phalangeal flicking their eyes and their brain have been imprinted with your business brand. Congratulations you’re becoming a master of subliminal marketing.
The Exasperating Personal
This social sharer is the friend or family member who believes the world is fascinated with their every mundane life detail. No personal problem is too big or too small to be broadcast to the universe. Their posts show you how much they love their coffee, their breakfast, their kids, their wall color, their animals, their…well, you get the idea. Everything is shared. The problem with this is similar to the professional’s problem we looked at first. There comes a point when a little filtering and self-moderation becomes a good thing. Do your friends really need to know about the color of your toenails this week? Do you believe their lives are better as a result of seeing your breakfast burrito? The risk of the exasperating personal is alienation from your followers. When everything is shared, nothing is special. You don’t want to be labeled as the self-interested, self-obsessed social sharer. But there’s a positive here too. Connection and endearment are the two biggest benefits of sharing personal stories. You have the opportunity to connect with people. They see your life details and feel as though they know you and can relate to you. You may bring a smile to a face, share a laugh, or even possibly begin to build a relationship.
As I look at these two personas I realize I’ve oversimplified things to an extent. As I shared previously there are more than two profiles and variations on those as well. But there’s value in a quick introspection of your social persona as it relates specifically to these two types. I too struggle with this dilemma. After writing the above descriptions I believe I fall more solidly in the Eternal Professional category. And I see the pitfalls of that approach. I am also strongly against the overtly personal approach as well. But as any good, self-respecting writer must do, I must draw a conclusion.
There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.
– Simon Sinek
The truth of the matter lies in a familiar and frequently shared topic on my blog: balance. Once again, as with so many other areas of life;
balance is key. Being able to identify your tendencies will allow you to focus your time and attention on improving your balance. In this case don’t be so focused on the professional that you lose touch with your personal side; or contrary to that, don’t be so passionately personal that you neglect to share things of worth or value to others. There is nothing wrong with building a brand, sharing business advice, and growing your followers for your startup; but be moderate. Think of your audience. Write your posts with your followers in mind instead of yourself.
Therein lies the second observation: focus. Focus on your friends and followers instead of yourself. By shifting that focus you will be mindful about what you share and even when you share it. Be relevant, be interesting, be inspiring, and be entertaining.
I know being able to identify my own tendencies is the first step in improving myself and so I expect in the very near future you’ll see a better balance in my posts. I trust this post will help you evaluate and improve your social profile in the future as well. What kind of social sharer are you? Do you think you should change? Find your focus and be more balanced? I look forward to hearing what you think.
August 8, 2014
Sharing Your Toys
It’s one of the most basic lessons we teach our children when they’re young. The idea of sharing their toys with others. We try to instill in them the values of giving up control or playing alongside others and finding joy in a shared toy. We recognize the importance of this idea and we work hard to impress it on our young kids understanding of the world.
But then something happens. Somewhere along the way they grow up and turn into adults where a different mindset takes precedence. Corporate secrets, intellectual property, and maintaining an edge of others. Where along the way did we seemingly forget those values our parents worked so hard to instill in us?
Open source is the exception to the rule
There is one model which does continue to prove the importance and value of sharing. It’s the open source way. Open source believes in the core values we were taught as children and shown to be the ‘better way’ to live. Here’s 3 quick areas that open source demonstrates a better way.
Open source encourages sharing
This one is fundamental. If we look at the four software freedoms we can see very clearly how important the concept of sharing is. To clarify, obviously these four freedoms are not a part of all open source, but do hold value as a reference when thinking through the concept of sharing.
The Four Freedoms
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1).
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3).
Of course sharing might be called other things, like distributing, or re-distributing, but the principle is the same basic principle we were taught as kids. Sharing is important for adults for the same reason its important to our children when we teach them the value of sharing. The concept of being unselfish and giving something of ours for the good of someone else.
Side note: One thing I love to see shared in open source is knowledge. It’s great to see knowledge shared and open source provides a fantastic way for people to do that. It’s the whole “teach a man to fish” principle. Sharing knowledge empowers others. Sharing your knowledge is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone else.
Open source encourages working together
Open source not only encourages sharing of resources, and knowledge but it inevitably leads to sharing time. And when we share time we begin working together. Open source encourages collaboration and teamwork. The importance of teams should not be overlooked. When we work together we se an exponential increase in accomplishments. Something said inspires a different line of thought. Groups working together see greater success at a faster pace. Recently I saw an article about the strength of open source involving the ability to “try” a lot of possible solutions quickly.
When we work together in open source we accomplish more (and quite honestly have more fun in the process). Playing together was always a part of a kid’s childhood (even for the introvert).
Open source encourages thinking bigger
When we share with open source we encourage people to make changes, to grow, and to improve both themselves and the project they are working on. By working with open source and by sharing open source the result is new ideas come to the surface, bigger ideas. No longer are we tied to the innovation of a single person where we all work within our own silos and do things on our own, when we share our knowledge and share our resources we enable each other to build on the successes of others and build bigger, higher, and greater solutions. When we shared our toys as kids we were forced to realize there were other toys to play with, there was the opportunity to play together, and there was always the chance that we’d discover something better.
Open source sharing encourages us to reach beyond our comfort zone and think bigger.
So the next time you’re in a situation where you are encouraging a child to share, take a minute to think about your job and the ways in which you are able to continue practicing the idea of sharing. Do you have an open source community where you can volunteer some of your time? Do you have a way you can share your knowledge or your skills? If you don’t already then I encourage you to find one. Share your toys. It’s the open source way.
July 17, 2014
Are You Social Sharing or Social Selling
There’s an ongoing debate which always occurs when discussing the proper and improper uses of social networks for business and marketing purposes. We hear story after story about people who are considered the blight of social media because every post will be a blatant and over-the-top marketing message for their latest product or service.
I probably don’t need to go into more detail as you know exactly the type of person I mean. (Hint: if your twitter stream contains multiple ALL CAPS posts and more than two hashtags on each you may have a problem.) But just because controversy exists around social media marketing and the potential for abuse is high this does not mean you should not engage in social sharing for your business. The key is following some common sense tips to make sure you don’t become the type of person everyone tries to avoid.
Here are 5 quick tips which I believe will help you keep your social profile free from the dreaded stigma of social spammer and yet allow you to continue to share your business opportunities.
1. Mimic Real Life
Consider your social networks to be the same as an in-person meeting. Would you shout into the face of your friends about your ability to SAVE THEIR BUSINESS simply by using THE GREATEST WIDGET EVER!!! #BIZSECRET #ACTNOW #COUPON. I would sincerely hope you would have enough common sense to never do this face to face when speaking with a friend or colleague. When you are sharing information online it can be easy to think you’re merely shouting into the void. You’re not. Consider the recipient. How does that message look to them? Are you helping them? Remember it’s not all about you.
2. Make Friends
The second tip you should consider when posting to social media is as simple as following the Golden Rule. I would expect everyone knows this principle in some form or another. The concept is easy. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I touched a bit on this idea in the previous tip but like to focus on it a bit more in this second idea: Make friends. One of the best ways to make friends? Make yourself friendly. Be a listener and not merely a talker when joining in online discussions. You’ll be a better salesperson but more importantly you’ll be a better friend. Again thinking from the perspective of the other person, you listen to your friends most. This is a delicate subject because you should not seeking to build friendships for the sole purpose of selling something. This leads to the third point.
3. Meet Genuinely
You’re starting the process of making friends and building relationships. Don’t ever make a selling or marketing strategy your purpose for building relationships. Grow friendships organically and for the right reasons. Meet people with genuine transparency. Believe it or not people can immediately sense if you’re attempting to make friendships without genuinely sharing an interest. Shared interests are a fantastic way to find true friends. Look for those things which you have in common and begin relationships based on those items. Friends are the best references to have because not only do they care about you and your success but they will help you in spreading your message to their friends as well. This increases the opportunity for your message to be heard. If we think back to the idea of using social networks as we would in real life then we can easily understand why an introduction by a mutual friend makes it much easier for you to meet new people.
4. Maintain Balance
Ok, so this particular point in my opinion is one of the most important ones. I have a personal problem with those friends on my social networks who share nothing besides their products and services. I want to be friends with them for a number of reasons and while I am interested in their business it is not the only reason I am connected to them. When you choose to share your business product or service be sure to practice moderation. Don’t get so caught up in trying to social sell that you fail to social share. The point is to maintain balance in your posts and in your topics. If you’re being genuine this will naturally effect your social networks. Because even though I am sure your business is quite consistently on your mind, I can pretty much guarantee it’s not the only thing you ever say. When all people “hear” is what you post online, be sure it’s balanced.
5. Market Passively
Too often people think they need to be aggressive marketers. This line of thinking is what leads to the type of messages I poked fun at in the first tip above. Aggressive, over-the-top type of social selling becomes a nuisance to followers incredibly quickly. The better option is to market passively. What do I mean by passive marketing? Quite simply put I mean share information about your products and services without being directly marketing or directly selling a particular product. Share your struggles and how you overcame them. Share the benefits of your products, tell the stories of successes which have resulted from your business. Here’s an idea, share information and stories, tips and tricks….without any call to action. It’s daring, it’s different, and it forces you to be more passive. As you do this information sharing you’re marketing passively.
Today we have social media channels and outreaches with tremendous opportunities that previously were never thought possible. We’re learning more about how to use these tools for not just personal but also professional benefits. Be sure that you focus on doing it right. You want to always focus on social sharing and not social selling. Got ideas on other good tips? I’d love to hear them.
April 24, 2014
It seems as though more and more people these days love to jump on Twitter and post whenever they’re annoyed, angry or frustrated with a company or service. Sharing only your grievances on Twitter will quickly alienate you from any potential followers. Here’s why you should tweet happy.
I’m certainly not against using Twitter for communication with corporations and if you look through my twitter history you’ll see several different examples of how I used Twitter to express frustration with a company or disappointment in a service. (Here’s an example and here’s another). But I also tweet when I’m happy with a service or a company. (please see Exhibit A and Exhibit B). So I would encourage you to be balanced in your tweeting because a balanced social media profile is a good thing.
Sprinkle equal amounts of praise and criticism in your posts, along with a healthy dose of information, anecdotes and more. Always focus on the purpose of your social media platforms. Are you seeking a place to simply talk, or are you looking for communication? Are you seeking connections or do you just want to shout at people through the twitter bullhorn?
We’ve all been in the room with the person that just won’t stop talking about themselves, their problems, and their situations. It’s not fun to listen to them. In fact, most people can’t take it for too long before they begin to tune the person out and eventually wander off completely. No one likes to be around that type of person. The same holds true for your online social media networks. Think about the other person. Is the information you share relevant to them? Are they interested in what you share and more importantly do you give them reason or opportunity to interact with you?
You shouldn’t always be talking. You should be engaging. I want my social communication to be a two-way street. As much as I want to share, I also want to listen. I want to make connections and I want to learn about the interests of others. By doing this I am making sure I demonstrate that I am not the most important person. Your social posts give you this opportunity. Take the following four tips when posting on social media.
1. Post About Your Business Sparingly
No one wants to hear 24/7 tweets about your business and your product offering (remember that guy in the room you can’t wait to get away from). I’m not saying don’t post about your business, but do it in moderation. Share your business successes (and failures), share about your services, but consider how often you do so. Also, give information and advice based on your business experience. This leads directly into the next tip.
Share Business Strategy
As your business has evolved and grown I am sure you have found ways in which you could have done things better. Or maybe you found something that works very well for your business. Share tips and insights which your followers will find interesting. This is a different way of sharing about your own business. It provides your followers with information about you and your business without making anyone feel like they’re being “sold” something.
Be A Channel
Don’t be afraid of posting or re-posting content from someone else. Now I’m not saying you claim it as your own, give them the credit and merely retweet or share their information. This will give others valuable information which you have in a sense curated for them. You’ve applied your knowledge and wisdom to pull out those articles and nuggets of value and shared it with them. You’ve made their life easy and they’ll appreciate you more for it. There is nothing wrong with sharing someone else’s content.
Don’t post too much of any one thing. Don’t share too much about your business, don’t share too much strategy, don’t be just a re-tweeter of someone else’s information. You must stay balanced. By offering a well-rounded online social profile you demonstrate your full character. You want people to know you, not just one facet of you. Just as if you were talking in person to someone – you should conduct your social posts in the same way.
It’s simple really and we can all do it. Take these four quick tips and improve your social media profile. Remember don’t just post when you’re dissatisfied with something (or someone) but offer a well-rounded and true representation of your business and ultimately you.