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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Social media is not all good

Like it or not, social media is here and is a major part of our society.

I think it is important that we all have some understanding of social media so we can make informed choices about participating or not.

Unlike some, I don’t think every business MUST be on social media to survive or thrive. Although it is becoming more important as more people expect it.

Mark Schaefer recently posted about social media sewage… and hope. He lists a number of the negatives social media (including blogging) has brought with it – I totally agree that leaving heaps of spam comments in a blog, disreputable SEO approaches and practices, and stealing people’s content are unacceptable behaviours and I don’t understand how people can live with such actions.

I haven’t had Marks ‘hope’ experience but I still believe in sharing information and believe social media has a part to play in my business.

mix of marketing methods

Social media is just one form of marketing

It got me thinking that perhaps some business people need to hear that it’s ok to not be on social media, that it isn’t the cure to all business woes nor is it perfect.

So here are some reasons against using social media which you can weigh up against the advantages when making your decision.

  1. it takes time and patience. You’re unlikely to see more sales or leads in the short term, and it takes time to put up some content (especially if you put thought into it and try adding value to your community)
  2. you open yourself up to more spam, malware and virus exposure, scam invitations and other undesirable people
  3. if your audience isn’t interested in social media, your efforts will go to waste – be sure to only use media your audience uses
  4. if you just want to advertise, rather than share information and build relationships, your presence on social media is probably a waste of everyone’s time
  5. social media gives you the opportunity to speak your mind and get on your soapbox. Great for people wanting to exercise their freedom of speech, not always so good for a business spokesperson – if you can’t moderate your words to suit your business brand, social media may be a little risky
  6. social media is about communication – if you aren’t interested in having a two-way conversation, a static website may be more your style
  7. the message you write is critical to your social media success so if writing and communicating your thoughts is a challenge, consider your social media strategy carefully – short tweets may work better than long blog posts, a ghost writer could help with blogging and videos for You Tube may be your best option
If you are already using social media, have you thought about how it is benefiting you compared to what it is costing you? Is it doing the job you ‘hired’ it for, another job or is it just costing you?

               

* Image courtesy of 123rf

Twitter for relationships

When twittering, it is about conversations and building trust so why not be personal?
Tonight, I got multiple tweets within half an hour from someone I don’t know or follow. She was using a company name as user name but talking about the business as ‘they do the hottest websites’ etc. Here’s my response to her tweets…

  1. It’s not very personal to say they when she could have chatted to me about how she could help me – and it looked stupid for XYZ to say “see xyz.com – they do the hottest websites”. No credibility and she lost the opportunity to get to know someone (someone who had just posted about businesses needing good designers, too)
  2. She obviously hadn’t read my reply which said ‘ no thanks, I’m not looking for a designer’ as she kept telling me to look at this design company. She didn’t build my trust or respect at all.
  3. She made no attempt to have a real conversation with me. I twittered about not just using anyone to help with setting up a new website which would have been a perfect opening for her to agree, ask questions about why I tweeted that and perhaps give some tips on choosing a good designer. But she preferred to tweet me repeatedly with a sales pitch – and even a newbie to Twitter like me knows that rule #1 is don’t do a sales pitch!
  4. If you are going to take the time to respond to a stranger’s tweets, and send them a number of tweets, surely you could take a few minutes to look at their profile and get some idea of who they are or what they do? One of her tweets listed various industries ‘they’ have designed for – none were my industry so she missed another opportunity there by not targeting her spiel.
  5. note: we're sick of spamSending multiple emails telling me to ‘hit their website’ annoyed me (both in the repetition and in the terminology!) so I blocked her. Frankly, I considered her tweets to be spam and I don’t like being spammed.

In other words,  she actively lost a client by her actions so totally wasted her time. It would have been so easy to have written ‘we’ instead of ‘they’, and have a conversation with me.

Do you follow anyone who talks in the third person about their business?

I don’t know that she’ll had learnt anything by being blocked, but maybe someone reading this post will learn from her mistakes instead!

Discussing automating social media updates

I admit there’s a lot about social media I don’t yet know, although I am getting a grasp of the basics now.

There’s one topic I have noticed floating around that I’m not sure I agree with, although I see the argument presented. So I want to ask what others think…

Should you use software to automate your posts on social media such as facebook and twitter?

The argument against it is that it looks impersonal and like you haven’t bothered to log into the specific platform to post something. Some make an exception for automatically sending a message about a new blog post if (and only if) you post other things around the blog post messages.

Here is my thinking on that argument…

  • I may not have logged into the platform but I did still take the time to write whatever the message is
  • if I didn’t use automated software, I’d have less time to post on social media so would do less – surely someone who values my input cares more about getting the messages than how I post them?
  • personally, I take little (if any) notice of the icon showing how someone submitted their comment – it is the comment I am interested in (or not!) Am I the only one who doesn’t notice the icons?
  • I think I might actually respect or at least understand someone’s use of automating software as they are sensible enough to manage their time

I am busy and while I do sometimes log in directly, the reality is that without tools like Tweetdeck and leenk.me, I just wouldn’t be able to manage a social media presence along with everything else. I certainly don’t want to give a bad impression by using such tools, but I need them and can’t see me logging into each platform multiple times each day (multiple because I manage more than one account on some platforms).

How do you feel when you see a link showing I posted without logging into the platform?

      Word Constructions on LinkedIn    

Sharing restricted links

Yesterday I wrote about only linking to public material, but what happens if you find a great resource and can’t easily share it?

Here are some ideas on how you may be able to access that information to share it with others:

  • simply ask the owner of the article/site if you can copy it then add it to your newsletter or as a guest blog post
  • pick out key points from the article and summarise them in a blog post or across multiple tweets – it is courteous if you mention the inspiring source rather than just copy their ideas
  • make the link public but include mention of the restrictions (eg ‘only paid members can view’)
  • ask if a public-access link is available somewhere, or if one could be created 

Depending on the structure and intent of the person restricting access to the article, these techniques may be approved and therefore you can share that great information. If not, maybe just tell people that it exists and how they could access it.

Have you ever tried finding a legitimate way of sharing restrictied information?

Choose links carefully

While I am fairly new to Twitter (you can see my tweets here), I have already learnt some clear rules about making effective tweets.

In particular, as a  reader of others’ tweets I now know that it is important to link only to public information.

Reading through some tweets I came across someone recommending an article which sounded interesting. As intended, I clicked on the link so I could read the article – and to be honest I almost retweeted the recommendation first but I decided to read it and add my own comments first. Luckily as it turned out.

The link successfully opened a new web page BUT it was the home page of the site rather than the expected article. Annoying enough but I perservered and enterted the article’s title into the search field on the site. Only to get a message that the article was reserved for paid members.

The article may have been great but I will never know.

If you come across a resource you want to share in Twitter (or Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, etc) then make sure the majority of people can actually access the information. Otherwise you are wasting their time and potentially damagaing your reputation.

Communications is more than marketing

Although there is some overlap in the roles, there are distinct roles for a business or corporate writer, communications manager, marketing person, designer, web manager and social media manager or monitor.

Many people don’t realise there is such a range of roles behind the public presentation of a business, so here is my summary of the roles.

A communications manager oversees many of the processes involved in producing materials to promote a business. For example, a communications manager ensures an annual report is written, designed, printed and added to a website with all necessary people approving it. A communications manager may do some of the tasks themselves, manage a team of people to do the tasks or outsource specific tasks. Communications managers generally have a writing or marketing background.

A business or corporate writer actually puts the words together to effectively communicate a message in a style that suits the business and its customers. The writer also often edits material written by other people such as a letter from a sales manager or a marketer’s brochure. Sometimes a writer will also help implement the content such as posting to a blog or working with a print-based or online-based graphic designer to tweak the message to fit.

A web manager obviously manages the website, which can include tasks such as making changes, optimising the site for search engine results, updating the design or navigation, and maintaining data.

A designer makes the message as visually appealing as possible, whether that is a simple letterhead, a website design, branding or preparing some advertising banners and posters.

A marketing officer or manager is a little harder to define. It is a creative role of trying to get the business/message to as many appropriate people as possible. Marketing includes deciding where to promote the business as well as the key messages to promote, such as a tag line, campaign theme and suitable formats.

A social media manager or monitor is obviously a newer role but no less important for that. Social media is becoming more important as a means of promoting and building your business, but it can be time consuming and has some elements that (like most things) require specific skills and knowledge. You can get someone to monitor your social media appearances (ie they check various platforms each day to see what people are saying about you) or someone can manage your social media overall (such as making posts for you, planning a strategy and replying to mentions).

If you are employing someone, you may want to think through exactly what tasks you need done before choosing the role to fill, and someone who can do more than one set of tasks may be valuable (for example a writer who can update your website or post tweets for you).

However, if you are outsourcing, remember the roles are different and choosing the appropriate person will probably give you better results than expecting too much from one person (for instance assuming that your designer will proof read your writing or write some tweets to promote your new eBook could lead to disappointment).

Some projects will obviously take more than one role to fulfill, which may seem hard to manage in itself. In this case, outsource to someone who is willing to manage those other tasks for you rather than someone who claims to do it all themselves. I would never outsource design work to me for example, but I have relationships with some great designers so can manage a project by sub contracting to them – the difference in results is huge but the effort for a client is minimised.

Being professional with complaints

Continuing on from naming publicly

Have you ever lost respect for a professional or a business because they complained/whinged about a peer?

Even if it is warranted (and sometimes even more is deserved than is given!), criticising a supplier, colleague or competitor can backfire and damage the complainer’s reputation. It just doesn’t look professional to say “Business M is unethical” or “Don’t use Business N”, and there are of course legal implications.

It is different if someone approaches you to ask about a business or person, but I think that using a public forum to criticise is a very risky action.

Of course, it can be very frustrating to always be the professional party and not publicly denigrate someone, but it is the better long term action.

I am curious, however, as to how people feel about a calm review  (ie factual and non-emotive) of a supplier on sites that warn people about disreputable businesses – not good enough, ripoff report, etc. Is that as damaging to how you view a business?

Is social media changing this? For example if I tweet “ABC always delivers late” or “designer Z copies others’ work”, is that more acceptable than blogging about it because of the chatty and short term nature of Twitter?

Social media relationships

My last post was about networking with a bottle of wine, so I thought I’d also aim it more specifically on social media as Chris did in his original post.

Using social media (facebook, twitter, blogs, You Tube, etc) is in many ways exactly the same as more traditional networking and socialising. Building these relationships depends on being friendly, listening to people and showing interest.

Even the differences are based on the same principles, they use technology to reach those aims. If you met someone at a party, you would answer them by talking; in social media, it is still polite and expected that you answer but you might do so by posting a comment or retweeting instead.

So some social media networking tips are:

  1. be generous with links – if you like something add the link to your blog, tweet it, write about it in Facebook, and so on. It costs you nothing but time, it actually gives you something to write about and is likely to help the creator
  2. visit other people’s blog, Facebook wall, twitter profile, You Tube channel and so on. You can learn more about them than just responding to their emails and comments, and they will probably appreciate you leaving comments when you visit
  3. if networking for your business, broaden your topics – chat with people about other interests (if you network in real life, you’d probably have some references to the weather, the food, the venue or major news/sports of the day, so why not on social media?)
  4. link all your social media outlets – it makes it easier for someone to find what they want but also helps your Twitter followers discover your blog readers, etc.
  5. give more often (by a long shot) than you promote or sell; Chris Brogan suggested a 15:1 ratio – what do you think is a good ratio?
  6. share information on how to socialise online – you don’t need to tell people how to talk but not all your customers and contacts know the purpose of # in a tweet or how to embed a video in a blog
  7. remember to touch base frequently – just like friends drift away if you don’t see them much, online contacts will forget you if you don’t tweet for a month or so.

I’m not a social media expert (closer to the beginner end of the scale really) so I’d love to hear your tips for maximising social media networking…