At the start of this year I was a social media Grinch. My Facebook account had been shut down for over a year, I had never used Twitter, and my LinkedIn page was bare bones. What’s worse was that I was social media taker. I was actively consuming online content every day and not giving back.
How I become a social media advocate
A lot can change in three months. What changed for me was taking a personal branding class as part of my MBA program. My wife’s friend recommended the class. She had taken it a few years earlier and said it not only landed her a job, but changed her life. So I took the class and I am here to say that my entire perspective has shifted on how business can be done in the age of social media.
What I have learned
- The entire game has changed. While you were on the phone scheduling that latest TV add run, the entire world changed around you. Companies who look for the tallest building to shout out their messages are being ignored by consumers who are having one on one conversations with brands that actually care about them.
- Social media has revolutionized the internet. When the World Wide Web came on the scene in the 90’s, we couldn’t stop talking about the new connected world we lived in. Except many of us were not connected. We were consuming the same content, only on a computer instead of in a catalog. Social media was the true revolution. It connected consumers with each other and with those companies willing to actually have conversations with their customers.
- You can increase revenue by focusing on social media. Countless studies have shown the majority of Americans are represented on social media. If your product is relevant in your industry, people are either looking you up or talking about you online. In either case, you want to be the one guiding the conversation don’t you? By engaging and serving your customers online you ensure that people find and follow the bread crumbs you leave for them.
- The resume is dead. Resumes are a shadow compared to a well-developed social media presence. The best talent today understands this and are actively showcasing their talents and abilities online. Companies can find that talent by looking for people who use social media to help others. These kinds of people are sharing the things they know and do best all over the internet. They will do the same for your team when you hire them.
- There is no such thing as, “My own personal opinions.” Anything said online should be considered 100% public information. What’s more, the general public considers you and those who work for you extensions of your products brand. If you don’t want that brand to be at the center of a social media scandal, then teach your team how to behave when using social media. The first step is to lead by example. Create a consistent and professional brand message that is communicated on all the social media outlets you utilize.
- Having an online personal brand will make you a better leader. By actively publicizing what I believe in posts, blogs, and tweets, I unintentionally created an online accountability system. I have been forced to examine my real world actions and make sure they align with my digital persona. It has been a humbling and eye opening experience to say the least.
Over the next few posts I will be sharing some of the tangible ways you can use social media to build both your products brand as well as your own personal brand. It all starts with finding a relevant community of people and then figuring out ways to help them (without pushing your brand on them). After we figure out how to established trust with those communities, we will look at how social media can be used to communicate our brand. Because ultimately the goal is to drive potential customers to our content and increase our products revenue.
In the meantime, if you are not currently active on social media then go ahead and jump on in. Start by signing up with the big four (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, & Google+). Get a professional picture of yourself that fills out the whole frame. Use it across all of your profiles to create a consistent brand that helps others know they have found the real you. Create links from each profile to the others. This helps people find you and gives them the confidence that you are not hiding anything. Finally, be sure to fill out the bios on each profile and let people know who you are!