Someone suggested today that she teach me some tips for using a particular feature of Word. I figure that at the rate of change these days, by the time I next need to use that specific feature, her instructions won’t work anymore.
Keeping up with technology is getting more challenging every week. Software becomes comfortable to use, just in time for the new release to come out. Old friends like Facebook and Hootsuite change their interface. Newcomers like Quora or Referral Key get a sudden surge of activity. Major launches like Google + for business demand immediate attention.
With all the buzz and squeals from the trend-watchers, it is easy to get sucked into the hype. No one wants to feel that they are missing out. No one wants to think they are being left behind. My concern is that by joining every networking site, every referral network, every platform of social media, and then consistently engaging on each, little time is left for the actual business of doing business. I don’t mean to dismiss the value of social media in general for developing relationships or reaching your audience. I strongly believe in its value, and love the opportunity to engage in conversation and discussion.
However, there are only so many hours in the day. As with every element of business, it is critical to focus what will most effectively help you reach your goals. Here are my guidelines for using social media platforms and tools:
1. Know your audience. Understand who you want to reach, and be present in the one or two platforms where they are most active.
2. Frequency. Relationships are about being present. And listening. Listen and engage on your chosen platforms on a regular basis. This means daily.
3. Consistency. Know your message and be consistent with getting it out there. Look for opportunities to engage, but keep within the scope of your identity and brand. Don’t confuse things with a thread on a political issue if that isn’t what you want to be associated with.
4. Credibility. If you start up on a platform and are not able to maintain it, or realize you are not connecting with your audience, unplug. Nothing kills your credibility quicker than someone finding your Twitter feed in June and reading your last update of “Happy Valentines Day!”
5. Evaluate. When new platforms and tools are launched, do your research before joining. Evaluate whether it is best for you. Think about how it fits into your overall social media strategy. Determine how much time it will take to maintain, and whether you can commit to it.
6. Separate. If you are an individual developing or promoting a business, keep your online identity separate from where you do business online. It is unprofessional and inappropriate to see a post from XYZ Cosmetics Company about being up all night with food poisoning. If you want to interact on a personal level, set up your own profiles with your name and photo. Identify yourself as working for or owning XYZ Cosmetics Company, and remember that your messaging will be linked to how your company is perceived. Don’t post about hating your job.
Social Media is huge and growing all the time. It can take up all your time. To keep up, take a step back and look at how and why you are using it.