Friday, 28 October 2011

Being human, not a bland brand

It's said - frequently - that people buy from people. So, developing a personality for your business on social media makes good sense. Being human can make all the difference between having a social media presence and making social media work for your business.

You can always take the'safe' option and repeat your selected business messages across all platforms and only use the medium to broadcast, rather than interact. The problem with 'safe' is that it's not as successful on platforms like Twitter and Facebook as imbuing your brand with a personality. Using social media as a form of electronic leafleting misses the point of the social element entirely.

Making occasional comments about the weather, the traffic, local news and so forth may seem inane, but it helps people to build a picture of your everyday operation. It also gives people an opportunity to react and talk to you. (Not on LinkedIn though, that's a "business only" culture)

Bemoaning the cold cup of tea after getting stuck in to a project can elicit empathy (we've all done it!) It's not useless information, it's a snapshot of how you and your business actually work in day to day life. If you can become so involved with your work, you must care about what you do...

Not convinced? Try some of these "safer" gambits to begin your foray into interaction:

  • Invite opinions on the local LEP or other local business initiatives
  • Asking for supplier recommendations is a great way to start a conversation - and to get some good quality information.
  • Promote events for local charities 
  • Answer other people's questions (whether related to your business or not) 
  • Track down your hyperlocal enthusiasts and promote their work

One word of caution: unbridled, strongly opinionated posts are not always suitable for business. I advise clients to have a set of "no-go areas". As an example my personal ones are:

  • politics
  • religion
  • sport
  • swearing
I decided on these as they are areas where my personal opinions are not strong enough to risk alienating a potential client by expressing my views. Everyone will be different and have different boundaries. Just give them some thought...

Give some conscious consideration to the balance of your posts on social media. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - and a bland brand!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Twitter simple essentials

If you want to be a success on Twitter then there a number of quick and easy things you can do to ease your way into the community. Here are a few essentials to get you started:

Don't be an egg!
Make time to upload a picture for your avatar. If you're shy about using a picture of yourself at first, then use a logo or a picture of your premises or a flower, a dolphin, a cat... you get the idea. I personally wouldn't use a picture of a child - ever - on Twitter, but that's your call. (Remember, I advised against it though!)

There is a perception, common to inveterate Tweeters, that 'eggs' are accounts that aren't to be taken seriously.

A coherent biography
If your tongue is firmly in your cheek when calling yourself a ninja or a guru then you might get away with it. On the whole, an honest description of what you do will go down much better. Don't forget to add your web address too.

No Auto-DMs
I've blogged in more detail on this subject here. To save repetition, the summary is: Don't automatically send a direct message to everyone that follows you.

Talk to people as well as broadcasting
If your timeline is full of self-promotional tweets then people are less likely to interact with you. If they see you talk to other people, they're more likely to talk to you.

Check your feed
Not looking at your Twitter feed because, for example, it automatically echoes your Facebook feed is a waste of Twitter. You may well be spewing out content, but your engagement levels are non-existent. People that love Twitter communicate on Twitter as their first choice. They don't want to have to log-in to Facebook to talk to you about something they read on your Twitter feed.

Update regularly
If you don't say anything for weeks at a time, people will be used to you not answering and not joining in the conversation. Also, what does it say about your business? It implies that you can't be bothered to finish what you started. "Reserving your name" on Twitter if you have no intention of using it can impact negatively on your company image.

Enjoy yourself
Twitter can be interesting and fun. if your timeline doesn't interest you then it's time to unfollow a few people and find somebody else to talk to!