Social media is important. Particularly for those of us who make our living on the internet, social media is basically the equivalent of a cocktail party. It’s where you put on your pumps, slap on a couple of Crest Whitening strips, pick the sassy party dress, and go out and pretend you know how to hold your liquor while maintaining witty conversation. (Or, if you are like me, you go out and pretend that one bottle of wine is anywhere near enough to get you pleasantly drunk. Such things happen when you spend time in the former Soviet Union.) If you’re at all into blogging for business, social media is how you get the knowledge out to others. It’s your Sputnik into the cosmos of content marketing, comrade.
But, wait, let’s analyze that cocktail party analogy – going out and schmoozing with the who’s who of your industry in an informal setting does require a bit of creative thought. What should you wear? What should you drink? Who are you trying to zero in on over the hors de oeuvres? Anybody who’s been at a social event for networking knows how important all of these decisions are – what you wear, what you drink, and who you talk with does a lot to determine how “successful” the cocktail party goes. After all, most people don’t go to networking parties to get dressed up and messed up. It’s about making an impression. Hopefully a positive one.
And if social media is the virtual cocktail party, all of these considerations apply, only in slightly different ways. If you’re thinking of making social media part of your content marketing strategy (hint: you should make social media part of your content marketing strategy) you’ll need to spend some time in front of the virtual closet picking out your dress (or suit, as it were) and figuring who needs to be impressed and how.
Whether you are handling your social media presence yourself or working with a writing service to do it for you, there are certain things you should keep in mind in order to use social media to the fullest. Read on, fellow party-goers.
What to Wear
Before you head out into the mad mad world of social media, you’ll need to pick out your clothes and shoes. Are you a racy type who likes the red dress and the high heels? Or are you more business casual with neatly pressed slacks and flats?
In terms of social media, you’ll have to spend some time coming up with a voice. Just as your clothes and attitude define you in person, the way you write on social media is going to make a serious impact on your personality. And yes, even if your social media feeds reflect your company rather than you, your company has a personality, as well.
I speak about the importance of developing a voice in my previous blog Getting Chatty With Social Media, but others touch on this as well. Check out Social Brite for a wonderful and brief summation on basic social media points.
If you’d like to see examples of companies that use Twitter, for example, as a way to promote both themselves and their “voice,” check out HubSpot’s feed as well as Pepsi‘s. Both of these companies aren’t “people,” but if you read through their Tweets you’ll see how they craft their own personal images. Both are rather perky and peppy and upbeat in their posts.
Spend some time with your business and figure out your voice. Particularly on social media sites like Twitter, you only get 140 characters to work with, so you’ll need to boil your company’s voice down to the bare bones. Are you friendly and chummy? Are you respectable and professional? Would your company wear the dress with red heels or are they strictly business the entire way through?
Beyond voice, make sure that all of your social media shares are grammatically correct. Of course, you might have to resort to using the number “2″ instead of the infinitive “to” in order to get a Tweet to fit, but, really, it’s smarter just to figure out a way to shorten your Tweets to make them fit. Using poor grammar and bad spelling is as bad as walking around a high-class party with your teeth full of spinach. People notice, and while they might be too polite to say anything, it just makes you look unprofessional.
How to Network
Social media is sort of a conglomerate term. When I say “social media,” you might get a number of different ideas in your head about what exactly that means – probably the most famous ones are Twitter and Facebook, but there’s also Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Empire Avenue, and a whole host of others. Depending on your business, you might even have social media that is specifically tailored to that particular industry. For example, Active Rain is a social media site dedicated to real estate.
Imagine all of these different outlets as different kinds of cocktail parties. Each will have a different crowd, a different vibe, and different unspoken “rules.” If you’re at a party slugging your Pabst Blue out of a Solo cup while watching the game, it’s an entirely different world than putting on your heels and smiling over the rim of a $20 martini. We all know this instinctively, but when the game gets virtual it’s easy to get confused.
Using Facebook to promote your business is different than using Twitter. For example, Twitter is basically set up for you to sit around and post your thoughts every second on the second if you’d like. Facebook? If you update too much, people are gonna get annoyed. You can learn more about how to use Facebook for your business by checking out this wonderful post by Susan Payton at Business2Community, and those who want to get their Tweet on should get over to Copyblogger so a little birdie named Michael Stelzner can tell you what’s up.
Whereas Twitter is mostly text-based, Pinterest is all about the pictures. LinkedIn is the equal to a business meetup during work hours – strictly professional, save your internet memes for Facebook, thank you. Google+ allows you to differentiate between people you’re connected with that are strictly business, and those who you can be a little more casual with. It’s like multiple parties going on in multiple rooms that you can access via your circles. Sound confusing? Boost Your Business with Pinterest with the help of John Brandon, let Branding Personality show you how to be classy by using LinkedIn to promote your business, and if Google+ makes your head spin in circles you can head over to Submit Edge for some tips.
Also, remember just as not all cocktail gatherings are going to have people you can network with, there’s absolutely no reason why you should be involved with all of these social media sites. There might be one or two that work better for your business than others. For example, in my business it’s all about Twitter, since that’s where the writers and the marketers are. Not to say that LinkedIn isn’t important, but I pay much more attention to Twitter since that’s where my people are. Understanding what social media outlets are most pertinent to your business – or which parties are worth attending, as it were – is going to require some research on your part.
What to Say
Once you’ve figured out your parties and figured out your outfit… it’s time to get down to the actual business of networking. Which is where your writing skills come in.
Remember that social media is all about making your business a personable presence. When you’re at an actual cocktail party, you’re not just representing your company – you are selling yourself as an interesting and entertaining individual that’s worth talking to.
Social media is all about the two-way conversation. One of the seminal mistakes that people new to the game make is by engaging in way too much self promotion. This is the same as showing up to a party and doing nothing but talking about yourself. This is not going to get you anywhere.
Remember to engage the other side. Certainly, promote yourself, but retweet the content of others, as well. Get involved and have personal conversations. You’re witty and knowledgeable and awesome, right? (And if you aren’t, well, I don’t know how much I can help you with that.) Use your social media presence to show that off! Be friendly!
Remember that networking is a two-way street, just like the rest of content marketing. Whether you are doing your social media yourself or using a writing service, it’s important that the person who is doing the writing understand the lay of your land enough to represent you. You’ve got a business. You’ve got a personality. Social media for business requires that you use both.
Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter @hancocklaura. Just sayin’.
What sorts of social media outlets do you use to promote your business? Got any hot tips for fellow party-goers?