I’m a huge advocate of Social Networking. Used well, it enables you to build trust in you and your services, it can help position you as an industry expert, and it can open you up to opportunities that you may never have encountered otherwise. Social Networking is very powerful.
But if Social Networking is capable of portraying you in a very positive light, then conversely it’s also possible for it to represent you badly.
You may not even realise you’re doing it, but here are a list of frequent “Social Networking Mistakes” that I regularly encounter.
As individuals, we are bombarded with advertising messages every day. Television, Radio, Newspapers, On-Line and more. So typically we turn away from those messages. We rarely listen - because rarely is the message being conveyed of interest to us.
The same principle applies about Social Networking. If you spend all of your time talking about how you are a great IT company, how you have the best Hosted Exchange system, how you are better than the competition - why would anyone listen? What value would they draw from your updates?
Instead, follow the 80/20 rule.
80% of the time your Tweets and Status Updates should be of value to your followers. Talk about things that they are interested in. Don’t talk about your Off-Site Backup offer, share articles that talk about why it’s important for Small Businesses to backup their data. Don’t talk about how great your IT service is, but do share articles helping people solve their IT challenges. People will see that you are sharing valuable content and want to listen to you.
The other 20% of the time, it’s ok to talk about yourself or how your services can help people. People don’t mind the odd advert if overall they are getting value from what you say.
But make it all about you, and they’ll soon switch off.
You read a great article on Twitter. You think your followers would be interested in it. So you share it. Your followers love the content you’ve shared, but somebody else notices this and is irked - and that’s the person who shared the link with you.
People like to be recognised. Whenever you are sharing content on Social Networking that you’ve discovered thanks to someone else, it’s good etiquette to give credit to the source of the content, even (as is often the case) if they themselves found it elsewhere.
For instance, you see a Tweet from @JoeBloggs454 - “Great video on YouTube about the importance of IT Support to SMB’s. Worth checking out! - http://youtube.com/dsf45” Interesting! Your followers would be interested in that.
But instead of cutting and pasting the link and passing it off as your own, you should mention the original poster.
On Twitter this could be a simple Re-Tweet (RT) - “RT @JoeBloggs454 - “Great video on YouTube about the importance of IT Support to SMB’s. Worth checking out! - http://youtube.com/dsf45”
Or if you wanted to share a different message with the link, credit the original source another way - “I love this video on YouTube. It really matches what we tell our SMB clients about IT Support - http://youtube.com/dsf45 (via @JoeBloggs454”.
Swap Twitter for Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ and the concept is the same. Give people credit for the valuable content they’ve shared with you.
Quite aside from it being good on-line etiquette, by setting this example yourself you’ll find others will do the same for you - and your own name and Social Networking presence will be dramatically extended as a result.
Bad impressions last. People will forgive the odd typo, and nobody expects you to work to a Mastermind or National Spelling Bee level. But make those mistakes too often and people will start to question your level of professionalism in all areas of business.
Slow down, re-read before posting and ensure your Tweets and Status Updates make sense.
Catch silly spelling mistakes. Remember the difference between your and you’re. It’s the difference between knowing your stuff and knowing you’re stuff.
If you’re using Twitter and have stumbled across some tools that enable you to automatically send out Direct Messages (DM’s) to new followers, then take my advice and don’t.
Nothing screams insincerity more than an automated response. Instead, take a look at your new followers latest Tweets and if you really want to say thanks for following, share one of their recent Tweets. It shows you’ve paid attention and value what they are saying and you’ll win a new friend rather than treat somebody like one of many.
We’ve all seen examples of big Corporate brands who don’t really “get” Social Networking. The person at BigBrandco who is responsible for Social Networking gets into the office at 9am and for the next 30 minutes feeds us a continuous stream of updates. Some of these updates might be of interest to you but you’re bombarded with so many that frankly, you don’t care to find out.
Then it goes quiet until the next morning when the 30 minute status update blast begins again. So you un-follow or un-subscribe.
Don’t make this same mistake with your own updates. Use tools like TweetDeck and BufferApp to ensure that your Tweets and Status Updates are spread out throughout the day. You might yourself find a ton of content of value to your followers in a single sitting, but there’s no need to share it all there and then. Schedule it throughout the day.
This drip feed of content is of much more valuable to people who are thirsty for your information than it is to shoot a virtual fire-hose of content at people and still expecting them to drink from it.
You’re at a party. There are over 1,000 people in attendance but it’s so noisy you can’t hear anything and you don’t speak to anybody else.
You’re at another party. There are 10 people in attendance, but you hear half a dozen interesting conversations. You speak to each of the other attendees and meet people who you share common interests with and enjoy chatting to.
Which of these parties would you rather visit?
Social networking feels the same. What’s the point of having 10,000 Twitter followers or 15,000 Facebook Fan Page Likes if you’re not having good quality conversations.
Instead, think small - think about engaging with your followers. That means responding to Tweets, that means answering Facebook messages, and that means engaging in conversation with blog or LinkedIn comments.
People do business with people they like. Not people with the most followers on Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong, I realise the old phrase “You can’t please all the people all of the time” is true. You need to have your own Social Networking identity that represents the real you, and while you’ll no doubt win many fans this way, there will always be a proportion of people who will never be a fan of you.
But equally the phrase “People do business with people they like” is true. By ensuring you don’t make silly Social Networking mistakes, you’re much more likely to build up an army of “Raving Fans”.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.
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