Users of social media often don’t know where to start. They don’t know what to say, how to market their products, whether they should worry about building a following first or creating content, and so on. They begin asking questions like, “How quickly can I get to 1,000 followers?” “How can I use Twitter to segment market to our six product silos?” “What will we write about?” “Why are people unfollowing us?” The questions denote a fundamental misunderstanding of social media, and perhaps the word “media” has skewed their thinking. I’ve come to begin just calling it “social.” That more accurately describes what we’re doing here and leaves one in a more advantageous place to succeed.
Yet, the questions remain, and most of the questions can be boiled down to one final question: “How can we sell more stuff?” At length, I previously described a “Waterfall of Goals” that we must travel down in order to truly solve our business problems. There are fundamental things we can’t forget to do before we’re able to sell more stuff. However, I’ve given much thought to these specific, granular, often-asked questions. My answer to them is this: you are forgetting The 5 Unforgettables of Our New Social World.
Please take particular note of this: I am not telling you which social media platform to use or what to say when you’re there. I am, on purpose, not telling you. Instead, I’m providing you guiding principles that, if taken to heart, should govern every decision you make online. These unforgettables are geared towards and applicable to anyone using social media: individuals, individuals who work at companies, and the companies themselves. There is no need to differentiate here: if you’re involved in social media on a personal, professional or corporate level, keep reading.
Unforgettable #1: Pretend that résumés and company brochures have been banned by law. Typically, the next thing you’d say is, “Oh shit! Now what?” This is a fun exercise. Picture this in your head: you can no longer blather on and on about your years of experience. No more throwaway unprovable claims like “reduced waste by 35%.” No more famous résumé action words like “administered,” “optimized” and “spearheaded.” Companies, no more bullet points outlining your 50 years in business and your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Where would this banning leave us as individuals and companies? We’d have to find an alternative route to increase awareness and visibility for ourselves. There must be another way to let others really get to know us …
Unforgettable #2: No one boots up their social media accounts in the morning to be marketed to. I must repeat: no one boots up their social media accounts in the morning to be marketed to! Pause and consider this. No one EVER rolls out of bed, boots up Firefox and goes to Facebook.com to soak in the ads. Never. Humans are social creatures. We go to Twitter and Facebook to be with our friends. Social media platforms are the new town square, the electronic water cooler. Let the truth of this soak in: we do not surf social sites to peruse the ads. Knowing that, and taking it to heart, would this change the kinds of things you’d say and do online? It should!
Unforgettable #3: Your engagement must be 100% complete and go a full 360 degrees. If you were a business with a toll-free customer service number and you didn’t staff the phones, your customers would riot. You would never unlock the door of your retail store and then have no associates on the floor. Yet, we do this all the time with social media. Brand mentions, product questions, consumer complaints, even compliments … there are thousands of these going unanswered every day. Perhaps we think it’s not economical to electronically interact with our key stakeholders. I think this is crazy. This is the new world we live in: you must answer every tweet, Twitter DM, Facebook wall post, Facebook private message, Google Plus posting, LinkedIn group comment, LinkedIn private message, personal email, business email, phone call to your office, phone call to your mobile, text message, instant message, G-chat in your Gmail, message left with your secretary, verbal request, and you must see anyone dropping by your office. That’s 17 different ways your stakeholders can communicate with you, and I’ve forgotten some. Many will throw up their hands and say, “Forget about it!” Don’t do that. You must try. Success in this new social world depends on interacting with your stakeholders on their terms. Stakeholders can be customers, prospects, a company about to offer you a job, or a new employee to whom you’re about to offer a job. That’s what I mean by “360 degrees.” Yes, even employers must learn to communicate better with their current and potential employees. Communication must become more thorough and complete.
Unforgettable #4: Be nice. Remember this: if your mom would be ashamed of you, then what you’re about to do might be problematic. If your mom is Courtney Love, you’ll have to come up with a different analogy. Basically, if an action you’re about to undertake gives you pause, you should pause. If that unsent tweet is making you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit “send.” Try to figure out what’s bothering you, and then fix it. I generally detest quoting famous people, but this quote demands attention here. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Knowing and believing this, would it change the way you conduct your life both online and off?
Unforgettable #5: If you have limited time and resources and can do only one thing with social media, maintain a blog. I often say this to clients in order to shock their system into understanding just how important a blog is to their organization. However, I really mean it. There is no such thing as a Facebook strategy or a Twitter strategy. They are just tools, and they will come and go with time. Smart organizations have a platform-agnostic brand and messaging strategy. Electronically, this often lives on their websites in the form of static pages like “About Us,” and “History.” However, a blog is the place where you can really let your customer get to know you. You will use your blog to demonstrate and maintain thought leadership in your industry. This is where today’s website visitor will learn what makes you tick, and where they’ll get comfortable enough to call you (a lead!). If a marketing executive says, “We aren’t going to use Twitter,” my knee-jerk response is, “At least have a blog.”
What have I forgotten?