Social Media

Seven Reasons to Keep it Real in Social Media

By Social Media

There is an element to the culture of the social web that is so evident to those that have been a part of it for more than a few years. That element is authenticity. It’s important to understand it and as a business realize that your brand is better represented by human beings than fictional characters. In fact, that is what has differentiated the social web and propelled it to stardom . . . real stories and real people telling them.

The practice of fake blogging, for instance, is so reviled that it has earned its own pejorative: astroturfing. It’s such a big deal that three years ago the Washington Post reported about European laws that make it a crime to falsely represent oneself online.

And still, companies new to blogging or social media engagement, innocent of knowledge of the intricacies of engaging in the online space, stray far too close to the line in false representation. The ways I most frequently see this happening are with the development of fictional characters — which isn’t a crime — it’s just not effective. In addition, these fictional characters or the business itself is established with a profile on Facebook as if it were a person, rather than creating a page for the business.

In case your company is considering the creation of a character or fictionalizing the representation of your business, consider these seven reasons to keep it real in social media:

  1. Authenticity is respected, now more than ever. Nothing earns respect faster than someone who steps forward and owns up quickly, particularly in the case of a mistake or an issue.
  2. Lack of authenticity can damage your company’s reputation. Is it forgivable? Yes. Better yet, don’t fake it in the first place.
  3. People connect with other people. People, as much as some of them may wish to do so, cannot connect on a human level with a cartoon dog, a ball of yarn or a dancing baby. While these things are cute, a true two-way relationship cannot be achieved.
  4. Fictional characters don’t translate in real life. How’s your logo or your cartoon dog going to show up at a Tweetup?
  5. If resources are limited (and really, where aren’t they?) then focus the time and effort of your people to personally engage in social media on behalf of your business. That engagement is more valuable than the time they might spend behind the scenes engaging behind the front of a cute graphic.
  6. Social media engagement is largely about fostering two-way communication. This is much easier if both sides of that communication can see and hear one another, and human faces are involved on both ends.
  7. If you’ve been engaging as real, human beings and heaven forbid, you end up in a crisis situation, you will have already created and maintained real relationships with your community in a first-name, face-recognition basis and so what happened to BP on Twitter cannot happen to you.

Keep it real, people.

You Say You Want a Google Profile

By Social Media

My friend Joe saw a mention of my Google Profile on Twitter.

Google profile tweet

In case you’re thinking what Joe was thinking, here’s the scoop. A Google Profile allows the user to create a custom page that neatly organizes and displays that person’s social media profiles, accounts, images, websites and external links in one handy place. Since people are constantly Googling one another (oh yes you are!) the best part about the Google Profile is that you, the user, get to customize what people see there.

I know, right? It’s excellent, especially if you’re a content producer like me.

I think the Google Profile is extremely important for business people — CEOs, executives, job hunters and others looking to maintain a clear and professional online reputation.

My profile lives here: It has my bio, headshot, links to all the places I am online, my blogs and articles about me that I want you to read.

Make your own. It’s free!

Top Five Reasons to Get Help with Social Media

By Social Media, Uncategorized
Photo Credit: Todd Wickersty

Photo Credit: Todd Wickersty

Are you or your organization floundering about, trying to get a handle on your online presence? Here are five reasons why you need help:

  1. You have a Twitter account and a Facebook page for your business, but you aren’t really doing anything with it or worse, don’t know what you’re doing with them. In fact, you are only there because your sister-in-law’s cousin (or the equivalent) said you should be.
  2. You don’t have any idea what the social media rules of engagement are, much less how to find or follow them.  Don’t let a social media faux pas ruin your organization’s reputation.
  3. You recognize the need to be active in social media, but you haven’t allocated the time, prioritized the effort or authorized your team to dive in.
  4. You believe in getting a return on your investment.
  5. You really want to serve your customers better.

For more on social media ROI, Erik Qualman’s excellent video (read the book!), Socialnomics:

We’re Not Really Friends: Six Ways to Balance the Personal and Professional on the Social Web

By Social Media, Uncategorized

I hate to tell you this, but we’re not really friends.

OK, we might be friends, some of us. And I would hope that those of you who are actual friends know who you are.  But simply because we’re connected on a social network, or because you follow me on Twitter does not mean that you are allowed into all that I consider private in my life.

This has been a challenge for bloggers from day one, and while there’s a lot of content that I share as a person with a big online footprint, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t get to know. For everyone, there must be some content considered personal and therefore private. Define for yourself where that line is and draw it in permanent Sharpie.

My friend Waldo (and yes, we’re actual real life friends) manages his network like this: his Twitter feed is protected and plays host to a conversation he has with a select group of people (mostly programmers); his Facebook friends are actual friends — don’t try to friend him if you aren’t actually friends — you will be disappointed. As Waldo said recently, “I’m not a collectible.” (Although personally I think I’d like to have a Waldo bobblehead in my collection, but that’s a different matter altogether.)

The point is this: the decision to separate your personal and professional lives is a PERSONAL one but you must make it.

Here’s how I manage the professional vs. the private in my online profile:

  1. I don’t accept LinkedIn connections to people I have not met and have no reference or context to place them in my social network.
  2. I only follow people who have interesting content to share on Twitter. I unfollow if your content bothers me in some way, or if you have too little to say. I use a tool called UnTweeps to efficiently cull through the dead weight in my Twitter account from time to time.
  3. I don’t post anything I don’t want you to know. That seems simple enough, but if it’s none of your business, I have no business posting it online.
  4. I do post personal content in my professional space occasionally. I am me, across all platforms, so the people with whom I do business know that I like to bake pie; likewise my friends know what it is I do for a living.
  5. In Facebook, I am a creator and user of lists — if we don’t really know one another well, if we’re acquaintances or we used to know one another long ago, you’re in a list that has limited access to my content. I have a very short list of people (I’ve named it “homies” for the way that sounds when I am speaking to a crowd on this topic) of super close friends and family. I will use this list to communicate the insider information about our family and life. Generally though, that information will be delivered in person or on the phone.
  6. If you get stalker-ish and take advantage of an assumed relationship, if you make demands or get snarky and we’ve never even met or had a live conversation, you may be blocked from my content. Life is too short and bullies were cut out of my life as long ago as third grade. Move along and find someone to connect to that is interested in maintaining a relationship with you.

What about you? Are there unique ways you have found to keep the two halves of your life separate?