This blog post was written by a colleague, Lynn Bruno, for the Women in Consulting (WIC) blog. I am reprinting it with permission.
Social media has changed marketing for good, and the social media marketing landscape continues to evolve at a dizzying pace. Facebook changes its platform with annoying regularity. Twitter tools proliferate like mushrooms on a lawn. Even LinkedIn has recently stepped up the pace of rolling out new features. It’s enough to make your head spin, even if you’re a social media pro.
As daunting as it can be, companies and individuals — yes, individuals — ignore social media marketing at their peril. But no matter what the tool or platform du jour is, the same simple core principles apply. Here are five timeless social media marketing tips to anchor your efforts and that stand you in good stead with any platforms and tools of today — and tomorrow.
Be visible. Have a profile picture. Fill in the text fields. Tell people about yourself. With the number of people on social media today, it’s really hard to find someone if they don’t have a picture and at least some minimal information about themselves. A lot of people freeze up when it comes to choosing a photo or penning a few words about themselves. Don’t overthink it; you can always come back and change it later. In fact, on many platforms making regular updates helps you come up more often in searches.The other, longer-term aspect of being visible is participating — posting on a regular basis, and interacting with other people. The biggest challenge is making time for it, and then not letting it become a time sink. Dedicate whatever time you can, but most of all keep at it.
Be valuable. Keep your focus on adding value to your friends’ and follower’s lives. When I say add value, think small. One of the things I’ve come to love about social media is how it allows us to weave ourselves into each other’s daily lives even if we are no longer in daily physical contact (or, in the case of online-only connections, never were)! If you can add a laugh to someone’s day, that’s value. If you can share an article you found interesting, that’s value. If you can help someone make a connection or find a resource, that’s value. Some value adds are just small things that make daily life more pleasant; others can be life changing. We’ve all seen people that come off as shallow and promotional on social media, even if they aren’t really that way in real life, and fear being perceived that way ourselves. By focusing solely on providing value to your network, you’ll never come off that way. For example, don’t just tweet that you had a great breakfast. Tell us where you ate, what to order and what time to get there to beat the rush.
Be generous. Insanely generous. This is the corollary to being valuable. Ask not what your followers can do for you. Ask what you can do for your followers. If you have knowledge or expertise to give, give it freely. Many people who are experts in their fields don’t want to share on social media for fear that if they share what they know publicly, others will steal it and they’ll lose their livelihood. The reality is that if you are an expert in your field, or even just moderately good at what you do, most people can’t just steal your stuff and become you. The other thing is that the world is changing so fast and there’s so much information to consume that no one person can possibly own all of the expertise. The winners in social media marketing are those that share freely. They become known and trusted authorities in their field, whether that be knitted baby booties or business intelligence, and opportunities flow their way because of that. So whatever you’ve got to share, pay it forward.
Be genuine. It’s just too much work not to be. And it’s the best way to make friends and find like-minded people. You don’t have to create a social media personality for yourself. Just share your passion and let your personality bubble to the surface. If you’re an engineering geek and Giants fan who loves to surf eBay for used golf club parts and build clubs in your spare time, talk about it. People are attracted to passion, sometimes even when they have no affinity for the subject matter. Communities are built around shared passion.
Be patient. Social media marketing is like golf — it’s endlessly perfectible and you’re never done. Whether you’re at square one or already have 10,000 followers on Twitter, there’s always more to learn and more people than you could possibly ever have time to connect with. But social media is here to stay, so you can build your presence over time. Whether you’re marketing your business or yourself, put forth as much time and effort as you can. Eventually, you will reach critical mass and start to experience the benefits. Lastly, don’t take it all too seriously. Yes, we’ve all seen some high profile people get themselves in a lot of hot water on social media, particularly on Twitter. But for most of us regular folk, social media is equivalent to water cooler or cocktail party conversation — fun and frivolous and occasionally over time, the basis of a meaningful and lasting connection.
Lynn Bruno is the owner of Virtual Ink Marketing, which helps small businesses and subject matter experts create smart content and smart content strategies for the web. Lynn is a former writer and editor for The Wall Street Journal. She has also written for MSNBC.com and TodayShow.com. She is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, and holds Master Certificates in SEO and Social Media. Learn more about Lynn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/lynnmbruno.