Danger – Spontaneity Ahead! Why You Need a Communications Strategy for Social Media.

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We live in a complex but highly networked world!

Never before have so many people had the ability to communicate cheaply with each other, and the rest of the world, at length!

  • You can broadcast and you can have conversations through networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc and through messaging services!
  • You  can publish and broadcast if you choose through blogs, and through sites like YouTube.
  • You can produce your own radio programmes and even become a DJ through music sites like Blip.fm sitting at home and on the move!
  • Increasingly LinkedIn is a key tool in professional networking and recruitment.

A little while ago this digital world belonged to techies and school kids.  Now it can belong to all of us.

Increasingly, it will play a role in both career and business survival.  A little while ago all you needed to know was how to surf the net to find and download information. Now you need to know how to put it back up there so that you can control and develop your personal brand.

Messages flow fast!  Once you have sent them, they continue to exist on the web for a very long time.  So to be purely spontaneous is to take a risk. If you are in business or hoping to develop your career, you need a strategy for your communications.

Before you start here are a few tips.

1. Integrate online and offline.

Your communication’s strategy needs to cover both your offline and online activities!

If you meet up with contacts you have made on the web, will they know who you are? No, I’m not talking about having a photo that bears some relationship to how you look today.  (Although, it makes sense to choose a flattering photo that does you justice, have a care if you want to avoid embarrassment)

What I’m talking about is authenticity and integrity.  Don’t express views on line that you don’t really hold, or that you wouldn’t be prepared to express in public, to your boss, your work mates, your neighbours and, of course, your customers! You’d be surprised what people remember and what people find on the web!

2. Start with a plan!

Before you jump in, make sure you have a plan!  Think about who you are trying to influence.  Who has an interest in you, your business or your career and what you do?

List them and then decide how important they are and how much influence they have over your future!  What heading will you put them under?  For example;

  • government
  • your sector
  • customers and potential customers
  • shareholders
  • potential business partners
  • board/top management
  • suppliers  and potential new suppliers,
  • managers,
  • staff,
  • trade unions
  • wider sector interests,
  • personal contacts
  • family,
  • your community
  • interest groups

You can take it as far as you wish!

Who has the priority?  You can score them out of five under each heading!

Those with the highest score are the people to concentrate on.

For social media you are usually looking at communities – what communities are you going to engage in?

Now how will you engage and what will that  engagement  look like?

What is the message and where are you going to communicate it – blogs, social network sites, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc.?

How much time have you got and how many resources do you have available? Do you have resources available to take professional advice?

3. Engage in Conversations.

Remember although organisations use social media to broadcast, that isn’t how they are best used.

When you use social media, it’s important to engage in conversations and get to know people just like in the offline world.

Don’t just get in there and start pitching – it will just put people off!  And on social media sites people get put off pretty quickly. You’d be surprised how quickly they can switch you off!

Don’t be anxious to promote yourself or your business at first!  You have to give, to get.  Add value and expertise and win respect in your conversations.  You need to win the right to pitch!

The courtesies are just as important as they are in the off line world!  Say please and thank you and acknowledge when someone has bothered to spend time with you or done you a favour!

If you are polite and engage in real conversations, relationships will begin to form.  You will see opportunities open up to talk about you and what you want to offer!

4. Monitor your “Brand”

Use tools like Google Alerts, and Yahoo Alerts to monitor what’s being said about you, your organisation, others in your sector and the market you are targeting.

Knowing what is being said about you and/or your brand can make you aware of your impact. Knowing what’s being said about your sector, your competitors and your market can also make you more competitive.

I use Google Alerts as well to find out about the latest developments in my professional discipline.

But simply putting your name and the name of your organisation into a search engine regularly will tell you a lot about your web presence!

5. Focus and Ignore the Noise

There are so many conversations taking place and so much interesting content that it is easy to be distracted.

I have to work very hard each morning to switch off from Twitter to concentrate on my in-tray! This is where your plan comes in!  Remind yourself what you are trying to say and the communities you want to address.

Stick to the plan!

But review it at regular intervals as you get to understand more about social media.  You can streamline your plan to better target individuals and the communities that you need to be a part of, as you gain experience and knowledge.

Streamlining saves time – as I’ve hinted above, social media is so enjoyable that  it can be the greatest time waster in the world!

Above all remember: “If content is king, then conversation is queen.” – John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka.

I would love to hear about your own experience of social media and if you need any help please get in touch!

A shorter version of this post was posted here in June 2009.  I’ve revised and expanded it based on my own experience of social media.

  • Why Use LinkedIn? (brighthub.com)
  • 5 tips to build your personal brand with social media (xpressartuk.wordpress.com)
Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439


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Social Media for Leaders White Paper Available from Mountain State University

Article form the Mountain State University Website – 17th November 2009

“Social Media for Leaders White Paper Available Today

We are pleased to present our new white paper, Social Media for Leaders. It is available for free download here or as a permanent feature on the sidebar on the top left of this blog. Here at Mountain State University, we believe that involvement with social media is a powerful way for leaders to extend their influence and impact. We hope this tool will help you as you navigate various social networks and learn to use social media effectively. Please feel free to share it with others. You might also enjoy our other white paper, Twitter for Beginners….”

More of this article at this link

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FIVE TIPS FOR YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY FOR HARD TIMES

We are all going through change all the time.  But at the moment many of us are going through changes we would not have chosen as a result of the poor state of the Economy.

All change requires some form of communications/media management.  It’s vital that you have a strategy in place especially if you’re hoping that social media will play a role in your career advancement or your business survival business.

Here are 5 tip for your social media strategy

1. Integrate Online and Offline
Your communication’s strategy needs to cover both your off line and and online activities (see our recent post about managing your brand)  – you want to maximise both forms of interactions.  You are going to make every effort, campaign, and initiative count.

2. Start with a plan
Before you jump in, make sure you have a plan – think about who you are trying to influence.  Who has an interest in you or your business and what you want to provide.  List them and then decide – how important they are  – how much influence they have over your future – you can score them out of five under each heading!  Those with the highest score are the people to concentrate on. For social media you are usually looking at communities – what communities are you going to engage in?  Now what will  engagement will look like? What is the message and where are you going to communicate it – blogs, social network sites, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook etc.?  How much time have you got and how many resources do you have available?  Now we are going to concentrate on social media

3. Engage in Conversations
When you use social media, it’s important to engage in conversations and get to know people just like in the off-line world.  Don’t just get in there and start pitching – it will just put people off!  Don’t be anxious to promote yourself or business at first,!  Add value and expertise and win respect in your conversations.  When you have done that opportunities will open up to talk about you and your business.  You need to win the right to pitch!

4. Monitor your Brand
Use tools like Google Alerts, Scoutlab, and Radian6 to monitor what’s being said about you, your company, your competitors and the market you are targeting. Knowing what’s being said about you and/or your brand can make you aware of your brand evangelists as well as your brand assassins. Knowing what’s being said about your competitors and the market can also make you more competitive. Simply putting your name and the name of your company into a search engine regularly will tell you a lot about your web presence!

5. Focus and Ignore the Noise
There are so many conversations taking place and so much interesting content that it easy to be distracted.  This is where your plan comes in – remind yourself what you are trying to say and the communities you want to address.  Stick to the plan – but review it at regular intervals as you get to understand more about social media.  You can streamline your plan to better target individuals and the communities that you need to be a part of. It also saves time – social media is so enjoyable to use it can be the greatest time waster in the world!

Above all remember -  “If content is king, then conversationion is queen.” – John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka

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YOUR PERSONAL BRAND – A CHECK LIST – 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

The world sees your personal brand in all you do.  Everything, from the comments you make on Twitter to the way you dress, strengthens or weakens the way the world see you – your personal  brand!   Here are eight questions to ask yourself!

1. Do people believe you know what you are talking about?  Does your resume reflect the real depth of your experience – is it up to date?  Do the words you use reflect the latest thinking on your subject at this point in time?  Do you write articles and blop posts on your specialist interest?

2. Do you have an introductory piece – an ‘elevator speech?  Can you deliver a succinct description of what you do, how you do it differently, plus the benefit it delivers, within the time that it takes an elevator to travel one floor?

3. Are you a convincing communicator? Do people believe what you say?  Why not do a market survey – choose three people you trust and ask them what they think!  If not, then read a book or take a class.

4. Do you dress for the job?  Do you know what the dress code is for your sector?  Do you follow it?  But what about off duty – if you met you boss in the supermarket , what impression would they get?  Think about what is appropriate to the situation  – balance your individual style with clothing that will appeal to those you are trying to impress.

5. Do you know the etiquette for your organization and your sector?  What kind of business cards do people carry?  Be the one who follows up and says thank you after sector and professional events.

6. Do you know the people you need to impress?  Take time out to build your address book.  Collect business cards – make sure yours reflects your image properly!  Ask contacts for further introductions.  Use LinkedIn to find new people.

7.Do you nurture your network?  Do you work at nurturing your relationship with your contacts.  Do you show an active interest in them and genuinely care care about them?  Ask how they are and what they are doing and mean it.  Remember things they tell you – note them down if you need to!

8. What do you do with your spare time?  If you give something back ot the community with voluntary work or help your local sports club – the news does get around!

Your personal brand is precious – it’s the you that the world sees and judges you by.  Nurture your brand and you will nurture your life and your career.

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LESSONS IN PERSONAL BRANDING

Increasingly you are judged on your contributions to the web – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs etc.  You will gain an online persona – your personal brand – whether you want to or not.  This can affect large parts of your life and certainly gaining business and work opportunities.  Your personal brand really does matter and you can develop it as you wish!  If you make a positive effort it can make a major contribution to your success.

Benjamin Yoskovitz. is the CEO & co-Founder of Standout Jobs, a venture-backed startup founded in 2007. He is also a blog and social media consultant.  He has been an entrepreneur for 10+ years in the Web space, working extensively in web & software development. He is obsessed with creating things  and with customer service. The piece below is from his blog to which there is a link at the bottom. These are his thoughts, not mine, but I would love to hear what you think!

“ Personal Branding Lessons

Looking back, here are some thoughts from my own experiences building my personal brand:

  1. It’s never too late to start. In some respects I think it’s easier to start making a concerted effort to build and cultivate your personal brand once you’re older and you have a few years working experience. You know more, you’re more comfortable in your shoes, and you have some experience to rely on. There are still too many examples of young people screwing up in public (on Facebook or Twitter) and getting in trouble for it (although there aren’t that many examples, they’re just blown out of proportion.
  2. You know more than you realize. A lot of people seem afraid to speak up publicly and promote themselves because they don’t feel like they have anything to say. You’d be surprised what you know.
  3. What you know is valuable. And what you know is likely valuable to a bunch of people, even if you don’t realize it. As they say, Common sense isn’t all that common. Just think of the college graduate coming up after you into your field of expertise, and the difference between where that person is at and where you’re at…
  4. Connecting online is easier than you think. I was amazed at how easily I could connect online with people. I still remember some of those early connections – Liz Strauss, Becky McCray, Chris Cree, Mike Sansone, Terry Starbucker and so many more. It was easy to find people online (who shared my interests), get myself involved, and build out a valuable network.
  5. It takes time and commitment. Building your personal brand isn’t something you do once in awhile when you’re bored. It takes time and commitment, and it never stops. And doing it half-ass won’t get you anywhere.
  6. It’s fun. I’ve always enjoyed building my personal brand, and the activities that are involved with that online – blogging, connecting, helping others, asking for help. It’s a process you have to enjoy otherwise you won’t do it properly and invest the right time. Plus, there is a feedback loop – as you gain valuable connections, leads (for jobs or business), comments on your blog, etc. you’ll realize that all of that is worthwhile feedback on your efforts. And that’s motivating.
  7. Watch. Learn. Emulate. Do your own thing. Starting the process of building your personal brand doesn’t involve years of research or anything that hasn’t been done before. As Dan’s book proves – there are models for making this stuff work. I remember spending a good amount of time watching and learning, and then emulating what others were doing. It was natural to copy what seemed to be working. But over time you branch out, do your own thing, experiment and your own personality, brand, value emerges.
  8. Your personal brand will (and should) evolve. Don’t think of your personal brand as a static item. It’s not a resume that you submit once and forget about; it’s a living, breathing thing. It changes and evolves, just as you do. That’s OK and expected.

Personal branding works. I’m a perfect use case for it. And certainly not the only one! But ultimately, I’m convinced that building a strong personal brand can absolutely help in career success (be it finding a new job, moving up within your organization, changing careers, etc.) and in many cases is a necessity.”

Read more: “The Importance of Personal Branding” – http://www.instigatorblog.com/personal-branding-important/2009/04/15/#ixzz0DxJbbzQW&A

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LYING ON LINKEDIN

We can all quote examples of people lying on CVs and we generally take a degree of exageration for granted.  But for some reason we seem to take social media on trust!  We are wrong!  I for one have come across a profile on LinkedIn for someone I had worked with briefly  – he claimed a much longer experience at a much more senior level.  The silly thing was,  he had asked me to be a connection – at least he didn’t ask for a reference! Anyway here is an interesting blog post on the subject

http://jameane.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/lying-on-linkedin-comedy-or-career-suicide/

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SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES – TOPSITES FOR JOB SEARCH AND HOW TO USE THEM

Courtesy of About.Com:Job Search

Networking is one of the most important components of job searching. Use these top social and professional networking sites to enhance your career and boost your job search, and learn how to use social networking sites to job search.

LinkedIn
How to use the full power of LinkedIn to job search, including effectively using your connections and utilizing all the information available on LinkedIn when you’re applying for jobs.

Facebook
If you’re using Facebook for professional networking, and more people are every day, here are tips on the best way to use Facebook when you’re job searching.

Twitter
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface. Twitter is open ended and people and companies use it in a variety of ways, including to job search.

MySpace
MySpace is a social networking website offering users the opportunity to connect through personal profiles, blogs, groups and other features.

Ning
Ning is an online service to create, customize, and share a social network. Users have used Ning to create online social networks about lots of subjects, including jobs and the job search.

Doostang
Doostang is an invite-only community, founded by a Stanford MBA and an MIT engineer, that connects young professionals to career opportunities through social networking.

How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search
Most people know that the best way to find a job is through networking. You can go to networking meetings, tap into your own personal network, or ask friends who they know. With the Internet buzzing with social media, there are similarly many ways to use social media in order to network, and eventually find a job.

How to Create a Professional Brand
How to create a professional brand using social networking sites and how to build a strategic online presence to help with your job searching and career building.

More Career / Social Networking Resources
Career and social networking online resources. Where to network online as part of your job search and how to use a social network to help land a job.

Related Articles

Social Networking Sites – Top Social Media Sites for Job Searching.

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