Social Media Basics
Did you start your social media accounts without too much thought to what you wanted to promote later?
You linked with a few friends and family members, and you followed a few celeb twitter accounts. And now what?
We’ve heard stories of the teenager who didn’t get the job because of drunken party photos (or worse!); yours isn’t as bad as this I’m sure, but what ever-so-subtle hints could your profile be giving to potential clients and customers?
As professionals and entrepreneurs, we need to realise that what we say and post on social media influences whether people want to work with us, and buy our products and services. Social media is a fantastic way to create shareable content, but it can also damage your reputation if you do it wrong.
Social media is a key part of your marketing strategy, and now is as good a time as any to clean house so that you can promote your business and yourself in a professional way.
Online reputation is everything.
Clean Up Your Profiles
Getting the basics right isn’t just about setting up a profile, and adding a picture.
You want to be posting the right kind of content and cultivating the kind of environment that gets you to your business goals. But without knowing what you don’t know, it’s easy enough to make mistakes.
Work through these six steps to check that you are ready to go big with your social media.
1. The right kind of profile?
Some platforms allow you to have a couple of different kinds of profile: the Facebook personal profile versus the Facebook page, for example. And the reason is simple: you can do business on one, but not on the other.
Facebook in particular are very clear about this in their terms of service. You can’t have a name which implies that you are a business, and you shouldn’t be promoting your business venture on your personal profile.
It can be hard to stick to this — what about groups? And what about your friends who are also business connections?
Of course, all entrepreneurs do business to some degree with our personal profiles, just be aware that there is a line. It’s common to have a ‘no promotion’ rule on most social media platforms and you need to have the right kind of profile, move people back to your website and then promote from there.
2. Profanity or polarising content?
Before you decide to be outspoken and controversial on your social media, decide whether this is the kind of brand you want to be known for.
If you want to be outspoken, develop an edgy brand, polarise your audience, then go for it, with my blessing.
But there are those who think that swearing can also damage your brand and your business, so pause and consider before you drop your voting preferences all over your posts.
You need to stay true to you, not hide your beliefs and opinions, but over-sharing isn’t necessary. You might find a discussion of politics or religion more interesting than whether that dress was blue or gold, but you want to find that right balance between offending and including for your community.
3. Are You Providing Value?
Your audience wants to read content that has value for them.
Of course, we all love the cat videos and the humorous quotes, but, for the purpose of your business, think about posting content that informs or inspires, with a twist of entertainment on the side.
Your readers need reasons to return to your page, and to share your content and, no mater how small your audience, continue to post great value content, regularly and consistently.
4. Who Are You Following?
People come and go on social media, especially on fast-moving platforms like twitter.
While you might not think it’s a big deal to be following people who no longer post, or to have fans on Facebook who are inactive, it can actually be hurting you. You just need to decide whether it’s doing enough damage to be worth doing something about.
Go through your ‘likes’ on your personal profile on Facebook. Chances are, you opened a Facebook account almost ten years ago, and your list of thumbs up for bands, movies and books might include things you’ve forgotten. Are you still a fan of Brittney Spears? If you aren’t, and you don’t want your readers to know you once had a love for teen pop, view your own list of likes and start unclicking those thumbs.
On some platforms, it’s reciprocal — twitter for example, you follow people and they also follow you. To improve your ‘influence’ quotient, you want more people to be following you, than you follow. And an easy fix for this is to use one of the tools to go and unfollow those inactive accounts.
With Facebook pages, there is an algorithm that controls how many of your fans your content is shown to — the more people engage with it, the more Facebook will roll it out to the rest of your fans. Which means, if you have inactive fans, it’s tough to get people to see everything you post. There’s no easy fix for this, other than to go through your fan list which is pretty time-consuming.
The best approach is to think about quality over quantity when you’re growing your fan base.
Forget about going for thousands of cheap likes. Instead, build a loyal and active following.
5. Purge your page?
You might want to take a magnifying glass to your own profile and ask, how would this look to a prospective client or partner?
Are you following pages, or twitter profiles that could be considered rude or offensive by some of your clients? Are you following inactive pages or pages that have been hacked? If so, take some time to clean house.
Check and double check your Facebook friends list. Do you remember who they are? Are they likely to post inappropriate content, or spam your page with the hacker special of the day? Are they even active?
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to unfriend people while you’re trying to increase your audience, inactive accounts are more prone to hacking and other cyber risks. And that puts your profile at risk, or at least at reputation risk if you get spammed with inappropriate content on your timeline.
And what content have you posted in the past?
This is a tough one, but since you’ve likely had an account on social media for quite some time, you need to make sure new friends or followers can’t read about the nasty argument you had with your ex five years ago.
Ideally you didn’t post anything that you didn’t want to be made public, but it’s a good idea to scroll down and delete any posts you think could embarrass you now. Older posts in general are perfectly acceptable; your college drinking pictures and family drama are not.
6. Privacy settings?
Not everything has to be seen by everyone on your friends list.
On Facebook, in particular, you can adapt your privacy settings and create privacy groups. This is important one, because your personal Facebook page shouldn’t be completely dedicated to your business.
Friends and family still want to see pictures from your cousin’s wedding, or know what you think about the latest football game. It’s an easy solution to put your closest friends into a group of people you can select when posting, even from your phone, so that only they see it. ‘Close friends’ is already built in, but you can add others to this.
This gives you more freedom about who to stay friends with, and what to post, knowing you can keep some things private very easily.
Have you got these basics in place?
When social media works, it’s fantastic. Your posts get shared, you get in front of new people, your following grows and your business booms.
Get it wrong, and it feels like a hard slog for little reward.
With some of these basics in place, you can build a loyal following who will share your great content, even if you do decide to go for the edge!
Do you need to make some tweaks to your social media profiles? You’re welcome to let us know on social media.