How do you decide which brand of social media is best for your brand?
Before I discuss the pros and cons of most social media platforms (see chart), I have one simple piece of advice: Every person reading this column should consider LinkedIn a powerful tool to boost your status in the marketplace, and if you’re not a member already, go online and launch your account. My guess is you are on LinkedIn already; it remains the strongest social media platform for most businesspeople.
“Many people think of LinkedIn as only about a profile,” says executive coach Carol Kaemmerer. “It’s actually a way to find new customers, new employees and new friends,” she says. I promise, once you’re done reading advice here, you’ll see why it can only further your career and brand vision, and you’ll want to make it your new best friend.
Beyond LinkedIn, focus on quality over quantity; don’t feel like you need to be on every social media platform. Doing your own assessment of needs is the best way to discover what’s best for you. “First decide whether you and your organization are B to B (business to business) or B to C (business to consumer),” says Sandy Zeiszler, social media coach and owner of Plymouth-based MoxzClicks. Zeiszler helped me assemble this chart covering major social outlets so you can determine what might be right for you. We analyzed in broad terms based on business purposes versus personal ones.
The chart captures some of the main points about these social media platforms. There are additional considerations as you look at specific industries and uses. Let’s consider overall goals; this may turn out to be a multi-pronged assessment as you think about your personal brand, your team and the overall organization you are in. That said, there are best practices to follow and pitfalls to avoid.
No matter your industry, the 24/7 nature of social media made it a game-changer in the world of business. So the first best practice is to start. Across all platforms you choose, have a profile you regularly post to while times are good and as you grow your brand. That way, people who are potential friends, collaborators and clients can get to know you in your best and most natural state.
The term “tribe” applies to various settings. In the world of business, social media is a powerful tool for easily identifying people who most naturally gravitate toward you. Once they are there, they will share information, buy or refer you to valuable contacts; these geographic and economic connections can exponentially boost your brand. On LinkedIn, Zeiszler suggests posting an update at least once a week. Do more once you get comfortable. “Engagement is key,” she says. “Get to know people in your online groups and share their content.” I tell my clients to choose one or two platforms that feel authentic and then get into a daily or weekly posting practice.
“Misusing connectivity is a big mistake LinkedIn users make,” says Kaemmerer. One way this happens is sending an invite by way of a LinkedIn app or on the phone. “Those usually end up as robo invitations,” she says, and suggests sending an invite from your profile and using a line or two of personalized message. She says another LinkedIn pitfall is posting messages that belong on Facebook, like word searches and pictures of pets, as updates. Kaemmerer urges you to take time to learn all functionalities of LinkedIn or other platforms you use.
“Fortune is in the follow-up,” adds Zeiszler. Social media is best when used, studied and used again.
Highlight your areas of expertise with conversational language in your profile and summary areas on all platforms. This isn’t the time to be shy. When trying to attract new contacts or grow your reputation with current ones, stand out and own your space. Using social media tools that are a good fit for your brand should be pivotal for big results ahead.
Roshini Rajkumar is a personal brand strategist and presence engineer. She is host of News and Views with Roshini Rajkumar on WCCO Radio and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit CommunicateThatBook.com. Find Roshini at Roshini@roshinigroup.com