Social media is the big buzz. We've been swept up in the currents of Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. We can allow the currents to carry us to new connections, new business, and massive reach and visibility. Or we can get caught in the riptides that pull our reputation under.
The biggest mistake in social media is not realizing that social media is a presentation. That's right.
Success in social media follows the rules of effective presentation skills.
Mistake one: No purpose or focus. What is your objective? Why are you using social media? What are you trying to accomplish? To make new contacts? To promote yourself or your business? To research? To reach new markets? To establish yourself as a thought leader? To find a job?
Mistake two: No strategy How will you use social media? How often? Which forms? Frequent communication is better than an occasional posting.
Mistake three: Speaking to the wrong audience Who is your audience? Are you simply collecting names or are you more targeted? Linkedin is more business-like and professional. Facebook is more social and casual. For example, if you're serious about job hunting you'll want to use linkedin as well as Facebook.
Mistake four: Projecting the wrong image. I've read posts about working on a boring project for a client. Maybe you know your client isn't one of your connections. But what about the people who referred you? What are you saying to them? People tend to let their guard down more easily on Facebook. It's inappropriate to talk about a nasty divorce, problem kids, or drunken driving. This is not a private conversation. Worse yet, is to use another's name in a survey. Ex. "Do you think Jane Doe is good looking?" People fail to realize that they are always on stage. Mistakes after a live presentation can be forgotten. In social media, your blunders live forever on the internet.
Mistake five: No real message. What do you plan to say? How will you say it? What is the style and tone of your communication? Nobody is really interested that you're watching TV. This kind of banter is content free. Provide value and you'll attract more followers. New blog entries, an interesting statistic, a link to an article or even a thought-provoking quote or book reference will make you more interesting.
Mistake six: Hard selling: Nobody likes a presenter who sells from the platform. It's no different in social media. If every post is an ad for your products and services you'll soon be disconnected. Let people know about your accomplishments but don't tell them to buy.
Mistake seven: Not building relationships. Many people put up a profile and never visit the site. Maximize your presence by updating your profile to let people know what you're doing. Ask questions. Answer questions to establish your expertise. Invite people to connect with you and then stay in touch. Be a resource. Connect others. A good presenter knows how to create a relationship with the audience.
Nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication. But meeting in person can be time consuming. Social media can be a phenomenal platform to build a reputation and to communicate with the world.
Just be sure you know how to present yourself, your message and your value.
Diane DiResta (↑) is president of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact - whether face-to-face, in front of a crowd or from an electronic platform. DiResta is the author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, an Amazon.com category best-seller and widely-used text in college business communication courses.