Tips for Making Sure a Content Slip-up Won’t Destroy Your Brand Image

It only takes a few wrong words in a few split seconds to turn a well-respected brand into one abhorred by the masses.Tan sneaker ready to step on slippery banana peel

That’s the power—and the pitfall—of social media. One gaffe in a moment of misjudgment can lead to a potential firestorm of fury that inflicts permanent public relations damage.

 

How to Manage Your Brand’s Content and Maintain Your Good PR Standing

Whether you’re a solopreneur responsible for posting your own content or a marketing manager or business owners with multiple team members at the helm of your social media accounts, it’s critical to manage your content wisely so it doesn’t go rogue on you.

 

If you’re like me, the sole person handling your posts, it’s important to set rules and reminders for yourself so that you don’t accidentally cross any lines.

 

If you rely on others to create and post content, you face a more daunting challenge. As a contributing writer for Straight North, I wrote an article that’s focused on addressing that. It’s about how to avoid content crises that can ruin a company’s reputation.

 

Tips that I expand on in the post include:

  • Develop a style guide for your content.
  • Establish a social media policy.
  • Coach your team.

 

Check it out on the Alison May Public Relations blog!

 

Where Has The “Friend” In “Facebook Friend” Gone?

Social media has been an ugly place lately.Sad-faced emoji

 

Spewing of vicious insults.

 

Pointing of fingers.

 

Drawing microscopic attention to every flaw and foible.

 

Dragging of friends and family into the fray.

 

What’s that? You thought I was talking about Hillary and Donald?

 

Sadly, no. I’m seeing all of those things happening in my Facebook news feed and on the timelimes of friends, business colleagues, and casual acquaintances.

 

I’m seriously astounded—and sorely disappointed—by the show of intolerance of others’ rights to their own opinions on social media. Disagreement over who should be elected President should neither be a relationship deal breaker nor a free pass to trash others. The POTUS will be in office for four (or maybe eight) years. Disowning relatives and removing friends from your holiday party guest list in the heat of the moment could become lifelong regrets.

 

We all have to do a better job at accepting that people will disagree with us. And we have to do much better at realizing we can’t accurately make assumptions about someone’s personal nature when they see things differently than we do.

 

On social media, it’s not so much whether we support Trump or Clinton that shines a light on our true character; it’s how we treat and react to others—even those who have decided to vote for the candidate not of our choosing.

 

Are you fed up with the less than friendly way your Facebook friends are conducting themselves on social media? Have you had fallings-out with friends and family because of disagreements over the upcoming election? Please feel free to share (or vent) here—respectfully, of course!

23 Reasons Why You Might Be Scaring People Away On Twitter

Building a targeted following on Twitter (the genuine work-hard-to-build-engagement way, not the buy-followers-from-a-shady-Boy making scary facecharacter way) doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years. Along with time, it also requires your attention, energy, and patience.

 

As difficult as building a following can be, it becomes even more difficult if your Twitter profile and tweets scare followers away.

 

As I browse my notifications regularly to view the profiles of people who have recently followed me, I always find a few that leave me wondering, “What were they thinking?”

 

Characteristics That Might Make People Less Likely To Follow You On Twitter

If your Twitter account exhibits any of the following traits, you might find it a wee bit more difficult to secure follows from the people you want to connect with.

  1. Your bio is too #hashtag happy.
  2. Your bio is salesy.
  3. Your bio is too Kumbaya in nature.
  4. You don’t have a bio.
  5. Your profile or header photo is a puppy or a kitten or a guinea pig or some other furry, not-human creature.
  6. Your profile photo is a cartoon.
  7. Your profile photo looks like a for-real mugshot.
  8. You don’t have a profile photo.
  9. You have thousands of followers but only follow a select few Twitter accounts.
  10. You follow thousands of accounts but in comparison have very few followers.
  11. Your tweets are too #hashtag happy.
  12. Your tweets are too salesy.
  13. Your tweets are too Kumbaya in nature.
  14. Ur tweets use 2 many text abbreviations.
  15. Your tweets only share your own content.
  16. All you do is retweet without sharing any commentary about why you’re doing so.
  17. You don’t tweet enough about the things your target audience is interested in.
  18. Your tweets are all work and no play.
  19. You never say “thank you” when people retweet your tweets or mention you.
  20. You curse like a sailor in your tweets. (No offense to sailors; it’s merely an idiom to illustrate a point.)
  21. Your tweets go to extremes—about religion, politics, social issues, etc.
  22. You hardly ever tweet.
  23. You tweet non-stop, like every 15 minutes, 24/7.

 

Of course, what I deem “not follow worthy” might be perfectly acceptable to the next guy. And folks who do any of the above might have very good reasons for making them a part of their Twitter M.O. “To each his own,” right?

 

The point is, when people are reviewing your profile and tweets before deciding whether or not to follow you, how you present yourself and how you use Twitter matter. You can do whatever you want, but you need to pay attention to potential turn-offs if you’re genuinely trying to grow a following.

 

What Twitter account traits are turn-offs for you?

 

Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LinkedIn Message Emoticons: Strengthening Connections Or Lowering The Bar?

A few days ago, I noticed that while writing a LinkedIn message to a new connection, something was different.LinkedIn Coffee Stickers

 

I now have the option of adding a variety of emoticons to my messages. I can choose from a series of cartoon coffee cups conveying a variety of emotions, statements, and states of mind. And then there is a series of kitty cat emojis—which this dog lover will never, ever use. I can also select from an assortment of GIFs (from movies like Anchor Man and TV shows like The Office).

 

According to a posting in LinkedIn’s Help Center on September 17, the new features aren’t yet available to all users. LinkedIn will gradually roll the new messaging capabilities to all members.

 

Word of warning if you do have access to the new features: I discovered by clicking on one of the stickers to get a closer look at it, it was sent to the recipient immediately. I found no way to retract it, and therefore found myself apologizing to my connection for sending what was an out-of-character and odd reply. Surely, he would have wondered why on earth I had sent him a cute little sticker depicting a sweaty coffee cup, holding an MP3 player and apparently moving to the music.

 

Now back to the topic at hand…

 

Emoticons? Really, LinkedIn?

I’ve searched the LinkedIn blog for some explanation of why they’ve made this and other changes to their messaging platform. Here’s what I found in a post on September 1:

 

“Starting today, we are rolling out a new messaging experience on LinkedIn that offers an easier and more lightweight way to have professional conversations with your connections. We know many of you have been asking for this ability and we’ve taken a thoughtful approach to reflect the evolving ways professionals are communicating with one another today…”

 

Regarding the stickers, emojis, and GIFs, the post says…

 

“In addition to being able to attach photos and documents to your messages, now you can also add stickers, emojis and GIFs to insert a little extra personality into the conversations you’re having 1:1 or with a group on the new messaging experience.”

 

 

Perception of Professionalism

Aside from the other bugs that people have found when using the updated version of LinkedIn messaging, I have to wonder how “professional” connections will perceive people who actively use these personality enhancers in their messages. I find them a bit juvenile, but I realize my opinion won’t be the same as that of others. Appropriateness and professionalism are in the eye of the beholder.

 

I should fully disclose that I occasionally (OK, regularly) add a traditional smiley face into a message. You know…the colon + dash + right parenthesis,  variety. Yes, I insert an occasional semicolon + dash + right parenthesis, too.

 

According to a study shared on allacademic.com, smiley faces in work-related emails can cause recipients to find the senders more likable and credible.

 

I imagine that might be the case with LinkedIn messages, too. But the question remains whether the premade LinkedIn emoticons will have the same effect as adding emotion the old-fashioned way.

 

I’d love to hear what you think about it. Are these new stickers, emojis, and GIFs a good idea? Or are they lowering the bar for professionalism?

Facebook “Dislike” Button: An Awful Idea & How Empathy Could Backfire On Your Brand

In answer to requests for a “dislike” button, Facebook has been developing a button that will allow users to express sympathy or empathy when clicking “like” Facebook Fjust doesn’t seem appropriate. The name of the button has yet to be announced, but it sounds as though it will be something more subtle (possibly “sympathize” or “empathize”) than “dislike.

 

Let’s hope so. A button named “dislike” is an awful idea. Rather than used as a tool for showing compassion, it would give trolls and the otherwise mean-spirited to more readily disrespect and demean others. There would be haters “disliking” posts that share others’ successes and good news.

 

Empathy And Engagement

While an empathy button may help engagement on personal status updates, it won’t likely be a big engagement booster for businesses. Businesses typically don’t post updates that warrant a sympathy or empathy response—nor should they. Who wants to see downer posts from brands in their news feeds? Not me.

 

But what about posting more updates that might prompt empathy responses on your personal Facebook timeline? Could it kick engagement up a notch for your personal brand?

 

In her recent blog post, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media shares, “I try to put my best foot forward because ultimately, people will tune out the whiners.”

“However, I think that those who remain positive are seen as having the perfect life. There’s actually a term called Facebook envy, which is very real. We post what we want the world to see and for most of us, we want to present ourselves in the best light possible, but sometimes that display is not reality.”

 

Like Rachel, I tend to post about the positive, fun happenings in my life or about things that amuse me or make me laugh. If I’m sad, mad, in pain, or ill, I’m not impelled to air it publicly. Believe me, my life is way far from perfect and I realize that others who have a similar social media approach to mine don’t have perfect lives either.

 

So maybe you and I could garner a little more social media love if we were more open about when things aren’t going our way. If your personal brand shows more vulnerability, possibly making it easier for others to relate to you, could those stronger emotional connections carry over to your business?

 

Possibly, but I think it would be a dangerous strategy to embrace for three reasons:

 

  1. You’ll constantly be reminded of your life’s challenges as notifications ping you when people hit the empathize button or comment on your post. It’s tough to let things go and move on when you can’t catch a break from your troubles.
  2. Depending on what you post, your clients and colleagues might see you as a complainer, a crybaby, or a train wreck (or all of the above). Who wants to do business with someone like that?
  3. If you share too many empathy-eliciting updates, people might tune you out.

 

Easy Does It

I agree with Rachel’s statement, “In a world where we are told to be ourselves and remain authentic, it seems a struggle to share in a way that won’t reflect negatively, but shows we are human.”

 

Indeed, it is a balancing act.

 

Quick shifts and going to extremes will throw off the equilibrium.

 

What are your thoughts about the eventual new button on Facebook? Will it prompt more raw and real status updates to make us connect with each other better or will it further incent chronic complainers to air all that’s amiss?

Is It A Good Idea To Be “Friends” With Your Clients On Facebook?

“Blurry.” I can’t think of a better way to describe the line between “business” and “personal” on social media, can you?Modern-FB-Image-Canva-DMentzer

 

No matter what business you’re in…no matter whether you’re a business owner or a professional working for someone else’s company…at some point in time a client will request to be friends with you via your personal Facebook account.

 

Should you accept? Should you decline?

 

I was curious to find out how others in my network handle those requests from their clients. I’ve shared their interesting insight below. If you haven’t yet decided on a policy for handling Facebook friend requests from your clients, you might gain some clarity on the risks and rewards by reading further.

 

As for me, I do accept Facebook friend requests from clients—and sometimes even from prospective clients. I don’t, however, initiate requests to be their friends, because I don’t want them to feel put on the spot if they prefer not to mix our business relationships with the more personal side of our lives.

 

Overall, I’ve found that having a more personal connection with my clients has helped my business. Knowing about my clients’ interests, families, hobbies, triumphs, and challenges enables me to understand them better—and I believe vice versa. I’ve found that connection has created a stronger bond in business.

 

That said, it also makes me a little more cautious about what I post on Facebook. I generally refrain from liking, commenting on, and posting anything that is politically or religiously charged. I also steer clear of posting “woe is me” posts that complain about this, that, or other people.

 

To my knowledge, being friends with clients on Facebook has never hurt me professionally—it has helped me build my brand as a solopreneur.

 

But enough about me.

 

Here’s how several of my Facebook friends (a combination of clients, subcontractors, and vendors) handle “to friend or not to friend” situations.

 

Rose Boettinger, Freelance Writer and Virtual Assistant

I tend not to accept Facebook friend requests from clients.

 

Although nothing is private once posted on the internet, I believe “personal” Facebook accounts should solely be used as a means of communication with friends and family. If you become friends with your clients, they’re able to see everything you post (unless you adjust your settings accordingly for each post, which just wastes more time) and the frequency at which you post.

 

Clients may have religious beliefs and/or morals and values that differ greatly from your own and may be offended by some of what you post. They may also not share your sense of humor, again leading to your unintentionally offensive posts. 

 

Your clients may also be put out when they notice how often you post and when you post, noting that you aren’t serving their needs at that particular time. This may also lead them to question your work ethic and dedication to their businesses, despite the fact that you’re still providing them with quality service in a timely fashion.

 

I’ve only declined one client request thus far, and that was after explaining in person at my last meeting that I tend not to accept friend requests from clients—nothing personal. I then proceeded to tell the client that I have both LinkedIn and Twitter accounts targeted more towards my industry, and I’d be happy to accept any requests that may come to my LinkedIn account.

 

The client wasn’t offended, just slightly disappointed, saying he doesn’t typically utilize those particular sites as often.

 

A good way to avoid this snag would be to create your own [business] page on Facebook, separate from and in addition to your personal account. Note that pages are different than profiles (I’d be willing to bet not everyone recognizes that fact).

 

Kris Bradley, Internet Marketing Ambassador, MIND Development & Design

About three years ago I decided to friend people in my professional network on Facebook, which included prospective and current clients. I use a lot of discretion when I post, but my true self is visible on Facebook. I try to stay away from posting controversial topics (politics, religion, sensitive topics, etc.), but I do occasionally go down that rabbit hole. I had the mentality that I am who I am and I would hope that my professional contacts can embrace this. I would do the same if they either accept my friend request or I accept their request. 

 

I wouldn’t say that I can directly put a finger on any problems or issues that came from this decision, but I do know that some of my Facebook friends who are also professional connections have treated me a bit differently since I opened that door (friending them on Facebook) into my more personal life. When I say differently, I wouldn’t say in a bad way, but I can tell that their opinion of me has been altered by me allowing myself to peel back layers about myself that they might not have gotten from an occasional interaction via business or networking. Turning the tables, I can say that I have also formed some opinions of several of my Facebook friends whom are also professional connections. I guess it just goes with the territory.

 

As it exists now, I am very selective in friending clients. I have to have a good relationship and amount of respect for them on a personal level (and vice versa) before I will open that door and peel back those layers via a Facebook friend connection. A decent percentage of my professional communication on Facebook, mostly via Messenger, is on Facebook, so I would confidently say that there are distinct advantages to friending professional connections. A good alternative is Facebook Groups, which provides an excellent way to communicate about business on Facebook, but that is another topic for another day. 

 

Andy Garman, Partner and Marketing Director, Pipedream Marketing + Design

At Pipedream, we are very selective when accepting Facebook friend requests. We don’t initiate them with clients and typically don’t accept them. But we have a couple of longstanding clients with whom we have become friendly, and so we have accepted those friend requests.

 

LinkedIn is another story! We typically try to link in with all of our clients and prospects and we accept most requests from others to link in. Prompting the difference in how we treat those two networks is the inherent personal nature of Facebook and the business networking nature of LinkedIn.

 

Heather Kreider, Owner, Makes Scents Natural Spa Line

I feel very strongly that mixing business and personal beliefs/information is not the best choice for my specific situation. I typically do not accept friend requests from anyone that is not a personal friend, which is why I have very few “friends” on Facebook.

 

However, if I have built a friendship in the past with someone who happens to become a business partner, I will continue to be friends on Facebook, but am sometimes choosy with what I share with them.

 

In the past, I have been connected with managers of business partners and feel that doing so interfered with our business relationship. This may not be the case with all business relationships but in this one specific situation, personal information (the death of a loved one) was used against us in a way to justify an unethical situation. After this happened, I realized that sharing personal information with business partners was more of an issue than a positive. From this point on, I made it a personal policy to not become “friends” with clients on Facebook.

 

Although I have nothing to hide as an honest and genuine person, allowing a business partner into my personal life is not something that I want to allow. To be honest, so much can be misconstrued on Facebook, and I would much rather build personal relations rather than cyber relationship.

 

When declining an invitation to be a friend on Facebook, I typically message or email the client to politely tell them that I do not mix business with my personal life, and that I would be happy to connect with them on more business related platforms such as LinkedIn.

 

I have never had an issue declining a friend request. I typically do not receive many friend requests from partners, because I feel there is an unspoken social media etiquette or invisible line drawn in our industry to separate business from personal lives.

 

Jon Martin, Founder, Invoq Marketing

I do allow clients to be my Facebook friends, and often I initiate the friending process. 

 

As a friend, I am able to get a glimpse into their lives. I can keep track of important life changes, find topics (sports, TV shows, hunting, etc.) that I can potentially connect with them on.
At this point, being friends with clients has created no problems or issues that I am aware of. I very intentionally limit what I post on all platforms to be things that won’t offend my clients, and if I don’t want them to know something, I don’t post it on social media.

 

A few additional thoughts…

 

To friend or not to friend depends on your goals for your client relationships. I want to be as close as possible to my clients. I want to be the trusted confidant they turn to for guidance in making business and marketing decisions. The closer I can get on a relationship level, the more successful it allows me to be and to help them to be. The more I understand their pain points, vision, passions, and goals, the better I can serve them.

 

John Oppenheimer, CEO, 1 Sky Media

I consider myself an open networker so I will accept most friend requests even those from clients. I don’t actively pursue connections with clients on Facebook as I would on LinkedIn, but I do have some clients amongst my collection of Facebook friends.

 

We haven’t seen any direct orders as a result of these connections. I try to be conscious of what I post knowing that those beyond immediate friends and family will see it. Some topics will add to the friendly banter when we next encounter a client, something like “I had no idea you…”

 

We’ve encountered no problems so far as I know from being Facebook friends with clients. Again, I try to be careful not to post anything offensive or to like something that some people might consider off color, there have been a few exceptions with posts that were just too funny not to like!

 

Rachel Strella, Owner, Strella Social Media

I absolutely welcome being friends with clients on Facebook. In fact, I proactively “friend” my clients in most circumstances.

 

I consider my clients as friends—and even family—in some circumstances, so Facebook helps me to further my relationship with them. I like to know when their children have birthdays or when they’re going through a hardship, because these instances are not often something people share via email or another social channel.

 

In today’s world, there’s little separation between a professional and personal brand. One thing I’ve learned is that our business brand is only as strong as our personal brand. This is especially true for solopreneurs and small business owners. At the same time, I respect that clients may want to share their personal lives with only their closest friends and family. I would never overstep that boundary, because I understand that Facebook can be a personal thing to some people.

 

I don’t recall ever experiencing any problems with being Facebook friends with clients. In fact, it’s enhanced my relationships with clients, especially former clients because we have a way to stay in touch.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to “friend” clients on Facebook. Ultimately, you need to decide what makes you and your clients most comfortable–and what makes the most sense for your business.

 

Your turn! What’s your policy on friending clients on Facebook?

 

 

 

 

 

Two LinkedIn Messages That Might Mess Up Your First Impression

Linkedin-Inbox-screenshot

Within the past week, I received two LinkedIn messages that irritated me.

 

Why?

 

They didn’t respect my time.

 

Both senders required me to take time out of my packed schedule to help them accomplish their objectives when they could have easily taken action to accomplish them on their own.

 

I’ve gotten similar sorts of messages from other LinkedIn users in the past. I’m writing about this not to shame you or anyone else who has sent messages like these—I assume most are sent with good intentions. But if you’re sending messages like the two I’ll share in this post, you might not make that all-important best first impression.

 

Two Types Of LinkedIn Messages That Might Be A Turn-Off

 

1. We should connect, so here’s what you need to do to connect with me.

 

It goes something like this:

 

“Hi Dawn, My name is [fill in the blank] and I would like to add you to my LinkedIn Network. We are in the [fill in the blank] group together. Since we are a 2nd or 3rd connection, send me an invitation to connect ([the sender’s email address here]) so that we can stay in touch regarding future opportunities.”

 

The problem with this message: If the sender really wants to stay in touch with me, she could view my LinkedIn profile or my website to find my email address—and she could send me an invitation to connect.

 

Messages like this imply your time is expendable, but the sender’s needs to be protected.

 

The moral of the story: When you want to connect with people on LinkedIn, don’t make them do the work. Ask for an introduction from someone else who is already connected with them or find the information you need to initiate the invitation.

 

2. Repeat what you’ve already shared about yourself in your LinkedIn profile summary.

 

It goes something like this:

 

“Tell me more about what you do.”

 

The problem with this message:

At face value, the message is innocent enough; it’s an effort to engage and interact.

 

BUT, messages like this fail to mention why the sender would like to know more. If the job title and type of work of the sender don’t indicate any type of synergy between us, there doesn’t seem much point in me taking ten minutes out of my day to respond. And even if there is synergy, I’d like to know the reason and purpose for sharing more information about what I do.

 

If, like me, you provide a good amount of detail in your LinkedIn summary and experience fields, you might wonder if the sender looked at your profile at all. This general question would have us rewriting much of what’s already in our LinkedIn profiles. Who has time for that?

 

The moral of the story: Always read someone’s profile first and then ask specific questions about what they do—if you really want to know. And always share why you’re asking for more information. While most professionals are happy to respond to legitimate, purposeful requests for information, most don’t have time to spend 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to reply to inquiries that have no apparent purpose.

 

Minutes Matter

Although neither of the pet peeves I’ve shared would individually squander hours of your time, minutes matter—and they add up. Just like you and me, our connections and prospective connections are busy professionals. Respecting their time is the first step to making a positive first impression.

 

Have any LinkedIn pet peeves? What types of messages irritate you?

Good Businesses Have Bad Moments. Cut Them A Little Slack.

No Business Is Absolutely Perfect.

As much as any small business wants to deliver a perfect customer experience during each and every interaction, it will slip up. Perhaps (and hopefully) notThumbs down often will that happen, but it will happen.

For example:

  • The local coffee shop’s brew won’t be piping hot.

 

  • Your veterinarian will be behind schedule and you’ll wait longer than you care to for Fido’s appointment.

 

  • The Mediterranean restaurant down the street will forget to serve your salad dressing on the side.

 

  • Before she wraps the bracelet you bought for your mom, the cashier at the gift shop downtown will forget to remove the price tag.

 

Honest, unintentional, few-and-far-between mistakes happen. They’re unfortunate and can inconvenience you, yes. Are they something to get upset about enough to warrant slamming a business on social media? I say, probably not.

 

But many people see things differently. They jump to criticize and discredit for the smallest measure of imperfection. And sometimes they don’t even explain why they’re dissatisfied.

 

Just recently, one of my own Facebook friends blasted a status update calling out a local coffee shop. Her remark…“Was at [name of café] this morning. Very disappointing.”

 

That was it.

 

She tagged the business’s Facebook page in her post, but didn’t post directly on the page. Because of the way she went about mentioning the business and because she and the business owner aren’t friends on Facebook, the business owner had no way of responding on the platform. She had no way of asking why the customer had a bad experience. She had no way of asking the customer if they could talk about it offline. She had no way of asking the customer how she could make it right.

 

So there it was. Her business was publicly shamed for no specific reason and with no direct way to respond.

 

Coincidentally, I had a meeting at that coffee shop the same morning. My experience was wonderful—as usual. And so, as a fellow small business owner and regularly satisfied customer, I felt it my duty to come to the rescue (well, as best I could anyway) by commenting on my friend’s post to share my positive experience at the café that day.

 

My comment probably didn’t undo much of the damage, but by seeing similar comments by others posted after mine, I’d like to think it helped restore at least a little bit of public favor for that small business.

 

It’s Better To Pick Our Battles On Social Media.

Just as people aren’t perfect, neither are businesses. They’re owned and staffed by imperfect humans who will try their very best, but who will sometimes fall short.

 

Sure, negative remarks on social media about a business’s performance are sometimes justified—particularly if a customer has had repeat bad experiences that weren’t addressed when brought to the owner’s attention. But shouldn’t every business have an opportunity to find out how they failed a customer and how they can set things right?

 

As customers ourselves, we need to remember that. When we have a lackluster experience, we don’t do ourselves any favors by venting for the sake of simply getting it off our chests. What will improve our future visits to businesses that have disappointed us in some way is to start an honest dialogue with owners and managers to explain why we’re unhappy and what we would like them to do differently.

 

Simple. Sensible. And something about which we should remind the overzealous business critics in our social media networks. After all, you and I never know when they might turn on us for the slightest slip.

 

How has your business (or others that you frequently visit) been bitten by unjustly harsh social media commentary? How have you handled it?

 

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 Sure-Fire Ways To Push Your Social Media Followers Away From Your Brand

Jeff Bullas recently wrote a blog post suggesting twenty things you should share on social media to strengthen the connection between your brand and your Woman with thumbs downaudience.

Without a doubt, that’s info businesses can use to boost their engagement and build a positive social presence.

But don’t forget that just as there’s social media sharing that can benefit your business, there’s sharing that can work against it, too.

One Key Thing All Self-Employed Professionals Need To Remember About Social Media

As solopreneurs and small business owners, our personal social media accounts and our business accounts are entwined and associated with each other in the minds of our clients, vendors, colleagues, employees, and competitors. What we say and share as our personal selves reflects on our businesses.

You’ve probably noticed that some people don’t know where to draw the line. They over share or share things that potentially anger or alienate their followers. They seem clueless, not taking the time to think through the consequences, or they simply don’t care because, after all, they have a right to say whatever they want.

Want to risk turning people away from your business instead of drawing them to it? I’ve listed some ideas about what you can do on social media to accomplish that. These are things that make me cringe as I scan my feeds.

4 Things To Share On Social Media If You Want To Push Away Your Audience

“Woe Is Me”

Constant complainers are downers. We all have bad days, but venting on every little grievance can make you look like a whiner. It gets old. Fast.

Political Soapboxing

We’ll be seeing a good deal more of this soon as the 2016 presidential election approaches. While you don’t need to keep your affiliation a secret, blasting out politically biased posts won’t endear you to your entire audience. According to Gallup’s poll numbers from Feb. 8 to Feb.11, 2015, the split between the percentage of Republicans (43%) and Democrats (44%) in the U.S. (including independents leaning one way or the other) is rather even. So while nearly half of your followers might agree with your views, you can figure the other half don’t. And you’re not likely to change their minds.

Indirect Cowardly Call-Outs

They go something like this: “If you were my friend, you wouldn’t talk behind my back. I won’t name names, but you know who you are.” These often have a “woe is me” tone and seem to exist for the purpose of launching a pity party. If you—and you know who you are—have a problem with someone, go talk with them directly rather than initiate a public shaming.

Griping About Clients And Vendors

While it might feel good to vent, making statements that air issues you have with clients or vendors (even when you don’t single anyone out) can kill your credibility. Late payers, bad communicators, and disorganized project partners happen. Social media isn’t the place to address those things. Existing clients and vendors will wonder if you’re referring to them, and you’ll make prospects think twice about doing business with you.

What you choose to share on social media is your call. But when you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, realize expressing yourself can affect how people think about your business. Before you share on social media sites, and before you react to posts by others, take a second to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation?”

 

Hey! Are we connected on social media yet? Let’s fix that! Follow me via clicking on the social icons on my site that link to my profiles, and let me know if you’ve got business social media profiles. I’ll be happy to reciprocate! All my best—Dawn

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over The Top On Social Media? Here’s How To Avoid Pushing Your Personal Brand Over The Edge

I’ll bet you’ve seen it in your news feeds. The opposite ends of the spectrum in the tone and content of social media posts by your friends and the business woman-on-cliffprofessionals with whom you’re connected.

Some gals and guys share an endless stream of rainbows and smiley faces. Their lives and careers appear without flaws. By all accounts, you’d believe they experience nothing but happy, happy, joy, joy 24/7.

And then there are folks who seem always down and out. They’re oppressed. They’ve been done wrong. They can’t ever catch a break. They constantly look to their online connections for validation that their feelings of “me against the world” are fully justified.

Reality Check.

Both of the above are illusions. No one’s life is either all perfect or typically all bad. We all experience both the good and the really crappy.

How Going To Extremes On Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Brand

If you’re one of the people who go to either extreme on social media, chances are you’re turning off someone, somewhere, at some time.

If you appear to always be in a state of overjoy in overdrive, people might find you disingenuous.

Likewise, if you’re consistently ranting or putting on a pity party, you’ll start to drive people away.

For those using social media for personal purposes, all of this might not matter so much. But if your personal brand is directly tied to your professional persona as a solopreneur or small business owner, you’ve got more at stake.

The Social Media Balancing Act

When you’re using social media as a self-employed person, the lines between personal and professional become blurred. For example, many of my clients are also my Facebook friends. So anything I post personally becomes a reflection of me as professional as well. Sure, I could use Facebook’s list function to prevent certain posts from being seen from clients vs. other friends, but that’s cumbersome—and quite honestly (I think) sort of sneaky.

Instead, why not strive to achieve balance and use common sense to show you’re genuine, likeable, and someone people will want to stick with on social media channels? Sure, you can pretty much post whatever you want. It’s a free country, right? But as a businessperson whose personal activity on social media can either enhance or weaken your professional image, you should always think before you post.

Here are a few of the self-made rules I’ve found reasonable to follow on social media:

  • Don’t demean others (including your competitors)—ever!
  • Share your challenges, but don’t dwell on them.
  • Share your successes, but give credit to others who have helped you achieve them.
  • Don’t overshare. Posting too frequently and/or sharing too much personal detail will push followers away. According to a SlideShare on Forbes citing results from a SocialToaster survey, 39 percent of social media users would unfollow someone for crossing the line by oversharing.
  • Be helpful to others—share articles, information, and advice.
  • Don’t always make it about you—share other people’s content often.
  • Politics and religion—use extreme discretion when posting anything related to either of these hot topics on personal social media accounts. Avoid them on business social media accounts. (Note, I don’t avoid them completely on personal social media because they’re a significant part of life. It’s unreasonable to make them completely off limits.)
  • Don’t get caught up in others’ drama.

I’ve discovered having rules like these in place help ensure I provide variety in the content I post and prevent me going to extremes on social media. Have you set your own rules of engagement for your social media channels, or are you finding it tough to achieve balance? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment and share your thoughts.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of Just2shutter at FreeDigitalPhotos.net