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

Are You Up To Speed On The Recent Facebook Page Updates?

These aren’t exactly breaking news, but if you’re not a social media community manager responsible for multiple Facebook business pages, two recent changesFacebook-Page-On-Mac may have slid under your radar.

 

Even though I post to my page daily, I hadn’t noticed them until about a week ago. I figure a few more of you solopreneurs and small business owners out there —and others you know—might have skipped over them, too.

 

Post Attribution Feature For Facebook Business Pages

Previously, Facebook enabled you to use pages as your personal self or as a page that you manage. When you chose one or the other, anything you did on that page—post an update, like, or comment—was done as whatever entity you were using the page as. Now Facebook has given us more flexibility by adding the capability to choose on a post-by-post basis. On each post, you get a drop-down box where you can choose from your personal self or one of the pages you manage.

Facebook Page Post Attribution Feature

You can read Facebook’s explanation here, but I think you’ll find these details helpful as well:

  • You need to be using Facebook via your personal account, not logged in as your page, to see the post attribution option.
  • The Facebook post attribution option is available on the pages you manage. You will see the option on posts when you’re visiting your page AND when you see your page’s posts in your newsfeed.
  • By default, your first choice on the attribution menu will be the page you’re on or—in the case of the newsfeed—the page that made the post.

This change will help companies infuse the personal touch on their business pages by making it more convenient for page admins to facilitate conversations and interact with others person to person instead of logo to person.

 

New Location for Facebook Schedule Feature

Although not a new feature, the scheduling option has moved. You could previously find the associated clock icon at the bottom left when creating a new post, but now it is somewhat hidden. You’ll still find it at the bottom of the post you’re crafting, but you’ll need to first select the up/down arrows directly to the left of the “Post” button. As always has been the case, you can only schedule a post when you’re directly on your Facebook page. You cannot schedule a post when posting from your news feed.

Facebook-schedule-feature-new-placement

At the time that I’m writing this blog post, Facebook’s Help Center hasn’t yet updated their instructions for scheduling posts. According to what I found on social media master Mari Smith’s page, Facebook is likely testing the new scheduling location on some, but not all, pages. Do you see it on yours?

 

New Save Draft Option

At the time of this post, this feature hasn’t been rolled out to everyone yet, but some page admins can now save draft posts. Along with the scheduling option, it’s located via the Post button dropdown. Thank goodness. Now you don’t have to completely abort a new post if you get interrupted or need to leave for a meeting before you’ve finished it.

 

What Do You Think Of The Recent Facebook Page Changes?

If you’ve been using the new post attribution feature, I’d love to hear about your experience with it so far. Do you see it helping you personalize interactions and make your page more approachable?

What do you think of the new location for scheduling your posts? A bit too hidden or intuitive enough that it really doesn’t make a difference?

And what about the new “Save Draft” feature? Please share your thoughts on that one. Time and hassle saver or nice, but not really necessary?

84 Percent of Marketers Post on At Least 3 Social Media Networks Each Day (And Other Social Media Findings)

If you’re using social media in your marketing mix (who isn’t?), it’s helpful to learn how other businesses approach it, too.

The recent Social Media Content Optimization Survey by Software Advice (in partnership with Adobe) shows some interesting findings about how marketers use social media. Nearly half of the respondents were from businesses with between one and ten employees. My thanks to Jay Ivey, Managing Editor and Researcher at Software Advice, for sharing the results – and his insight – with me for this post.

Back in March of this year, I posted about the study’s early results, but the completed report includes new discoveries about marketers’ social media habits including:

  • 84 percent regularly post on at least three social media networks. And there are more marketers who post on Number of social media networks marketers post on daily10+ networks than who post on just one!

 

 

 

 

  • 70 percent post at least once a day to build brand awareness and rapport with their audiences. 19 percent saySocial media marketers' posting frequency they post more than three times each day.

 

 

 

  •  41 percent say they schedule their social content several days to one week ahead of time. 65 percent scheduleMarketers social media content scheduling habits their content at least one day in advance. Just 12 don’t have a plan for scheduling posts in advance.

 

 

 

  • 82 percent say using images is “important” or “very important” for optimizing social media content.
  • 67 percent say using hashtags is “important” or “very important” for optimizing social media content.Social media content tactics most used by marketers

 

 

 

 

  •  35 percent believe it’s “very important” to test the rates of sharing content at various times of the day/days of the week so they can better understand when people are more receptive and engaged.Marketers who believe optimizing content to when users are most likely to view it is important

 

 

 

  • 74 percent were at least “moderately successful” in gaining new followers on social media, and 77 percent saidSocial media content goals the same about their efforts to build brand recognition. 29% say they have been “successful” in nurturing relationships through their social media endeavors.

 

 

 

  • 43 percent do not yet use social media management tools (such as Buffer, Hootsuite, TweetDeck) to manage Percentage of marketers who use social media toolstheir social media content

 

 

 

Social media habits as expected or a big surprise?

The fact that some marketers post on over 10 social networks regularly surprised me. I’m maxed out on 4. And I would have thought more marketers would be using social media management tools of some sort. At the very least, using Twitter because of its faster and more furious pace than other networks. I was also somewhat surprised at how few marketers said they think video is important. I’m personally more inclined to read blog posts and other text content over video and podcasts, but there’s no shortage of hype about video’s brand-boosting power.

But that’s just my take on it. I asked Jay a few questions to find out what stood out for him and what he thinks other small business marketers can take away from it.

Q. How do you see the findings helping solopreneurs or small business owners who use social media?

A. One immediately actionable finding is that marketers who use software tools had less trouble achieving goals through social media, with 51 percent of those who used tools saying they found it “fairly easy” or “extremely easy” to optimize social content. That’s compared to only 35 percent of those who didn’t use tools. So with all the affordable and free options available, there’s really no good reason for marketers not to look into social media management software.

Q. Was there anything in the results that surprised you? Why?

A. I was surprised by how many marketers planned their social media content out in advance. Forty-one percent said they prepared posts several days in advance, with another 10 percent saying they scheduled posts weeks or even months in advance. In addition, most posted multiple times a day across at least four social networks. So there’s little doubt that many marketers have made it a priority to consistently and systematically generate social content across a range of channels. However, whether or not that content is tailored effectively to achieve real results is still up for debate.
 

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to communicate about the study?

A. I found it very interesting how our source, Liz Strauss, interpreted some of these results. She felt it was backwards that more marketers prioritized visual content than prioritized the identification and targeting of specific sub-audiences. As she put it, “If you don’t know who your content is built for, then you’re not going to send them the right kinds of signals.” And this may suggest a troubling lack of understanding about basic strategic principles required to achieve real, measurable results through social media.

 

Your turn! Did any of the study results surprise you? How does your approach to social media differ from what most of the businesses reported in the survey?

 

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By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Our Accessibility: Benefit or Bane to Solopreneurs and Small Biz Owners?

Accessibility. It has its advantages and disadvantages for solopreneurs and small business owners. The numerous Brand-New-Laptop-Tablet-And-Smartphone-by-stockimagesmodes of communication available to us give us many opportunities to consistently interact with our clients, prospects, family and friends. But always being within reach can also exhaust and overwhelm us.

 

How can I contact you? Let me count the ways…

It’s exciting – and almost dizzying – to think about how many ways people can communicate with us. It wasn’t all that long ago when face to face, phone, and email were the only line items on the list of ways to ask questions, follow up on inquiries, and make deals.

 

Now, someone could ask you to bid on a project through any one of many possible channels of communication:

 

  • Face to face
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Contact form on your website
  • Your blog (in comments)
  • Facebook (messages or in a post on your business page)
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter (via a mention or a direct message)
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Text message on your phone
  • Instant Message

 

 

All of these touch points open the door to opportunities – some are especially significant because they can impel people to act in the moment and contact you immediately. Provided you’re able to respond quickly, you can glean new business or gain referrals that way.

 

The downside to extreme accessibility…

The drawback to being highly accessible is you need to monitor all of your communication channels every day, several times each day so you’re aware of when important messages arrive. If you don’t, you could miss opportunities or fail to address urgent matters before they escalate into emergencies.

 

Accessiblity requires follow up and follow through! And the pressure is on. Especially when expectations of a fast response are high. Did you know that 42% of people expect brands to respond to questions and issues posted on social media within one hour (via a post by Jay Baer on Convince & Convert)? Yikes!

 

And you can never assume a channel isn’t worth paying attention to. I can attest to that…

Typically, my direct message inbox on Twitter consists of auto-responses from other Twitter users thanking me for following them. They’re annoying so I tune them out until I have a collection built up – at which point I delete every single one. Again, that’s typically the nature of DMs; but there are exceptions. Last year, I missed out on a project when I failed to check my Twitter DMs for 2 days. A writer, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, had left a DM asking me if I’d be available to work on an assignment she was managing. I discovered the DM too late, and I missed the opportunity. Had I checked my DMs every day, I might have landed that work. Live and learn!

 

How to make sure accessibility works for you, not against you…

 

  • Put a plan in place for monitoring your communications channels.

    Some channels require more attention than others because of how likely you are to receive messages through them and because of how quickly people expect you to respond. Consider setting some “rules of response” for each medium. For example, you might commit to responding to emails within 24 hours, non-emergency phone calls within 6 hours, social media mentions or messages within 3 hours, etc. Of course, you’ll need to set those standards according to your own capabilities and clients’ needs.

To make sure you’re covering all the bases every day, try reserving time on your calendar (as repeat appointments) daily for checking messages on your various channels. That will also help prevent you from feeling the need to constantly check social media and email when you should be working on billable projects.

 

  • Set the precedent for what methods of communications you prefer.

Let clients and colleagues know what channels of communication will work best when collaborating with you. For example, I prefer receiving requirements and information needed for writing projects via email or through a project management app. It’s clumsy and inefficient for me to receive info like that via text messages or through social media. And while I like to confirm and get clarification on details by phone, I don’t like to communicate that way to gather the bulk of what I need.

 

Of course, you’ll want to make things convenient for your clients as well. And you will by establishing a routine for working together. Your projects and working relationships will flow much more smoothly if you’re exchanging information and ideas in a uniform way rather than inconsistently using multiple networks to communicate. Setting a precedent will also help alleviate misunderstandings and prevent things from slipping through the cracks.

 

  • Set boundaries.

As important as it is to make yourself accessible to prospects and clients, you may also need to set limits around your availability. Unless your business is one that deals with anything as dire as life or death situations, do clients really need to call you at 11 p.m. (unless they’re across the globe in a different time zone)? Is it necessary for them to shoot you a text for a non-urgent question that could be effectively responded to via email?

 

Yes, you have an obligation to serve your customers, and it’s mutually beneficial to serve them exceptionally well. But you can excel at that without being at anyone’s beck and call 24/7. You’re a business owner, but you also have a life!

 

How has your heightened accessibility presented opportunities and challenges for you in your business? Are there any modes of communication that have proven most demanding or difficult to control?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Give Your Small Business Staying Power on Social Media

Here today; gone tomorrow. On social media networks, that describes a lot of solopreneurs and small business owners. If Marathon runneryou’ve been using social media consistently, you’ve probably noticed some people and brands start strong, but then drop off the radar almost completely. I’ve especially noticed it on Twitter. In my three years actively using the network for business, I’ve seen people go from tweeting and interacting full throttle to running out of gas, their tweets coming to a full stop. It happens on all of the other networks, too…Google+, Facebook, Pinterest…

But why? If people know (and most do) that building brand awareness and professional relationships on social media takes prolonged and consistent effort, why do so many give up?

It’s simple: They bite off more than they can chew and get overwhelmed in trying to keep up amid all of their other business responsibilities.

Tips for Giving Staying Power to your Social Media Efforts

If you – or someone you know – is struggling with keeping current on social media, here are a few pointers that might help:

Educate yourself about how much activity is needed to gain traction on the various social media channels.

Twitter, for example, requires significantly more posts to stay top of mind because of its fast and furious nature. By contrast, connections would find it overkill if you posted that many updates on Linkedin. By knowing how much posting and interacting individual networks demand for gaining notice and building goodwill, you’ll better be able to choose which are right for you.

Be realistic about how much time and effort you can – and are willing to – devote to social media networking.

Far worse than not being on a popular social media channel is being there with a severely neglected account. If you haven’t posted a status update on your Facebook page for 3 months, you need to make a decision: either get active or cut the cord. The same goes for any other online social network. Are you committed to putting in the time and work to stay consistent with each of your social media networks? If no, are you willing to delegate or outsource your social media responsibilities? If no again, it’s time to close some accounts.

Learn and use social media tools.

Time-saving, productivity-boosting online tools can make a big difference in how well you’ll be able to manage your social networks. I use both Hootsuite (which also has a wonderful dashboard component) and Buffer for scheduling posts. Using an RSS reader like Feedly will help you keep content sources readily accessible when you’re looking for relevant articles to share with your audience. Also important: organizing the connections in your network (for example, via aptly-named circles in Google+ and lists in Twitter) to make it easier to keep tabs on posts by the key people (e.g. clients, prospects) you want to interact with. And don’t downplay the power of mobile apps! Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin…they all have mobile apps for Android and iOS. Use them to keep up on your networks when you’ve got idle time waiting for a client at a coffee shop or when you’re in line at the grocery store.

Have a plan.

For some people, having a pre-set content calendar helps keep them on track. This may or may not work for you depending on your type of business. When creating content in advance, you run the risk of appearing like you’re sharing yesterday’s news. Still, it’s good to at least have a loose plan for how you’ll approach your social media activities. Establish how often you’ll aim to post updates, how often you’ll login to your networks to interact with others, and what mix of content you’ll share (article links, photos, videos, contests, etc.).


Last but not least…

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall short! Occasionally, you will. We all do! Expect times when you won’t fulfill your social media commitments. Life happens. Work happens. Both can throw unexpected surprises that can derail your best laid social media plans. When they do, don’t look back and beat yourself up over it. Instead look forward and pick up where you left off. Just don’t give up!

 

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What the 91% of Small Biz Owners Who Do Their Own Marketing Need to Think About in 2014

According to results from an AWeber survey, 91% of small business owners are also the primary marketers for their companies. Whoa! Marketing in itself is challenging and time-consuming, but even more stressful and daunting is when it’s one of many other business-critical responsibilities on your overflowing plate.

So much to do; so little time. Where should you put your efforts in the limited hours you have to market your business?

The marketing tactics small business owners say they will focus on in  this year:


Data and infographic by AWeber

There’s no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” marketing, but there are some universal considerations nearly every small business owner should make top of mind…

  • Make sure you have adequate time to plan and execute effectively. Not all social networks and tactics take the same amount of time and attention. If you don’t have the capacity to keep up with them, either look to do something different, or hire someone/outsource the responsibility.
  • Go where your audience is. As of December 31, 2013, Facebook had 1.23 billion monthly active users.* That’s a bunch, but if you’re a B2B consulting business targeting mid-size company CEOs you might be wasting your time with a business Facebook page.  Don’t squander your time on social media channels that won’t reach your target market.
  • Don’t treat online networking and face-to-face networking as two separate initiatives. If you do, you’ll miss out on opportunities to build relationships and trust. Nearly every professional you meet at an in-person networking event will have – at the very least – a Linkedin account. Connect so you’ll have an easy and noninvasive way to maintain contact long after the networking event is over. And don’t forget to find out which other social networks they – or their companies – have a presence on. Social media can help you stay on the radar and generate goodwill when you show support via your interaction. Likewise, seek to strengthen online networking with face-to-face conversations whenever possible. Reach out to local contacts to see if you can connect at an upcoming chamber mixer, industry trade show, seminar, etc. Those multiple touch points can result in strong business development outcomes.

 

Final note:

When you’re a solopreneur or small business owner who does it all in your business, it’s impossible to do it all in marketing. Be smart and selective when choosing where to devote your time, energy, and hard-earned money. You’ll find it’s better to do one or two things well than to spread yourself too thin and flounder while trying to do five or six.

 

Your turn: What marketing tactics are you focusing on most in 2014? Have you given any up since 2013? I’d love to hear from you!

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

*According to the Facebook Newsroom – accessed January, 30, 2014

Big Influence Comes in Small Packages

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we all want to raise awareness of our businesses. We want to get noticed by the people who matter. That’s the same whether we’re networking in person or online via social media networks. Across social media, you’ll find no shortage of articles about “engaging with influencers.” We’re urged to seek them out to propel our brands to bigger and better things. Get the heavy hitters to take notice of you, and you’ll be golden, right? Maybe, but attempting to stand out in the crowd can be tough.

Caution: Don’t put all your eggs in the typical “influencer” basket.

It seems many small business owners think of influencers as the people who have tens of thousands of Twitter followers, a multitiude of Facebook fans, and gaggles of Google+ people following them. They hang on their every word, share their posts, and add their comments to the hundred or so that others left on the influencers’ status updates and blog posts. All in an attempt to get recognized by these ultimate authorities.

But how is that going to help your business? Sure, maybe you’ll get lucky and out of all the thousands of other people vying to get their attention, the A-listers will follow you and single out one of your blog posts down the road. But the chances aren’t really in your favor. I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. It’s not that they don’t care or that you’re not worthy; they’ve got so much interaction coming at them, they can’t possibly keep tabs and give time to everyone who engages with them.

Does that mean you shouldn’t read their blogs and share their content? I’m not implying that at all. Definitely do if you find them helpful and appropriate for your audience, but don’t put all your eggs in their baskets. There are people in your online network who have far fewer followers, but who stand to increase awareness of your brand far more than the heavy hitters.

Influence isn’t exclusively owned by the big guys.

Make it a priority to interact with professionals who have a lesser online following. Note that a lesser following doesn’t mean they aren’t influential, reputable, intelligent people. I follow a slew of less-widely-known people, marketing firms, and small brands who provide excellent content and insight. I believe it’s important – and ultimately more beneficial – for solopreneurs and small biz owners to put effort into cultivating those relationships online. Why? You won’t get lost in the shuffle.

When you interact with these people…

  • Your comments and input won’t get lost in the crowd.
  • You’ll find they’re more willing and able to reciprocate by sharing and commenting on your content.
  • You can become top of mind as an expert in your field to their followers if you’re consistent in providing value through your engagement with them.
  • You’ll have a better chance of gaining referrals because you’ve been able to escape the noise and build relationships.

Find the right mix.

So as you fine-tune your online M.O., aspire to find balance in your efforts. Follow not only the revered and famous, but also lesser know professionals who know their stuff and whom you find common ground with. By showing you’re in tune with what everyone is talking about AND demonstrating you’re capable of finding resources others may have overlooked, you’ll steadily build your own authority online.

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Is It Time to Say Bye-Bye to Your Business Facebook Page?

As a solopreneur/small business owner, I’m getting more frustrated with Facebook by the day. I know I’m not alone. JustGood bye note recently the platform admitted to what most of us suspected all along, they really aren’t interested in giving your posts exposure to your audience unless you’re willing to pay to play.  This article by Ad Age explains it.

As I’ve seen my posts’ reach dwindle from a decent yet still annoying 35 – 40% to as low as 6%, I’m asking myself, “Why bother?” Facebook has apparently deemed my posts  unworthy of the attention of my fans (You know, the people who consciously liked my page so they could see my posts?) and has chosen not to display them in their news feeds.  Given that my posting frequency, interaction, and content quality have been consistent all along, there doesn’t seem to be much I can do to change the downward spiral. Except pay for ads or to promote my posts, but I won’t.

Like many other small businesses, my purpose for maintaining a Facebook for my business has been to build and nurture relationships, not blatantly sell my stuff. While they say they’re making these changes to improve users’ overall experience on the site, I’m failing to see how that will succeed. Won’t showing only promoted posts and paid ads to users subject them to more “push” marketing content and less authentic content meant to provide value and engage them in conversation?

Are you considering deleting your business Facebook page?

I am. I believe my time and effort posting and monitoring activity on my business Facebook page will be better spent building my interaction on Google+ and Twitter. Still, I realize it’s not wise to just jump ship and swim away from the fans who have been – when the omnipotent forces at Facebook allow them to see my posts – engaged and supportive.

Jenn Herman recently wrote a post providing some extremely helpful and practical tips on how to communicate with your fans about your plans to leave your Facebook page behind.  If you’re contemplating a transition away from your business page, you’ll want to heed her advice!

On Jenn’s checklist of how to prepare Facebook fans, she includes the tip “Don’t Go Cold Turkey.” I agree. A gradual exit will help ensure the vast majority of your fans are aware of your intent and have time to connect with you on other platforms before you officially cut the cord.

After your business Facebook page is laid to rest, you can still benefit professionally from Facebook!

All or nothing? It doesn’t have to be that way with Facebook. While I intend to put the ax to my business Facebook page, I’ll keep my personal profile alive and kicking. Heck, it’s the only way I’m connected with my fellow Oley Valley High School grads. AND a good many of the professional connections who are fans of my business page have also friended me on Facebook. AND I’m following their business Facebook pages (and will be until they, too, decide to delete them) through my personal profile. So as my personal self , I’ll have ample opportunity to build rapport and show support of their businesses on Facebook if they haven’t yet embraced other online social networks. Also, as appropriate, I’ll share content that’s business-related on my personal timeline. I’ve seen a lot of professionals do that successfully.

What about you? Have you seen your business Facebook page reach and engagement plummet? Are you planning to keep your page or ditch it?

P.S.  Please know I respect Facebook’s right to make a buck, but I think they’re approaching it the wrong way. They set the expectation among small business owners that the platform would serve as a viable, free tool for generating brand awareness and building relationships with customers. It was at one time, until they started tweaking their algorithms to the point where business page owners had to start standing on their heads and doing circus tricks to get their posts seen by their fans. Now not even the “tricks” work. Only cold, hard cash does…and not even for building genuine engagement. What if they’d instead offer biz page owners a subscription-based service (at maybe $9.99/month) to have their posts shown to page fans? I might consider staying if something like that were available. You?

By Dawn Mentzer

 

Image courtesy of gubgib / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Plusses for Solopreneurs on Google+

Although Google+ has over 300 million active users, many solopreneurs and small biz owners still seem to view it with Google+ iconskeptism and doubt. Many have the impression it’s a ghost town…that no one they know or want to interact with is using it. Others don’t relish the idea of maintaining a presence on yet another social network.

I understand the arguments (OK, the first one not so much!), but if you haven’t already, I urge you to rethink using Google+ as business development tool. Like any social network, you get out of it what you put into it. I’ve found Google+ gives you a fighting a chance to get more for your efforts.

Here’s the short list of what I’ve found professionally beneficial about Google+:

  • Less labor-intensive to build a following

    I’ve been on G+ since Nov. 2011, and to date, 5001 people have me in their circles. Compare that to my business Facebook page which has been around since June 20, 2011 and has 289 fans and to Twitter where I’ve got 1,770 followers since Feb. 25, 2010. Up until recently, I wasn’t quite as active on G+ as I was on the other networks and still my numbers grew. Sure, social media follower counts aren’t everything, but in my case I’ve found the degree of quality interaction has risen along with my numbers. The key ALWAYS is to post content relevant to your target audience so the right people find and connect with you.

  • Effective at driving discovery of your content

While no one (to my knowledge) has proven that  G+ directly improves search ranking, it without a doubt increases exposure of your content online through shares by others. Just as I’ve found it’s easier to build a following on Google+, I’ve also discovered the people using the network professionally generally seem more inclined than those on other networks to share good content and engage with other users.

  • Doesn’t penalize you for branding yourself

Unlike Facebook, Google+ doesn’t care if your personal profile’s cover photo represents you professionally, and the folks at Google don’t mind if your photo contains more than 20% text content. My cover photo is my logo – which is almost entirely text.  You can post business-related content through your personal profile with abandon. No you can’t post spammy crap without penalty, but that’s the same for any network.

  • Doesn’t select what it thinks you want to see

    Unlike your Facebook fans, G+ users have complete control over how much or how little they want to see from you in their stream.

    Google+ lets YOU decide what you want to see. It doesn’t decide for you.

  • Doesn’t litter your followers’ streams

G+ lets you decide if the people who circle you see everything you +1 so you can actively engage with others without flooding your followers with your activity beyond your own posts and shares.

  • Pro-power of Communities

Google+ Communities are kind of sort of the equivalent of Linkedin Groups. The communities enable professionals with like or complementary interests to share information and engage in conversations that matter to them. Although I haven’t embraced the professional power of Google+ Communities nearly to the degree I should be, I feel impelled to mention them to you. They are the place to be if you want to expand your industry knowledge and build business relationships.

Keep in mind, as with any other social network, you need to commit to Google+ for the long haul to get results. Social media is about building relationships, building authority in your field, and building trust. THAT’s how you effectively covert connections into customers. It takes patience. It also takes using your G+ profile in a way that will build your brand. I use mine mainly for posting about small biz, solopreneurship, marketing, social, media and freelancing…it’s got a “business casual” tone to it, but I also regularly post content that’s non-business focused (and often humorous) so people get to know me better.

Have you been missing out by avoiding Google+? There’s no better time than now to get started using it to build our brand. Just remember…Ultimately, you control how other G+ users will perceive you through the type of content you’re posting. Don’t expect to make strides professionally through G+ if your feed consists of little more than kitty photos and “JackAss” style videos.

Your turn! What successes and challenges have you experienced with using Google+ professionally?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Small Biz Twitter Tip: Look Before You Follow!

Twitter: Solopreneurs and Small Business Owners Still Struggling to “Get It”

While I haven’t formally kept track of the number of times I’ve heard it, I can tell you that in my circles Twitter reigns as the twitter-bird-blue-on-whitesocial network least understood by solopreneurs and small business owners. “I just don’t get it,” is what I hear from professionals who have set up Twitter accounts (some of them years ago), but don’t have the foggiest idea about how to use them or know why they should use them.

I was there, too. When I set up my Twitter account in 2010, I was intimidated by the fast pace, baffled by what seemed to be an entirely different language, confused about how to build a meaningful network of connections there. And so, I ignored Twitter for a good while until I finally decided to “give it the old college try.”

As with any social network, it’s ultra-important to tweet interesting, informative, or entertaining content that the audience you want to reach will find relevant. And as you do on any other social network, you need to reciprocate and interact with others. You also need to consistently share content – only at a much higher frequency and volume than other social networks because of Twitter’s “blink and you miss it” characteristic.

But what I believe is really crucial in laying the foundation for doing all of the above is to make wise choices when following others on Twitter. When you follow the right Twitter users, it helps mold your overall following into one that will appreciate and interact with what you share.

Twitter Tip: Think before you follow!

As  you’re building your Twitter network, be choosy about who you follow.

Some folks follow EVERYONE who follows them. BAD IDEA! While it seems nice to follow everyone back, you’ll do yourself and your quality followers an injustice by not being selective. And you’ll quickly find that your Twitter feed will be filled with junk that you don’t care about and that might even be offensive. After people follow you, ALWAYS look at their profiles and review their tweets before following them back.

Some reasons to consider NOT following others on Twitter…

  • Their tweets neither touch on topics that you’re interested nor do they provide anything worth sharing with your followers.
  • They have a disproportionate number of followers vs. people they’re following.  Example: 82,542 followers, but following only 329. These individuals are generally very self-serving and don’t know the meaning of “reciprocate.” Seriously, out of tens of thousands of followers, they can’t find more than a few hundred who tweet anything worthwhile? While they might provide some good content, so do plenty of other people who don’t have an overtly “I’m better than everyone else” attitude.
  • They follow a large number of people compared to the number of people following them.  Example: 0 followers, but are following 2,122. And you’ll typically find that they have only ever tweeted a couple of times and their profile  pics are seductive and alluring.  Bot alert!!! Again, always look at people’s Twitter profiles before following them.
  • They have a very large Twitter following, but haven’t tweeted all that much. Example: 149,541 followers, but only 47 tweets to their name. There’s no way they accumulated that many legitimate followers with so few tweets…which means they likely have a boat load of fake followers. Steer clear and don’t follow!

In addition to weeding out who NOT to follow, make a concerted effort to follow folks who will bring value to your Twitter feed.

  • Tap into your Linkedin network to find who has a Twitter presence.
  • When you meet people at face-to-face networking events, ask them if they’re on Twitter.
  • Follow your favorite blogs and blog authors.
  • Pay attention to the suggestions in the “Who to Follow” window that’s in the upper left section of your Twitter home page. “
  • Follow your clients and prospects if they’re on Twitter.

Although it took some time for me to get my groove, Twitter has become one of my favorite online spaces for building and strengthening my professional network. I’ve gotten new clients through Twitter, and I have nurtured relationships with existing clients. Twitter has also made me much savvier as a solopreneur because of the breadth of quality information I’ve discovered through my network.

I believe Twitter provides the same opportunities to everyone who uses it with thought and pays attention to who they’re adding to their networks. Make smart choices as you follow others…and the rest will follow.

By Dawn Mentzer

Your turn…What successes and challenges have you had with Twitter? Please share your tips and advice to solopreneurs and small biz owners!