Projecting a Professional Presence on Social Media
Networking is about connecting people of similar interests and concerns. As professionals, networking is an effective way to be successful in our careers through the assistance of the connections we make. Social networking is a subset and is about using electronic tools to make those connections.
Social media is one of several different communication channels and isn't a "catch all". It doesn't replace emails, mailing campaigns, newsletters, and most importantly, in-person interaction. Instead, it supplements other forms of communications by broadcasting to a larger audience.
When using social media, remember that online communication channels have the most impact when they include:
- Community-based input (not just top-down)
- Interaction (starting a conversation)
- Content sharing (not just promotion)
- Collaboration (working together)
Organizations and individuals should consider the image they project when using social media. We should strive for consistent messaging across platforms — the tone and message must be the same whether it's an email, a blog, a LinkedIn post or a Tweet. When drafting and editing messages, think of words and phrases that can be used on different platforms.
Using social media effectively is more than just posting about your organization and your organization’s promotions.
Yes, you do want to post about what your organization is doing and how you’ve helped your customers. That’s important. But you also want to consider posting about other industry news. Consider posting links to stories from trusted sources, like Printing Impressions (shameless plug).
It’s important to become part of the online community. Consider posting information on groups’ pages. There are groups related to digital printing, mail operations and postal issues. Think about ways to add value for the other people in the group. There’s a lot of smart people out there. Take advantage of their knowledge.
Social media is more than just one platform. Some people may only be Twitter users. Others prefer Facebook. And for many businesses, LinkedIn is the place to be. The problem is – you don’t know which one your target audience goes to for their news. Don’t limit yourself. Post to multiple platforms.
Social media is also more than just posting. It’s participating. Join discussions started by other people. Compliment people on their successes. Continue to grow the brand in every message.
Individual posting impacts you – and your organization. Everywhere you go, you represent yourself – and your company. That may not sound right or fair, but in the 21st century, that’s the way it is.
If you don’t feel comfortable posting, still “LIKE” posts by your company, customers, and friends. On LinkedIn and Facebook, when you “like” something, that action is seen by your network, spreading the information. My posts have been commented on people I’ve never met before. But they saw that someone in my network liked something I wrote, so they clicked on the link. Remember, it’s not just your network, it’s the networks of your network.
It’s the same with comments. Just a few words help spread the information further. Your comments let others know that someone is reading what they wrote or are aware about a job change.
It’s important to stay up to date. It doesn’t mean you have to check every hour, or even every day (although I recommend that). Use your Outlook or Google calendar to set aside time to review your social networks.
A few things to remember when posting online:
- There’s no privacy when you post on a public site. I don’t care what your settings are. If you post something online, it can be seen by anybody. Anybody. You may delete a post, but somebody else may have saved an image of it. You should think about what would happen if your boss, your employees, your customers, or whoever you respect most in the world saw your post.
- Online discussions are good – online arguments are not. A good aspect of Social Media is the ability to discuss news and share opinions with a wide range of people. The key word is “discuss”. Stay away from arguments – especially online arguments about anything political. You’ll only end up frustrated and either insulting someone or being insulted by someone.
- Like in-person networking – a positive attitude helps. Do you know what you never see me post? Rants. And when people rant online, I don’t read their posts. I just skip right over them and usually remove that person from my newsfeed. I don’t necessarily disconnect from them entirely, but I hide their posts. We all have enough negativity to deal with in our day – don’t add to it.
- Be a positive person. Share joyful events, news, etc. Think of social media as a cocktail party. Who would you congregate to – the shouting boor, or the entertaining person who has people smiling?
- There’s a fine line between promoting and spamming. Of course, we’re using social media to promote ourselves, our businesses and our associations. But hopefully not just that. Take time to recognize the other people – comment on their updates, “LIKE” their tweets and congratulate them on good news. Be social on your social networks.
And remember – think before you post – everyone may see it, forever.
Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at email@example.com.