How to Get Ahead on Social Media (Minus the Buzz Words)
By: Hillel Fuld
I attended a presentation the other day given by someone who I think might be the only individual on the planet deserving of the title “social media expert”. I am referring to Gary Vaynerchuk. If you are not familiar, you can read about him here, order his fantastic books here, or read my interview with him here.
So why am I doing PR for Gary? Well, because I think he deserves it. The guy spoke about a topic I am very passionate about and I have heard him speak about before, whether via his book, Youtube, or other places on the Web, yet somehow, he absolutely blew me away with his presentation.
Gary’s main pitch that he is most famous for, is that all of these tools we use to communicate such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (well he didn’t mention G+ since it launched after his talk, but ya know what I mean), and others, are just tools and nothing else. The tools are designed for users to understand them fast, but from understanding the tools to becoming someone who takes full advantage of the social Web is a huge leap.
While you can easily acquire the knowledge of how to use Twitter (start off by reading Everything you Need to Know about Twitter) or Google+, what is a little more difficult to learn are the skills needed to excel on these platforms. Just like in real life, to stand out on social media, you need extraordinary interpersonal skills. This is something not easily learned and in most cases, if you don’t have em, not much you can do about it.
What you can do, however, is fake it. What do I mean? There are some basic tips you can follow on Twitter to name one platform, which whether or not you are a people’s person, implementing this advice will give your followers the impression that you are. Is that enough? No, you need to constantly think what you look for when following someone on the Web and become that person, but second to that, this is your best shot.
For example, would you follow someone who is constantly plugging themself and trying to sell to you? No? So don’t do it yourself. However, as mentioned, these “skills” are hard to learn, so in the meantime, follow some of the tips below and watch how your follower count, and more importantly your level of engagement grows across the Web.
Just one more important point to raise here is that while there are so many “How to” guides on social media, you will find that almost all of them just use buzz words to describe the typical social media environment. In the tips below, I tried not to use any such words but rather to give practical tips that are extremely simple and straight forward to implement. The points below apply to all parts of the social Web, but I will be using Twitter and some Google+ as an example throughout my explanations:
Use First Names
If you remember one thing from this post, remember this. People like to be treated as human beings and not as another profile on Twitter or Google+. When addressing someone on the Web, use first names. On Twitter for example, you start the reply with the @ sign and the person’s Twitter handle, but assuming you have enough room in the tweet, make sure to check out that person’s bio first and add their first name to the tweet. Might seem like an obvious or maybe even pointless addition, but treat people with respect and you will be surprised how far it gets you.
Listen Twice as Much as You Speak
If you follow me on Twitter, and you totally should you probably know how irrelevant I think follower numbers are. I get DMs from people every day asking me to share their content and when I look at their followers, I often see that they have ten times more followers than I do. So why are these people asking others to share their content? Surely, someone with 200,000 followers can distribute their content on their own. The answer is that these numbers are close to completely irrelevant and there are many people on Twitter that have less than one thousand followers but get more responsiveness than others with follower counts in the hundreds of thousands.
If there is one number that I do think is important on Twitter and the Web, it is how many of your posts/updates/tweets are comments/replies compared to how many are you broadcasting and promoting your product. There is no magical number here but I do think for every one tweet, you should have at least two replies. Again, take that number with a grain of salt and play with it to fit your own needs, but there is no question that your replies should outnumber your “broadcasts” significantly.
Forget Everything you Know about ROI
To understand the complexity of ROI when it comes to social media, I once again, look to Gary Vaynerchuk. In last week’s session, Gary clarified this point in a way that only Gary can. Measuring ROI on social media is like measuring the ROI of your mom. I just had to say it like Gary did, but the reality is that this simple and shocking statement has so much truth to it. As a brand using social media, you have to understand that the ROI is not the same kind of ROI you will see by paying for another ad in the New York Times. In fact, social media is not here to replace traditional marketing, it is just another layer on top of all the other marketing strategies companies should use.
So what does your mom have to do with social media? As Gary explained, and he is so right, when growing up and getting positive reinforcement from a parent or friend, there is no way to know just how great that one nice word will affect your self confidence and future personality. In fact, to even measure such a thing (if it were possible) would be nothing short of idiotic. Every time you received a compliment or a nice word as a child from someone in your close surroundings, the effect is much greater than anything that is quantifiable. The same is true for ROI of social media.
Now dont get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with tracking conversions from the social Web, it is recommended. However, if you sum up your social media presence and its success by measuring how many sales it made, you are missing the point. And what is the point? That by engaging your customers, present or future, on Twitter or other platforms, you are creating a loyalty in your brand, as well as brand awareness the likes of which a billboard can never achieve.
Search, Search, then Search Some More
The most powerful aspect of Twitter is actually not Twitter, and the same is true about almost every platform including Google+, Facebook, and Linkedin. Before you get started on the social Web, just like anything else, you need to define your goals. Once that is behind you and you know exactly what you are hoping to achieve, using the power of search is a crucial part of your success.
Again, to take Twitter as an example. you need to use an application to manage your streams, I prefer Tweetdeck. Then you should set up a few columns, one for your mentions, one for your direct messages, one or two for your lists, and then a few for primary keywords based on the industry you are in.
For example, I work in mobile advertising at inneractive. My goal when wearing my marketing hat is to target mobile developers across all platforms. So how do I do this? Well for starters, I connect with people in this space, but in my case, my personal passion of mobile and my work overlap so it is a lot easier. In most cases, you should add an ongoing search in Twitter or just search based on keywords at least a few times a day on other platforms.
Search is the best way to find and connect with people who are relevant and will help you achieve the goal you defined from the start. While connecting with random people and engaging on the social web will ultimately lead to a nice size network, if you want to cut down the time you spend finding relevant people, search is the way to do that.
What you Don’t Want Done To You…
If there is one rule of thumb for social media, it is don’t do to others what you dont want done to you. Or the flip side, every time you share an update on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or any other social platform, think twice and ask yourself if this is something you would want to see in your stream.
Is this link something you would click on? Is this annoying and spammy material or does it offer value? This might seem obvious to you, but like I said above, the one rule that I follow strictly on the Web is to make sure that everything I post offers true value and is something I would like to see in my stream.
If this is not the case, no matter how much you need to increase conversions, don’t post that update. You might get some clicks in the short run but what you are essentially doing is decreasing the amount of clicks you will receive in the future by jeopardizing your credibility on the Web.
Don’t be Too Serious
This last point is up for debate. I am of the opinion that social media is not the place to share updates about your company’s revenues, stats, or conversion rates alone. Yes, Twitter and other social platforms are great tools to communicate with your audience, but as many people who are smarter than me have said, people like to talk to people, not companies.
Whether you are representing a company or tweeting/posting as an individual, it is crucial that your updates include personality and enable your audience to identify with you as a person. There are many examples of corporate Twitter accounts that do this to perfection. If you want one example, go check out the Twitter account of the Jerusalem Inbal Hotel. They have perfected the balance of corporate vs personal and have the results to prove that the method works. You can find them on Twitter at @InbalHotel.
To summarize, I am sure this post will generate responses saying there is no right and wrong in social media. Let me say up front, that is true and everyone should use these tools to maximize the results they hope to achieve. I am speaking from my personal experience and I for one, wish someone had taught me these “tricks” when I was just getting started.
Lastly, enjoy the video below, it is one of many awesome Gary videos on the Web and it is sure to inspire you no matter what you do in life.