What not to do

Just to save you time, here are several items on what not to do when you start ramping up your social media online presence.
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What not to do

Mar 26, 2010 10:51 AM, By Franklin McMahon

It’s always good to observe for a bit to see what the protocols are before you jump into a social network and start posting away. Just to save you time, here are several items on what not to do when you start ramping up your social media online presence.

There is a fine line between promoting and conversing. On both networks, you can post links to your work, your blog, or anything you want to market. Some users can go overboard, especially on Twitter, where their Twitter updates are merely a stream of self-promotional items with few real conversations taking place. You may notice they are following 10,000 and have 230 followers. Many will drop off quickly from following. Social media is a great way to market, but also mix in conversations, responses, and interactions. On TV, NBC mixes in a lot of entertainment with some commercial selling. QVC mixes in all commercial selling with some entertainment. Think a bit about how you want to represent yourself and your business online.

On Facebook, you can create a page for your company, a defined profile that is dedicated to your business, and some companies then hire someone to keep the page updated and fresh. Consider whether you will get more presence and traction if you do it yourself—authenticity reads well on Facebook and Twitter.

On Facebook, go easy on the apps. Facebook Applications are programs created by third-party developers which can run on the Facebook platform. Unfortunately most apps, once you install them, can grab your friends’ info, and in turn, using the app could and often does post the results of the app on their page. So what may seem as a harmless quiz you are taking (“Which Movie Star Are You Most Like?”) is really spamming your friends’ profile pages with a note like “Sally just took a quiz; see the results.” Apps are very spam-like and annoying at times. No app is an island. Using any app opens up your friends list and personal info to the developer of the program, giving it the right to post its stuff to your friends’ pages.

In this space, we have just scratched the surface of the social networking topic. There is a great deal more to know, both technically and strategically. Think of social media as a communication platform—as it proliferates, there are new tools for search, distribution, and organization. Savvy social media users blend and cross-pollinate their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts with their blogs and websites and those of their colleagues. You can effectively be your own publisher, broadcaster, curator, consultant, troubleshooter, troublemaker, or all of the above. Like any platform, it will be used in many different ways and styles. This three-dimensional, interactive network is still in its early days as a business tool, and there are continuously new options and tools to allow you to shape and professionalize the way you use it.

It is important to note, however, that the professional application of social media will always carry in some fasion its personal roots and the value of conversation, openness, and candor. It makes sense to join in now and start using it and working it to absorb the culture or what will be second nature to the generation entering business now. Start small, experiment wtih your privacy-level comfort zone, and then consider expanding it. Do remember that once you post something, you can’t take it back (well, you can quickly delete it of course), but within minutes, whatever you say will be on the record for good. You can only understand what that means for you and your communication if you try it. But if you don’t want to be left out of the new communication culture, you will get in and start using the tools until you find your niche.   

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