As you begin to interact in social media platforms, it’s very easy to get comfortable quickly. You will make friends with people and get to know lots of things about them. You’ll also be interacting with people you know in real life, and so often the conversation that started in person will continue online.
It’s important, however, not to get TOO comfortable. Remember that everything you say is essentially PUBLIC and everyone can see it. (One of my tweets, along with my picture, actually ended up in a segment on the Today show without any warning! How’s that for public?) Especially if you are using social media for business purposes, you need to really be careful about what you say. By all means make friends, enjoy conversation, and build relationships. But there are several things you should keep in mind, since prospects for your business may be reading too.
- Keep it positive. A constant flow of negativity and criticism is something no one enjoys. If you’re having a bad day, share it with your friends in person. Keep the negativity off of social networking, because prospects that don’t want to have their day dragged down may quickly choose to ignore you.
- Keep it professional. While it’s fine to share personal information in order to build relationships (for example, I love to cook, and will often share recipes and other foodie info with my contacts in social media as a way for them to get to know me better) keep the private stuff off of your social media forums. People don’t need to know how many beers you drank last night, or how much that rash itches. (eewww!) Remember, if it’s not OK for your company, your customers, your kids, or your momma to see it, don’t post it!
- Keep it social. Social media is not the place to bombard people with ads about your business. That’s not what people showed up for. Telling your contacts about your latest sale or recruiting special is inappropriate as your status update. Instead, use your status update to build relationships, share advice and resources, and to be SOCIAL. You can market later, after people have opted in for your newsletter (sign up for mine here) or joined your community. But please don’t spam the world. That just makes you, and your company, look bad.
By projecting a professional, yet approachable, image in social media, you can enjoy the success that many have reported. But it’s important to remember that there is a difference between in-person conversations, and those that can go much further than you think in a public forum. Respect that difference, and you’ll find success.
What do you think? Have you experienced this? Would love to read your comments below!