Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

Image credit: graphicsfuel.com

Yesterday I was talking to a very talented, in-demand wedding photographer. She brims with creative energy, has a gorgeous website loaded with beautiful wedding photographs and an enviable order book. Looking at her website will make even the biggest pessimist want to get hitched tout de suite.

Then she made a confession with a slightly guilty look in her eyes:

I don’t really do anything with LinkedIn anymore. It’s all I can do to keep Facebook going, really.

Then she shot a glance around the table as if to see whether anyone was going to react with shock or disapproval.

Here are some of the things I share with my mentoring clients when social media come into the picture‎.

Why ‘doing’ social media can be counter-productive

A social media presence is not compulsory

Don’t believe all of the hype. Especially if you are tying yourself in knots trying to decide what you should do, and this starts to distract you from your business goals.

People have successfully built and expanded businesses for centuries before Twitter et al. came along.‎ Just saying.

Start by matching your social media choices to your confidence

Social media have only been around for give or take a decade (not counting papyrus rolls, that is). As a result of the emergence of new and potential engagement channels, the ‎social media landscape is constantly changing and developing.

Many consultancies have started to become very profitable by contributing to this innovation. They are out to prove a point, and are genuinely excited about social media, as you can imagine. Quite a few pump advice into the blogosphere which can be frankly intimidating for the uninitiated.

For new entrants onto the social media scene this can be bewildering. My advice to nervous newbies always is to do this in steps, and if it helps, stay close to what you know to begin with. Build your confidence from there.

Find out where your target audience hangs out and meet them there

Going back to my photographer friend: where do people share their wedding photos? Facebook, you betcha. For her, Facebook is also a great place to ask the question, ‘where else do you expect to find me?’. The answer is less likely to include LinkedIn than it isFlickr or Pinterest, but she will not know until she asks the question.

Write your own social media rule book

It’s OK to learn on the job here. There are some golden rules to help you avoid costly learning. Cherry pick your ‘experts’ and stick to those whose advice stretches your understanding, but doesn’t require Google Translate to make sense of it. The expert advice will always be on tap for you: go find it when you need more. 

First let’s get going and get some learning done about what does and doesn’t work for your business on social media.

Hold on to your chosen social media mantra

This is not a paper exercise. Use it as a measure to make sure what you do on social media is in line with your business goals and values. If one of your key ingredients is missing, don’t do it.

For example this one to help decide where on social media to be active:

Find your audience, find your voice, engage in the conversation.

This mantra reminds you to do your market research, match your messages to the platform (see 3) and not just tell your story, but to listen to theirs first.

What it boils down to…

Using social media has to be a help to you, not a worry.

Now I look forward to hearing some tales of your own. ‎What great insight you learned yourself would you add to the above?

Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

The etiquette of coaching

Man taking his hat off bowing down

You have decided you’d like to start working with a coach, and it’s all new to you. It is not at all strange to wonder about the ‘etiquette’ of working with your coach. Here are some client questions.

What ‘coaching etiquette’ should I observe?

Coaching etiquette for clients and coaches is all about trust.

Keep your appointments

Your coach is someone whose day will not go well if a coaching client simply does not show up, or has a habit of rearranging at short notice for unclear reasons. The coach loses more time than the actual session itself, because they will have spent time preparing for your session beforehand, travelling to meet you, etc. Rearranging a session as a precaution isn’t a bad idea when in doubt.

Tip: Discuss your coach’s cancellation policy before starting your sessions. Expect your coach to invoice you for the session if you did not cancel or rearrange in time.

Arrive on time – physically and mentally

Arriving on time shows commitment to your coach, and more importantly to your sessions. Arriving mentally prepared shows that you are ready to make the most of your time with the coach – and yourself! Being ‘present’ in your sessions is the one requirement you (and your coach) cannot do without.

Tip: It is not at all uncommon for clients to arrive feeling rushed and needing to switch into a different ‘mode’ at the start of a session. Do talk about this if it helps, it’s a great way to get going!

Do what you say you are going to do

This too is linked to commitment, and it’s not simply a matter of etiquette to do your homework between sessions.

Doing what you say you are going to do also tells your coach about your resilience, tenacity and creativity in the face of a task. They are interested in this also because they know that your coaching will come to an end one day, and that you will need all of the above after you part ways.

Tip: if your coach challenges you about something you didn’t get around to doing, they do so to help you figure out what’s holding you back. They don’t do so to make you feel guilty – in fact, the only person who can make you feel guilt over anything, is you

What etiquette can I expect my coach to observe?

A coach too is expected to be mindful of coaching etiquette. They have obligations towards you as their client which you can hold them to.

Keeping appointments and being organised

How would you trust a coach who forgets appointments, has the wrong time in their diaries, or shows up in the wrong location? Pull up a coach who does any of the above, especially if that coach happens to be me! You need to be uppermost on their mind when it comes to your sessions.

Being present and available

This goes beyond etiquette. An absent-minded coach isn’t going to be giving their best to the client, and you’ll rumble them sooner or later. A good coach will scale back on coaching when they know their own personal and professional life is drowning out their capacity to be present for their client.

Keeping their counsel

Etiquette and ethics demand that the focus of sessions doesn’t shift to the coach, and remains entirely with you. Professional standards demand that the coach remains aware of their own limitations.

How would you feel about a coach who readily volunteers their own opinion on what you should do? The true value of coaching is that you remain fully in charge of decisions you make as a result of discoveries you make through your coaching sessions.

A bit about professional standards

Coaching is a fast-growing profession attracting people from a vast range of backgrounds. It is an unregulated profession, meaning no licence, certificate or registration is needed in order to practise as a coach.

Professional coaching bodies set professional standards which their members are expected to adhere to. They include the Association for Coaching and the International Coach Federation and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. The latter has a Code of Ethics and a Competence Framework, which are well worth reading ahead of meeting your coach for the first time.

No professional coach will be offended when you ask about their credentials, which professional body they belong to and to which Code of Practice they subscribe.

Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

3 uses for TED Talks

TED Talks logo

There are times in the calendar which call for some meaningful procrastination. The summer lull, the Christmas-to-New Year bridge when everybody seems to be on holiday but you: the time of year when we tackle saved-up jobs and get a little bored in between.

If you feel the need for justification, check out this research, which found that some online bumming about can make you more productive. And if cat videos on YouTube are not your thing, TED Talks are your best friend.

The very first TED conference was held in 1984, with talks about the first eBook and on 3D graphics from LucasFilm. There are over 1,700 TED Talks to watch online and counting, and some will turn out in time to be as prescient as the ones mentioned above.

3 things TED Talks are excellent for

Number 1: Admire

This famous talk is an astonishing example of human resilience. Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor describes the experience of having a stroke:

The next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This is so cool. This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?”

[ted id=229]


Number 2: Inspire

Orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander explains through music one of the key principles of leadership:

It’s not about wealth and fame and power.

It’s about how many shining eyes I have around me.

[ted id=286]


Number 3: Raise your ire

Ruby Wax uses her TED Talk to warn that the stigma of mental illness is a serious threat to the survival of our species:

How come every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy, except the brain?

[ted id=1584]


Bonus: keep the perspective

Jargon, it’s fair to say, is a pet peeve of mine. So here’s one of my favourite TED Talks making excellent fun of people spouting nonsense to cover up that they haven’t a clue what they’re on about, and audiences being a willing accomplice:

[ted id=1458]


Over to you: what’s the TED Talk you tell other people about?