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

3 Reasons why I like my company website

When I launched my company, it was beyond question that it would need a website. I asked a designer whose work I admire to design it for me, asked people whose opinions I value to send me their thoughts on it, and hey presto, look at it now!

And best of all, I really like it, and here is why.

Reason 1: It’s a Rembrandt

Some years ago as I flew back from Amsterdam to Heathrow I overhead a conversation taking place behind me. A lady with a north American accent was telling her fellow traveller how the highlight of her stay in Amsterdam had been a visit to the Rembrandt Museum. The museum is located in the stunningly beautiful house where Rembrandt lived and worked between 1639 and 1658.

She commented on how many self-portraits Rembrandt had produced throughout his lifetime – indeed there are known to be over 100. The man must have been terribly vain to continuously paint himself, concluded the lady.

If you look up the Rembrandt House you will see it has large windows and a big door, which Rembrandt liked to stand in, as many merchants customarily did to indicate they were open for business. Rembrandt cleverly displayed his latest self-portrait to show how well he painted to passers-by.

My website is me leaning in the open virtual doorway, inviting people to look at my shop window and come in and talk about what we can do for each other.

Reason 2: I made it with a little help from my friends

OK, OK, I asked for and received a lot of help! Creating something yourself doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything yourself. When it comes to graphic design and web development I know my limitations, and called in the professionals. I also showed brand designs to as many people as possible and asked them what they would expect my company site to do. This gave me fresh ideas and helped me to make up my mind whenever I had more than one option to choose from.

Best of all, asking others to help with the site gave me the confidence to test my own ideas and see them translated into a beautiful design and versatile functionality. I would never have achieved that on my own.

Reason 3: It’s the worker who never calls in a sickie

My company website is home and taking messages from callers when I’m out on business. It is awake 24 hours a day, never needs a day off and will equally never suffer from ‘Heineken’s sickness’ on a Monday morning. My shop window is always lit thanks to my company website and my door always open.

Sing me the praises of your own company website. What does it do for you that you appreciate most of all?