A Social Media Brand Primer: Managing your (personal) brand with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
I was speaking with a friend recently who manages social media for a large company you've heard of who is really just making a hard push into online social media. I put together a list of questions, opinions and thoughts on the subject of managing one's personal brand with Social Media.
While I consider myself primarily to be a teacher, writer and speaker, I realize that I've used Social Media to amplify my words. First, intuitively, and in recent years, recently with some direction and planning. I don't personally apply these analytics to myself as I'm just a "personal brand," but I would recommend that legitimately famous people and companies be more measured. Here's some of the things one needs to think about when deciding to go online in full force. I've spoken on these topics at a number of large blogging conferences (as a side gig) and I'm always interested in discussing the possibility of speaking at your event.
Your thoughts, suggestions, areas I've missed and corrections are always appreciated, Dear Reader.
- What does success look like? Don't just pull numbers out of thin air. Compare the stats of existing sites and decide what reasonable metrics are for your pages/projects/campaigns. Too often folks come up with large sounding numbers like "2000 likes on FB," then get 3000 and call the campaign a radical success. How much did it cost to hit those 3000 people? 30k? If so, why didn't you send them all $10 and ask them to Like you? Always figure out what your $ dollars per action come down to and determine what is a reasonable value for you.
- Who are you IRL (In Real Life) and who are you online? How are these people/brands different? If your brand is not hip offline, how can you change that perception online? If you decide to be something online you (or your brand) is not, can you sustain it? Will your online brand change offline perceptions?
- What is authenticity to your audience? The word "authentic" is overused, but there's still value in discussion of it. It's different from each audience! What does 'keeping it real' mean to programmer blogs? Hair blogs? Political blogs? If your audience smells chicanery on your part, they will destroy you (i.e. When keeping it real goes wrong).
- How does your X audience differ from your Y audience? Do your FB people like coupons? Perhaps your Twitter people like exclusives? Maybe your Google+ folks like pictures. Don't just throw something out there and hope it works. Write down (that means track) what you're doing on each network with each idea, and track the results. Audience * Campaign * Social Network = Lots of combinatorics. Figure out your formula, then stick with it. Going with your gut (or your social media expert's gut) is just sloppy.
- Is a Social Media expert a real thing? Or are they just people who speak more declaratively (or louder) than others? Can a 22 year old be a Social Media Expert? Can a 50 year old? Turns out that Social Media, no matter how you spin it, is still spin. When it comes to brands and brand managements it's a combination of classic PR and marketing, along with some new tools. Have the rules changed? Human behavior governs the system, the tools only magnify and accelerator the results. Is your social media expert telling you how the tools work and showing your what buttons to click, or are they talking about the larger picture? How do these tools make your brand or campaign operate at internet speed, governed by human behavior (as we understand it?)
- How can Internet Speed work for and against, you? It's all then magnified by the speed of the internet. Results come faster, both good and bad. When you do something wrong, the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory will come into play and the trolls will descend upon you. Know that they are there and be ready to defend against them with truth and candor and, if necessary, capitulation and deference. Snowballs roll downhill fast on the internet. Don't get behind it.
- Is your brand defined? Do you have an established identity before social media? Often brands in trouble or brands just getting starting out tried to solve two problems at once. One, what's our social media plan? And two, who are we? You have to crawl before you run, and you ought to know what you stand for before you tweet. Takeyah Young talks about "standing in your values." Decide what you are, what you value and what you have to say. Social Media won't let you figure that out, it will only magnify it. Know who you are before you jump in.
- Don't give Bile a Permalink. When you put something on the Internet, it's there forever, even if you delete it. Someone downloaded it, screenshotted it, Google cached it, someone took a picture of the screen. Regardless, it's there. If you are a d*ck online, then you've give that meanness a permanent link. A "permalink." Not only were you mean, but you've given your audience a way not only to link to it, but also to amplify and spread it.
- Remember what happened to Kenneth Cole (the American Shoe Designer) on Twitter? I propose kindness, thoughtfulness, deference and appreciation for your audience, regardless of if you are a person online or if you are a person behind or speaking for a brand. While the rest of the Internet is mean (especially YouTube commenters!) I propose we double-down with kindness.
- Be consistent in your voice - Your brand (or yourself) should feel similar in tone everywhere. If you're a sweetheart on your blog and a complainer on Twitter you are putting out an inconsistent face, especially for your audience that might follow you in both places. This gets back to defining what you want to express, and who you want to be (hopefully this is close to who you actually are!) online.
- Know why you are 'followed" and be OK with it - If your goal is to express yourself, then express yourself and be done with it. However, if your goal is to amplify some message, be aware of why your followers follow you in the first place. Are you a font of information? Is that how they found you and do they expect more? Are you a bringer of coupons or useful links? Perhaps, as mentioned before, different social networks have different expectations. Remember, only put more work into things you want more of. If you want more of the same kind of follower, keep giving them what they expect.
- Separate the Personal and Professional. Or don't, but Decide. Where does your professional brand stop and your personal one start? Do you give our your phone number to the world like Scoble? Or do you blog and tweet under a pseudonym? Are you an open book or a mystery? Be conscious about the decisions you make and be aware of their pros and cons. If you blog under a nom de plume, is it at least unique (i.e. does it have Google Juice?) and findable? Do you want it to be? If you are blogging or using Social Media to beef up your resume, how do they relate to each other?
- Know your Tools - While I've said that there shouldn't be an overemphasis on the tools, not knowing how The System works can almost be as damaging to your brand as being a jerk. It looks unprofessional.
- Recently I came upon a Facebook Profile for a reasonably famous company. They had reached the limit of 5000 friends and their page was turned into a giant billboard that said "we've reached the limit, please go to Profile #2, called Giant Company #2." You can imagine what I found on Profile #2. Yes, a link to Profile #3. This company (or its genius social media consultant) didn't know the difference between Facebook Pages and Profiles, nor had they found the Facebook Page Migration Tool. I wanted to "Like" this company, but when arriving to their site, I instead received a Task. I didn't come here for a new "To-do," I came here to connect with you! Make it easy, or you won't make it at all.
- I interacted with a famous actress on Twitter recently who would only reply with direct messages. That means, I would @reply to her and she would "DM" me back. I asked her why and she said, "I don't like to litter my page with replies." While it's nice that she has an opinion, this actually made her page look like a purely one-way conversation. Not only that, but our conversation was stilted at best as I moved between replies and direct messages. Bless her for trying, but she wasn't using the tools effectively.
Hope this helps!
Related Links and Resources
- 7 Blogging Statistics Rules - There is Life After Page Views
- Blog Stats are Confusing - GETs, Views, User-Agents, Readers, Eyeballs
- Hanselminutes Podcast 204 - What does a Social Media Consultant Do? - with Liz Burr
- How To Twitter - First Steps and a Twitter Glossary
- Twitter: Let the Information Wash Over You
- Twitter: The Uselessfulness of Micro-blogging
- Subtle but Very Important Twitter Tips and Techniques You Should Know (cause no one will tell you)