Much of today’s workforce paddled onto the Social Media wave late, and out of necessity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be embracing this brave new world, but, as anyone who has tried to pick up golf in his adulthood knows, certain skills are hard to come by later in life. When you don’t grow up with something, whether it’s a sport, a language, or a particular technology, getting the hang of it can be trickier than you might expect.
By contrast, America’s youth is fluent in Social Media, and they’ve become so without ever giving it a thought. That said, when someone speaks with an accent, people notice it.
Frequent self-promotion is the Social Media equivalent of a thick foreign brogue. It’s like walking into a Parisian Bistro and ordering a (fill-ette mig-not). If you do it, you’re going to end up sticking out like a sore thumb. Or worse — you may end up being ignored entirely.
Think of social platforms as an extension of your business’ charitable endeavors. When you clean up a local park, or offer a scholarship, you’re rendering a service to your customers, while simultaneously promoting your brand and increasing awareness.
When it comes to your social media accounts, strive to provide a service that intrinsically promotes the product or service you offer. Run a medical supply store? Provide information and advocacy for the disabled. Sell school supplies? Tweet out closings and delays, and link to articles that provide tips and advice for parents and teachers.
Less than 20 percent of your posts should be directly self-promotional and none should be pure advertising. If and when you do post something self-serving, make sure to acknowledge it, apologize for it, or joke about it. Something like “warning: shameless self-promotion ahead…” goes a long way toward make you sound like a human, rather than a brand.
Remember, Social Media was created for individuals and co-opted by brands. It’s a platform that thrives on the concept of sharing — and there’s no “I” in “share.”
For most brands, Social Media won’t translate directly to sales, so this isn’t where you want to make your sales pitch. Use the social space to stay connected with your customer, to listen to their concerns, and to increase brand awareness.
Use it for what it is at its core: A relationship-building tool. When your potential clients are ready to purchase the kinds of products you offer, they’ll want to turn to a brand they know and trust. Social Media gives you the opportunity to be that brand.