10 Pet Peeves of the Social Media Professional

Over the years, I’ve aggregated a few Social Media professionals.  Some are friends, some are colleagues.  Some are blogs I follow.

All of us will cringe at the sight of any of the following Social Media Faux Pas.

copyright-36078_6401.  I have two friends online who flood my newsfeed when this occurs.  Using a picture without permission.  Even the sloppiest of Social Media professionals will at least make sure the picture is “free to use, share and modify, even commercially” on Google search.  It takes so little effort to request the permission to use a picture.  And if you are doing social media as a way of earning a living, there are many professional pictures that now just cost $1 or are even free to use.    

We’ve all seen those memes where someone has taken someone else’s picture and photoshopped it.   Don’t do it.  Even if you think it’s hysterical and will go viral.  It’s unprofessional and….ILLEGAL

2.  And it’s not just school teachers and the grammar police that will go crazy if you do this one.  Poor grammar.  To be a professional, you should know how to put sentences together.  Even if you choose to break a grammar rule here and there for poetic license, do not fall into the habit of doing so.    “Smelling like rotten fish, my sister took out the trash.”  Unless your sister is really stinky….”My sister took out the trash.  It smelled like rotten fish.”  And please know the difference between they’re, their and there  as well as its and it’s.

3.  As a person with a journalism degree and a huge lover of all languages, I’ll start climbing the walls if you:  Use a word that you do not understand.    “It’s detrimental that I have your numbers by 5pm.”    I think the word  you are looking for is instrumental, or important, or necessary.  What that sentence translates to, is:  “It’s going to cause me bodily harm when I get your numbers by 5pm.”  Another would be irregardless.   Just  a heads up, that word doesn’t even exist.

Retro vintage font type. Vector alphabet4.  You don’t know how to spell.  If you want to publish anything from a blog, a book, to a post on Social Media, you need to know how to spell.  I am very sympathetic to those who are dyslexic.   And some people it’s just not a priority.  But with today’s technology, there is no excuse for not using spell check.  A second pair of eyes always helps as well.  Know the difference between moot and mute.   One means subject to uncertainty, where an answer can not be agreed upon or found.  The other means you can’t speak.  Or my favorite is using defiantly in place of definitely.  I defiantly agree with you.  What?

5.  This usually happens when you have your Sales Manager in charge of your business postings.  All you post is sales material.  Social Media is social.  You should be sharing the culture of your company.  You should be sharing  why you got into business.  You should be proud of your employees.   And of course, share SOME of your sales materials.  But a constant barrage of we have widgets on sale for three more days.   We have widgets for sale for two more days, etc.  Is not only annoying it’s counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve.  The more you sell, the less they will listen.

6.   “Follow us on Facebook”  Or twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram, etc, you beg of us.  And we, excited to discover the wonder of your business, find that….your most recent post is 2 years old.    Why should I follow you?  Why should I shop you?  Why do you have a page?  Social media is not only social it’s a conversation, and a commitment.  You should take your page down or embue it with robust content.

7.  Sensational Headlines.   We’ve all seen it, “What they do next, you won’t believe!” and of course it’s absolutely believable.   Sensational headlines still work and a lot of marketers use them to hope their content will go viral.  However, more and more we’re seeing that readers are getting headline fatigue and they just don’t believe it’s unbelievable, any more.

Dollarphotoclub_540360698.  Automating your posts and not checking back when there is a reply.  Similar to always posting sales material, this technique is just as bad.   Social media, is social.  A conversation, if you are lucky enough to get someone to reply, acknowledge them, engage them, draw them in.

9. Forcing a connection.  A lot of businesses try cheesy or forced connections to current events or holidays.    Just because a story is going viral or it’s a national holiday, if it’s doesn’t fit your industry, don’t attach it to you or your products.   This is different from saying Merry Christmas to your fans and followers, or Happy Mother’s Day.  It’s more like a  vacuum cleaner company having a sale on Memorial Day because you know you need to vacuum up the dirt on the graves of soldiers.  See?  It doesn’t work and can be downright offensive.

10.  The biggest pet peeve.  Using a personal profile as a business page.  Name First  Dog Name Second Wash and Dry.   There are places in Facebook and LinkedIn to make your own business page.  To not use them isn’t tricking the system or being more “real” it actually makes people think you don’t know how to use Social Media.

Can you think of more?   The good thing about this list is that if you do any of these, and stop and learn why you need to stop…..you’ll have a much better social experience for you, and more importantly, your customers, prospects, fans and followers.

If you found this information useful, please feel free to share it!

Why a Blog?

In talking with a new  business owner these last couple days, the question came up, “Why would a business need a blog?”

Steeped in online marketing and getting inquiries into writing blogs for people, it didn’t occur to me that someone might not know why you want a blog.

Here are some useful reasons for having a blog:

content (2)Updated Information On Your Website

Let me ask you.  When you go to a business’ website and you see the last time anything was updated was September 2010, are you impressed with that business?  Do you have faith in their ability to render the services you need?

Provided your website is nice and professional looking, a blog is a great way to make your business current and relative to what people are searching for from your industry.

Having updated information on your website has a second benefit:

Google likes Blogs

Lets go back to that business that hasn’t updated their site since 2010.  Lets compare it to a site in the same industry  that has a blog that is updated every month.  Google likes updated content.  Google also likes relevant content.  So the search engine is going to look at these two sites and see which one has the most content about it’s industry.  It’s also going to see which has recent content.  And the one that scans better is bumped up.  Blogging is a great way to organically climb the search engine ladder.

Are you an Expert?  Prove it.

So a potential customer has found you on the search engine, they’ve looked at your site and it looks professional and they found your blog and see that it’s recent.  So far, you are scoring some great points with this prospect.  The next step is they may scan and / or read your blog.  This is your opportunity to show them you know what you’re doing.  It’s also an opportunity to become a resource to them.  And if you’re a good enough resource, they will visit your blog often maybe even subscribe.

Why Blog?  

It’s smart marketing and can help sales.    It keeps you current and relevant to consumers.  It helps you move up in search engines.  And blogging can help make sales by showing you are an expert and by becoming a resource to your customers and potential customers.

 

 

Guest Blogger! Benson Hendrix

I have been a little under the weather and have been remiss in my blogging.  I’d like to welcome a guest blogger this week, Benson Hendrix, APR.   Benson is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico, and teaches Social Media.  Like me, he believes a professional should handle your Social Media.  Where we differ is that my approach is more marketing and advertising and he is an expert in the public relations field.  2e4ea05I thought it might be nice for you to learn from his point of view.  In the following blog, he tells you why a professional is best.  

I present to you, Adjunct Professor, Benson Hendrix, APR.

Social Media Amateur or Professional?

 

So you’re looking to increase your business’ profile on social media. Congratulations! Focusing on improving your profile online is a great move. But it has to be the correct focus, you can’t just jump into social media and think that it’s a quick add-on for their business. Create a Facebook page, update it every so often and that’s that.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Social media is (still) a new communications channel that’s growing and evolving, with new branches sprouting all of the time (SnapChat, WhatsApp, Tumblr, etc.). Plus there are tried-and-true tools, like blogging and online video, that many are still overlooking that need to be a part of your organization’s complete digital presence. Once a business decides to jump into social media, many of them immediately start looking for someone to run the program.

This is when you need to ask yourself to figure out if you’re hiring a social media amateur, or a social media professional. There are a lot of wonderful social media professionals in New Mexico, people who can really help build your business’ social media presence the right way. There are also a lot of social media snake oil salespeople. People who run “successful Facebook pages” but can’t translate that into an impact. I hope this post will help you separate the wheat from the chaff as you hire your social media team.

One of my favorite statements from people is “why should I hire a professional when I can get my nephew/niece/cousin/son’s friend/etc. to do it for minimum wage?”  Well, other than the fact that you get what you pay for, let me give you a series of questions that I usually respond with.

Do their social media goals match your business goals?

You’re in business for a reason, and your social media team needs to sit down with you before kicking off any social media campaign to talk about your business goals. Do you want to increase sales? Improve customer relations? Raise awareness of an issue? Increase donations to a nonprofit? Win election or re-election? Do you want them to create interesting content and engage with your customers on social media?

Do they recommend creating your own social media hub and diversifying your social media program? Or are they promoting outsourcing all of your social media content to Facebook and Twitter?  Original social media tools like blogs are still important for organizations to be found through Google search, which is still how many of your potential customers will find you.  If your agency isn’t focused on using a variety of tools to help you connect to your audience, including a blog, then they aren’t focused on helping you increase your revenue.

Social media is just one part in a successful communication, customer relations, or community relations effort. It does give you the opportunity to connect with customers faster than before.

Just as important – Can they spell?

Retro vintage font type. Vector alphabetThis sounds like a question that should be a no-brainer, but there are people claiming to be social media professionals who don’t understand the basics of English. I’ve seen press releases that have been missing many grammar basics, like the fact that quotation marks (“) are used to start and end a quotation and proper nouns (names of businesses, the names of the products you sell, etc.) are capitalized.

Your social media team is a reflection of your company. If your social media team is unable to use proper grammar and spelling, even on a short text platform like Twitter, your company looks unprofessional, and it impacts your bottom line.

Giving You The Playbook

An agency or other social media professional should be able to provide you with a plan for how they are going to achieve your business goals. While this plan may not provide a day-by-day update of blog posts, or infographics/etc. that will be created, it does need to provide your organization with the basic path to achieve your goals. This playbook should be tailored to your needs, and they should be able to sit down with you, walk you through what they are going to do for your organization, and how that will improve your business.

Does Everyone Sound the Same?”

Once they take over your social media accounts do you see a lot of interaction with other clients of this agency? Or the people working at the agency?  This is one of the oldest tricks in the social media snake oil book. An agency convinces you to hire them, promising you a lot of interaction with “key influencers” (while not providing you a list of those targeted people), and you see a sudden, almost miraculous, increase in engagement (with the same seven or eight accounts it turns out) without any real growth in your business goals (see above).

If this is the case, and the other social media profiles you interact the most with sound the same, or their messages have the same “feel” to them – for instance, if you run a club and you get three or four similar “Oh my God! This place rocks!! I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!” responses to something that was posted on your behalf, (and if you get those comments from the same handful of accounts over and over) then you’re not getting actual growth and development online. Your agency is probably using these accounts to make it appear that you are getting more online attention than you really are. And what’s more interesting, they are probably using your account to comment on these other client social media accounts as well.

Ask your agency how they intend to reach out to those very important people online, and how they will nurture a positive relationship on your behalf, not for you and other clients.

Is Your Team Looking to Promote the Positive?

Is the agency in question looking to create false accounts, or looking to push a negative, “victim” mentality for your organization online? While negative advertising works in political campaigns, it can’t help you build your business online.

Your agency should be telling you how they will promote your organization in a positive light. Positive stories help build brand loyalty much more than negative stories about your competition, especially if it promotes an “us vs. them” mentality. Most consumers don’t want to worry about this level of high school drama from business owners, they want an enjoyable experience with your organization. This may help bolster a small core group of supporters in the short-term, but in the long-term people may remember your company more for “whining” than for its products.

“Likes” vs. “Goals”

Goals PlanAre they charging, or promising to charge, based on how many followers or likes they get your organization?

If an agency asks you to pay them in part based on how many Facebook fans or Twitter followers they get your organization, ask them where those fans will be based, and what impact will they have on your bottom line. Where will those fans be located?

You need to ask these questions because it is incredibly easy in 2014 to purchase thousands of Facebook fans or Twitter followers for a small amount of money. Many times these followers come from countries that are unrelated to your organization’s needs, and are unlikely to turn into meaningful connections or paying customers.

Doing Your Own Research

Check out the social media accounts of the professionals you want to work with. If someone is going to be in charge of developing your business or personal social media brand, how active are they on social media?

This is a delicate balance, you want someone who is active on social media, but not so active in their personal accounts that they will neglect your organization’s social media accounts to promote their own agenda or build their “personal brand.”

Are they just creating content to be goofy, or try to build as many followers as possible? It’s good to have fun online, and it’s nice to have a variety of content that your potential audience will find interesting. But if your social media professional is relying too heavily on images that don’t relate to your business, or if they are promoting new ideas that don’t make sense (ask yourself, do you really need drone-based photography? If you’re a Realtor, maybe. If you’re a candy shop, probably not).

Another question worth asking is, what groups have they worked with? Can they provide you with references? If they do provide you with references or other clients they have worked with, you can look at their This may not be as important if you’re working with a new professional or agency. If you’re among the agency’s first few clients, you need to understand that they’ll be cutting their teeth with your business, and mistakes may happen along the way.

How is your social media team monitoring the online terrain? Are they paying attention to the local, regional and national trends and news stories that might be impacting your industry and providing you advice on how you can benefit from it?

 Social media is just one part in a successful communication, customer relations, or community relations effort. It gives you the opportunity to tell your own success story and connect with customers faster than before. It’s worthwhile to make sure you have the right social media team in place from the start.

thank you note

Many thanks to Benson Hendrix, APR, Adjunct Professor at UNM!!  Please check out his blog about business, public relations and a side of ruby, at:  http://bensonhendrix.com/