Thursday, April 7, 2011

Social Media: A Guide to Self-Broadcasting 101

So, you want to tweet" your way to success! You want to be active on Facebook, and reconnect with everyone you've liked & known over the years. And, the idea of YouTube is irresistible! Who doesn't want to see themselves on TV?! Basically, with the insurgence of Social Media platforms, you can self-broadcast into Justin Bieber-like fame! You can actually see your name in lights - or at least, your name in the first 3 Google Search Results! Voila... you're famous!

Whoa! If only it were that easy! Just like the saying goes "Garbage in, Garbage out"; and you certainly don't want to broadcast your garbage. There are a world of advice columns helping you to avoid Social Media faux pas, or worse, losing your job over a poorly worded/poorly timed Tweet. There are a million ways to tell the world what you are doing - a lot of them fun, interesting, and creative. And, an equal amount embarrassing, rude, and just plain stupid. I've seen both sides of this coin, and the Social Media so-called experts make as many mistakes (or more!) as anyone else.

The Golden Rule is: Never say (post, tweet, or photograph) anything on Social Media that you would be embarrassed to show your Mother; you'd gulp to share with your Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi; or a Judge would question in a Court of Law. Don't worry - it will come back to haunt you. Think of social media as a bell that cannot be un-rung. If a post causes you to pause, spend a moment (minute, hour, day or two) thinking about possible waves and repercussions it may cause, perhaps it might be best not to post that at all.

When addressing an adverse or negative situation, a positive approach can prove to be the most effective method! It can be most pro-active to directly (and privately) contact the company or person directly related to the negative experience with a email or phone call, and provide specific details that a "tweet" just won't hold. Folks are much more apt to remedy a problem privately and directly than if you first broadcast it to the universe. And, you look better for holding your cards closely and solving the problem out of the spotlight. Remember, there's no situation worthy of broadcast whining and complaining - unless nothing is resolved and no reasonable remedy can be offered. Then, chances are, others feel the same way - and we all know that misery loves company.

First, here's how to look like a complete idiot using Social Media:
  • Pick a Fight
  • Whine publicly on a friend's Facebook wall or Twitter
  • Air your Company's "dirty laundry"
  • Post about a bad experience (without first contacting the offending company or person privately)
  • Ask for help, recommendations, or advice, but never thank those who post answers or offer help.
  • Self-promote over and over and over....
  • Publicly, ask someone else to do your work for you.
  • Give a sneak peek to a new book/movie/blog, and then, never publish it.
  • Use social media as a full replacement for a personal conversation or a telephone, email or hand-written note.
The "Emily Post" guide to Etiquette using Social Media has not been published yet, but the principles for manners and good etiquette still apply universally. No, I'm not saying that you can't be clever, funny, or cute. Just please be kind, friendly, and grateful to others who further your message. A quick Thank You goes a long way in this fast-paced environment. You can't say it too often! There's no substitute for friendliness, even when trying to resolve a problem.

A good guideline to "tweeting" or posting on line: For every 10 posts, self-promote (or hard sell) only 2 or 3 times. What will you say the other 7-8 times? Be helpful! Suggest another business or promote someone else. Retweet someone else's thoughts, and how you reacted to it in a positive way. Give credit where credit is due! Thank someone for being astute or helpful. Say "what you are doing" not to self-promote, but to promote an activity, business, or idea.

A great old Nordstrom philosophy I learned working for the company was "Over Promise - Under Deliver". This simply means: Don't promise an unreasonable, limited time-frame delivery date that will be impossible and expensive to meet. Allow more time to your promised delivery date, and then beat it! Thereby, making the customer happy. This concept is a great life lesson. I will try my best to not post or promote some idea or promise that I cannot fulfill.