I recently attended a social media boot camp. It was an intensive course for training businesses and non-profits who wanted to learn how to use social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) for marketing.
The boot camp provided help for mastering the practical how-to’s, which allayed some concerns as there’s an ever-changing landscape with social media. New forums are always popping up, and the rules and functionality on many of the well-known sites are forever changing. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
As an expert in workplace confidence, I can see that social media brings about a whole new set of anxiety-producing behaviors. Gone are the days when most of the marketing dialog went one-way. Social media talks back, which can be a positive thing if you know what you’re doing. However, it can also feel like public speaking where the fear of sounding stiff, ungenuine and uninteresting is there. It’s also where hecklers can hit you broadside.
But, the practical is not the only key to confidence here. It’s the emotional that captures your audience, and like your company (or brand) it is made up of people. Your brand’s personality is what effectively reaches and influences your customer. While technical skills are very important, it’s the soft interpersonal touch that lingers, leaving a positive, lasting impression.
To help you move forward with grace and confidence, here is some advice for embracing social media:
1. To get it right on the outside, first you must get it right on the inside. Many businesses and non-profits need to grasp this. I call it “marketing from the inside out”: Employee confidence breeds consumer confidence because they support the brand from the inside out. The same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service —communication, participation, education, commitment — are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales. Considering that the nature of social media is building ambassadors for your brand, your best marketing campaign and biggest revenue driver is sitting right in front of you.
2. You need to be successful in traditional social interaction to be successful in social media. Think as though your audience is right in front of you—not this huge black hole on the internet. Social media is just a technological way to demonstrate social skills, so if you’re not confident in traditional settings, your discomfort will be magnified on social media. Speaking in conversational tones, using etiquette (e.g. “Please” and “Thank you”), and actively listening to your audience is highly advised. Remember: You are developing relationships, which is the key to developing business.
3. Be confident, not arrogant. Yes–have a strong, consistent voice. Don’t be afraid to experiment; but, be careful not to sound brazen and arrogant, which is easy to do from the safety of a computer. In fact, studies have been conducted about false bravery when your message isn’t delivered face-to-face. Most people can sense fake and phony, and don’t appreciate either. Think “Wizard of Oz” marketing: Pull back the curtain, and there is no mighty, all-powerful brand—only a mousey man pulling levers. It’s not only what you say—it’s how you say it that matters.
4. Be wary of over-delivering. When I first began my blog, I thought I had to post full articles every time to keep it interesting. This was my anxiety and lack of confidence talking. Many of us tend to over-deliver because we think whatever we do is not enough. But, it is. It’s the quality of your message that matters.
5. Confidence comes when SoMe is not SoYou. When your message is wrapped around helping others, your confidence increases and your voice get stronger because you are focused outside of yourself. Always keep in mind the core beliefs and needs of your audience, and what will be memorable to them. You want a brand that people can identify with and embrace. After all, the key here is embracing them so they’ll embrace you.
Remember: Your image and reputation are two of your greatest assets, which both rely heavily on the personal touch. Your social savvy, like all skills, needs to be to be exercised continually to be most effective. If you want your business to grow, you need to grow too. After all, you are your own best public relations and marketing person. And, as your confidence grows, so does your potential to draw more business to you.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan