jamie wallace postToday’s post is guest blog post from Jamie Wallace, a friend here in the social media space (and, as it turns out, a neighbor here on the North Shore of Massachusetts!) She’s a great writer, a well-connected marketer, and someone to keep on your radar screen…) She puts into words what so many people are trying to say, only she does it better, so read on….

Is your brand’s social avatar the company logo, or a photo of a real person? Are your social updates mostly news items, or conversations? Just how social is your brand’s social presence?

More and more companies are venturing onto the social scene, but not all of them are taking full advantage of the opportunities. The key word in social network is “social.” It’s not “broadcast” or “update” or “official” or “corporate.” When some brands start out in social media, they make the mistake of handling communications in a business-as-usual style that falls flat on venues like Facebook and Twitter.

Whether you’re just getting your feet wet or optimizing an existing approach, here are 11 tips to help you get your brand ready for a social close-up:

Complete your profile: There are few things more off-putting than an incomplete profile. It only takes a few minutes to fill out your company name, URL, and description. Do it.

Be creative: When writing up your company description, don’t just grab the existing corporate line and call it a day. Think about the audience. Tailor your company description to include how what you do benefits them. Don’t be afraid to include something a little personal or cheeky or both. Humor – when used judiciously – goes a long way.

Use faces instead of logos: There is some argument that logos are more easily recognized in news feed streams. However, I’d argue that a picture of a real person creates a faster, stronger connection. Putting a face on a social presence brings the experience one step closer to a real relationship. It also makes it easier for people to recognize you in real life – at conferences, for instance.

Be a person, not a company: Along the same lines, I recommend that your brand be represented by a person (or people) rather than an anonymous corporate entity. People are more apt to engage with an individual than with an organization, and they will engage on a different level if they feel they are dealing with a real person.

Communicate consistently: It takes some planning and diligence, but – as in life – half the battle is just showing up. The people who see the greatest benefit from their social efforts are the ones who put in the time.

Inject personality: As the name implies, the social Web is meant to be social. That means that it’s about more than just publishing information and generating status updates; it’s about sharing personal opinions. Sometimes, those opinions are about a business-related topic, sometimes they are about True Blood or the World Cup. People want to engage with real people, not publishing robots.

Add value: It’s been said nine ways to Sunday, but I’ll say it again anyway: bring something to the party. If you retweet something, add a little note of your own to explain why you think the content is worth sharing. If you leave a comment on a blog or a Facebook status, make it something more than just “great post.” Post alternate theories, conflicting opinions, relevant resources, additional examples – add a little something-something.

Focus your efforts: Using the tired analogy of social Web as cocktail party, it is often said that you can’t hope to have meaningful conversations with each person there. Instead, pay attention to which people and conversations repeatedly attract your attention and focus on developing more intimate relationships with that subset of your network. Using lists in Twitter and Facebook and pulling favorite blogs into a Reader subfolder are easy ways to isolate your core circle of friends for concentrated conversation. On the flip side, be mindful of where your intended audience is hanging out and who they’re talking with and find a gracious way to insert yourself into those conversations.

Make other people shine: One of the easiest ways to make new friends on the social Web is to compliment someone’s work by sharing it. For the highest impact, you should do this manually (vs., for instance, automatically retweeting every post from a particular account) and include your own commentary. For every self-promotional tweet/status update you publish, you should put up at least one update promoting someone else’s work. (ED. NOTE- I WOULD RECOMMEND THE 80/20 RULE HERE. 20% ABOUT YOU. 80% EVERYTHING ELSE…)

Have conversations: This is why we’re here. Don’t be afraid to get in there and actually connect! People on social networks are inherently social – they want to talk to people. Make their day – respond to a question, pose a question, reply to an update, LOL at a joke. It takes only a few seconds to make these small connections, but they can make a world of difference when it comes to building a real relationship.

Start now: Speaking of relationships, start building networks and relationships before you need them. If you are launching a project or planning an event, don’t assume that you can jump on the social scene at the eleventh hour and rally support. Social marketing is not a quick fix, it must be cultivated and nurtured. The ramp up can take some time, but the long-term benefits of a solid, responsive network are priceless.

Jamie Wallace is an independent copywriter and marketing strategist who focuses on content and social marketing for small businesses and start-ups. You can read more of her writing at the Savvy B2B Marketing blog where she has way too much fun with her 5 Savvy Sisters.

Great content, right? For those of you interested in writing a guest post here on Dialogue- please send me a quick email/tweet/message.- thanks.

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  • johnbottom

    It's all true, Jamie, all true. But a crucial additional point, of course, is that bosses have to allow people to be people. If possible – and I appreciate this may not be possible in certain professions – let your people be ambassadors for the brand. Give them guidelines to work to, but also give them responsibility. [And as part of their training, maybe suggest they read your post!]

  • http://www.enterdialogue.com Tyson Goodridge

    John- great point here- absolutely…

  • JamieLee

    Excellent addition, John. It's so important that the social ambassadors for your brand have the freedom to engage as real people, not as corporate representatives. I encourage sharing personal updates as well as business-relevant ones. Any connection you can make – whether it's about your product, your lifestyle, an event you attended, or a personal goal – will help keep you top-of-mind and give you an edge on the competition. There is an expertise to weaving the pieces – business & personal/personality – together into a content stream that will keep readers interested & hopefully reacting and engaging.

    … just don't tweet about what your cat had for breakfast.
    ;)

  • johnbottom

    It's all true, Jamie, all true. But a crucial additional point, of course, is that bosses have to allow people to be people. If possible – and I appreciate this may not be possible in certain professions – let your people be ambassadors for the brand. Give them guidelines to work to, but also give them responsibility. [And as part of their training, maybe suggest they read your post!]

  • http://www.enterdialogue.com Tyson Goodridge

    John- great point here- absolutely…

  • http://www.suddenlymarketing.com Suddenly Jamie

    Excellent addition, John. It's so important that the social ambassadors for your brand have the freedom to engage as real people, not as corporate representatives. I encourage sharing personal updates as well as business-relevant ones. Any connection you can make – whether it's about your product, your lifestyle, an event you attended, or a personal goal – will help keep you top-of-mind and give you an edge on the competition. There is an expertise to weaving the pieces – business & personal/personality – together into a content stream that will keep readers interested & hopefully reacting and engaging.

    … just don't tweet about what your cat had for breakfast.
    ;)

  • http://nonamills.co.cc/ Nona Mills

    It’s all true, Jamie, all true. But a crucial additional point, of course, is that bosses have to allow people to be people. If possible – and I appreciate this may not be possible in certain professions – let your people be ambassadors for the brand. Give them guidelines to work to, but also give them responsibility. [And as part of their training, maybe suggest they read your post!]

  • http://lacywolfe.co.cc/ Lacy Wolfe

    It’s all true, Jamie, all true. But a crucial additional point, of course, is that bosses have to allow people to be people. If possible – and I appreciate this may not be possible in certain professions – let your people be ambassadors for the brand. Give them guidelines to work to, but also give them responsibility. [And as part of their training, maybe suggest they read your post!]

  • http://hillarywhitfield.co.cc/ Hillary Whitfield

    Excellent addition, John. It’s so important that the social ambassadors for your brand have the freedom to engage as real people, not as corporate representatives. I encourage sharing personal updates as well as business-relevant ones. Any connection you can make – whether it’s about your product, your lifestyle, an event you attended, or a personal goal – will help keep you top-of-mind and give you an edge on the competition. There is an expertise to weaving the pieces – business & personal/personality – together into a content stream that will keep readers interested & hopefully reacting and engaging. … just don’t tweet about what your cat had for breakfast.;)

  • http://www.enterdialogue.com tgoodridge

    Hillary- thanks for this comment. Absolutely agree on weaving personal and professional. People relate to people, and THEN brands and companies…

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