When it comes to social media, there are a lot of people who think it’s just not worth the time. The challenge is that sometimes it’s hard to measure the results. People don’t always comment. Or if they do, it’s usually the fringe, the people that love you and hate you most. And it’s difficult to really feel like you’re successfully connecting with folks. You see, it’s difficult to know if social media is working.
It’s important that you find the right amount of time, and that the time you spend is effective.
Other folks feel that they just don’t have anything to say. Sure, you might not be working on incredible, world-traveling projects, but chances are there’s lessons learned or funny stories that you can share. You might think you’re just a little boring, and ultimately maybe you are.
But somebody finds you interesting, and it’s important that the people that are going to enjoy working with you hear from you. Remember, not everybody has to be wildly popular. I limit some of our social audiences to smaller sizes. I don’t always care about reaching the biggest audience. Rather, I try to reach the right audience. For example, I purposefully limit our Facebook account to about 600 people, regularly dropping people that we don’t interact with.
It’s a mixture of friends and clients and business colleagues that I view as friends, that we often work together. Now, some people take a totally different approach, and that’s fine. But for me, it’s not about collecting baseball cards. It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of followers if you don’t have a real relationship with those followers. And sometimes having fewer followers is better. You might feel that what you have to say is boring, but again, ultimately people will be interested. Find the little bits, find some great visuals, share your work, give people a glimpse into your process.
Now, you might work for a company and they won’t let you. This is actually a valid reason. Some companies have social media policies on what can and can’t be shared. For example, when we’re doing work for clients, frequently we can’t share that information until after the product is released or the video is made public. So while folks may take some behind-the-scenes photos, we often have to wait to release those, or get the client’s permission. It’s important that you balance the rights and responsibilities you have to your clients with your need for online promotion.
But ultimately, most companies view social media as important. And either with a little bit of training or with some outreach, you should be able to do this. Other folks, like many people in the education and government world, will simply use a different name online, often taking their first and middle name and avoiding any affiliation with their professional world, staying only connected with their closest colleagues and friends. This can still be important, fulfilling a basic human need and allowing you to stay connected with others.
In any case, you’re going to want to balance out your need to stay connected with any potential restrictions. But if you think social media is just a waste of time, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. There are a lot of real-world opportunities that can be had. You need to make sure that you view social media as real-world connections. This is your opportunity to stay in touch with people and to work with them. Maybe it’s a virtual connection, but those connections can often be what’s necessary to maintain a relationship.
What happens here is the real world makes it difficult to get together. Maybe you’ve switched offices or moved across the country. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the relationships that you’ve formed with clients and colleagues. I refer to this as passive intimacy. There are many people that I have relationships with from college and early jobs before I moved, and I still keep in touch. We may only see each other once or twice a year at events, but when I do I know what’s up with them, what’s been happening in their lives, what type of projects they’ve worked on.
And if I need to reach out for something, it doesn’t seem strange because we’ve already been in conversation. There is no magic button to start a conversation. But what happens is with social media, the people that you like and respect can keep in touch. This means they have an idea of what’s going on in your life, and they feel comfortable reaching out when they need something, because it doesn’t seem like they’ve not been in touch. Social media will allow you to stay connected. And for some of you, this becomes your own on-air network, broadcasting information about your business and your life.
Now, you have to balance this out. And there is a lot of obsession these days with celebrity and social media influence. My feeling here is that you don’t need to over do it. While there are a lot of famous people with thousands of followers, unless your goal is to be famous, don’t worry about it. Rather, stay in touch with the customer. Use social media to find the colleagues and the business people that you need to know. Use it to stay in touch with your clients and to find new clients.
Don’t worry about attracting thousands of followers, worry about maintaining business relationships and building new ones. Ultimately, that’s what’s going to lead to the bottom line. Sure, there are famous people, and you will find experts and bloggers that have huge audiences. But it’s better that you build that up slowly over time, rather than taking cheap shots or shortcuts.