Working in social media really puts you are out there. People you don’t know or ones haven’t met face to face can easily draw some assumptions about you, socially speaking, by doing a quick scan of your Twitter feed or checking out your Klout score. I learned this the hard way.
I had a colleague tell me he didn’t think I could lead a social media project because he had checked my Twitter feed and basically I was irrelevant. Ouch. But I respect this person. And while the criticism was harsh, there was truth within it. I asked myself whether I was I truly irrelevant (i.e., not adding value). Or was I not doing a good job communicating the value of what I do?
I did a quick social audit on myself. My Klout score was in the toilet, my Twitter feed was sporadic and anemic, and I wasn’t sharing any of the unique knowledge I was gaining from my job as the social media manager in IT. I was supporting our IT subject matter experts, but didn’t even see that I was one myself. At the time I was tweeting out of 5 different branded accounts (for work, a non-profit, and political campaign on the side). I realized I posted more as the admin in the two communities I managed than as myself. While I was doing a fine job, no one publicly, not even my peers, knew that I was behind the scenes doing all of that social media stuff. The reality was that I didn’t have time or motivation to manage my own social engagement. I finally figured out that I was taking my own expertise for granted, and I didn’t want my peers to think I was irrelevant or worse, incapable of doing my job. I had to do a better job of communicating my own value.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend you do an audit of our social profiles, Google search your name, and review your feeds. Get real about where you are. Know that in social media you can always do more, but determine what your “must-achieve” level is and set some milestones. Here are a few things you can do to get going.
- Own the problem. Commit to a plan to fix it and set goals. Your goals can be as simple as raising your Klout score, getting new head shots and working on your branding, or writing a number of blogs each month. It’s good to have a few milestones and check your progress against these goals every few weeks. Adjust your approach as needed.
- Know your expertise, define your audience and create a clear brand value proposition, then put it on everything. Most subject matter experts I talk with in IT think either that no one cares about their expertise because they have been doing it for a while it seems second-nature to share, but in reality, people love learning from others. Best practices from experts in most fields are gold.
- Create targeted content out of your best practices on a regular basis. It’s publish or perish in the social media world. Most people think blogs have to be lengthy, but they don’t. A series of shorter blogs on a topic is a great way to go. Just be sure to write to your target audience.
- Get your content published through the right vehicles to reach your audience. It could be your web site, an online community, Slideshare or other social networks that your readers belong to. Use keywords/SEO for your blogs to help people find your content by search, too.
- Share links to your content or to outstanding industry articles via social platforms. Let your followers and your groups/circles know about it. Most likely they are part of your target audience or will forward to people in their own networks who might be interested. Go back and share existing white papers or other articles again – add a few comments to summarize or share any updates, so it doesn’t seem random.
- Continue to reach out to build your expertise and network with your peers. Let your audience know when you are speaking at an event. Join on-line communities to learn from others in your field. Get out there and talk with customers and business partners. I put together a slide deck about the Intel IT social media program best practices and went with a sales guy to meet one of our customers. I shared my learnings directly with the customer’s IT marketing department. I learned a lot from the experience and built my network of peers.
Everyone has some sort of expertise that is valuable. Don’t wait until someone calls you “irrelevant” to start building your social influence.
People will always talk about you so,Give them something to talk about.
Brian Solis, The End of Business As Usual
Make it a priority, set your own goals – it’s worth the effort.