Tuning in to Social Channels

Chen PR's Mike Spinney shares his thoughts on utilizing social media for professional communications...

In the world of professional communications, social media is an easy thing to overlook. At least it is to those of us with a bit more gray in our hair than we’re willing to admit. After all, we cut our teeth in this industry by rapping on the keys of an IBM Selectric, organizing envelop-stuffing parties, and developing cauliflower ear because a phone receiver was pressed against our heads half the day.

It sometimes seems that, for my generation, social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn fall under the category “newfangled contraption.” It’s fun, not work. Now, get off of my lawn you crazy kids.

But as professional communicators, social media has to be a part of our day-to-day consciousness—for a host or reasons I don’t have the time to address here apart from saying, that’s where the conversations are happening.

I think a lot of the trepidation that manifests in a reluctance to engage in social media is founded in concern over doing it wrong and, thus, looking foolish in front of the entire Twitterverse. Ironic in some respects since looking foolish is part of the fun (provided foolishness is not confused with offensive).

If you’re looking for some useful insight on how to do social media better, Digiday runs a lot of content on that topic, and this semi-recent article caught my eye, so thought I’d share. I encourage you to read the piece when you have time. In the meanwhile, here are my top takeaways:

  • Pandering doesn’t build brand: No one likes a suck up, so don’t do it. Be genuine in your posts and it will show through.
  • Trend-jumping doesn’t build brand: If you turn with the trends like a weathervane you’ll quickly wear out your welcome. Have some fun, sure, but always come back to your main focus.
  • Bland irrelevance doesn’t build brand: if all you do is nudge along someone else’s content but have nothing to add to the discussion, you’ll fade into the background. When sharing a link, share an opinion as well. Originate conversations with new observations. Defend your position (respectfully). Show you’ve got something of substance to offer.
  • Frequency and consistency DO build brand: are you posting multiple times a day or once a month? Your audience will notice. Or, rather… they’ll notice if you engage with frequency and consistently. On the other hand, if your twitter profile shows a few hundred tweets and your last was from Labor Day, 2011…

So, get in there and engage. Be relevant, be timely, add value and—over time—you’ll reap the benefits.