What's Social Media to You?

by Morgan Siem on October 28, 2009

in Uncategorized

If anyone needs proof that social media is different for everyone, I’ve got it. In the past week or so I’ve been part of three different presentations on social media. By the third, there should have been no prep, right? Just rinse and repeat.

Not so much.

Last Tuesday I joined Phil Buckley to speak to small business owners at the Cameron Village Library about social media. Then last Wednesday I flew to Chicago to talk to a $100+ million dollar company about social media for B to B. And last night my audience was students at North Carolina State University interested in personal branding.

Small business owners wanted to know:

  • How do I combat bad comments?
  • How is it not a waste of time listening to what everyone’s saying on Twitter?

The business to business company wanted to know:

  • How do we measure ROI?
  • Who should be the company’s “voice” on social media?
  • What’s the value of a follower? Do followers lead to conversions?
  • How do we make our company relevant to a B2B audience? We get how it works for Coca Cola, but we’re not selling Coke.

The NCSU students wanted to know:

  • How do you create a personal brand if your name is not unique to you?
  • What’s Linked In?
  • How important is a resume?
  • How long should a video resume be?
  • Where do you draw the line between personal life and professional persona?

The takeaway: You must tailor your social media strategy to your (or your company’s) needs.

Since the NCSU presentation was the most recent, I’ll recap some of the points made by Jeremy Smith of Twine Interactive, Phil Buckley of McClatchy Interactive and myself. First, thank you to the students who attended. You had great questions, and we had a great time with you!

The first step to personal branding is naming your brand. You must have a name with which you can distinguish yourself within your multiple online communities. If your own name is distinct enough to use, go with that (I use morgansiem because I’m the only one). But if your name is more common (like Jeremy Smith), you have to be a bit more creative. Jeremy uses jeremysaid and Phil uses 1918. Once you name your personal brand, you can help a potential employer find you on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter, etc.

What we found surprising was that most of the students didn’t know about Linked In. Attention all job seekers, get on Linked In and fill out your profile completely. For students, this is your opportunity to take advantage of the connections you make when you’re interning for free every summer or semester.

Resumes are important only for the sake of having. If you do a good enough job branding yourself, your reputation will precede you, and your resume will be irrelevant. Just because your interviewer will only look at it for two seconds, though, doesn’t mean you can just show up without one.

Video resumes are a good way to set yourself apart. If your personality is your best trait, show it off. But keep it brief. A minute and a half is enough.

As for personal versus professional life, the line is beginning to blur. With the rise of social media, it’s more common to know what your coworker and employer are doing on the weekend. However, you will have to decide for yourself how you want to portray yourself online. If you’re eyeing a job in certain industries, you’ll need to keep it clean. For other industries, though, not so much. If you’re adamant about not hiding anything about your crazy lifestyle, you might end up doing yourself the favor of not being hired by a stuffy company that wouldn’t suit you anyway. I don’t say that sarcastically.

Final point: You are on Facebook. You all raised your hands. That said, use privacy settings. Period.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Buckley October 28, 2009 at 11:07 am

One of the other great questions last night at NCSU was from a woman who plans on going off to law school next, so she asked if it’s ok to not worry about building her network yet, because she won’t need it until she’s out of school.

The fact is, you never know when you may need a network of friends to help you out. If you wait until you need it, it won’t be there.

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Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard October 28, 2009 at 11:07 am

3 completely different audiences – and all have similar based questions, but none have the same answers! What I am always laughing about is the fact that college students “get” social media more so than most of us, but very few know how to properly use it as a tool in the business world.

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Morgan Siem October 28, 2009 at 11:16 am

Phil- that was a great point from the talk last night.

Michael- you’re so right. I find it really interesting that there’s an assumption that young people (aka college students) “get” social media. It’s been my experience that the people really using social media well are business owners and “real adults.” At the Social Media Business Forum, @AshleySue made a point that spoke to my experience, too – that most of our friends (so-called “young people”) are NOT on Twitter, are NOT reading blogs, etc. Our social media friends are mostly not our age.

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Dan London October 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

“How do we measure ROI?”

This has to be the most common question concerning social media use and one that can have multiple answers. I think the key is to set metrics, track data, and set goals that are realistic.

I heard an exec say, “we’ll just tweet that out and it will go viral.” That just isn’t realistic. If you tweet something out, it might get a few RT’s and in turn, get you more followers who are interested in your business. Over time, if you keep providing value, your followers will grow and so will your business.

Great post and “You are on Facebook. You all raised your hands. That said, use privacy settings. Period.” is EXCELLENT advice.

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Brian McDonald October 28, 2009 at 11:43 am

Morgan,

You hit the nail on the head. Social Media campaigns have to start with the brand’s objective. Otherwise it can become time not well spent and not lead to ROI. Like any marketing or communications program there has to be a strategy with desired outcome. Social Media tools are merely one additional channel to our marketing toolkits.

Therefore like Dan London stated in his comment there has to be value. If we try to use Social Media to simply sell we are not using the tools correctly and need to revisit the strategy of what Social Media can do for an organization.

Great post, enjoyed reading it.

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ellie johnson October 28, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I think it’s important to remember that you’re writing about TOOLS and these tools are meant to be useful for different objectives. Students do GET how to use Facebook – predominantly, they use it for keeping in touch and sharing their lives and interests. They don’t care about ROI in the business sense, they enjoy it and that’s the return. It sounds like your presentation helped them understand how they should begin to consider their digital footprint and how their activities online can and will be viewed by employers. If they don’t go into Marketing – that’s about all they need to “get” about how the tools can serve them in business.

Marketers on the other hand want to use these tools because they want to reach that audience. They struggle with how to shove their square message into that round, personal not professional hole. Those that GET social media are figuring that out.

I went to the Social Media Business Forum with Morgan and I found it very frustrating that esteemed social media marketers don’t seem to GET that most of us are just talking to ourselves – other marketers – and very few non-marketing types care about brand’s messages or understand what ROI is or that Bing is now going to feature tweets in their search results. It doesn’t mean that the mass consumer doesn’t GET social media – they are just using the tool for a different and equally valuable purpose – for fun.

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Jeremy Smith November 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Good write up Morgan. I remember specifically talking about locking down your profile and that I can’t be tagged in pictures or videos on Facebook for many reasons. There was somewhat of a blank stare after my comment, however I don’t think it was from them not knowing how. Simply a case of people not doing it enough.

I used one of the students as an example and Googled her name. I watched her eyes get bigger and bigger the more we found. We went to images, and her eyes got even bigger. Then we found some Facebook profiles of groups she ran and was amazed that in just one simple little search how much information we were able to find.

Social media is only a piece of personal branding. The tools allow us to get the content out and share it with our friends, business associates, etc. Provide valuable content and people will become involved with your personal brand. Choose not to produce content, and your social media campaign whether personal or otherwise, will fail miserably.

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