At the beginning of each term, I ask my students in my first of three levels of social media marketing courses to utilize our class wiki to list their name, blog, and Twitter handle. In the last 2 years (and 12 courses later), there are fewer and fewer students without a Twitter handle and LinkedIn account when they begin class. This is a great sign, and pleases me to no end! At the beginning of my journey teaching the Social Media MBA, many students had not used Twitter for personal or business purposes, with a majority not even having any social accounts other than a personal Facebook page and the occasional Instagram. These platforms offer so much more than sharing pictures with family and humorous memes. They offer brands a way to connect, engage, and nurture relationships with the consumer.
You cannot see what folks are doing in social media (this would include your customers) if you’re not in the trenches with them. Just as we integrate a marketing campaign for a product, you do this among social platforms. All of your social profiles should align to present a digital footprint- one that is of “you”. This may seem to be a very basic concept, but students sometime forget the over-all goals and objectives they have set for their own personal brand, and veer off into left field with tweets and blog posts. Your Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and blog etc. are a puzzle that when put together represents you and your brand.
Be the seeker and the sought after
Through Twitter, a user is able to search the social networking site using industry specific words to read posts, links, and even discover thought leaders for various industries. The user can follow these folks and also have relevant two-way dialogue. For example, a simple search using #smm would reveal all posts related to SMM (AKA social media marketing) using that hashtag (#), or the top posts (your choice). After viewing the posts, one can browse, follow, and network. The #hashtag is a powerful tool in that it not only allows you to find the information you seek, and also allows the information/posts you share to be found.
To Hashtag or not to Hashtag?
One of the things I have noticed about the beginners in my social media courses, is the absence of a #hashtag in their tweets. I am not saying every tweet needs one, but it is a great way to filter out the noise. Your hashtags must be relevant in order to establish yourself as a credible and viable source of information. Overuse and misuse of the hashtag #pretty #much #negates # your #professionalism. Another blatant misuse of the hashtag is hijacking. Last year, we saw #McDStories hashtag hijacked and used for purposes of negative bashing of the brand as opposed to the sharing of happy moments and good things surrounding the brand. I will admit as a social media marketer, I enjoy (for lack of a better word) seeing these scenarios because I want to see how the brand handles it. Grab a bag of popcorn and watch a live case study unfold. It is very unfortunate that there is such misuse. However, those of us in social media know once we expose ourselves via social, we open up a host of possible crisis situations that must be planned for. More on that in a few weeks.
Also relevant for the social media professional is LinkedIn. This professional networking site allows you to post and view profiles. It is a great personal branding tool allowing the user to post relevant information, a photo, Twitter ID, and blog site etc. LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, advice, and even support. The Texas Young Professionals group would be a great place to start for my Texas students and The Social Media Strategies for Business Group for the professional interested in social media.
I am sure most of the readers of this article are already on Twitter and LinkedIn and active. Kudos. If you are not, and refuse to due to privacy issues and not wanting to go on to “yet another social platform”, I urge you to reconsider. Both Twitter and LinkedIn can be a huge asset in not only networking with like-minded folks, but also to research topics, news, and subject matter thought leaders. Similarly, it can be an asset for B2B’s to get to know prospective clients prior to meetings and to network, and for B2C’s to share valuable content and become more accessible. By no means is this an exhaustive list of benefits, but you get the idea.
Be a Life Long Learner
In this age of a technology and being able to have access to a wealth of information, why ignore it? Be a life learner by way of other professionals out there willing to share what they have learned. I mentioned in another article here that I have surrounded myself with like-minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter and connect with on LinkedIn were chosen because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce. You should do the same. Set aside 20 minutes each week this month and explore these networks to add to your “tribe”.
Social platforms offer brands (both corporate and personal) the ability to learn, share, connect, and create opportunities!
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Good article, Thanks Dr. Rogers!
Good post, Dr. J. What you say about students is applicable to many small business owners who have the same resistance to engaging with these most basic yet vital social media networking tools.
I agree, there are many still not seeing the light… but I think things are changing a bit. Once folks see how Social Media can be integrated with traditional marketing (with great results), it will be a game changer for many.