Thursday, November 3, 2011

Show the Right Face On-Line

In August, we saw the resignation of U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner, who initially denied - and then confessed to - sending lewd photographs of himself to women on Twitter. After the so-called "Weinergate" affair, tweets from other U.S. congress members dropped 30%, as they evidently became far more cautious of what they were saying and doing on-line.

Clearly what Weiner did was inappropriate under any circumstances. But some things aren't so clear, especially when it comes to using social media for marketing. It's a tricky situation for us business owners, because we don't want to offend people but also don't want to miss the opportunity to reach them.

It can also get confusing when some experts say it's all about personal branding, and encourage you to disclose more of your personality in business situations, and vice versa.

The key is to understand each platform's rules.

If you go to a networking function, would you blatantly promote yourself and your services? No (unless you're a sponsor or advertiser). Most people should be there for sharing ideas, making connections and building relationships.

If you go to a friend's party, you wouldn't even go that far. You would usually leave the business cards and elevator speech at home, and just go there to have fun.

The same applies to on-line places. Some are for socialising, some for networking, and some for promoting. Here's a quick overview:

At one end of the spectrum is Facebook, which is primarily for connecting with family and friends.
Then come business networking tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, which allow some self-promotion, but are mainly for connecting, sharing and building relationships.
At the far end are places where you can promote to your heart's content: your Web site, blog, e-mail newsletter, podcast, YouTube ... and Facebook again (but this time I'm talking about Facebook pages, not your personal profile).

So show your face, but show the RIGHT face.

This means you turn up differently - and with a slightly different public face - in each place.

Don't push your products and services to your Facebook friends. On the other hand, this is the place where you can be the most casual and informal.

Similarly, be slightly more formal - more professional, if you like - on Twitter and LinkedIn. It's OK to be slightly self-promotional, but generally follow the 80/20 rule - and make at most 20% of your contributions promotional.

On your Web site or blog, of course, you can do what you like.

This is what you would do in everyday life.

It might seem difficult to remember to act differently on each platform, but in fact it's what you do in other parts of your life. You behave differently at a friend's party than you would at a networking event, and that's different again from a promotional flyer.

Adjust your on-line behaviour the same way. "On-line" is a place, not a medium; so treat it with the same respect.

How do you position yourself differently?

Of course, that's easier said than done! If you'd like to know how to position yourself differently on each platform, you can watch the recording of a webinar I did last month:

For more webinars like this, register for my Internet Business Revolution webinar series (it's free).

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