The Pitfalls of Mixing Social Media Business and Pleasure – Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at some of the main questions concerning people it comes to mixing business with pleasure on social media sites, such as: how much personal information should you share?

Next we will look at some pros and cons.

The fact is, our personal lives often open doors to doing business with others. Shared hobbies, shared interests and understanding on a human level have always been fundamental to building business relationships and doing business. People want to do business with people – that means they want some connection on a deeper level than just business.

2008-12-04 11-08-58 PM People usually arrive at that stage after meeting face to face or connecting by telephone or similar. It’s hard to achieve the same level of personal interaction via a social media site.  Yet one of the basic fundamentals of social media is building relationships without necessarily first meeting. So personal touches, depending on your type of business, can be important.

The question you must ask yourself is – how much of your personal life should be enough and what’s too much. Should you share every intimate detail of your life with others? What’s the impact? What will the impact be months down the road? You are the only one who can decide what you’re comfortable with. It isn’t up to the social media “gurus” or anyone else. What works for one person’s business may not work for another. Here are some points to consider.

Sharing some of your personal life can help you connect on a deeper level

You put a human face to your business if you share some aspects of your personality and sometimes aspects of your personal life. A lot depends on your comfort level and how you think it will affect your business and your audience.

For SouthWest Airlines and Zappos and even to an extent Comcast, it works because of the personalities of the CEOs involved which influence the entire company in each case. It may or may not work for you.

Sharing can help you build a following more quickly

People want to connect with people – social media has shown that much. Blogging can give you a platform to share common interests as can Twitter if you use them in the way you want – you don’t necessarily have to share every aspect of your personal life. For example I run another blog where I’ve grown a community of readers over the last 3-4 years. It necessitates some sharing and because of that it’s attracted people with whom that resonates. Again, weigh up the implications and take the necessary actions depending on what works for you.

Cons

Be careful what you say online, especially when sharing information about friends and others. Not everything you hear should be repeated publicly, particularly intimate details of people’s lives, or certain conversations with others you may have overheard. Everything you say personally reflects on you professionally if you’re using social networking for business. Think before you tweet or update.

Change your privacy settings

Social Media profiles are more public than private. If something is private don’t post it on a social networking site. Either change your privacy settings on Facebook (amazingly very few people do this) or bear in mind anyone (including friends of friends whom you don’t know) can easily read your updates.

Context

Without context sometimes the simplest exchange can become an entirely different story. Most online status updates and communication lack the context of face to face conversation making interactions trickier. I have seen quite personal conversations get out of hand with alarming speed over something irrelevant – because the cues we take for granted in face to face interactions are absent. It means we need to think carefully about the context in which we are posting.

My own rule of thumb is, if it has potential to be misconstrued, refrain from saying it, or use email rather than a public forum.

New ways of connecting

I am sure you can think of more potential minefields. And you can avoid them too. The bottom line is that social media has given us new ways of connecting and often involves sharing some of our personal lives. This can be good. It can also carry risks if you are in business. Exactly what and how much you share is very much up to you. Keep everything professional, yet human.

Happily incidents of things going awry are uncommon, but they do exist. So it’s up to you to manage your online presence proactively.

Weigh up the pros and cons of intertwining your personal and professional lives and profiles and decide what works for your business. Then go with whatever makes you comfortable.

When it comes to social networking it is possible to delineate where you network. While Facebook is still a mixture of personal and business (and as such causes the most angst), LinkedIn is clearly a business social networking site.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Using Twitter @replies for Research

close upI came across this very interesting post on using Twitter for research. I’m always being asked about the ways companies can use Twitter and one of the ways I suggest is by:

1. tracking and listening to what your public is saying and

2. listening to what the competition is saying

So here is an even more practical example for businesses, courtesy of Being Cheryl.

Listen to the competition’s conversations

Sounds easy enough. You go to http://search.twitter.com and enter the company’s Twitter name. You can follow them and listen to what they say. But don’t stop there. What are the replies to what they are saying? Being Cheryl gives an example of a company who had asked their network for input. The network replied ( search the Twitter @replies). BUT, had the company put the suggestions to good use?They had not. They had asked the question, but not followed through with the responses. Pull those network @replies – as Being Cheryl did for her client – and you can get some competitive advantage for your company. Because your company – or your client if you are working on their behalf – can come along and neatly do all that network had been asking for, but hadn’t got.

If they are a smart company they will also take on board the fact that it’s not enough to ask your network questions – when they respond you must follow through, especially if you happen to be on Twitter where people can see if you could actually be bothered or not and mine your responses – or lack thereof – for their own research.

Find your Publics – in some detail

What if you could see your user’s industries just based on their Tweets? Well, you might say, of course you can use http://search.twitter.com to monitor specific keywords. However there is also Twellow. With Twellow you can set up industry categories for a user – based on just their bio and tweets. Visit BeingCheryls’s site to read how.

Remaining relevant with Tweetstats

Tweetstats shows you the top trends on Twitter in a “trend cloud” I checked it out and today the top trends are Bernie Madoff, BET Awards, Michael Jackson, Iran, Iran election and Jay-Z. How can your company use Tweetstats? As a way to take part in the conversation. Pick a spot and take part  where it is relevant. This is where you can jump in – participation is an integral part of the Twitter experience.

Do you use Twitter for research? Have you ever used Twitter @replies in this way? If you have please share your feedback.  I know this will be something for me to experiment with.

Thanks to the power of blogs I’ve yet another insight to share with clients – one that makes Twitter a powerful strategic research tool for creative and competitive advantage.

Original article Source: Being Cheryl – How to use Twitter for research

7 Reasons People Don’t Comment on Your Blog

talkEvery new blog starts out with few if any comments.

Getting regular comments on your blog is hard work. When it comes to blogging, persistence, passion and patience will keep you going until the comments start coming.

I was going to talk about tools in this post, however I’ll defer that for a follow up post. For now let’s look at some of the reasons people don’t comment –  and what you can do about it.

1. They don’t know your blog exists

If no-one knows you exist, they can’t  visit your blog. Your blog is one among millions of blogs. It takes time to become visible and recognized, so you need to do everything effectively promote your blog so that people know you exist. You can:

  • Use Twitter and other Social Networking sites (to share when you create new posts)
  • Join Communities (like My BlogLog, BlogCatalog) and take part in Blog Carnivals.
  • Include your blog url in your email
  • Join and genuinely contribute to forums
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Spread “Comment love” by commenting on other blogs as we’ve discussed
  • Use plugins like “Comment Luv” to give back to commentators on your own blog

2. They read your blog using their RSS reader

Timethief touched on this point, but it’s worth repeating. Ensure you have an RSS feed on your blog as it makes it easier for people to subscribe to your blog without having to visit it. But therein lies the problem. If you offer full posts, there’s no longer any need to visit (unless your post is extremely compelling). This lowers the likelihood of comments

3. They don’t feel their comments matter to you

Tell people you’d like comments. If you get people who send you comments by email (unless it’s of a personal nature) consider saying you’d love them to comment on the blog so that everyone can benefit from their thoughts. Encourage comments by asking for opinions, feedback and their thoughts. And use open questions.

4. They feel intimidated

Some people are just wary of commenting on an open forum. Some worry their email will become spammed or shared. Re-assure them their comments are welcome and their email won’t be displayed or shared. Most blog comment boxes include text to say email won’t be displayed. You can also reassure them on your blog that their email won’t be shared with anyone else.

5. They’re busy

We’re all time challenged and as much as we’d like to it’s almost impossible to comment on all the blogs we enjoy. Composing a thoughtful comment on a blog can take time and sometimes it’s as much as people can do to take time and read the post. They may feel they want to explore your blog further and come back later. They may not comment then, but they will quite likely return.

Once you’ve built a readership you’ll find some will become regular commentators as well. Building a readership takes time, remember. So keep on blogging, and building your profile in communities you’re interested in. Focus on building traffic to your blog.

6. They planned to return and forgot

There’s not a lot you can do about this one. However you can make it easy for people to bookmark your blog by making it easy to subscribe to and bookmark your blog.

7. They want to get used to you first

Many blog readers will “blurk” (blog lurk) for quite some time before they comment. Sometimes it’s because they just want to read and don’t wish to comment. Just the other day I had the following comment on my blog…

“ I’ve been lurking for the past year and just decided to comment… by the way I love your blog, it’s been such a support to me…”

or how about this one:

“I discovered your blog about nine months ago and I’ve been happily going through your archives…”

These are not unusual. And by the time you get them you may have been getting plenty of comments.  Many of my readers have “blurked” for years before they comment and some may never comment. And that’s ok. I always get a warm feeling when I see comments like this though ( Well. who doesn’t like compliments?) It’s a reminder not to focus on comments and not take a lack of comments personally.

Focus instead on creating interesting posts and content, getting found, making Google your best friend, and driving traffic to your blog.

Over to you. What’s your view on why people don’t comment? What else would you add to the list?

How I Went From 4 Comments to Almost 4,000 In 2 Years

iStock_000003645243XSmallChris Brogan’s recent post No Comment, acknowledged the very real discouragement you can feel when you’re blogging away with seemingly nothing (meaning comments) to show for it. If you haven’t already read the post, go and check it out. The comments in particular are revealing. They show just how deeply disappointing it can be not getting comments. It can hurt. So what can you do about it?

We may have many different reasons for starting to blog. As I said in my own comment on Chris’s post, my own experience in going from zero comments on my other blog to nearly 4,000 comments in about two years, showed me you have to be passionate and persistent about blogging and have a goal… so  you can keep going in the face of “no comments.”

Struggling to gain an audience and increase your comment count?

I thought I’d share what has worked for me over the past couple years on my first blog and how I’m using that experience on my latest blog – the one you’re reading now.

I recall looking at my once dismal comment count one day and visualizing thousands of visits a day to my blog. I affirmed it out loud. I had no idea how I’d do it. I knew I had to do something differently. I just didn’t know what. (Note, I said visits, rather than comments?) [Read more…]

15 Must-Haves For A Great Blog

The Blog by Nicky When you have two quite different blogs (as I do) it’s interesting to go back to the start and look at how the first blog evolved.  As I did this I can see a clear evolution – from general interest to narrow niche. Among other things, I learned…

  • It’s perfectly OK not to know exactly what you’re going to blog about.
  • It’s perfectly OK to know exactly what you’re going to blog about.
  • Either way, you’ll probably change your mind.
  • If you’re blogging for business, it does help to have a plan,  just don’t get too hung up on it.
  • Blogging is still personal… even if it’s a business blog. Some of you goes out there  with your post.
  • Blogging is a journey – and an education. Enjoy it. If you don’t, it’ll be a grind.
  • Blogging takes time… many give up when they fail to see instant-results.

I’ve been meaning to write some blogging articles for a while. I just keep seeing interesting stuff on Social Media and I’m restive until I’ve got those thoughts out on my blog. So my list of blogging topics lies there staring (I imagine) reproachfully at me while I juggle the million and one other things to think about, talk about, and do. OK, I’m only half joking.

But since I am getting increasingly more questions about blogging a series on blogging with a business slant will be coming soon.

For now though, I wanted to kick off with a post that’s really compiled from my readers feedback.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same…

Back in August 2007 I posted on what  thought made a great blog. My top things included:

  • Excellent content
  • Few, if any annoying adverts
  • Good spelling and grammar (yes, it still counts)
  • Regular updating

I asked them what they thought made a great blog.

I enjoyed everyone’s responses so much that I thought they were worth a post in themselves. (Hint – your readers comments are a prime source of ideas for blogging – more on that later).

Anyway, reprise – here’s what  readers thought makes a great blog, slightly edited.

What Blog Readers Want

  1. Compelling content – interesting, well organised, well written, well presented, focused
  2. Clear, intuitive navigation –  please, don’t make me think!
  3. Good spelling, grammar, and sentence syntax – the odd typo is o.k…
  4. Proper formatting (paragraphs, effective use of white space, scaled photos etc.)
  5. Imagination, creativity and talent and talent
  6. A Contact Me link or page – Prominently placed, please!
  7. Regularly updated posts. Regularly updated posts.
  8. Usability
  9. Easy access to past articles (archives, related posts, site-map…)
  10. Lets the personality of the blogger shine through
  11. A consistent and true “voice” – show your passion and feeling!
  12. Overall blog presentation – make visitors want to stay
  13. Good use of linking services, e.g Technorati
  14. Clean and fast loading pages
  15. Few or no ads. Discretely placed ads that don’t obscure the content and don’t intrude

A little over a year on and not a lot has changed. These things are still important, because they are the things that make readers want to stay on your blog and read what you have to say.

Contemplating Blogging?

If you’re contemplating blogging – particularly if you are a business thinking of using blogging as one of your marketing tools, if you’ve started blogging or are an old hand… commit these top 15 blog must-haves to memory. As one of my readers says… they should be blogging law.

Care to add to the list? Is there something else you feel makes a great blog? Add a comment and perhaps I may recompile the list to include it.  I’ll be expanding on the different elements in later posts (as well as on my own blogging challenges).