10 Things you may be doing wrong with Social Media if you are a Business Leader.

I have written a number of posts, and have been involved in many training sessions, about how to craft a Social Media presence, and how to leverage Social Selling.

Very rarely do I see articles and blogs about Social Media and Leadership.

First of all, everything from your personal-brand, to your company’s brand, is a highly subjective topic. I will not pretend to know exactly what you should do…that would require me getting to know you and your objectives.

However, here is a series of questions and comments you should consider when crafting your Social Presence.

Before we start, let’s get one major reality out on the table: before we meet with people, we look them up online.  We check for a LinkedIn profile, we Google them, and we may even look for a Twitter, Facebook or Google+ presence.  If you don’t believe this, then I am sorry to be the one breaking the news.  So, here are the questions you need to consider as a Leader in a Social World:

  1. If someone is applying for a job with your company, and they find your LinkedIn profile, do you come across as someone they would want to work for?
    1. What is your Brand as a Leader, is it Expressed in your Profile?
    2. What would it be like to work for you, will I figure that out looking at your profile?
  2. Lets assume your direct report is named Mary.  If Mary is meeting with a prospective new client next week, and this prospect looks up Mary on LinkedIn, what impression will they have of Mary before she walks in the door?
    1. Is Mary’s brand inline with your corporate brand?
    2. Will you be proud of the image that precedes Mary into her meeting?
  3. Do you inspect your Direct Report’s online presence as part of your job?
    1. If your direct report dressed inappropriately for a meeting, would you speak up?  Then why won’t you inspect their Social Profiles in the same way
    2. Is Social-Selling Activity part of your feedback sessions?  If not, that is a topic for another post.
  4. As a Leader, some day you might need to make a “Manager-Level” call, or handle an “Escalated Issue,” with a client.  If your client follows up this phone call, with a visit to your Social Sites, do you come across as the type of person with the authority to be making these decisions?
  5. Is your Facebook page public?  If it is, you need to understand how Facebook works.
    1. Can your friends post on your wall without your approval?
    2. What if an old friend posts an inappropriate picture or joke on your wall, and a clients or direct report sees it before you do?
  6. Do you have a twitter account?  Is your twitter account for business or personal?  If you have a publicly visible twitter account, then you must ask yourself:
    1. If someone doesn’t know me, but they see my tweets, will their impression of me be in line with my professional image?
    2. Is the content I tweet, and the Organizations/People I follow, supportive of my professional brand as a leader of people?
  7. None of these statements absolve you of responsibility for what you do online:
    1. “Tweets are my own.”
    2. “Comments expressed here are mine, and not the opinion of my employer.”
    3. “This is my personal site, I do not discuss business here.”
    4. or anything else similar to this.
  8. As a follow-up to #7, if you don’t like this reality, then here is something to ponder:
    1. If you do something stupid in a mall, it could cost you your job.
    2. If you do something stupid in your front yard, where a neighbor might see you, it could cost you your job.
    3. If you do something stupid in your house, with the blinds drawn, then you will probably be okay.
    4. Think of a Public Social Media Presence as the Mall, a Private Social Media Presence is your front yard, and being Off-Line is being in your house with the curtains drawn.
  9. If you use the Twitter Handle @AcmeService, and you leave Acme Service for another job, Acme Service will probably be allowed to retain that twitter handle, as well as the history for that twitter page, including your followers.
    1. However, if your Twitter Handle is @BillSmith, and you co-brand your Social Presence by blending your own content, as well as Acme Service’s content, then you should be able to keep that name and page when you leave Acme.
    2. Name your pages carefully.
  10. If these questions and comments scare you, not having a Social Presence is not an option.
    1. The best Relationship Managers, Sales Reps, Client Services Reps, etc. all have an active Social Presence…and the gap between successful professional with and without one is closing.
    2. Therefore, if you want to be a leader, you must lead by example.  And if everyone is doing business online, so must you, or risk obsolescence.
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Mark Twain’s Opinion on Social Media (an assumption)

Leaders have always Mastered the Power of Messaging, and they have embraced the latest mediums to amplify their message.

  • The Founding Fathers were masters of using the printing press to mass produce pamphlets, and newspaper editorials, to rally the movement.
  • FDR famously used the power of radio to communicate to the masses during the darkest days of the Great Depression and WWII.
  • And at this point, everyone has seen how Steve Jobs was able to artfully craft his brand through carefully controlled product rollouts, and the way these messages were made available online.

Moreover, Leaders are Readers.  Check out a Biography of any famous CEO, Politician, Philanthropist, Artist, etc.; just about all of them are avid readers.

Which brings me to my point.  Mark Twain once famously said:

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

I believe, if Mark Twain were alive today, he would also say:

“Anyone who doesn’t use Social Media has no advantage over a person who can’t use Social Media.”

I know I am going out on a limb here, putting words in the mouth of an American Icon like Mark Twain.   But nevertheless, heed the warning:

  • Just like the proverbial tree in the woods, accept the reality of how people communicate today; or risk having your message not be heard.
  • Interact with thought leaders, relevant organizations, and tap into the power of your network, accept the reality that these people are engaging via Social; or be left out of the conversation.
  • Take advantage of all your tools, accept the reality that business is going Social; or risk competing against those of us that do.

On a side note, I highly recommend Mark Twain’s autobiography, it is the perfect book for your night stand, a series of short entries which can be read each night.

You learned all you need to know about Social Media when you were a kid – 10 Examples

I decided to write a blog about Social etiquette and how to engage people on-line.  So I did my research to see what was out there already.  I read a few blog posts and articles about Social Media etiquette, and while the guidance seemed accurate, it struck me as rather pedestrian.

Later on that day I was trying to talk to my kids about how to play nice with their friends, and be polite in social settings.  That is when the lightbulb went on, everything you need to know about social media, you already learned when you were a kid.

So I changed my blog post, and instead of telling people how to act, I thought it would be more significant to illustrate that they already know what to do.  I mean Social Media is still Social, so the basic rules of engaging with people hasn’t changed, the Medium has.

Don’t believe me, check out this list of 10 things we have been told, or have told our children, about how to behave in public:

  • You have 2 Ears, and 1 Mouth, because you should listen twice as much as you speak.

Engagement is a two-way street, listen and share.  You should take in at least twice as much content as you share.

  • You are not learning when you are talking.

When you have something worth while to share, you will add value to the conversation.  But you are only learning when you listen to the conversation and check out article, blogs, etc.

  • No one will want to play with you if you complain all the time.

We all have that friend on Facebook that complains about life all the time.  Or the person on Twitter that fires off angry tweets non stop.  No one wants to hang out with negative people, you’ll be a downer.

  • If someone is talking to you, it is polite to look at them and respond politely.

If people are engaging with you on Social Media (ReTweeting, Direct Messaging, Private Messaging, Liking, Commenting), it is polite to respond to them.  Engage in conversation, or at least acknowledge them.  If you don’t, they will ignore you too.

  • Respect your elders.

If you come across supervisors, senior members of organizations, respected individuals on a Social site, give them the same respect you would in person…even if it is a little more casual.

  • Don’t talk about yourself or brag (too much).

If all you do is talk about yourself, you have lost the point of Social Media.  You are not being social, it just comes across as rude.  I think the only exception would be someone of significant notoriety, in which your fans follow you just to hear about what you do all day.  You better be pretty cool to pull this one-off.

  • Don’t Gossip.

I treat gossip the same as stealing someone’s content.  Don’t use Social Media to make statements like “this person said X,” and don’t steal someone else’s content and present it as your own.  If you are fake or mean you will be quickly identified and ignored.

  • Be Kind, but Don’t Let Someone Bully You

All the politeness in the world will only go so far with a rude person.  If someone is not using Social appropriately, just unfriend/unfollow/unlike them.  The lack of engagement will shut them down.

  • Be wary of strangers

Social is great because we can network and connect with a broader group of people.  But until you have an established relationship, be careful what you say or share with someone.  This goes for the information on your profile.

  • If you fail, it is okay, get up and try again

If you try something on social media and it doesn’t work, try again.  No one reading your blog?  Try a different audience or a different way to promote it.  Have a Fan Page on Facebook with no traction?  Shut it down and try Google+.  Don’t get useful information from Twitter? Unfollow useless folks and follow new ones.  Learn, Improve and Keep Trying.

So, just like the content I read on the web, none of this is Earth Shattering news.  But when you realize that polite in person is the same as polite on Social, you realize you have no more fear of making a mistake.  Just do it, get started, and learn as you go.  There are plenty of people out there willing to point you in the right direction, if you are polite about it.

Social Selling 101: How A Sales Manager Uses Social Media – My Interview w/Tracy Schmidt via Crain’s

I was interview by Tracy Schmidt, from Crain’s Social Media Group, per my experiences with Social Media as a Sales Professional. (click HERE to find the original post, including slideshare examples.)

Here is the text version of the interview:

Social Selling 101: How A Sales Manager Uses Social Media
Tracy Samantha Schmidt | Jun 11, 2013

For the sales professional, social media has emerged as a great tool to find new clients and to deepen relationships with existing clients.

Called social selling, this process uses “social media to network, prospect, research, engage, collaborate, teach, and close all with the purpose of attaining quota and increasing revenue,” according to Barbara Giamanco, author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media.

Early research illustrates how effective social selling can be. In May 2012, the Aberdeen Research Group released a study on social selling that found sales professionals are 79 percent more likely to attain their quota than those who don’t use social selling in their sales process. (For more on Aberdeen’s findings and best practices for social selling, check out the Slideshare they published in February.)

A 2012 Harvard Business Review article also reported that 90 percent of C-level executives don’t respond to cold calls or e-mail blasts, but “potential customers are surprisingly responsive to short messages sent via social media.”

The article, published in the July-August 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review, is worth paying for. I’ve sent it to dozens of colleagues and potential clients in the past year to prove the case for social selling.

Nick Stepanovich, a Chicago-based sales manager with ADP, doesn’t need convincing. He has been using social media in the sales process for several years. He is now working with ADP to develop a training program for all of its sales people. And we’re not just talking LinkedIn and Twitter here — he also uses his personal blog and even Pinterest.

Nick was kind enough to share his thoughts with us. Our Q&A is below, and we’ve also created a Slideshare to illustrate his answers. You can download it here or click through the embedded link below.

–With reporting by Melanie Stone

Social Selling 101: How A Sales Manager Uses Social Media To Do His Job from Crain’s Social Media Group

What exactly is “social selling?”

To me, social selling is two individual components acting together. One, social selling is having an established brand on the internet. It is said that a client is 70% through their buying process before they engage you. Where did they do this homework? They did it online, they went to your website, they looked at user groups, they checked you out, and they talked to others about you. Two, social selling is being able to use the information available on the internet to do homework. There is an expectation that you have done your homework, and a sales person that is not aware of information currently available on the internet, has failed to meet a minimum criteria for engaging with a company.

Tell us about your own career path and how you started to use social media.

I started using social media in general as a way to leverage emerging technologies. I wanted to see how new opportunities to engage with others would help me succeed in business. I started slowly with a simple LinkedIn account, which led me to use Twitter. Reading and reacting to blogs I found via Twitter led me to create my own blog. And lastly, my desire to create a customized and engagement-friendly presence led me to Pinterest.

What were some of the first mistakes you made and how did you learn from them?

Some of the first mistakes I made with social media were over-communicating. Blasting content, while valuable in its own right as an advertisement, is not how you conduct social selling. The true power of social media lies in the ability to connect with people. Have conversations, stay on top of thought leadership, bounce ideas off of others, establish yourself as a credible resource, and most importantly be a giver. In social media, a giver will receive …a blaster gets ignored.

Here is the dirty little secret: None of what I just said is different than selling decades ago. The medium we use today and the expectations of others have evolved; but building trust, creating professional networks, having conversations, these are timeless concepts.

How do you currently use social media in sales? Can you tie it directly revenue? How?

In short, yes, I can directly tie revenue to social activities.

I have used LinkedIn to do research on individuals and companies, but everyone does that. Through various interest groups I have been able to strike up conversations, make connections and build credibility. These relationships have turned into requests to meet and discuss my services; it has also allowed me to connect with people who can influence others in their decision making.

I have used Twitter to stay abreast of what is going on in the business world, as well as what is going on with my clients. On many occasions I have discovered a compelling white paper, study, or significant event in an organization, which has allowed me to gain access to a company. Moreover, my ability to access useful information in real time has added to my personal brand as someone with their finger on the pulse of business, and more importantly, how that information is impacting my clients.

I measure the connection to revenue by tracking how I use social media to connect or gain access to a company. The resulting revenue is proof enough for me.

Your company, ADP, has been very supportive of your use of social media in sales. Why is that and how have they worked with you to start an internal training program? What do you teach employees?

ADP has been a great company for me to work for, specifically when it comes to social selling. ADP understands that our brand is not what we tell others it is, our brand is what others say it is (to paraphrase the founder of Inuit). By entering the social world, and engaging our clients where they reside, ADP has been at the forefront of social branding and communicating our message where people will see it. At the same time, when you put yourself out there, you need to deliver. So ADP has been very proactive and responsive to the needs of our clients in every way: from being an information source for things like the Affordable Care Act through our Eye on Washington Series, to responding to client’s needs via social channels.

The more we as employees can become trusted advisors and consultative resources to the greater business world, we strengthen ADP’s Brand. Simultaneously, by allowing us to leverage ADP publications, videos, information, etc. we are empowered us to use their resources to establish our reputation. As I build my personal brand, I cannot divorce myself from the brand of my employer – and visa-versa. It becomes a positive loop of one strengthening the other.

Given this reality, and the co-mingling of brand, ADP has been very progressive in the way they have rolled out social selling. We have a vision, a strategy, and as an organization we are encouraging our associates to go build their own brand on line. A great example of this is the training I have been a part of. We have put together a program to teach etiquette and best practices per the different social outlets. We have rolled these out at various geographic and organizations levels, and we provide ongoing training.

My advice to any company looking to empower their employees, or any employee looking to leverage their company brand, is be sure you trust each other. ADP needs to trust that I will act responsibly as a publicly engaged employee and not damage their brand, and I need to trust that as I build my personal identity online that ADP’s actions will strengthen my brand, not detract.

What is your current social media strategy?

My current social media strategy is to grow my influence by becoming a resource. I use social media to engage with and grow my professional network beyond the geographic constraints which existed in the past. The more I am viewed as a resource, the more others come to me for information, and the more my comments can influence people. Sometimes I answer questions on social sites, sometimes I help others by making an introduction into my network, and sometimes people need what I sell. And in exchange for being a giving member of my social communities, sometimes I get help in return. People answer my questions, they help me with decisions, and at times they refer me to new clients.

How do you manage it all throughout the day and how to do you separate personal from professional?

I manage my social activities by being well organized with my time. There are times throughout the day where I use social media to do homework on companies or individuals, and as a sales activity, I do that as needed. I also use tools like BufferApp and Hootsuite to help organize my streams of information, they also allow me to segment my social activity so I can quickly find what I need. And frankly, social has replaced other activities in my life. I no longer need to watch the news or read my favorite magazines, I get that information directly fed to me through custom feeds on Twitter or LinkedIn. I actually spend less time consuming information, but I take in more pertinent content.

You use Pinterest — which is very unusual for a man working for a B2B business to do. How do you use it and how do clients react to it?

Ha, I get that comment a lot. People love my Pinterest page. There is so much information out there pertaining to my career and my employer, it can be hard to organize. Even if I were to organize it through a personal webpage, it can be hard to engage with a website. By using Pinterest I have been able to identify and “pin” useful information in a very user-friendly way. I can send people to my Pinterest page for information, people routinely find my Pinterest page, and they can even re-pin the information to their own page for use later. I find the combination of visuals, engagement and information to be a great resource for me.

You also write a blog that’s related to your company and your industry. Why? If you had more time, what else would you write about?

I started writing my blog as an outlet. Once I had a way to put my thoughts down, they seemed to stop running through my head nonstop. And once these ideas stopped running through my head non-stop, I stopped talking about these ideas endlessly to my friends and my wife. So, originally, it was a release. Then the more I became involved on social media, the more I discovered the value of content. People want to read unique and thoughtful ideas, they value a concise opinion. That got me to start using my blog as a way to communicate compelling thought leadership and experiences. I routinely send my blog articles to others, I post my pieces to LinkedIn, tweet them, and I use Tumblr to publicly post my blog. I find my blog has become a great way to establish myself as a resource for others, and a great way to engage with people looking for useful information.

Finally, how do you see “social sales” evolving in the next year? What websites or books can sales reps read to learn more?

Right now we routinely use tools like our DVR to skip commercials while watching TV. In the same vein, we are likely to stop following/liking individuals on social media that blast direct marketing to us. Content marketing, using compelling ideas and publications as a way to build followership, then use this audience as a way to generate business; this process will continue to grow in popularity and sophistication.

I also see social media continuing to become much more visual, Facebook has already become more photo-friendly, and now twitter allows us to tweet short videos. I believe this trend will continue; design and imagery will dominate social media as a differentiator of messaging.

Imagine, years ago, doing business with someone that didn’t have a mailing address, or didn’t have a fax number, or even a business card. In most cases, there would be some doubt as the legitimacy of this person as a business professional. Today, a social media presence is the ante to play. Furthermore, I believe a poor social media presence will be held against people in the near future.

Lastly, as far as books I would recommend The Third Screen (Martin), Enterprise 2.0 (McAfee), Socialnomics (Qualman), The Connected Company (Grey), Return on Influence (Schaefer), Likeonomics (Bhargava). These will give you a great understanding of what is happening in Social today, how you can get involved, and how to impact your own career by being social-smart.

Holiday Social-Hiatus didn’t Kill Me…but I missed the Juice

I conducted an experiment on myself, to see how I would handle a toned down social media experience.

I wanted to go back to scratch, ease back into it, and see if I would still do all the same things, or if I would try something different.

Week 1 was basically no Social Media.

Week 2 was read-only social media activity. (on Twitter and Facebook only)

Week 3 was read-and-a-little LinkedIn activity, a few Tweets, and I added Pinterest back to the mix.

Week 4, here I am, getting back to my blog.  The only social media site I basically gave up on was FourSquare, and while I still check out Klout, I don’t actively monitor my number.

I didn’t know what I would find out…I guess I realized I like the tools I use, and I like how I use them.  I missed the juice of being plugged in.  BUT, I also feel rejuvenated to get back to it.  So, maybe break was good idea after all.  Betcha I don’t do it next year 😉

Social Selling – Your Field of Dreams

I was talking to a VP of Sales at a mid-sized company recently, and we were discussing the merits of social-selling.  Despite the data, he hasn’t bought in to the idea of social branding, and has yet to include social media in his sales strategy.

At first, I started to explain how to engage with people on Twitter, and how to use groups on LinkedIn.  I got about 2 minutes in when he cut me off.  He said, “So its like the Hunters on my team, go find the people who can buy and market to them.” – No

So I tried a different approach, I decided instead to talk about how social media allows you to engage prospective clients earlier in the buying process.  I began to explain how establishing yourself as a resource builds credibility…and again I get cut off.  He said, “So its like the Farmers on my team, put out a lot of information and wait for the leads to sprout.” – Not really

Finally, I started from scratch, I looked at the baseball on his desk…and I told him that it was only a few years ago, that using social media to try to advance my career made me feel like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.

In the movie, before all these great baseball players showed up to play, and before crowds of fans came to watch, he had to plow under his corn field and build a baseball field. (plus, there was a voice in his head telling to do so, consider this post “the voice in your head:” if you build your social-media presence your prospective clients will come.)

But building the baseball field wasn’t easy, he needed to put in the time, plow under his own corn crop, and spend his own money to do it right.  All the while, many of his peers questioned what he was doing, why he was doing it, and if he had gone mad.

Similarly, while your “unenlightened peers” question your efforts, you need to spend time and energy establishing a brand, getting involved and putting out quality content…all because you know it will pay dividends.

That analogy seemed to sink in.  Now, how much of his corn field he was willing to plow under before seeing results has yet to be determined.  But he now understands:

there IS a team coming to town, they DO draw an audience, and they WILL generate revenue…but they need a field to play on, and if you don’t build it, someone else will.