If you are a participant in social media, I am assuming that one of your objectives in social networking is to connect with people from a personal or business perspective. Regardless of what social networking site you are on, without establishing social media credibility, you will not attract quality connections or business. I find many people are still in unfamiliar waters in social media regardless of whether they be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other sites out there, so I wanted to offer some advice to help you establish social media credibility based on not repeating many of the common mistakes that I see.
As you read through the list, you will notice that nothing I write about here is rocket science. It is pure innate common sense. That is because social networking is also a basic human function that we have been doing since our childhood. Yet, you would be surprised by how many people are violating many of my guidelines below.
How to Establish Social Media Credibility
- Use Your Real Name. If you haven’t noticed, regardless of what social network I am on, my handle is always my real name, Neal Schaffer. After all, you want people to both find you as well as know what your name is, don’t you? I realize it is tempting to create “branded” user names like “IAmtheUltimateSocialMediaExpert” or “KingExpertofExperts,” but I don’t think the user name is where you want to be doing your branding. It should be in your actions and your content, not your name! And if you want to put your business name as your profile name, it only hurts your credibility. After all, who wants to network with a company? You can’t establish social media credibility without revealing who you are!
- Use Your Real Photo. If you are on a social networking site, why would you not be displaying your photo? If you are playing Mafia Wars or another networking game, I can understand your desire to use some sort of graphic avatar, but this is social media that I am talking about. Similar to using your real name, you can’t establish social media credibility without revealing who you really are! And if you put your company logo as your profile photo, you have lost any social media credibility you might have had; you are telling the world that you are on a social networking site to be anti-social and just see people as numbers that you can acquire for whatever business purpose you have. For an additional perspective on this issue, please see my previous blog post on including your photo in your LinkedIn profile.
- Complete Your Profile. Your profile that is visible to the public is there for a reason. If you are hoping to make new connections on a social networking site without completely filling out your profile, why bother? You’re not credible if you don’t completely reveal who you are! I hope you see a trend here: Social Media is about being completely transparent. If you are not being transparent in your approach, people will wonder why and you will lose your social media credibility.
- Connect! You’re on a social networking site yet you only have a few friends, connections, or followers? Why waste your time? There is no excuse for not being able to find great people to connect with! The larger the number of connections you have does not necessarily mean the more credible you are, but you should have a “healthy” amount of connections to show that you have a network that values your presence.
- Communicate, Don’t Just Broadcast. Social media is a medium that allows you to easily broadcast your message. Don’t fall into the trap of just broadcasting. You need to be communicating with people way more than just broadcasting at them. Would you walk into a room of 100 people and just start talking at them? Of course not. So why would you attempt to do this on a social networking site? BE SOCIAL!
- Share Before Selling. Social media is all about sharing information or expertise with others. After all, if users are generating content, they are ideally doing so because they think others will be interested in this content, right? Social media content should not be mere advertisements or Search Engine Optimization backlinks. From a Windmill Networking perspective, every person has unique experiences that may be invaluable to others without you realizing it. So whether it’s your blog, a LinkedIn Groups Discussions post, or a tweet, if you’re just advertising yourself without sharing information, no one is going to listen to you. Pay It Forward. Share your expertise with the world! For another perspective, please see my previous blog post on How to Sell to Your LinkedIn Connections.
- Always Indirectly Advertise Yourself. If you’re involved in social media, one of your objectives may be in selling a product or service, many times that product being oneself. And that’s OK. But once you start spamming people with emails and broadcasts about your latest product or your situation, you’ve lost your social media credibility. The key is that your message has to be relevant to your audience, you have to be adding value, and it has to have The Personal Touch, or be as personable as possible. In such a way you are, in essence, indirectly advertising yourself in a savvy way. Anything else and you will be seen as someone utilizing social media just for your own purpose.
If you follow the above 7 steps to establish your social media credibility, you will be well on your way to not only meeting lots of new people that are interested in what you are about. You will also be Paying It Forward in how you engage with others. You will become a role model for all of the other Windmill Networkers out there!