social media sanityI spent some time this evening cruising around Facebook, LinkedIn, Goolge+, Pinterest, and a few hundred other platforms. I had high hopes for finishing a couple blog posts but instead got lured in by the latest social news. You know how it is. Just as we get use to something it changes, a ticker is added, more of our activity gets shared, a new social network is born, mobile app launched and the list goes on.

As I wasted my night away in social slacker land with all my fellow slacker geeks I was amazed at how many people are simply losing their mind. I guess I am so close to all of it that I forget how many business leaders, entrepreneurs and consumers are still learning.

I saw everything from spammy Facebook, Pinterest & LinkedIn pages to a landing page that guaranteed me a first page Google ranking.

However, most shocking was seeing QR codes on LinkedIn and Facebook avatars. Really folks? Come on! Why on earth would you use a “code” in the place of a branding and human connection opportunity? There is NOTHING about the QR code that is going to connect me to your brand. It takes at minimum 6-7 brand touches for me to remember anything about you. Why would you waste such valuable online real estate on a code that to the human eye and remembering brain looks no different than all the other folks doing the same thing?

I am a believer in leveraging technology, cool gadgets, widgets and even QR codes. However, I suggest only doing such when they can be used in a way that brings value to your audience and helps you better inspire and connect with them.

Even given tonight's QR code most shocking moments and geek slacker time, I still have good news.  I am now motivated to not only finish a blog post, but also write a whole new one, thus the reason for this post.

With all this tech evolution it is important we not lose sight of why you are spending time on social in the first place! I hope most of you are spending time on the social networks to:

  • Connect with real people
  • Network
  • Learn
  • Educate
  • Inspire
  • Grow your business
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Make new friends
  • And the list goes on…..

I recently wrote a post titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media” where I talk in more depth on the importance of connecting with real people. It is the human connections we make with one another that bring the greatest benefits to our time and resource spent on integrating social media into our business.

So as you work to kickoff your social program, more deeply integrate social media into your business or wherever you may be in regard to social media adoption, don't lose sight of the art of social media. Social media is more than tools. The tech is the easy part. Figuring out how to inspire, educate and engage your audience after the Facebook like or follow is of most importance.

15 Tips to Stay Sane in a Tech Crazed Social World

1. Humanize before you codify! Your goal should be to humanize your brand, not codify your brand. Give me something I can connect to. Talk to me in words I can understand and relate to. Show me images that help me know who you are, what you do and how you can help me.

social media goals2. Know your goals and objectives. What are you doing and why? Why, why, why, should be the question you ask yourself over and over.

3. Align social media to your business not the other way around. You are destined for trouble if you try to force fit your business into a Facebook page or integrated blog platform. Instead your social media and online platform priorities should align with your business goals.

4. Select business goals where social can make a difference. Not all business goals can be positively impacted by social media. Align social as a priority where social can positively impact and move you closer to your goal.

5. Get in the head of your audiences. This includes clients, prospective clients, partners, online communities, evangelists, industry influencers etc. Learn as much as you can about them. What makes them tick, click and like? How can you inspire and connect with them? How can you help them achieve their goals and objectives?

6.What action do you want your audiences and communities to take? Where will they be when they will take such action? Will they be on a mobile phone? A PC? In their car? On a plane? Will it be morning, over lunch, late at night? I know all of these questions may sound crazy but they're not. Think about where your audiences will be when they will be engaging with you on the social platforms. If they are going to be on a mobile phone then don't put a QR code on the website that links to your Facebook page! How on earth will they use it?

7. WHY should your target audience take your desired action on your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or blog? Give them a reason. Focus on the WHY more than you focus on the tech they will use. Without the why the tech is a mute conversation as they'll never pay attention anyway.

8. Be your own social duck! Don't get caught up in the hype. Just because your entire small business networking group is putting QR codes on their Facebook pages and sending spammy email doesn't mean you should too. Be careful who you listen to and do your research before making decisions that impact your strategy and community member experience.

9. Trust your gut. Even if you are a newbie and your agency or consultant tells you to do something that just doesn't “feel right,” then do some research. There are many clueless agencies and consultants that are still trying to find their way in social. They mean well but may not be giving you advice that is going to help your business. Ask them for examples. Ask them specific questions related to WHY their recommendation is a good idea. If they can't clearly help you understand how the specific technical tactic they are recommending will help you meet a specific business goal or objective then don't do it.

like me on facebook please10. Quit telling me to like your page! I can't believe how many business leaders who have been properly trained and doing social media for quite some time are still doing this. I know you want Facebook likes. We all do. What should matter more to you is that I feel inspired to click “like.”  A like is only valuable if I come back, if you make a lasting impression in my brain. When you keep asking me to “like” you or help you get to a certain number of “likes” it actually makes me question more why I liked your page to begin with and that maybe I should unlike it? Focus also on the people who have already liked your page and make it worth their time to stick around.

11. Don't spam me, please. If I connect with you on LinkedIn, do not spam me and all of my contacts. I received three different emails via LinkedIn tonight from trusted colleagues. Someone who I connected with and accepted their LinkedIn invitation made it his priority to spam folks on my contact list. He even used my name and said he and I were friends. I told all three people the truth, and they are now all going to write back to him and inform him of his spammy ways and how unsuccessful they were. We also all reported him for spam. #FAIL

12. Don't act desperate. Even if you are desperate for leads, new business, likes, friends, followers, don't use behavior that makes it obvious that you are! Swap the same time you are spamming desperation posts and emails and instead focus on your own goals, objectives and market research. If you do the proper planning you'll see better results and won't have to beg for online friends. Trust me, it works!

13. Keep it simple. When all else fails go back to business 101. I sometimes think people are forgetting everything they ever learned. It's not that hard folks. You are in business to sell product or service. You have a particular market you want to sell your product or service to. Social media is nothing more than a new channel for you to communicate, inspire and better connect with clients, partners, prospects and more. Don't over think or over complicate it more than it has to be at the early stages.

14. Prioritize new tools and technology. You don't have to be on every social network and use every social tool, gadget, plugin available.  Schedule geek time. Schedule a specific amount of time to “play with new tools” if you are a tech and shiny object geek like me.  I find that if I set specific “geek time” then I am far more productive the other parts of my week. When incorporating a new tool or technology into your social strategy be sure that you do your research first and align it to your business goals and objectives.

heartbeat of social media15. Embrace the heartbeat of social media. Don't ever lose sight of the people of social media. Social media is nothing without communities and the people within them.  One can not breathe or last without the other. Focus on providing value, sharing your best stuff and you will see result. Focus on offering the tweet that makes someone's day, week or month. Share the knowledge via a blog post that solves business problems, inspires change or even gives them a dose of reality in an area they need to wake up and smell the coffee. Whatever it is make it real, make it you and make it about the people!

There is hope. Even if you are guilty of all of the above, don't freak out. You can easily pull your QR code down if it's not justified. You can work this week on your goals and objectives. Don't get lazy and think you'll never be able to fix it and move forward in a positive way. Stop the spam now. Stop begging for likes today. Focus on your business and audience first and the rest will come much easier! Trust me, it really does work!

Your Turn

Are you an admitted tech addicted geek? Or a you a newbie who has fallen victim to the latest tech or codifying gadget? Remember the first step to recover is to admit publicly your faults and commit to positive action.  If you have already recovered or never had issues with tech and tool addiction, what advice do you have for others? How do you prioritize and not lose your mind in this crazy social tech geek world?


Heartbeat of Social Media Series

This blog post is the second in a new series I am kicking off titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It will include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.

Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive in 2012!