Learn once and apply everywhere
by Meryl K. Evans, editor, Professional Services Journal
I love to learn new keyboard shortcuts. Without a doubt, they speed typing. I remember learning my first shortcuts back in the early ’90s. They were Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V — better known as cut, copy and paste, respectively.
And they still work today. They work just about everywhere. Even Mac computers use the same letters. The only difference is that the Mac uses Command instead of Ctrl as its modifier key.
This makes me crazy. The Command and Ctrl keys are in different locations on the keyboard — not by much, just enough to turn my fingers into awkward contortionists. They don’t work as fast as they do on a Windows keyboard. But I digress. Back on point.
Keyboard shortcuts are just one of many time-saving activities you can learn once and apply everywhere.
The same applies to social media. Some of its best practices work in all networks. For example, sharing great articles is often a hit in every network. In Twitter, you tweet the title of the article, shortcut link, and maybe a thought or two. In Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, you can add a paragraph’s worth of thoughts to accompany the link.
If the article has a picture or you have one that relates to it, you can pin it on Pinterest or take a picture and post it in Instagram. (You can almost never go wrong with cat or dog photos. Yes, even in business! Some of my most popular Pinterest pictures consist of one or the other.)
And so on. Here are seven social media “shortcuts” to learn that people will appreciate everywhere.
1. Create a complete profile.
This is golden rule No. 1. Do not pass go, follow, circle, like, reply or anything until you’ve developed a profile. If you do, folks may not return the follow, circle or like. Some prefer to learn a little about you before deciding to add you to their circles.
I tend not to connect with people who don’t have a bio or a profile. Rarely do I connect with anyone who has a bio but no picture. More often than not, I connect with those who have both.
Before you do anything in a new social network, fill out your profile and add a photo. It doesn’t take much time, as you should have both readily available. Just copy and paste a bio and upload a suitable photo. No photo? Have a colleague or friend take a close-up picture of you with a suitable top and a plain background. If you don’t have time to do that, come back later. Don’t do anything else until this is done.
2. Focus on building relationships.
The most effective way to make social networking effective for your business is the same just about everywhere. Approach it from the perspective of building relationships through conversations.
Yes, social networking gives you a forum to provide customer service. Helping customers strengthens the relationship. Yes, companies want to make sales. But no one will drop a dime without getting to know you. Would you make a business deal on the first tweet you see from a company promoting its services?
This quote from Zig Ziglar is a great reminder of how to approach social media. “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Think of the last time someone helped you. This should be easy, because we tend to remember people who did something for us. Every social network gives you an opportunity to help others.
3. Mention others.
LinkedIn recently added this feature to its status update. When mentioning others in a status update — an author of an article, for example — add @ before the person’s name to turn the name into a clickable link. This also works in most social networks.
People usually are notified when they’ve been mentioned, or they look for mentions. This prompts them to think of your company and possibly visit your social media page. Most of us appreciate a mention. Positive ones, of course.
Imagine attending a gathering. You see a group of people you know chatting. You head over to join them. What’s the first thing you do? Listen.
This helps you gauge the topic of conversation. It also shows respect for the group, as you won’t interrupt anyone. When the time is right, you’ll share your insights.
A customer calls you, complaining. The first thing you do? Listen. You need to understand the problem, empathize and respond appropriately.
If a company isn’t ready to be proactive in social media, then at the very least, it needs to monitor mentions. Customers take complaints to social media when they feel the company failed to listen. Don’t let those mentions float out there unaddressed.
Listening is half of the equation, especially when a customer complains. Customers forgive mistakes. They just want acknowledgment. Even if you don’t have answers, respond as quickly as possible. A simple “Thanks for letting us know about it; we’ll look into it and get back to you ASAP” works.
6. Provide value.
This means sharing things that others value. It can be linking to a relevant and informative article, sharing expertise, giving kudos, and helping others. All without mentioning your product, service, blog or website.
7. Be yourself.
Yes, be yourself, even if you’re representing a company account, not your personal account. Companies that succeed in social media show a human side by talking conversationally and opening the curtain so you can get to know them.
Like keyboard shortcuts, these social media shortcuts work globally. Sure, each has unique shortcuts that won’t work elsewhere. I use Gmail to manage all my email. Although it has its own shortcuts (press Shift + / to access Gmail’s list of shortcuts), you can count on Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and Ctrl+X to work there. (Translation for Mac fans, substitute Ctrl with Command.)
About the author
Meryl K. Evans is senior editor at InternetViZ and the content maven behind the Organizational Excellence Journal and Professional Services Journal. Contact her or connect with her on Twitter @merylkevans or elsewhere.