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This is first in a series (seven, you guessed it!) on social media sins. This is my fun way to impart sage advice for avoiding some of the pit falls which have a way of sneaking up on you.  I stole the idea from my pal, The Clutter Coach.  Hope you enjoy my social media version! 

You have an community, whether it be blog readers, Twitter followers, or fans on Facebook. You carry on conversations, exchange ideas. They are there, ready to hear what you have to say. So when something has displeased you, it seems so easy to rant, complain, or spread negatively, knowing that you will get support. But is that the right thing to do?

The answer is, no, not really.

Everything you say on the internet, including (and especially) social media, is permanent. That five minute rant in which you blew off some steam, could come back and bite you in the derriere some day down the line. And do you really want clients, or potential clients, to see you in that light? Not very professional.

The relationships that you have with your clients, readers, followers, fans, contacts (you-name-it), is a privileged one. Don't use it as a platform when you feel wronged about something.  If you have a legitimate complaint, and you want to use social media as a means to resolve it (and this is a very effective way to get resolution), take the high road.

If you feel you must get your feelings off your chest, sit down and write it all out in a Word doc, Notepad, email, anything, and then save it to draft. Wait 24 hours and read it again and then if you must send it out to the universe, send it to yourself! You will have gotten your say off your chest and sent it on its merry way without damaging your reputation or integrity.

Always take the high road, you will never regret it.

 
 
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It is a little known fact that one of the best ways to bring people to your blog or website is to comment on other people's blogs.

Not only are you showing goodwill when you add value to someone else's post, but you may also:

- bring the blog author to your blog or site
- bring other reader's of the blog you commented to your blog or site
- create relationships that could lead to guest posting opportunities

It does not require a lot of time to do this.  Schedule 20-30 minutes every day visiting blogs within in your niche or related to your niche, and you will see that "what comes around, goes around."

 
 
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You've written a really great blog post. One that is informative and timely. It is well received with good comment reception. Now what? How can you maximize your good content further? Distribute it.

One way to accomplish that is to submit it to an online magazine. Depending on your industry or audience, there are plenty of online magazines out there where you can submit your material. 

Some of my favorites are:
- Blog Nosh Magazine
- Divine Caroline
- Blissfully Domestic

Search around, there are industry organizations all over that are always looking for good material for submissions.  

 
 
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Social media is not free, but it is very economical!  A lot of the tools - Twitter, Facebook, blogs, are free to sign-up for and use, but in order to have more impact on your target audience, some small investments need to be made. Below a describe some of the expenses associated to the main social media tools.

Twitter is free to sign-up for and use, but it is important to customize your background to be branded for your business. There are free tools to do this, or a small investment can be made by hiring a designer, which would typically leverage existing materials you already have for your website (colors, logo, etc).

A Facebook Page (for business) is free to sign-up for and use.  There are a few tricks to get it set-up correctly and it is important that it is branded for your company. Since there are limitations to the amount of branding you can do, this is generally just your logo. More complex pages require HTML.

Depending on the blogging tool you select, it is either free or has a minimum monthly fee. Although it is important to brand your blog, here, content is king.  The blog does not have to be overly designed, but there should be some reflection of your company or personality.  This can literally be done with a single photograph of stock photo and does not have to involve an entire blog design.  If you choose to do an entire blog design, there is a cost associated to that, but it is not exorbitant.

Newsletters are not traditionally considered social media, however, more and more businesses are using it to distribute the information that they produce on their blogs. The newsletter serves as a mixture of information and a driver to the website. The tool is usually not free, but has a small monthly cost associated with it.

For all of the tools above, depending on how comfortable you are using them, you may need the assistance of a social media coach or strategist (hey, like me!) There are best practices and tricks of the trade you may want to consider investing in by hiring a consultant. This should not cost you a limb and can set you off on the road to success more quickly.

One last thing, although in terms of dollars, social media may be very inexpensive, there is a labor cost associated with it in terms of your time. Social media does require some of your time.  There are methods to ensure that your time is used in a highly impactful way, but there is still a time investment that does need to b made.  The results, however, far outweigh the costs.

 
 
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The impact of social media on todayʼs job search environment is significant compared to say 2-3 years ago, particularly when it comes the amount of information available for potential employers to "review" prior to selecting candidates.

Reversely, the availability of information on the web also makes it easy for potential employees to do research people before interviews. I can tell you that I have definitely done that for interview preparation. Furthermore, my first instinct when considering business relationships, is to Google someone and see what comes up. For a lot of companies these days, this is something that is frequently done before hiring anybody as an employee, consultant, or contractor.

Anyone can easily find personal information about anyone else simply by doing a Google search. Social media has increased the proliferation of photos, personal stories, information about religious and political point-of-views, as well as sexual orientation and relationship status, things that a company are forbidden to ask, people make widely available on the internet for free.

So what can you do to ensure that you manage your reputation, particularly if you are looking for work? Google yourself!

Go to Google and enter your first and last name in quotes, for example: "Andi Fisher" - this will narrow the results and only give you those two words (in this case, names) together rather than pulling up anything with either just Andi or just Fisher (plus those with both Andi and Fisher).  

What comes up?  Clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up, including old profiles you may have created months or years ago and then abandoned.  Think about your tagging strategy for Facebook if you are in a lot of pictures, are they appropriate?  Do you have a personal blog? Is the content appropriate for your profession?

Now what if you Google yourself and there isn't much there? No worries...start building up your numbers by creating accounts on some social media networks, particularly LinkedIn if you are looking for a job.  Post articles or comment on professional forums in your industry.  Start a blog.  This can be done slowly over time. This is an easier "problem" to fix than say your name was headlined in your college newspaper after you were arrested for hazing, or something like that!

Now that you are aware of what your results are, make sure that you Google yourself on a monthly basis.  Do an audit on yourself and your reputation. safeguard it and protect it for future employment, business or personal opportunities.


 
 

I often hear the statement, "I can't blog, I don't have the time." And while it is true there is a certain amount of time needed to blog, it is not as much as you think. For most businesses these days, a blog is essential. It is something that can be a key differentiator between you and your competition.

When it comes to frequency it is not a matter of blogging daily, but rather setting a consistent schedule that your readers are trained to anticipate and then providing good content. Blogging once a week is perfectly acceptable, as long as you set expectations with your audience and the content you are provides value to your readers.

Ideally you should have some sort of editorial calendar created to assist you with organization and schedule. This can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet. The calendar should lay out the topics you want to cover for the next 3-6 months. The best thing to do is to sit down and brainstorm to create a list of potential ideas and then map them out from there. Larger topics can be broken out into a series over several weeks.

Ways to generate ideas:
- Take a recent experience and share it.
- If your personal story had impact on your business share or expand on it.
- Trends in your industry
- Thoughts and advice for your clients, customers, patients
- Comment on other blog articles
- Guest posts: think of people you admire in your industry or would like to interview
- Gather (to later publish) a list of links of items you find relevant or valuable

That is just a few examples. You should be able to get 5-10 posts out of your brainstorming session - that is 5-10 weeks if you blog on a weekly basis!

Now if you blog 4 or more times a week, you can do a summary in your monthly newsletter. You can do a brief summary of the topics and then links to the articles/posts. Voila! Now you have newsletter content as well!

Need help with getting started, drop me a line, I'd love to help!


 
 

When considering hiring a social media consultant there are a few things that you should keep in mind. As I have mentioned before, and as others have said as well, social media is like a cocktail party. You can't just grab a drink and interrupt a conversation, social media a a complex thing. A consultant can help make the introductions for you, smooth the initial awkwardness and ensure success.

New social media applications are popping up every week and each has it’s own values and pitfalls. Bottom line? There are NO experts and there is no one answer for every company.

A consultant can help guide you on the appropriate tools that will meet the specific needs for your company. A consultant will coach and train you on how to use the tools so that you will have a better understanding of what is involved and why you want to use one tool over another.

Even if you hire a consultant to use the tool for you (which is a common practice) you should never, ever trust a consultant who tells you that that they will create the content for you. You should control what you are saying about you! Your voice and your brand are your essence and the risk is too great to put that into someone else's hands.

However, you can hire a consultant who is familiar with the social media application to publish your content for you.

So two key considerations when hiring a social media consultant. First, be careful if someone claims to be a social media expert - there aren't any. And secondly, remember, you keep control of your biggest asset...you.