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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.

There are two common complaints clients often ask me about when it comes to their business blogs (1) finding time to blog and (2) coming up with topics. I have written about getting into a consistent blogging pattern before, so today I wanted to talk about ways to come keep the posts coming.

I have put together a list of 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
- Read other blogs in your niche, you may find a post that you disagree with, or have a different twist on that you can write about
- Read blogs in a completely different niche, you may get inspired with an idea
- Recommend a book
- Check out Chris Brogan's post: 20 Blog Topics To Get You Unstuck
- Keep and a small idea log in your purse or laptop bag, you never know when an idea will come to you. If you have an iPhone, use of one of the voice recorder apps to record your idea

Now go out and write!

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."

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in taking your social media activities to the next level, then the Social Media Boot Camp being held in Sunnyvale, CA on August 17th is the event for you!

This 5 hour seminar is designed for the Intermediate person who has some experience with updating their own website, that is a Do It Yourselfer for their own SoMe strategy and organic rankings, you are familiar with Article Publishing, Blogging and you are active on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Biznik, You Tube, My Space, and/or Twitter.

There will be 6 Experts who will each give Tips, Tricks & Tactics that you can take and apply to your business, website, online store or your social media presence immediately. Each speaker will talk for 45 minutes with a 15 minute "Ask the Expert" Q & A.

I will be doing the session on blogging! I will be covering how to gain traffic to your blog and how to tactics for PUMPING up your blog for humans and search engines.

For more information on the entire day and other details, check out the
registration page.

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.  

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.

Social media is a long term strategy.  There is no quick in-and-out and you do not have to do everything at once. In fact, it's probably best if you don't. Start small and plan for success.
Before diving in, there are a few things to consider:
  • Who are your target customers?
  • Where do you find them?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do you bring to them?
Choose one tool to use at a time and focus on mastering the techniques. Start off slowly by observing others in your niche, or those who you think are "doing it right."   It is not a one size fits all world. What works for one business may not work for another. You need to determine what method drives the market to get your message across.

Build on your successes and learn from your failures. Using this method, you will gain efficiencies that make it easier for you to add tools to your social media portfolio. Your actions will be thought out and deliberate rather than scattered and unorganized. Your interaction with your target customers will go more smoothly if you have looked before you leaped.

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.

A lot of people ask me about good books to read to help them get started with Twitter.  There is a lot of content out there on the web, but you have to hunt and peck to get good material.  As you know, I do have my Twitter Tips & Tricks blog where I post tools and tips a couple of times a week, but to get started, I usually do one-on-one or group coaching.

However, there are some people who like to read books.  As a bookworm myself, I totally get that.  With social media, I always caution people to look at the publishing date to make sure they are getting the most current information as things change quickly (such as interfaces and tools).  One way to avoid this is to use ebooks which come out all the time and are usually far more up-to-date than any published book.

Sarah Prout, the publisher of the e-book that I am currently featured in, has just released an e-book on Twitter that I think does a decent job of explaining the fundamentals. While there are a few things that I don't completely support in the book, the majority of it is very educational for persons who are more DIY types.

If you want to build your brand and attract more followers then the Twitter Success Blueprint contains all of the information you need to enrich your business with social media.  Award-winning entrepreneur, author and online socialite, Sarah Prout shares her buzz building, eye-catching strategies that will make Twitter time better for business.

The ebook contains:

- How you can attract thousands of targeted followers FAST!
- Setting up your Twitter page for success
- How to automate your social media time
- Connection strategies
- A new twist on #followfriday
- How to attract attention with your tweets
- Dealing with spammers, stalkers and porn-bots
- And more