With so many social media applications ubiquitously accessible, we are permanently tempted to express ourselves: tweeting here, text messaging there, uploading photos, attaching videos… but – stop! – let’s be reminded that the target of almost all produced and broadcasted information is an audience of human beings. Whether we name them “followers” or “friends”, we want our messages to be heard (respectively read) and not just to be skipped or even flushed in a recipient’s act of self-defense from “friendly” message fire.
Let’s embrace the social media with all their opportunities, but bear in mind that with power comes responsibility, particularly when we intend to use Twitter (or other social media like Facebook or Google+) for professional purpose.
Having said that, I like to suggest a few self-imposed rules of electronic messaging that I use myself for the professional environment:
- Respect your followers and value their time.
- Don’t syndicate information that is more important for you than it may be for your audience.
- Before composing a message, consider the reasons why people decided to follow you (e.g. they liked your profile, have read your professional articles).
- Do not drown your followers in a flood of messages.
- Use hashtags to enable your audience to preselect their lecture.
- Use different accounts if you are engaged in multiple topics for different target groups.
- Use direct messages for individual communication (or a separate account if your communication partner is not your follower yet).
If you employ Twitter, Facebook or Google+ with professional intentions, the people you follow will influence your online reputation. Therefore, I like to evaluate the candidates to follow before taking my decision and check
- Who are an account’s followers
- Whom an account follows
- Topics and quality of an account’s tweets.
If you are in a B2B business, your own followers may also influence how you are perceived as a professional. Being in that type of business myself, I take time to evaluate who I allow to follow me and sometimes even block an account.
Another targeted, and easy way to get your message out to a particular audience, is using Paper.li. Again, with the ease of publication comes responsibility – for quality content. So if you intend to publish your own paper.li for a professionally engaged audience, here are a few of my thoughts to get the most out of it:
- Handpick the Twitter and/or Facebook accounts that you want to contribute to the paper, i.e. reassure yourself that those chosen news spotters deliver quality day after day after day.
- Take the time to pick a few articles manually yourself.
- Consider the paper to be a service for your audience, i.e. you should save them time to weed through the Twitter noise.
- Respect the time that a typical member of your audience can spend reading your paper per day (or per week if you prefer to publish weekly), therefore: less is more.
- If you want to grow a loyal readership, keep your paper appropriately short and exciting and avoid inundating your audience. (Having examined quite a few Paper.li publications, I suggest to not include more than 10 to 20 news spotters per issue.)
I look forward to your comments, thoughts on social media for professional use.
Image credit: jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net