5 Things to Consider before Handing Over the Keys to Your Social Media Accounts

Keys photo by Vickie BatesIn the few short years since brands took up social media, I’ve been handed the keys to any number of social accounts, and though the organizations were very different, the thing they had in common was that there was absolutely no introduction to the goals driving engagement in these channels.

Never mind that turning over accounts to people without a discussion of goals, audiences, strategy, tactics, voice and metrics (at the very least) is like handing your car keys to a teenager without asking whether they have a driver’s license.

As Michael Brito noted in the Mashable post “10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands,” it’s important to be flexible without being too restrictive when turning over keys to anyone – employees, contractors, interns. “Planning, training, coordination and integration with social tools is imperative,” Brito emphasizes.

One of the hallmarks of social media is its speed of delivery, but that should never be confused with a speedy hand-over of your accounts.

Here are 5 tips to consider when asking someone to manage your social media accounts:

1) Why are you doing social in the first place? Do you have time? If not, is that why you’re handing over the keys? Maybe what’s needed is an examination of your channels, timing and audiences. Which are you having the most success with? Where are the crickets chirping? Perhaps you need to narrow or refocus your social media presence more than you need someone new in the driver’s seat.

2) What experience does the person have and what do their social accounts look like? Are you bringing them on board for their voice and their followers? Or do you have a strategy in mind for how they will engage with your followers?

3) Discuss the following and ask for a mini-comms plan that includes:

  • goals and how they’ll be measured
  • strategy and tactics and a timetable for implementing
  • tone of voice
  • what’s worked and what hasn’t
  • expectations around engagement
  • how you want to grow followers
  • how to manage difficult situations and crises
  • back-up, off-hours support, vacation coverage
  • anything that’s unique to your accounts and audiences

4) Cover the tools you’re using – such as Hootsuite or Buffer – and don’t assume that using one makes someone an expert on another.

5) Finally, listen to what they have to say about their own social media practices and see if adding some of these new ideas to your own accounts results in positive engagement with your audiences.

The Essential Guide to South by Southwest

SXSW 2013 sparks up March 8 – 17 with sessions on everything from indie film and music to emerging technologies. The full conference schedule is available here.

Here’s a basic guide to the emotional arc of SXSW attendees and how that’s reflected in their commentary on social media. (In April, simply substitute Coachella for SXSW and Tupac hologram for Twitter. Rinse. Repeat.)

SXSW Cycle of Hipness. Image copyright Vickie Bates.

“Twittamentary” Documentary Premieres Online

The Twitter documentary is a film with heart. It shares the views of Twitter users who believe that community, even one that takes digital shape, can have fun, share wisdom, and offer hope, a hot meal and a safe place to sleep at night.

“Twittamentary” makes its online debut today, and its creators are enabling blog owners to share the film with readers. You can watch a free preview, learn more about the making of this film from a previous blog post via the link at the bottom of this page, or rent the movie by clicking on the image below.


Full disclosure: I receive a partner fee when you rent the doc from my blog; if you have a blog or website and would like to learn more about hosting “Twittamentary,” visit the Help to Share page on the documentary’s website.

See related post:

Twitter: The Movie? You Bet Your Hashtag
(Please note: My review of “Twittamentary” is from a Los Angeles screening of an early cut of the film, which took place in June 2011. The content and views were not influenced by the documentary partnership program.)

Employees on Social Media: Have Fun Storming the Castle

The following is a true story. Could this still happen in the age of social media? If your company wants to remain competitive, let’s hope not.

Once upon a time, a company was struggling to regain market share. After trouncing all comers for a decade, it lost its punch as new competitors and more exciting products entered the ring.

The entire company was reorganized to focus on marketing. Despite decades of award-winning work, the old advertising agency was let go. A hip new one was hired. Product lines were brought somewhat up to date, but they didn’t function as well as the market leaders. Consequently, they received poor reviews from press and consumers alike.

And what of employees inside the hallowed halls of this once-great company?

The daily grind was pretty grim. Employees coped as best they could with successive reorgs, changes in leadership, mission rewrites, OPEX reductions, and the launch of one new initiative after another. It was hard to generate excitement when every move the company made seemed to lead to a new round of layoffs.

But try they did. At employee meetings, they sat politely as marketing unveiled the latest products and plans. When asked for input, they gave it. Intelligently, clearly, poignantly. They wanted this stuff to work its magic and they were fully invested in its success. But, because they were closest to the front lines (manufacturing, quality, sales, customer service), they also knew it wouldn’t and, like the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes, they felt obliged to tell the truth before the company threw good money after bad.

What did they get in return?

They were told repeatedly that they didn’t understand all this newfangled marketing because they weren’t the right demographic. They didn’t like the new products because they weren’t the ones who were going to buy and use them.

And the “right demographic”? What did they think of the new products and marketing? They turned away in droves.

Was there a Happily Ever After for this company? Sadly, no. Remember, this is a true story, not a fairy tale.

The only thing that kept this saga from getting any worse was the fact that it took place in the days before social media. Imagine if employees – treated like that – had access to Twitter, Facebook and blogs!

What’s the moral of this story?

Dismissiveness discourages engagement (and encourages mutiny)
What exactly are employees supposed to do with insults, such as, “You don’t understand because you’re not the right demographic?” (A lot of them might think about taking their revenge on Twitter or Facebook or in industry forums.)

Effective marketing is all about relationships. Launching a campaign calls for engaging key stakeholders to help build enthusiasm. It starts inside a company before the very first ad airs on TV or the first tweet goes out. If a company can’t build solid, positive relationships with its own employees – natural allies because they share the same goals – how can it expect to create them in the world, where people are far more suspicious of brand messaging?

And if morale is bad inside a company, it’s only a matter of time before that negativity seeps into the social world where it influences key audiences and customers.

Employees aren’t the “right demographic,” they’re the “first demographic”
Engagement must start inside the gates with internal audiences because they are a company’s ambassadors during good times and bad.

“Your people are your best assets,” notes Christopher Barger in The Social Media Strategist. “In an environment in which trust is a key currency, it is your people and their personalities that will sell an audience on your brand as much as your product.”

In this age of social sharing, even with limited or no budget, a company can still create word of mouth around its products if its social media strategy includes having employees use their expertise and enthusiasm to engage customers.

This is doubly true in a crisis, when employee goodwill is shared in social circles, reinforcing official communications. Effective crisis communication is no longer simply about “putting a coin in the good karma bank in case you need to make a withdrawal,” as crisis experts used to describe it.

Companies that value employees and empower them to engage with audiences in social channels on a regular basis have a host of vocal advocates ready to put their influence to work on behalf of the brand’s reputation when barbarians are at the gate.

It’s important to understand how employees relate (and are related to) your customers
Think about a company that makes toys for toddlers. The employees probably range in age from early-20s to early-70s. Clearly, they are not the target user of the toys they manufacture.

But, do none of these folks have children? Grandchildren? How about parents who buy toys for grandchildren? And cousins and aunts and uncles and friends and professional colleagues they meet at industry conferences, etc., etc., etc.

Of course, employees are customers. And, if they’re not direct consumers, they encounter customers in all walks of life and have the potential to be ambassadors for the brand and influence purchase across networks of family, friends and professional associates.

Companies don’t own their “story” any more
Companies no longer control messaging about their brands, leaders or dirty laundry in social channels. (Just ask Yahoo!)

Sure, companies can restrict access to social platforms on the corporate network and create HR policies that forbid mentioning the company in social channels after work. But brands that want to excel take a different tack.

Christopher Barger recommends “teaching the organization to fish”: “Not every organization or company will empower all of its employees to engage in social networks. All the same, it’s a good idea to build a social media education program for all employees anyway.”

Barger’s approach enables employees to learn everything – from social media platforms to publishing tools and company policy. It also gives employees insight into how the company – both marketing and corporate – shares messages and builds relationships in social circles.

This kind of immersion in social media best practices, based on teaching and trust, goes a long way to building a strong base of employee ambassadors who understand the vision and strategy and are well-versed at engaging with the audiences companies most want to reach.

Companies don’t always know how to build a better mousetrap
“Great leaders…know that if they come up with all the answers, the chances of having anyone else buy into the solution are next to zero,” write Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas in Power Questions. “But if their employees come up with the answer – if they feel ownership of it – there is a good chance it will bear fruit.”

Many social media experts predict that smart companies will create iterative processes that allow feedback from social media fans and followers to inform the design of better and new products. Both consumers and employees are in prime positions to contribute expertise in this scenario.

Some companies are already doing this. So, when an employee figures out a whole new way to use a product, simplify consumers’ lives, solve a problem, streamline a service, or just make customers happier, give that employee a blog. Why restrict access to social media? Heck, let them share their personal story with as many people as possible, and watch how customers get engaged.

Now that gives employees and customers something to tweet about!

Do you have examples of companies that encourage employees to use social media channels? I’d love to hear about them in the Comments.

The Tweet of My Death Was an Exaggeration

Beyonce’s pregnancy. The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. The arrival of the 7 billionth person on Earth. The passing of Steve Jobs.

What do these events have in common?

They were all considered major news on Twitter, driving exceptionally high traffic and retweet rates, which ultimately became more of a story than the original news.

Is this the Desperate Need to Be There First or the Desire to Try to Quantify Everything about Social Media in Order to Prove its Relevance? I think it’s a little of both, yet I’d argue that neither improves the quality of social media discourse.

I promise this isn’t one of those grumpy posts about social media. I think Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Cowbird, Digg and many, many other platforms are highly relevant, useful and engaging. They’re even great sources of news.

But, I’m suggesting that while there’s relevance to be found in studying social media content and usage, it’s not going to come from stories about who got there first or how much traffic is generated by a celebrity’s pregnancy – or divorce or death or Oscar win.

Here are four essential reasons:

First doesn’t mean best – The received wisdom is that “Twitter broke the news of bin Laden’s death” before traditional news media. If you look at what really happened the night of the bin Laden compound raid, what you get, according to this Fast Company article, is essentially Twitter-user Sohaib Athar’s account of a helicopter making a lot of noise over his neighborhood in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A helicopter circling overhead is not breaking news (especially if you live in L.A.), and it does not reveal what was happening in the compound, why, how, when, and to whom – the basic tenets of genuine news.

As the article continues, it reports Twitter’s attempts to quantify the tweeting as details of the raid spooled out. There’s even an update from Twitter, advising readers that while New Year’s Eve in Japan seemed to be more important than bin Laden’s death – in terms of tweet ratings – the news was more popular than similar news about Michael Jackson.

And, when it came to the 7 billionth inhabitant of planet Earth? We learned that the actual event and person was going to be impossible to identify, rendering social sharing on the subject moot.

Social media platforms are upgraded too frequently – Service improvements increase the speed of traffic, making comparisons of tweet rates (like Michael Jackson’s death vs. bin Laden’s) impossible.

These will always be Apples-to-Oranges comparisons – Since celebrities can’t die twice, or give birth to the same baby more than once, the Twitter counter is left to compare news about one person (who may or may not be popular among social media users) with similar news about another. Popularity contests of this sort will never generate information that allows you to draw meaningful conclusions about the social media platform or the value placed on news or human life.

This is counting not measurement –Counting just adds things up and gets a total. Measurement takes those totals, analyzes what they mean, and uses that meaning to improve business practices,” notes Katie Delahaye Paine in her groundbreaking book on social media analysis, Measure What Matters.

Steve Jobs was considered by many to be a cultural icon and technology hero, and it’s not surprising there were people who wanted to share their sense of loss with others using some of the very technologies that Jobs helped to invent. But, what exactly is the relevance of reporting the rate of tweeting following Steve Jobs’s death? Applying a number to it doesn’t make it meaningful or insightful; it makes it news from nowhere.

Avoiding the Echo Chamber Effect

In Delusions of Grandma, Carrie Fisher comments: “Talk show hosts interviewing other talk show hosts. Many held this to be one of the twelve signs that the world is ending.” What Fisher’s describing is a closed loop, and that’s exactly what’s happening with these so-called Twitter statistics.

So, next time you’re tempted to retweet one of these headlines that don’t add up to anything, take a moment to reflect before clicking: Does the world really need another tweet about Twitter traffic?

Trying to get there first with a tweet or clogging up the social media ‘verse with bogus statistics about social media statistics doesn’t create engagement or enlighten – and that’s really what being out there is all about. When you’re engaging with followers, customers, friends or fans on social media, you’re listening and sharing (not simply pushing) relevant content with the goal of encouraging meaningful dialogue and the exchange of valuable information that people need to know or find useful for managing their daily lives and workload.

Related post: Statistical Significance: Making Sense of Numbers

 

A Wallflower Joins the Social Party

A year ago, if you’d told me I’d be writing this post, have my own blog, use Twitter regularly, and have not one, but two Facebook pages, I’d have collapsed in laughter. But, 12 months is a very long time when it comes to social media.

I am, by nature and habit, an introvert. On Myers-Briggs, I’m so far into the “I” corner it’s hard to tell me from the corner. My first job was in radio, where you can hide behind a microphone, never having to face your audience. It’s no accident that my career now is internal communications, the ghostwriter of all those memos and news updates.

Online, I used to be what was known as a lurker. No matter how much I loved “The X-Files” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and reading fan reactions to those shows on forums like Television Without Pity, I never once joined the conversation. No fanboy theory or argument over canon was ever compelling enough to make me jump in with my own opinion, sign my name, and publish it online. The potential loss of privacy seemed too great to risk. Everyone knows this electronic stuff lives forever. “The Truth Is Out There,” and, years down the line, I didn’t want to be confronted by something from my past I might regret.

What I didn’t recognize back then was that by not joining in, I was missing out on being part of a community.

This was brought home to me when I became an independent consultant. After a while, you miss the collegiality of the business world and the opportunity to brainstorm ideas.

That’s when I decided to start a blog.

I wasn’t hoping to make a dime or get a book contract. I just wanted a place where I could noodle on three decades of experiences in the business, listen to what others had to say about writing and corporate communications, and chat about books. Very quietly. Over here in the corner.

I signed up for an online blogging class to jump-start the endeavor and get advice on platforms and promotion. That swiftly led to another class on social media. To my horror, both classes required that we comment on blogs. Every week. Using our real names. A prerequisite for the social media class was a Twitter account.

Oh, the horror. The horror.

I realized I was either going to have to drop the classes or take my introverted self by the hand and leap. And, so I leaped, and it’s been a powerful learning experience.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Blog

I wanted to share some of the resources I’ve discovered since I started blogging because they’ve done more than simply build professional skills, they’ve expanded my outlook (far beyond that corner).

What I found out here in the blogosphere was a welcoming, generous community willing to take the time to guide me around things like best practices, online etiquette and the share-and-share-alike approach to community support.

This crowd is particularly gentle with newbies where other media communities often are cliquish. I hope the social media community never loses that attitude. We all start somewhere. You may be the savviest Facebook user and not really “get” Google+. You may have had great success using social channels for external audiences, but grow frustrated by trying to launch social tools internally – with all the requirements for buy-in, Legal and HR approval, policies, and full-scale training. Every time a channel is introduced or updated, we all become beginners again. How we’re treated as beginners matters – it is integral to the quality, cohesiveness and enjoyment of the community.

There was a point, about five months in, when I felt like the content well had run dry. The more I studied my blog stats, though, the more I was astounded. Not by the number of page views – my blog has a fairly niche audience – but by the regular visits from people who hailed from Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, and India.

The United States, England, Canada, I’d kind of expected. But, readers whose first language might not be English? Immediately, I realized my writing had to become more global, and it opened up my editorial calendar to new possibilities. As I began including posts about things like Asian literature, I became the student, and it felt thrilling to flip the paradigm of blog owners-being-subject-matter-experts on its head.

As I connected with readers on Twitter, our interactions grew into warm online acquaintances. When an independent professional writer in northern England asked me if I’d proofread her website before it launched – and gave me access to its development area (talk about trust!) – I didn’t think, “My goodness, that’s cheek!” I spent an hour reviewing the site, figuring, “When my website launches, I can ask for a return favor.”

This year, I’m focused on learning and using measurement tools, such as Google Analytics, and I’m determined to get comfortable with and active on the Facebook and Google+ pages I created for the blog. If I run into a roadblock, I’ve learned all I have to do is ask for help.

When you have a “Trust No One” approach to being online, it can be unsettling initially to let go of your privacy, de-lurk and contribute on social media. But, I’ve been overwhelmed by the genuine-ness of the interaction out there. When I had questions, people answered them and pointed me toward additional resources.

If one of your goals is starting a blog in 2012, I hope you’ll find these pros and organizations as helpful as I have:

MediaBistro, Gotham Writers’ Workshop and UCLA Extension offer a wide array of online and live classes, from the technical aspects of blogging (and social media) to writing, editing and promoting your blog.

BlogWorld serves the fantastically diverse blogging community with annual conferences and detailed practical workshops across every niche imaginable, including cause blogging, monetization, content creation, traffic and distribution, platforms and apps, health, fitness, travel, marketing, mobile, mommy, and more.

Darren Rowse and Chis Garrett’s Problogger book was an essential guide at the beginning and still is. You’ll find astute advice on setting up a blog; creating strategy, content and community; promotion; monetization; and easy-to-follow technical solutions. Valuable for anyone – individual, team or corporate bloggers – who wants to develop an engaged, interactive community around specific topics. Ongoing learning can be found on Rowse’s Problogger community, where he regularly advises on content, tech and legal stuff, and community-building.

The Social Media Club, IABC, PRSA, and Ragan have been invaluable professional organizations, offering resources, free webinars, workshops, conferences, networking events, and advice for bloggers and social media practitioners at every level.

The microblogging platform Twitter is both resource and essential promotion tool for bloggers. It’s an incalculably rich network of support, information and encouragement for bloggers new and seasoned. Likewise, the Groups section of LinkedIn connects you to a network of professionals worldwide. It’s especially helpful for sharing your blog or blogs within an industry network or seeking advice on starting or improving a corporate blog.

The spreadsheets section of Google Docs provides plenty of options for bloggers. If you’re serious about blogging, it helps to have a strategy for both editorial and social sharing.

Best of luck and happy blogging!

Madonna on Twitter: 24 Hours to Express Yourself

In a move that seems more like a misstep, Madonna’s promotion for her new album, “MDNA,” includes a brief encounter with fans on a one-day-only Twitter account, @MadonnaMDNAday, starting tonight at 10 p.m. (EST).

For many years, since she first appeared on the scene in the ‘80s, Madonna seemed especially connected to her fans through new mediums, like music videos. Madonna’s music transcended her talent and engaged fans in powerful and empowering ways. Which is why I’m surprised to find the singer making such a token effort at outreach in this era of proven social media campaigns, whether they be for Lady Gaga or for films like “Hunger Games,” which rallied fan support on social media channels for a full year before its successful opening weekend and wound up spending a fractional amount of the millions doled out to push Disney’s bomb “John Carter.”

Queen for a Day

What Madonna’s doing feels more like descending from the throne for a day to mingle – at keyboard’s length – with the little people. It might be the kind of thing a real queen could get away with, but not an over-50 pop star whose records need to reach the lucrative teen and tween audiences.

I was going to suggest perhaps true Hollywood royalty could be forgiven this type of obvious promotional approach – someone, say, like Elizabeth Taylor – but Dame Elizabeth had a Twitter account and did engage her fans on a regular basis for several years before she died.

Yoko Ono – artist, musician, mom, peace activist, and keeper of the Lennon legacy – is another public figure who, by all lights, probably doesn’t need to involve herself with Twitter. Yet she’s an active tweeter, keeping fans up-to-date on her latest exhibitions, music remixes, philanthropic efforts, and news related to John Lennon’s vast musical oeuvre. She also uses social media to gather and answer fan questions about any subject under the sun every single week, not once every few years when a new album drops.

Lady Gaga engages her Little Monsters in much the same way on Twitter. These are great examples of utilizing social media rather than cynically using it.

I thought we’d reached the point where it’s understood that social media can’t be an afterthought or glued onto the back end of traditional marketing efforts. One-time social media outreach isn’t community-building. While existing fans may take advantage of such singular offers to see if, in her meager time online, Madonna will deign to answer their questions, a short Twitter Q&A isn’t the way to draw new fans and build a committed community. That takes time and transparency and, frankly, responsibility, because once you’ve grown a community, you are to an extent responsible for it and accountable to it.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you’re going to behave in a way that isn’t just about self-promotion and personal benefit, you’ll want to be friends and an advocate and a news source, and be receptive to all the same kinds of input from your followers. And isn’t that what makes these communities so much more rewarding (and not just in the monetary sense) and meaningful over the long run?

What do you think? Is this a brilliant marketing move that makes fans crave more or a social media misstep? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Writing that inspired me this week:

“Everybody’s talking and no one says a word.”
~ John Lennon, “Nobody Told Me”

The Social Full Monty: Are You Being Transparent on Purpose or by Accident?

I’m still shocked at the number of people who share their Twitter feed on LinkedIn. Facebook and Pinterest accounts, too.

It’s one thing to make a conscious decision to do the social equivalent of the Full Monty: after all, your social profile will be vetted thoroughly by most HR departments before you ever sign a contract, so why not make it explicit? Share everything in one spot and make it easy for potential employers to get to know the real you.

But, if you run your full Twitter stream on LinkedIn just because the functionality enables it, then you may want to consider doing some social redressing.

Know Your Channels

Just as television networks target certain demographics – Spike programs for young men; OWN and Lifetime seek female viewers; if ESPN doesn’t offer enough of the sports you like, there’s always the Golf and Tennis channels – social media channels serve different purposes for different audiences. (That’s why there’s so much discussion about the number of women who use Pinterest: it makes the channel a highly targeted way for brands to reach that demographic.)

Check out this interesting view from Brian Solis of the vast spectrum of social media channels and who they’re targeting.

LinkedIn is a bit unusual among the social channels because it focuses exclusively on your professional profile. Sure, you may have created a blog to showcase your professional expertise, but blogs don’t have the same capacity for professional networking and being spotted by headhunters. Likewise if you’ve shared your profile on the website of a professional organization that you’re a member of, you’ll be able to share within the organization, but it’s harder to network these profiles beyond the group’s members.

Channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, and Orkut are far more social and casual than professional in nature. You tend to let your hair down in these settings, share opinions (sometimes regrettable ones) and photographs (ditto), swear, diss other people’s favorite bands, and sometimes even log on from places like bars or the Superbowl to write updates that demonstrate, perhaps, a propensity for imbibing intoxicating substances.

You Can Leave Your Hat On

Sure, you’ve heard all the warnings about drunk-tweeting or putting Saturday night’s party pictures on Facebook. My point is that different channels require different levels of social behavior. You wear your friend (or sister/
brother/cousin) hat on Facebook; on LinkedIn, you put on your business hat. It’s the digital equivalent of dressing up for an interview.

Unless you’re using the other social channels exclusively for business, and your only social profile is professional, then beware the convenience of linking accounts. You may reveal far more than you intended.

What’s at Stake?

You say something that a potential employer doesn’t like – and you will never know why you didn’t make it to the first, or next, round in the hiring process. You simply won’t get a call back about that dream job you wanted.

You say something negative about your existing company – and find yourself being reprimanded (worse, fired) for violating the company’s social media policy.

Your network tunes you out – and Unconnects you – because your Twitter feed clogs their Updates stream – you become the social version of spam. LinkedIn now allows you to anonymously Unconnect from Connections, which means you may already have reduced your networking options without even realizing it. Keep spamming them and see how your professional network shrinks.

You risk looking like you don’t understand the purpose of LinkedIn – which is unfortunate for anyone in any field, but especially so for communications, PR, marketing, advertising, and social media professionals. The better you understand the purpose of the social channel, the better it will work for you in reaching the people you most want to connect with.

You show the world that you don’t understand how to use LinkedIn – because there is a way to connect Twitter and LinkedIn without going Full Monty. If you decide to add your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, make sure that you click the option to “Share only tweets that contain #in.” As The B2B Social Media Book notes, “although it can be easy to forget to add the #in hashtag, it’s better than the alternative of posting too many irrelevant updates to your professional network, which could easily overwhelm your connections.”

You miss real opportunities to share your expertise on LinkedIn and network in a professional realm – using the Share an Update feature or within LinkedIn groups, which offer you options for starting a discussion, asking a question, or creating a poll. Like all the other social media platforms, LinkedIn has its home-grown methods of sharing, and one of them involves answering questions and professional knowledge-sharing within groups. This is where you truly network with people beyond your existing network, show them you care as much about helping them as promoting yourself, present yourself as a seasoned professional with excellent advice, and look like someone that other professionals might want to work with in the future. Don’t forgo the networking opportunities of LinkedIn by relying on a one-way blast of tweets intended for a different audience.

You look like you spend more time on Twitter than you do on your real work – and that’s the most important stake of all. Being on Twitter may be part of your job requirements; you may be a freelancer, using it to promote your work and attract new clients, but if your LinkedIn network – and the headhunters who search that network looking for good job candidates – don’t know that, your constant stream of tweets may look more like play than work.

So be your best professional self in a professional networking channel like LinkedIn and consider, in all those other social arenas, that your social self may need to be somewhat more guarded than your real self. Perhaps treat social channels like a PR or marketing person does the media. To excel in those fields, you’re always “on,” always playing the role of brand or company representative, and you never let anyone sneak a peek behind the curtain.

Be a professional spokesperson for yourself in social channels, and you may find far greater social success the less you reveal.

Check out this related post:

8 Twitter Tips for the Savvy Social Media Practitioner

Does Timing Affect Engagement on Facebook and Twitter?

At a webinar today on “The Science of Social Timing” with Jay Baer and Eric Boggs, the two speakers shared data showing that both B2B and B2C companies are still posting content to social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, when they’re at work, rather than focusing on the customer’s schedule. They also pointed out an important opportunity that most companies are missing.

Baer, social media consultant at Convince and Convert, presented several hypotheses, and Boggs’s Argyle Social crunched the data from 250,000 posts (two-thirds of which were from Twitter, one-third from Facebook), examining the highest engagement times on these social networks.

Often we want research to generate “oh wow!” results, but findings, like Argyle Social’s in this study, which show that engagement levels remain steady Monday through Friday, can be just as valuable to your business. A key discovery, that Baer highlights in a follow-up blog post, is that “there may be a large opportunity for B2C marketers on Facebook on Sundays.”

“We found that few companies publish status updates on Sunday, yet engagement (clicks divided by audience) is 30% higher than Saturday, and even higher than versus weekdays.”

Baer and Boggs believe Sunday posts to Facebook are a big, overlooked opportunity because the audiences for both B2B and B2C companies tend to drop off Twitter as the end of the week approaches and ramp up their use of Facebook to plan weekend activities. Even if you schedule Sunday Facebook posts in advance, Baer believes there is a strong chance for greater engagement.

Note that they are using clicks to determine engagement, not retweets, likes, comments or conversions.

The bottom line? Baer (@jaybaer) and Boggs (@ericboggs) recommended that brands and companies should beware of social media “rules of thumb” because every business is different. They encourage devising your own hypotheses (i.e., what’s meaningful for your business, your customers) and running your own experiment (rather than using historical data to justify a conclusion) to determine the best times for engagement with your audiences.

You’ll find the complete infographic here, which shares the main findings about the effectiveness of social timing, and you can listen to the free, one-hour webinar on the Argyle Social website.

Join the Short Story Tweetathon and Tell a Tale with Fewer than 700 (Twitter) Characters

For the past four Wednesdays, the Society of Authors has sponsored a short story tweetathon, giving willing writers about an hour to continue a tale begun by a published author, such as Sarah Waters, Simon Brett and Joanne Harris. This week, the opening line comes from author and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Once the guest curator has selected the winning contribution, it’s posted, and scribes have an hour to come up with the next line. And so on. The final story is available on the SoA website.

The final tweetathon starts tomorrow at 11 a.m. – that’s Greenwich Mean Time for folks based outside the U.K.

Contributors have less than the usual 140 Twitter characters, since the tweet must be submitted with the #soatale hashtag. Here, for example, is crime writer Ian Rankin’s Week 1 opener:

“I woke up on the floor of a strange bedroom, clutching a single bullet in my right hand. I couldn’t see any sign of a gun.” #soatale

SoA organized the tweetathon after the BBC made cuts to the amount of short stories aired during regular programming. As with cutbacks in magazines, like the Atlantic, this reduces the options for short story writers and restricts the exposure that readers might have to this important storytelling form, practiced by writers as varied as Tobias WolffHelen SimpsonErnest HemingwayLorrie Moore, and Ian McEwan, to name a very small handful.

For specifics on the tweetathon and SoA’s protest, visit the Society of Authors website.