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Why use social media?

Although I wrote this article for this section of the forum it is also published externally on my blog http://chrisheffer.com

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Are you considering using social media at work or in your professional life? Are you trying to figure out what social media can help you achieve or see if it’s worth your while? Read on to help you understand the value social media can bring to your career and some examples of how easy it is to start getting results. Most people I talk to about social media fall into two categories: those who think it is important but don’t use it much if at all and those who don’t see the point because they don’t think they can get anything out of it. I want to share some tips on what I have done to achieve a few milestones of success in a fairly short time frame. If you follow these tips you will be able to define what it is you want to achieve and get results a lot quicker than I did.

My social media goals

  • Establish credibility inside and outside my company
  • Build up my personal brand so people know who I am before I meet them
  • Communicate my thoughts and ideas to more people
  • Build up my industry knowledge so that I can be perceived by others as an expert
  • Connecting and conversing with like minded people

If you share any of these goals then read on and I will give you some tips to help you achieve them.

How can you achieve these goals?

  • You need to figure out who you are trying to target and what you want them to think of you
  • Using the analogy of a magazine editor – you need to create and curate information to share with and appeal to a targeted audience. Try to figure out what you can do to add value to other people’s lives.
  • You need to write your various social profiles from the perspective of “what do people want to know about you, so that they will want to work with you” and not “what do I need to tell people so they offer me a new job”. None of your customers or clients need to know how many times you have achieved above your sales quota. They want to know how you can help their business.
  • One of your objectives might be that you want to be the go-to resource in your field. You should write a blog to help educate people by sharing all the things you have learnt. You should aim to be the answer that pops up every time your customer or prospect asks Google a question.

My social media milestones

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I cannot say these things have made a million or have helped me become a vice president (YET!). These are some of the milestones which I have passed that make me feel that I am doing the right thing. Some of which you may want to achieve and some you may not. Never the less, these are some of the soft reasons which give me reassurance I am on the right path.

You still have a job

You may be going  against the grain of tradition. Social is a cultural change within a business. The honest, open, transparent way of doing business that comes with social is a bit of a shock to some. Although the road may not be a smooth one, hopefully the end result is that you are still on the pay roll. Your good intentions  will be acknowledged (even when others may perceive you are in the wrong) and eventually even the doubters in your organisation will see that what you are doing is mutually beneficial. It will take time, maybe even years, so stick with it and don’t give up.

Increased visibility on LinkedIn

If you want people to know who you are, then it is a good idea to have a good LinkedIn profile which people can easily find and want to look at. If people find you in a search, then they are more likely to visit your profile. If they view your profile, they are more likely to do business with you. These pictures show both the number of people who have seen my profile in search results and the number of people who have visited my profile. By the look of it, I have a ratio of 5 search hits to every page view, although not everyone finds me through search, so the ratio is actually a lot higher than this.

This shows the number of times my profile has been viewed in the last 3 month

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This shows the number of times my profile has been seen in a LinkedIn search in the last 3 months

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Page view of your blog – talk to more people

Blogging gives you a channel to help share your ideas and thoughts with more people. Since I wrote my first blog post the number of people visiting my blog has increased significantly. I am not sure how sustainable this almost exponential level of growth is but I hope the overall upward trend will continue. In August and September I had 3400+ chances to talk to people. Compare this to the average person in business. Do you think they have had the chance to tell people their thoughts and ideas over 3400+ times in two months? I would be amazed if most sales people, who sell high value goods, do that in a year. Even if you were working in a high volume telesales/inside sales role making outbound calls all day every day, you may dial a large volume of numbers per day but how many do you actually have a meaningful conversation with? All the people who viewed my site came through wanting to know more about me or what I have to say. Most of those people found me with a search engine or saw a link on a social network site and thought it looked interesting enough to click on.

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These are my blog stats since I started my blog

Through other websites (listed below) I have received approximately 10,000 more page views, bringing the total for the 9 months I have been blogging up to around 17,000 views.

Twitter followers

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The number of followers you have on Twitter does not equal success.

At the time of writing this post I have around 455 followers. Potentially,  half of those may have little interest in what I do or say and probably followed me with the hope that I will follow them back. Even if half those people are interested in what I have to say, it gives me a great platform. How else could you feed your knowledge, thoughts and ideas into the minds of your colleagues/customers/prospects on a daily basis without twitter? If you emailed 455 people a couple of times a day I doubt you would achieve the same objective, people would hate you! Through learning to use twitter I managed to get one of my blog articles retweeted to over 90,000 people in 1 hour. How else could you get eyes of 90,000 people for free?

Third party accreditation

By association you can get yourself additional credibility through being published on other sites. You can do this by submitting the RSS feed of your site to repost your blog on their site or by guest posting on other people’s sites. Some of the sites that have published my work include:

These websites put my work in the same place as the CMO and CIO of my company plus many of the world’s most well respected thought leaders in my industry. By association this helps to raise the credibility of your work if they want to it on their site. It is just like getting your work published in the Daily Telegraph or the Wall Street Journal.

Speak at events

In the last 9 months I have built up my own personal brand and used my blog to share my views and opinions on social. I have been privileged enough get invited to be involved in not only my organisation’s biggest events but also the biggest social media industry events in the UK. Full listing of these events are on my website speaking page. These a handful of the events:

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http://chrisheffer.com/speaking

Google me and see what comes up

Even if you haven’t googled yourself, you can bet your bottom dollar that your customers have. “Who the hell is Chris Heffer?!” I am sure a few people have thought to themselves. Through the work that I have published on-line, I occupy 9 of the 10 (6 directly and 3 indirectly) links on the first page of Google when searching for “Chris Heffer”. The top two are a direct link to my blog and there is a link to the blog I write for my employer. Other links are to Chris Heffer LinkedIn directories, my twitter profile, my professional Facebook page and my Google + page.

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Google search results for “Chris Heffer”

This is the first place most people will look when they are trying to find out anything about anything so you need to make sure when they search they can find you. Hopefully it will be good things they find. If you are faced with this challenge, look out for my future blog post which will tackle this problem.

What else are people typing in Google?

For every person who asks you a question at work there are many more who will ask Google the same question. You should try to publish answers to as many questions as possible.  That way you stand a good chance of coming up as a source of knowledge when people are looking for information. Here is a bunch of questions where I usually rank on the 1st page of Google (if you ask it nicely!). I aim to provide the answers to help educate people in the field I am trying to be known for.

Summary

There is no end goal with my efforts, if I make a million or become a CEO, that will not signify I have reached the end destination. I will know I am heading in the right direction, if I continue hitting the goals that I set myself and those given to me by my employer. It is a project I will be working on till the day I decide to hang up my business hat or until someone comes up with a social network that operates telepathically.

Your turn

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this article. How have you used social media in your career? What are your goals? What have you done to work towards or achieve those goals?

12 Comments
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  • Hi Chris,

    excellent blog, with links and advice on how to work through the maze of the grid. there is not much i can add to it, except that there’s always a dark side. i’m aware of the usual suspects like taking time away from “real” work, spam,  or running a risk of being sued, but i was wondering if you have encountered any other risks that have been emerging with the advent of the social media.

    Best regards,

    greg

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and commenting.

      There is always a risk you can waste time on social media becasue there is so much content out there and a lot of it very interesting stuff which you would rather read than do your day job.

      The key in my opinion is to figure our how you can align social media use to your day job. If you spend time learning stuff to do your job better and writing blogs to help communicate better with your customers and prospects, it is absolutely part of your day job.

      I think you are right in saying that your use of social media should be relevant to your job. You could say the same about your use of your mobile telephone or your computer. If you are at work and you are using either of those for non work related things then you shouldn’t do that either.

      The key thing is to find ways social media can help you do your job better. When I speak at events one of the ideas I talk about is:

      “Its not about having a social media strategy it si about aligning social to your business strategy”

      This works at a company or an individual level. There is no point doing anything on social unless it helps you achieve something you want to achieve.

      This is a live recording of a presentation I did at Facebook London office for social media week entitled “why you dont need  a social media strategy”

      http://chrisheffer.com/2012/09/28/why-you-dont-need-a-social-media-strategy-from-smwldn/

      I would love your feedback on the idea I present.

      Chris

  • I don’t mean to sound critical (he says, about to sound critical:-) but it seems like there’s something wrong with a blog about what I can get out of social media. Don’t get me wrong – you’ve given lots of good advice about how to use social media effectively. But I find social media works so much better if I’m looking for what we can get out of it. Isn’t that what “social” is all about, after all – working together?

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for reading this blog and leaving your thoughts.

      You raise a valid point.

      I do agree that in an ideal world I would have wrote it from the perspective of “what can we get from social” not “what can I get from social.”

      I wrote it from this perspective because when I was surveying some people I was due to teach about social media the general feedback of it was that they did not see the point  of using social and it wasn’t that high on their list of priorities. The purpose was to convince the people who didn’t think it was important to them that they should get involved.

      In another blog I linked below I talk about selfish vs self interest.

      http://chrisheffer.com/2012/09/19/how-to-get-people-share-your-content-social/

      I think most people do the things they do it because they have self interest in the out come.

      Whether it is

      • an individual working in a team who wants the team to be successful so they keep their job and feel valued
      • a volunteer helping out a local community project which they do because they feel fulfilled and content that they have contributed back to the community
      • someone donating to charity so they feel they have done their bit to help give to others less fortunate than themselves
      • a mother helping her child because she feels like a good mother

      Although there may be an except I can not think about, the general way is that people do things because of self interest. Even if it is just that they get a good feeling from doing whatever it is they do.

      I would welcome your feedback on my reply.

      Chris

      • I guess you are right that ultimately you can frame every action, how ever sacrificial, as self-interest, if you indirect far enough. I don’t find it terribly helpful to think that way, though. You don’t have to get to far away from direct effects before people stop seeing them.

        For example, here on SCN the platform is built with the ability for people to “like” or “rate” other people’s content. In fact, it somewhat assumes that people will do that, to ensure that over time good content becomes visible while bad content gets lost. But people aren’t doing that, and so the whole “ratings” system isn’t working? Why aren’t they? Why should they? Well, because SCN will be better if everyone does, but that’s too indirect a benefit so most people aren’t seeing it. This has to be seen as a benefit to the community, what “we” get out of it, and focussing too much on “I” stops people thinking this way.

        Sorry, but I really do believe social media is about so much more than what I can get from it. If you forget about the social and community aspects, you miss so much of what it is, and can be. I take your point that many people don’t get involved because they don’t see the point, and that giving them direct benefits might help get them started, but the indirect benefits can be so much bigger. Don’t leave them out!

        • Hi Steve,

          Thanks again for your reply.

          I think conversation is far deeper than social media. We are talking about what motivates people to do things. I do not know a great deal about this topic but I am trying to learn more about it.

          Broadly speaking there are two types of motivation extrinsic and Intrinsic.

          Extrinsic is when you are motivated by an external reward. EG If you make me a cup of coffee I will give you £10.

          Intrinsic is when you are motivated by something internal like feeling part of something or helping a goal bigger than yourself. EG If you contribute to wikipedia you will help create a global resource of knowledge to help educate the world.

          Although they are potential places where extrinsic maybe better more often than not it is the easy option that is the crutch to keep the corporations of the world alive. They motivate their employees to work hard by paying them more. They motivate their customers to buy by giving them discounts.

          Intrinsic motivating is much more powerful and sustainable. However it is significantly more difficult to set up because it goes against the way businesses are run.

          I believe companies who have a cause or a belief that employees and customers can collectively agree on and want to advance will be much more successful than those who just give bigger pay cheques or bigger discounts.

          I have written a couple of posts on how to motivate people to buy but it could equally be applied to how to motivate people to do anything.

          http://chrisheffer.com/2012/03/21/how-do-i-motivate-people-to-buy/

          http://chrisheffer.com/2012/05/01/motivate-people-to-buy-2/

          Chris

          • You may claim to not know much about this stuff, but you clearly know more about it than I do!

            I guess what I’m saying is that the big benefits from social media, as I see it, come from intrinsic motivation because that’s what builds community, and building community is the big benefit. And while people might need some extrinsic motivation to get started – and this post provided lots of advice for that – I don’t believe that alone will keep people going, and that alone won’t help people get the best from it. I’d just like to see some mention of this alongside the extrinsic things!

            Thanks for this conversation – this sort of thing really does make you think. I like being made to think 🙂

            Steve.

        • One more thought about this, looking at social media in a wider context. One of the problems I see with the world at large these days is too many people thinking “me” and not enough people thinking “us”. If somehow we can get community thinking back into people’s heads by making social media fundamentally about “us”, there’s a chance that will leak out from the online world to the physical world.

          I know, I’m probably dreaming. But sometimes dreams come true… 🙂

  • Chris – great coverage. I have only recently gotten into social media in a ‘major’ way but my first real blog post was in search of how people use social media.  Interestingly enough, it seems to me that most people use different media in much the same way.  

    One question I have, however, has been escalated based on your post; is social media really so self-focused? 

    • I think the real benefits of social are not so self centered as this article may come across. I wrote this to try and convince people who werent using social to start using social.

      I think the next stage in social is when people start to understand how to use it properly to change the way organisations run.

      I guess there will alway be some self interest involved. Even if you was giving your time/knowledge away with no way of getting return you would be doing it because it is the right thing to do. Which I can only assume would make you feel better about yourself else you would do it.