How to Separate Social Media Pros from Novices

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that social media visibility is merely a stepping stone to your business goals.  As experienced businesspeople, the pros understand this – the novices don't.   Novices tend to scratch the surface, and that behavior is even more apparent on this social media platform.

If you are a novice, that's fine.  We've all been there, and to some extent, we are all novices when it comes to social media because it keeps changing daily.  Just take your time and study the pros.  Learn from them and use what works.   Build your own best practices.  Here are three approaches to consider that will keep you moving in the right direction.

Redefine Expectations by Doing What's Common in Uncommon Ways

Last week President Obama held a "Beer Summit," at least that's what the media called this little get together to smooth out some minor differences between Harvard professor Henry Gates and James Crowley, the officer who arrested him.   Who would have guessed that the origin and type of beer would overshadow the nature of the conversation?

Having a beer is not necessarily a presidential thing to do, which is exactly why Obama did it.  Having a beer is what regular people do.  It's a ritual of sorts.  It suggests Obama is a regular guy, just like you.  It wasn't about the beer, but what the beer symbolized to working class people.

Consider how you can use social media in a way that is unexpected.  It may be as simple as doing the common in uncommon ways, something President Obama seems to have a knack for (see previous post).  This time, instead of simply calling a meeting at the White House, he got together with people – outside, in the Rose Garden, on plastic chairs, with his sleeves rolled up and a few cool ones on the table – just like a regular guy.

Use Details to Make Your Social Media Come Alive

There is nothing like detail to make your social media come alive.  If you are looking to make a connection, the phrase 'chocolate brown' is so much more effective than just brown.  We can taste chocolate – it is a modifier that makes that color come alive.  Be careful though, a novice will describe everything in too much detail. Just enhance what is most relevant to your message (see previous post on writing for blogs).

How do the pros use detail?  One way is to learn from professional humorists.  Here's an example:  A green industry friend (not a pro humorist) recently posted his status on Facebook -"Scott is on Lake Minnetonka."  To that he received a response – "Let me know if you see Prince there!"  This was a simple statement that led to a humorous engagement with another friend due entirely to the specificity of a particular place and and its strong association with the musician Prince.  Scott didn't say he was in Minnesota, or on a lake, he was specific – and that gave us a clear, mental picture of my friend in the middle of the woods looking for Prince!

Tell it Like it Is To Be Believable

When I was applying for my first business loan I was told to forecast revenue growth at 10% each year because that's what the lenders expected – consistent and believable results.  I should have told them this: 50% growth the first year, followed by 30%, then 17% growth, and then a decline of 4% before returning to double digit growth again – because that's exactly what happened!   Anyone with real business experience knows there are cycles, learning curves, and unexpected circumstances.  Tell it like it is if you want to be believed.

If you wish to be a pro, being believable may be as simple as following the old adages – "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."  Novices sensationalize.  Social media pros keep it real and authentic, because they know that's what comes through loud and clear on the social media networks.   

You can expect the social media networks to get more cluttered with novices as the platform gains wider acceptance.  Follow these simple steps and you'll be able take your everyday experiences and use them to grow your business.  There is another old saying – "Fake it 'till you make it." Please, don't do that, there is already too much of that.  Be a pro – learn to use what's common in uncommon ways, spice things up with juicy details, and tell it like it is.  It's that simple.

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Photo Credit: NEWSCOM

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  1. Great post Jeff
    My friend Susan Cohan directed me to your site. I’m a green industry professional who is interested in what SM can do for the businesses I work with in California, and yes, I am a novice, but a wise one. I write a garden/design blog and just launched a second one on social media. I liked what you said above:
    “Novices sensationalize. Social media pros keep it real and authentic, because they know that’s what comes through loud and clear on the social media networks.”
    Exactly. I think SM is the most interesting thing to happen to the Interwebs since email, and look forward to learning where I can contribute.

  2. Laura – You may be a social media novice, as you say, but certainly a pro designer. I dropped in on your blog. We have been traveling to Santa Fe for years and have good friends there living on a mountain off the Old Santa Fe Trail.

    I love the labyrinth – especially the rope lighting idea. That is so cool! I wish I had the space to do one in my yard.

    Let’s keep in touch. I too couldn’t agree more about how exciting SM is making our work today.

  3. Jeff, thanks so much for your kind words! Santa Fe is a very special place, and any time spent there is has been transformative for me. I’m working on some interesting SM leads right now, would love to get your opinion when the time is ripe! Following you on Twitter; look forward to your updates!

  4. Let’s talk next week. I have multiple projects due this week. I’m thinking Tuesday sometime. Looking forward to it. 🙂

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