Archive for February, 2011

February 16, 2011

Social media for small business: How Twitter and Facebook stack up [Stats]

I came across another infographic worth sharing. This one is from postling.com on how small businesses are using social media. A few things caught my eye:

1. The more a small business posts to their profile, the more comments and replies they get. This makes sense, right? But the level of comments/replies drops dramatically when a small business can only muster a few posts each week. When a small business posts 8 or more times a week, they average over 10 comments/replies a day. This number plummets to 0.3 comments/replies a day when posting 7 or fewer times during a week. When users see this active participation in social media by the small business, they engage; but if they feel the organization is “speaking TO them” rather than “speaking WITH them” they are clearly less interested.

2. More small businesses have Twitter accounts than Facebook profiles. Twitter barely has the edge, but I wasn’t expecting that.  The simplicity of the Twitter platform may be appealing to small business owners. It is easier to understand, easier to set up, and easier to use. The real advantage Twitter has over Facebook is that Twitter is much more public and open. By this I mean Twitter is easily searchable, instantly archived by search engines, and it is organized around topics, rather than people you actually know. You can only sell so many cupcakes to the people you went to school with, or work with, so Twitter’s ongoing outreach to new potential customers is very attractive.

3. I question the assertion that Facebook is a better referral tool. Twitter is all about sharing links. How often do you see a tweet without a URL and think “somebody forgot to add the link?” There may be an issue with the methodology on this stat, as the infographic only takes into consideration referrals from one type of link shortening service (bit.ly). This completely ignores organic links and all of the other URL shortening/tracking services. Most notably, it ignores owl.ly and ht.ly URL shortening services, which are coincidentally offered by one of postling.com’s chief competitors (Hootsuite). I just don’t think there is enough data here to say Facebook is THAT much of a better referral tool than Twitter, if it’s even better at all.

Here it is. Let me know what you think:

February 2, 2011

92% of employers say they will “creep” potential employees’ profiles: Like, manage your reputation already, OMG! :P

I was recently interviewed about social media by @alecmiske, a reporter from the Algonquin Times (Algonquin College’s student newspaper). The conversation was mainly focused on how the College uses social media to connect with its audiences and stakeholders. As the conversation progressed, I began chatting about the need for all of us (including students) to actively manage our online reputations: a notion that is pretty simple, very important, and often neglected.

After speaking with @alecmiske for almost an hour, we both thought that a blog post re: reputation management may be of  interest/value, so here it goes…

What is reputation management? I introduce reputation management in the opening hours of the social media course I teach at the college. Here’s the video (Common Craft) I use to provide a quick explanation:

Why should you care?: Two reasons. One – Organizations are desperate for employees who can use social media not only in their personal lives, but also to help deliver on business goals. Regardless of what industry you are getting into (with a few exceptions), experience in the business side of social media will be one of your strongest assets. Two – In a 2010 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, 92% of companies who were actively hiring in the next year said that they had used, or planned to use, social media in their employee search.  This is a huge number. You can almost guarantee that what you put online will eventually be put “on file” when you are applying for a job. Here lies your great opportunity to present a professional social media presence to help you stand out above the other applicants.

Kevin Colvin

Facebook photo of Kevin Colvin at a Halloween party after telling his employer he had a family emergency

The bad: Employers have cited several different reasons why they didn’t hire an employee based on their social media profile(s), including inappropriate photos and language, references to using drugs and alcohol, and even using poor grammar – including emoticons :( .  You can find some great examples of “social media gone wrong” if you Google Cisco FattyFavreau Hillary, or Kevin Colvin (pictured right).

The good: Other employers say they have hired employees because they feel that, through social media, the candidate’s profile demonstrated the right personality and fit, supported their professional qualifications, showed creativity and solid communications skills, etc.

In short, your social media presence can make you extremely attractive, or unattractive.

Do you  think you are addicted to the outrageous side of social media? What can you do to make your presence employer-safe? Here’s a 12-step program to help “keep it clean.”

1. Never post anything that you would feel uncomfortable discussing in the lunchroom at work. I often go further and say if you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with your grandmother, spouse, and boss what you have posted online, then you should probably re-think the post.

2. Don’t post confidential information online, regardless of your privacy settings. Privacy settings change often and are misunderstood. Treat all of your accounts as if they were completely public and you shouldn’t run into any of these problems down the road. The old “I thought I had my privacy settings turned on” doesn’t hold up in a job interview.

3.  Sanitize. If you have explicit photos of you online, have posted inappropriate content, or are friends with the “wrong crowd,” it’s never too late to start to make it better.  Start by removing the offending photos and posts, then let your “friends” know your new approach to social media.

4. Promote the good. Now start posting photos and messages that you DO want the whole world to see. This could be tasteful photos, insightful comments about your industry, reports on local events, or even comments on what you are working on for school or work.

5. Don’t brag about, or admit to, anything even close to a crime. It’s very easy to jump to conclusions online, so even if you are innocent, don’t do it.

6. Remove postings by others that may get you in trouble. It’s not only the information that you post that could damage your reputation. Watch what people post on your profile and remove or edit as necessary.

7. Be considerate when you are posting things. Don’t set out to try and embarrass your friends. It may be funny now, but it may hurt them (and you) when it comes to career opportunities.

8. Monitor your information. Google your name often, look for new photos, see what people are saying about you. If you know what’s out there you can take action if necessary. You don’t know what you don’t know.

9. Don’t use social media during work hours, unless it’s a part of your job. Granted, this one is more of a “keep your job” than “get a job” tip, but still equally as relevant.

10. Be careful as you mix your personal and professional contacts online. Be sure to pause and think that you have to see these people every day, you may not want to be online friends.

11. Don’t disclose personal information that you are not comfortable having in the public domain. This can include your cell phone number, address, full birth date, etc.

12. Understand and raise your privacy settings. Even tough your security settings are maxed out, always assume your information and photos can be leaked. Security settings have been known to vanish during platform upgrades (Facebook), so check back often.

Final thoughts: Conversations that were private in the past are now public online, and it is up to you to help shape how people perceive you. It’s easy to get carried away trying to look cool or seeking the acceptance of peers, but it is extremely important to profile the professional you, not just the party you. Remember, if you can demonstrate a consistent professional use of social media when you are looking to advance your career, you will be a step ahead of the rest.

Go ahead, Google yourself, I dare you…

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