Monday, July 10, 2017

"Social Media Require Participation, Not Just Showing Up"

Time after time, Linked In, Facebook, and websites show profiles for people without including the essential ingredients. Whether someone coerced them into joining those social sites or creating a website, but their heart wasn't really in it, or they just haven't taken the time to let us know who they are, the results are the same. They are online - we just don't know very much about them and can't really engage them like we should.

Let's start with the photo. There was a time when a studio-quality photo was expected for press releases, flyers, business cards, and other forms of publicity. We would arrange for a sitting, hope that our hair looked good that day, picked out the right clothes to wear, and went and had a professional photo taken in a studio. The photographer would air-brush or touch up little imperfections so we generally looked better in the photo than in real life. Since social media is trying to show as we are, that formal photo (and the expense that goes with it) isn't really necessary.

With taking selfies as easy as they are, there is no reason why every profile on Linked In and other sites should not have a photo displayed. Understandably, some people don't think they take a good picture and some are more reserved about having their picture displayed online. Remember the whole point of social media is connecting. People want to connect with a face that goes with the name, and not just a name.

As for descriptions, the name of the company may tell us that the person sells real estate (or at least works for a real estate agency), is involved in some type of construction, works in the financial industry, or does something else that the name of the business would suggest. That may not tell us enough to determine if we want to engage that person. A full description (subject to the number of characters that are allowed by the particular social sites) gives us much more information to be able to determine if we share any common interests, think we might want to refer someone, would like to establish a professional connection, or might want to set an appointment (over the phone or in-person).

So many websites, irrespective of the industry, omit important information such as the city or state where the business is located, or a phone number to call. A great write-up about the business is nice, but if we can't tell where they are - and there is no number to call - we are at a distinct disadvantage.

Like or not, social media and websites are how much of the world - our clients and potential strategics partners - learn about us. It's also how our competition can keep tabs on us, but that is no reason not to participate. Write for the public. Tell them what they want to know - what they need to know to make an informed decision to use what we offer. If we don't take advantage of this essentially free forum, we have really missed out on a lot. Show them our picture. Tell them how to get in touch with us to ask a question, request information, or determine if we can help them. We must provide a phone number (and the area code must be used also) and email address and at least the city where we are based.

We want people to engage us and talk with us about having us provide services for them. Let's make it easy for them to learn about who we are, what we provide, and how they cam reach us. The harder we make it, the easier is is for them to go someplace else for a solution.

Use social media or don't use it - you'll find it's beneficial to use - but don't go halfway. Go all in with a complete profile or stay away. Finding limited information on a profile is not helpful because there is not enough to let us know how we might work together and not enough contact information for us to make a connection.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.