In the world of internet technology, we use a number of social media channels daily. In our personal lives – the facebook, YouTube, twitter and others are indispensable (at least for now). We spend quite some time using the social media channels to talk about ourselves and the people we know or follow. However the concept of creating a digital identity (for you or your business) through social media is gaining importance. Business entities are struggling to create a social media identity that is aligned to their business goals. The identity created is not up to mark or created in a totally different tangent altogether. It has been researched and proved that effective social media strategy can help a business enhance sales. The quantum of effectiveness is not yet proved but one cannot discount the impact the social media has on propelling the business objectives. It is accepted that a company with a strong online presence grows four times faster than one without an online presence. Read my blog “Enhancing online presence of the business through social media”.
The most common strategy (??) is to be present on all the social media channels – from A to Z. Whether it is needed or not needed, companies just go and get the pages and profiles done. The thought process is “Someone may notice us and we may get additional sales”. It may work occasionally. But overdoing it can be harmful. If we have a business, do we create flyers about our products/ services and hand them over to everyone we meet on the road, on our way to work or in the neighborhood. NO, we don’t. If we did, we might end up making an odd sale here and there, but is it really worth the efforts, energy, time and money? And more importantly, is it good for our business image? Can we become a niche or valued player with such an approach? The same thought process has to be applied while we think about our social media strategy. The strategy should not be a one-liner: “Let us create a page and profile on all the social media channels to enhance sales”. It needs more thought and strategy formulation in real terms.
Creating a social media identity for your business is one of the most important steps towards a social media strategy. Social media has given us the unique opportunity to store information and data in the digital world. Over a period of time, this data will be analyzed to create our identity in the digital world. It is a unique opportunity because you can either strengthen your real world identity, or adapt it for the digital world or create a totally new identity. But remember, the digital world will not forget what you told him. It will create your digital identity. Your data will be used months and years from now to analyze your behavior while justifying the identity created for you. So why leave it to the digital world and the so-called analyzers? Take a proactive step now and create your own social media identity, something you can identify with willingly and happily.
The figure above is a fine depiction of how social media identity of a business should be progressively created. When you are a small start-up, your personal and company profile is more or less identical. But as your company grows, your personal (social media) identity does not change but you will need to change the social media identity of your company. This is the reason why a business should look at adopting a good social media strategy – to create for itself a social media identity that is aligned to the overall business objectives.
There are many ways that will help a business (or even individuals looking to generate traffic for their blogging sites) create a social media identity. The steps are simple but the execution will take a lot of discipline. The key is to do them right, albeit slowly and steadily. According to me, the most important aspects while using social media for creating a digital identity are:
- Use Social Media Judiciously – There are many social media channels available. The question is do we need all of them? Or do we need only the most popular ones? Well, the answer can be tricky. But really, we do not need to be on all the social channels. Use only those channels that will add value to your business. If that means you have to use only one of them, so be it. Some may not even exist in a few months or a few years from now. We must train ourselves to reduce our dependence of specific social media channels for our business needs. Else we might end up becoming slaves of a particular social media channel.
- Use Social Media Positively – Do not use the social media to get back on people/ businesses or to teach them a lesson. Negativity breeds negativity, which can prove dangerous – as once our mind (and energy) starts getting negative, it turns into a vicious cycle that engulfs us. This is something our parents told us when we were kids. So always keep your social media messages positive. Respond to a negative comment or article with a positive mindset. Do not bash ideas, people or comments because they speak against you. Respond in a way that will highlight to the readers your positive intent while dealing with the negatives. In the long run, let your track record speak for you and your business.
- Use Social Media Effectively – Be thoughtful and judicious in your decisions while selecting the social media channels to enhance your social presence. There are statistical tools available that highlight the contribution each social media makes towards your digital identity. Analyze the data provided and use the analysis to bring about behavioral changes. Remove social media channels that are not adding value or are adding negative value to your digital identity.
- Use Social Media Ethically (with Integrity) – Do not use the social media to propagate unethical ideas or thoughts that are devoid of integrity. You will create the same feeling in others about your business and yourself. Remember, the social media is part of your identity (personal or business). Social media enhances your identity. Hence use social media to strengthen those aspects of your identity that will be beneficial to you and your business in the next few years.
- Use Social Media Proactively – This is the most important aspect from a business perspective. Once you have created your identity within a community of your choice, you and your business are present for the community members even before any opportunity is created. However, the key here is to create an identity that will help you grab those opportunities. The way you conduct yourself through social media will create an identity that will be associated with you and your business. (Tip – When you join a group or a community, do not start marketing yourself immediately. Remember you are there for future opportunities. If you target the present opportunities, you will lose out on the future as well. No one likes self- propaganda). Be present in a non-sales way to earn a true business connection. Join relevant facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube groups and contribute to the discussions to be considered a valued member of the group. Business opportunities will surely follow.
- And Finally Use Social Media Personally – Here by personally, it is not the literal meaning as in doing it yourself. Rather, personal is for the content. Whatever you do with the social media, remember that there is another person at the other end who is listening to you. And you have to give him all the right indicators that you are engaging him in a meaningful conversation. Sending automated messages or copy-pasted stuff will not work. Customize your content and message for the receiver for effective social media conversation.
Final Takeaway – The time is not far away when the digital world will create a social media identity for you and your business. At that point in time, you may or may not like what you see. You will surely not be in a position to change your identity overnight. Maintaining an effective social media identity will guarantee that you make a positive impression on your prospective business contacts or your prospective employers when they look for you online. To ensure that, you can take the steps now to create a social media identity that you can happily relate with. Create an identity that has not been forced on you. Create an identity you have forged for yourself. Create an identity that you can live with it for the rest of your life.
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