Question: Do you have any thoughts on how social media should be used by entrepreneurs?
Answer: Social media offers great opportunities and great pitfalls. As entrepreneurs we need to be sure that we are using it wisely. There’s a certain etiquette to be considered by everyone, but especially by entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, social media tends to create a “behind the locked screen door” perception. Some of us may remember being chased home from school by a bully. We’d run into the house and lock the screen door behind us. Feeling secure, some of us might taunt the bully forgetting what would happen to us the next day. Facebook, Twitter and some of the other forms of social media cause some of us to let go of our inhibitions and say things that we might not otherwise say in a room full of people.
I enjoy reading about my friends on Facebook – particularly those with whom I grew up. It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch with people we might otherwise never see or hear from. I really haven’t figured out the point of Twitter. That’s not a condemnation but a statement of true bafflement. I see it used a lot to give quick updates on what people are doing or a thought they might wish to share. LinkedIn is a terrific tool for connecting with business people. I use it extensively every day to research people with whom I’m going to meet or do business. I’ve never used Google Plus+. The top five social media sites are Facebook with 800 million users; Twitter with 250 million; LinkedIn with 200 million; Google Plus+ with 150 million, and Pinterest with 140.5 million (as of January 2014).
Here are some thoughts about how we entrepreneurs might remember when we’re using social media.
- Post only those photos, thoughts and updates that you would be willing to share in person with every one – especially your mother and your minister!
- When using a business site like LinkedIn, include extensive information about yourself in your profile. A half-hearted profile doesn’t do you much good. Remember that the purpose of LinkedIn is to help you do more business. Showcase yourself, your accomplishments and your skills.
- Keep your public comments and posts positive. We all know people who we come to expect that their posts will generally have a negative tone.
- It’s worth keeping in mind the fact that social media sites are very public and there are millions of eyes that are watching. Many companies look at social media sites when hiring new employees. Others will conduct searches when preparing to do business with an entrepreneur or an employee of a company. I’m aware of numerous instances where Twitter and Facebook posts have prevented people from being hired or being able to do business with a particular company.
Social media is fun and informative. As entrepreneurs we should use it in a most positive manner. In so doing, we’ll reap all of the benefits and suffer none of the downsides.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.