By way of introduction, let me share with our our newest readers a bit about what I do. In addition to writing freelance articles on finance, music, cinema and many other topics, I also am very active in social media. I have several clients that ask me to manage, write, develop audiences, find friends/followers, etc. And somehow I find the time to teach social media to people who want to know just what this Facebook thing is all about and how it can grow someone’s business.
Little did I know when I started teaching social media how much I could learn by doing it.
For example, I learned that many people have no understanding whatsoever about things I take completely for granted. Privacy issues, how to present a business or product on social media in a way that doesn’t turn people off in the first ten seconds, how to make friends and network online…it’s amazing how much I take for granted each and every day.
To respect the short attention spans of everyone (including myself), I’ll just share one little anecdote. One class I taught on social media had a student who was very concerned about privacy online. This person was very concerned about providing any personal information at all–very reluctant to share much of anything. I figured perhaps this was a very casual user who didn’t have big plans for Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Imagine my surprise when this person told me they wanted to promote their business on Facebook. Someone who wants to use a tool they basically viewed as a threat to them would seem to be a contradiction in terms, but after a bit of discussion I think I was able to make a convincing argument for developing an online presence and not being as worried about privacy as the lack of press they currently had compared to the exposure social media could provide. After all, businesses live or die by their visibility in the community. Online, it’s no different.
It’s basically not safe to assume everyone has the same perception of social media, but what people on both sides of the equation should learn right off the bat–social media only works when you apply the same principles to it that you use in any conversation. You can’t (OK, shouldn’t) show up and announce “I’m here!” and expect the party to stop and look at you (except with mild amusement).
Social media is like a cocktail party where you show up, make some polite introductions to people you don’t know, listen to the conversation and look for your opening to join in. It’s surprising how many people miss that when trying to mix social media and business. Freelancers (and those who hire them) should consider that notion when trying to make a plan for Twitter and Facebook.