The Silent Generation (born before 1944) may not be tuned-in to the potential of the internet, but the growing market in business for all other ages is the internet…particularly social media and the blogosphere. And yet, in 2016, there are business owners who refuse to get involved in this technological phenomenon of social media and blogs.
On another extreme, some businesses misuse and abuse these tools. If you are using, or contemplating tapping into the power of the internet to grow your business, there are guiding practices and principles to follow.
During nearly a decade of the growing popularity of social media and, more recently, the blogosphere, we have seen the best and the worst. Allow me to share what I have learned from some of the best in the business who are actively successful in this realm:
1. Get involved in internet technology, social media and blogs. If you are in business today, it is irresponsible not to be tapping into this opportunity. This is where a growing market lives. The decreasing choice for telephone and email in younger generations is propelling social media and the internet for business success.
2. Be informal most of the time. Social media and blogs are conversations; they have a certain informality about them. There is a place for formal writings, but it is not here. And remember, informality and poor grammar are not synonymous. Words are powerful. Hear what you write.
3. Don’t be too informal. We can get too relaxed and write things we regret. Being informal doesn’t mean being stupid.
4. Watch your tone. Different researchers have noted that we see our own writings in social media as friendlier than readers perceive them. Harvard Business Reviewadvocates to business and political leaders say, "Write 30% friendlier than you would normally.” Although how you write friendlier messages depends on your audience.
5. Read your writings out loud. Your ears need to hear your writing. This takes very little time. You will catch things you would not otherwise notice, and it can save you a lot of embarrassment. How you word your message can make a huge difference on the response you get.
6. Embrace humor, but do so cautiously. My wife reminds me that my dry humor is not understood by everybody…be careful. I mean to be humorous, but my writings can sometimes come across differently to readers. I’m working on this area.
7. Avoid acronyms and emoticons. Many people don’t know what those letters mean. And if you use omg, lol, or smh, you may seem like a silly teenager. Identify with the audience you wish to capture.
8. Minimize bragging, even humble bragging. Sometimes we just need to celebrate some big wins and big news. That’s okay, but don’t overdo it. It can be irritating even if it’s humble bragging.
9. Be regular and consistent. You cannot build an audience with occasional spontaneity of your writings. Your Core Values, your vision, your mission come through your words. This is part of the creation of your local brand. If you produce material that hooks an audience, they will want regularity that draws them into your subject of interest.
10. Never Forget: The Internet is permanent. There is no such thing as making your words disappear. You can be assured that someone has taken a screenshot of almost every crazy or dumb thing written on the Internet. And there are a lot of smart folks who can find things you thought had been deleted. Too many have forfeited or minimized their successful business future by not being wise on the Internet. Be wise with what you write and what you share through links and photos.
Social media is a gift for helpful tools in business growth. Social media has had growing impact on Generation X (born between 1961-1980). It is particularly powerful with Millennials born between early 1980s to the early 2000s. There is indeed a growing market on the Internet in social media and the blogosphere. Business leaders are missing a growing, reachable market for business success if they are not tapping into social media.