In Part 1, I discussed the folly of not optimizing a business website for mobile and the dangers of ignoring technology that rarely leaves the hands of your customers.
In Part 2, I urged every business owner to start blogging and explained how those who fail to add fresh content to their websites will become less relevant to both their target audience and the search gods.
As we turn the page to 2014 and wrap up this series about balls that may have been dropped in 2013, I want to talk about your long-ignored social media presence. If you set up pages on various social networks only to abandon them, the representation of your brand is probably embarrassing – and it might be costing you money.
Update your social pages, profiles and photos. And make sure your messaging is consistent.
It’s no secret that social media platforms are constantly tweaking and updating their offerings. We can debate the reasons – they want you to be more engaged, talk about their channels, pay for advertising, etc.
Unfortunately, if you developed a social media presence, you have to play their game. At the very least, you have to keep your pages, profiles and photos aligned and updated.
I almost exclusively use Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, so I’ll focus on these platforms for the purpose of this post.
I won’t go through every excruciating detail of a company’s or individual’s presence on these networks. Just think about what you look for as a visitor.
Clear, properly sized images that reinforce the brand. Messaging that’s clear, compelling and brief. Information that’s up to date. Fresh content.
When any of these components are missing or obviously flawed, visitors may question your credibility. Some may think you’re lazy or apathetic. Nobody like’s unfinished business.
The last thing you want to do with your social pages is give people a reason to not do business with you. If it’s worth your time to create a presence on these platforms, it’s worth your time to do it right.
Use Twitter as your guide for all of your social profiles and convey what you do as concisely as possible. While your profile content won’t be exactly the same on all three platforms, the overall message should be consistent.
I love Twitter profiles because they’re so short. I admire companies who can “sell” themselves in 160 characters or less. People shouldn’t have to read your Tweets or even go to your website to figure out what you’re all about.
Are you using a header photo? If so, are important parts of your header photo blocked by your profile photo? Does your header photo make it impossible to read your profile text?
Are you using a customized background, or do you still have Twitter’s fluffy clouds floating in the breeze?
Your header photo and background don’t have to be anything fancy, and you shouldn’t overload them with content that you couldn’t fit into your profile.
In fact, I’m all for keeping them simple. Just give a little effort and make them your own instead of using the defaults.
And if you still have an egg for a profile photo, I’m embarrassed for you.
The area underneath your profile photo should have one sentence that captures the essence of your company, along with a link to your website, blog, downloadable content, etc. The shorter the better.
Write your “About” content so visitors don’t have to click “read more” to read everything. Because they won’t. You can be very brief and very thorough at the same time.
Is your cover photo blurry or distorted because it’s the wrong size? Are any important parts of your cover photo being blocked by your profile photo? These details matter.
Facebook is now allowing brands to turn their cover photos into print ads, but that doesn’t mean you should. Keep it simple, clear and consistent with your other marketing.
Is the image or logo being used for your profile picture suited for a square image? Is it clear when you look at the small thumbnail next to a status update or comment?
I personally think tabs are overrated because I want people to either read the content I’ve posted or go to my website. If you do use tabs, keep them to a minimum and make sure they serve a purpose that’s relevant to your audience.
Make your headline underneath your name crystal clear. Clarity always trumps creativity. Nobody will think you’re clever if they don’t know what you do and who you do it for.
They’ll just be confused and frustrated.
The summary should be exactly that – a brief summary, focusing on the results you deliver to your clients. It shouldn’t be a never-ending, self-adoring autobiography, a list of accomplishments or a resumé.
Your profile photo should be a headshot. People want to place a name with a face. They don’t want to squint to see what you look like because the photo is so distant. And Linkedin isn’t the place for photos of your kids, pets or family vacation.
If it’s your individual profile, use a photo, not a business logo. Save the logo for your brand page. You do have a Linkedin brand page, right?
This has the same general model as your Facebook business page – a properly sized photo that reinforces your brand, brief “About” content that focuses on your audience, and fresh, new content shared consistently.
Linkedin is a professional network. You don’t have to be uptight by any means, but you also don’t want to show up to a black tie event in sweat pants. Keep it simple, clear and brief.
Social media for business isn’t a hobby.
It’s either a sales tool or a sales liability. Your choice.
It’s a liability if you’ve ever said something like, “I think someone created a page for us a while back, but I’d have to check.”
Everything – social profiles, bios and photos – should be updated to fit the most recent specifications and guidelines, and each should be conveying a consistent message.
You don’t have to use all or any of these social media platforms. Focus on what’s best for your business.
But if you’ve made the decision to create a social presence, you need to make the commitment to stay on top of it. Otherwise, you’re probably doing more harm than good.
Happy New Year!