We're well past the time when social media is optional. You already know that and are probably looking to improve your reach and influence in the social-media space . . . and you're right. Training magazine's 2018 survey of more than 500 learning and development professionals showed that belief in the power of social media is real; 72 percent of respondents said they believe social media has "a meaningful impact" on business.
How? Because being alive on social media feeds an atmosphere of sharing and communication, inside and outside your business. It helps people see your point of view easily, quickly, on platforms they're already scrolling through anyway.
Yes, there's a potential danger of crossing the personal/work boundary or breaching expectations of what should get talked about by individuals or the company. Don't let that stop you. Approach social media with an open attitude. Get permission from people you're going to talk about online, invite them as collaborators, and keep talking.
As you probably know, I'm a strong believer in love and appreciation as part of your business model. I wrote a whole book on the LEAP principle (cultivate Love, generate Energy, inspire Audacity, provide Proof). Let me suggest ways to live those values, raise your profile, and score an all-around win on social media.
1. Cultivate Love
You know how people tweet about lousy service or a bad meal? Yeah, this is the opposite of that. Twenty words and a picture on Facebook, posted with love and caring, can set a tone of positivity for everybody.
Make a point of noticing small deeds and accomplishments by individuals, and call them out on social media: the employee who exemplified the company mission or demonstrated a core value: the person who set up a book group or helped the customer change a flat tire in the parking lot; the intern who thought of an interesting way to set up an office; the person who ran community volunteer day. Take a video or photo. #EverybodyWins when you cultivate positive emotions by noticing and telling what's going on. And the rest of the world sees what your company values, notices, and rewards.
Speaking of love, always approach comments with warmth and consideration, never with defensiveness or anger. See what loving things Chelsea Clinton writes on Twitter in response to trolls and critics, and--I don't care what your political persuasion is--her unending positivity will inspire you.
2. Generate Energy
Energy is a real, tangible thing that you need to grow to make your business thrive. Send the message via social media that you are excited to be doing what you are doing and with the people around you. That energy transfers to others and will expand. Emojis and GIFs are not juvenile; used judiciously, they're a great way to use the social-media vernacular.
Check out the American Heart Association's Facebook page; it's the furthest thing from a fundraising infomercial. It's full of personal stories and transmits a palpable thrill about helping people attain healthier lives. What are you doing at work that you get that excited about?
3. Inspire Audacity
One of the best things about social media is that it's free of the constraints you have in email or PowerPoint. Look at the Wendy's fast-food franchise and its audacious but lighthearted takedowns of other brands, which seem to be taken in equally good humor by those competitors. Look at the crazy stuff on the Instagram and Twitter feeds for MoonPie, or the entertaining and news-making tweets from Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk; they're all taking the eccentric route to being memorable, and changing the minds and hearts of people in small and large ways.
4. Provide Proof
You and your company may have a carefully crafted reputation--but here's where the rubber meets the road. As you reach a goal, share it on Facebook. Tweet it out. Add it to a list of accomplishments on your LinkedIn page. Tag people or @ them so they see (and, if you're lucky, share) the news. Your message: "This is what we are actually doing in the real world and what we value."
But what if you screw up? Provide proof that you noticed, you care, and you're going to do better. You don't have to look far to spot examples of people and companies failing to take that step and dimming their own lights by not taking responsibility. Prove you're sincere when you succeed hugely, when you succeed in small ways, and--crucially--when you fall short. People forgive mistakes, but they'll love you more for fixing them.
In short, recommit to a positive relationship--with social media, but also with your people and the public. Positivity is something we really need more of in the world today. #DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do), as I always say (and do): a message that's worth going viral.