The other day, I read an article on a legal industry blog about how personal social media engagement on Facebook trumps Twitter.
The author shared an example about how he asked a question on Twitter and received only a couple of responses, despite having a large audience of 20,000 followers. He asked the same question on his personal Facebook profile and received more than 20 responses from industry professionals even though his audience is much smaller on that network.
This is not the first time I’ve seen this. In fact, this is a sentiment I’ve felt for quite some time.
Professional Engagement on Personal Profiles
Like many folks, I started using Facebook as a purely personal social media outlet. I only connected with people I knew “in real life” and I avoided connecting with professional colleagues.
However, over time, I started to get more and more requests from professional contacts — some of which I had never even met.
Although it seemed strange at first, I decided to start accepting these requests if I had a connection with the person online through other networks, blogs and the like.
The result was a much more vibrant and engaged audience. Much like the example above, I discovered that questions went answered, blog posts were liked and shared and there was a much greater sense of community on Facebook.
The Power of Personal Social Media Profiles
Why am I sharing all of this?
Because businesses would do well to leverage the power of their team’s individual, personal networks.
Yes, company pages and profiles have value. But, if people used their own personal social media networks to build relationships with key contacts, it could have immense payoff for their career and their company.
The reason this works is because people like to do business with people, not companies. Using your personal social media profiles gives you the chance to strengthen connections with your contacts.
Here’s why this works:
- Stronger connections. The connections on your personal profiles are much stronger than with company pages. People will be more likely to trust updates from you — someone they know — than from your company.
- More visibility. Let’s face it — personal profiles, especially on Facebook, often have a greater reach than many company pages. Oftentimes, people will be more likely to see an update from a personal profile than one from your page.
- Different audience. By sharing updates through your personal audience, you reach an entirely different network of people than your company does.
How to Use Your Personal Social Media Profiles for Business
So, how do you get started? Here are some ideas for how you can begin using your personal social media profiles for business:
- Connect with colleagues. Start connecting with your co-workers, colleagues, vendors and industry contacts on your personal profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is a great way to get to know your professional contacts better — and this allows them to get to know you better too.
- Determine your privacy & follow settings. If you’re not sure about allowing everyone to be your Facebook friend, you can enable the follow function, which allows people to see your public posts without you having to see their updates.
- Set up lists. If you don’t want all of your professional contacts to see your personal photos or updates, you can set up lists for your Facebook friends. This allows you to determine which groups see each update. And, it also gives you the ability to segment your news feed so you can only see updates from each group. For instance, you could set up a “friends and family” list and a “work” list to separate your newsfeed. You can also set up lists on Twitter so you can separate how you follow your personal and professional contacts.
- Share professional news. Did you win an award or did your company get in the news? It doesn’t hurt to share this stuff on your personal profile — especially if it’s something you are excited about.
- Share interesting content. Sharing professional content on your social networks can be valuable too. However, you don’t want to turn into a used car salesman with non-stop promotion of your company’s blog posts. Share the content you find valuable and interesting — both from your brand and from other blogs and publications you read.
- Share & tag photos. Share photos from the conference you attended or tag yourself in the photos from your company-wide picnic. This is another way to promote your company in a natural way. For example, one of our clients recently shared this photo of their team members who ran the Tough Mudder. Then, someone tagged the photos, which extended the reach.
- Strike up conversation. Much like the example from the legal industry blog, you can ask a professional question to strike up conversation or simply get a pressing question answered. Your connections will want to jump in to help you.
Although this article focused primarily on Facebook, the same principles hold true for other social networks as well — LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Don’t leave all of the social media up to your company’s pages.
You and your team can create powerful personal connections on social media if you’re willing to invest a little time and energy into it.
Are you using your personal social media profiles for business? Why or why not?