Young careerists are always looking for ways to stand out; to get ahead and be noticed. Increasingly, that includes using social media as a communication tool.
Many have found that their love of all things social – and their ability to build relationships – is setting them apart from their less-social colleagues, who stick to age-old business practices like emailing, cold-calling, and broadcasting messages.
In the process, these socially savvy careerists become recognized as brand ambassadors. They are known to be approachable, authentic and available by customers and colleagues, who no longer need to wait for canned answers from live chat, or for a form letter to come via email. There you are – on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – providing great content, ready to answer their questions and willing to solve their problems.
I pride myself on being a brand ambassador for my company – and it has definitely helped my career. Free of charge (after all, we’re all in this together), here are some things I’ve learned over the past few years that will help you build a great career, by deliberately becoming a brand ambassador for your employer:
Put a Face on It
Talk to customers, prospects and community members like they’re human, not faceless people banging a keyboard. Just as important, talk to them as a real person, not as a faceless brand. You’re having a conversation, not a sales pitch—at least, don’t make it seem like a sales pitch—so leave the corporate speak on the company website.
How you do all this will depend on your audience, which means you’ll have to do a lot of listening. Be respectful and be aware of the company brand at all times, but don’t be afraid to inject some personality into it. And make it clear who you are: If you’re responding to people under a corporate logo, include your name.
Pay Attention… Actively Listen!
Automated tools make it easy to set it and forget it, but you still have to be there to respond to questions and concerns or you lose credibility fast. I love using Hootsuite to set up tweets throughout the day because doing some automation frees me up to respond in real time where I can, as well as do all the other social media things I need to do. As a bonus, someone in a different time zone will wake up to your tweet as you’re off to your hard-earned rest.
Embrace Negative Feedback
We all love positive feedback, but it’s how you work with negative feedback that will help you learn – and help make your company look good to everyone watching. My view is if someone cares enough to take the time to complain, that means you can now work with that person; you start a dialogue, then build a solution. You can’t work with whispers, but you sure can with shouts.
That said, learn to tell the difference between someone with a legitimate grievance and someone just wanting to stir up anonymous trouble. In extreme situations, understand and follow your social media policy and call on your social team. Most important, take the conversation offline as quickly as you can.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask
Sometimes the best way to figure out what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what people want from you is simply to ask. People love giving advice, especially if you show that you respect what they have to say. I asked on one of my Facebook Pages what the frequent users would like to see in a guide we wanted to create for them. The answers poured in! So ask generally, or ask a few key supporters, but consistently ASK instead of guess.
If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that we never stop finding out something new. Build in time for research. Block off your calendar if you have to, but do it. Take advantage of free webinars on LinkedIn, BrightTalk and HubSpot. Search Pinterest for boards full of social media resources. Attend Twitter chats and look at other sites in your niche to see how they’re managing their social media presence and online communities. Every week, every day, something new comes along.
If You’re Going to Panic, Do it On the Inside
That adage about never letting them see you sweat holds just as true online as off. Especially when the trolls and divas get involved and dialogue turns to debate. Build yourself a strong team of supporters, both internal and external to your company. Seek out advice, and do what it takes to calm down—and then respond to the situation. And once you become a brand ambassador for your company, there will be situations.
Social media is… social; it is something to enjoy even as you’re putting in the extra hours. You’re reaching real people who want to be communicated with, not talked at. You’re helping customers; giving them what they need so they stay customers. It’s an awesome feeling. And, it sets you apart from everyone else in the company because you become the go-to person for your brand.
Go ahead. Be social. Policy will almost always move more slowly than technology, so don’t wait for permission or a social media policy to come from up-high (but, yes, you should develop a social media policy that evolves as new media channels become available). Build your reputation as a brand ambassador, and let the results speak for themselves. Everyone around you will see the results; they’ll want to play along.
After all, you’re now a social media rockstar… you’re a brand ambassador.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at The House of Beck!
About the Author: Becky Benishek is the Social Media Coordinator and Community Manager for the Crisis Prevention Institute, Inc. (CPI), helping people empower themselves to create a safer place to work. Formerly the Community Manager for MyPath.com, a career resource website, she delights in the often-elusive mix of writing, marketing, and IT. Becky believes in the Miracle on 34th Street: Giving people what they need to get where they need to go. You can find her at @bbenishek and @CPI_Training.