Posts

3 Social Media Mistakes You are Making & How to Fix Them Immediately

While social media is not the new kid on the block anymore, we are as a population still learning how to effectively leverage social media for business. For this reason alone, those of us who are PR/Marketing/Communications practitioners cringe when we hear people profess to be social media experts. Even after using the tools for more than a decade we are all still learning how to adjust to the changing world that we operate within. We know that there are no real experts. There are people with experience using social media.  Some of us even have thousands of hours using social media. In fact, there are many people with 10 years of social media under their belts.  Remember that Malcolm Gladwell claims that to be a master in something you need at least 10,000 hours. Combine that experience with PR/Marketing/Communications experience and these are the people who can help businesses better use the tools to effectively meet business objectives.

So, just what are the social media mistakes that I see most often? And, better yet, how do you fix them?

1. Failing to Know/Understand Your Audience

Far to0 often I see people using social media channels or tools in the same way that they use social for their personal communications. How you use social in your personal life is NOT how you should use it for your professional/business needs.  It is essential to know and understand your audience(s).

The Fix:  Here are some quick and easy questions to think about and answer:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What channels do they use?
  • How are they using the channels?
  • And, do they expect a business connecting/engaging with them through the channels?

These are just some questions that you should be able to answer. There are more of course and they depend on a number of strategies/tactics.  However, starting with these questions should lead you in the right direction. If in doubt, find a qualified professional to help you. This is an investment that will definitely have a quick ROI.

2. Thinking that Social Media is a Stand Alone Tactic or Strategy

It is not really surprising that 10 years into social media we are still doing this. After all there are more consultants selling social media as a stand alone option than not. I would caution managers however, to really pause and reflect about this. For example, if you are a sales manager, do you approach your sales plan in one of’s? Or, do you have an overall strategy for your product/services based on a number of variables that all fold up into one plan? It is the latter of course. Your sales plan is all about meeting corporate sales objectives. The same goes for your social media. It is NOT a stand alone.  Repeat after me: social media is not a stand alone tactic, tool or strategy. It is a part of the overall strategy and is but one tool or tactic to be used strategically to meet an overall objective or objectives. These objectives should be measured too, but that is another blog post.

The Fix: Don’t be fooled by wrong information:

If someone suggests that social media doesn’t link to the rest of your business: run! Run fast and run far. Gone are the days of silos. To effectively leverage social you need and integrated strategy. And, if someone tells you that can’t be done, well, you have the wrong person helping you. It really is that straight forward. When you hire a marketing strategist or a social media consultant, be sure that he or she is well rounded in terms of experience. Because someone has a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile does not make them the right resource. What is their exact experience? Do they have PR, marketing, communication, business development and customer services experience? Has the person worked in social media in a number of capacities including but not limited to: community management, engagement, listening, playbook development, ads, analysis, research, etc. If the person can demonstrate that he or she has this experience, hire him or her immediately.

3.  Not Having a Social Media Playbook

A social media playbook can be a lifesaver. Imagine you and your company are going along your merry way sharing information on social when all of a sudden someone makes a very disparaging remark about your products, services or your company in general. The first comment is made on your Facebook page and you or your employee removes the comment. Good idea? Likely not. What could happen is the person who made the comment will repost and/or make it known that you delete unfavourable comments. This could very well result in a number of people calling your openness and transparency into question and filling your feed with unflattering comments. What then? What about if they are Tweeting about you? You can’t delete their Tweets? What if it is a blog post? What then?

The Fix: Have a Living Playbook:

Playbooks will vary according to your business and the level of listening and engagement that you do. At the very least you should have a plan about what you do and do not respond to, what you escalate and to whom. Having an up-to-date playbook can save you and your team a lot time and anguish. It sets the stage for how you operate. It gives everyone the same guidelines. It is your brand and you need consistency. For a sample of how to get started, here is an ebook that I wrote while I worked for Radian6 (a.k.a salesforce.com). This is just a starter to wet your appetite. I have worked with playbooks that have been five pages. I have worked with playbooks that have been 150 pages. It all depends on your business and how you use social. In any event, you need to be prepared!

If you have any questions on your social media plan and your overall integrated strategy, I would love to help. Feel free to follow me on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest marketing and communications best practices, news and insights.

How Not to Get Hired (Or, Get Fired Once Hired)

Over that last several months I have been working with clients helping them build out their marketing and communications departments.  I have done the needs assessment, workforce planning, along with job descriptions, application review and interview design.  Through the application review process I have to say that there is one shocking theme emerging – the inflation of one’s experience.  Needless to say, inflating your experience is either the best way to NOT get hired or, should you manage to fool the hiring manager, it is a sure fire way to get fired!

I work in a pretty small market.  I tend to know who is who when it comes to my industry.  If I don’t know someone, I can easily call someone and ask about the person.  So, it is really concerning to me when I see people inflate their resumes, including their LinkedIn profiles, with details that I know to be questionable.

Even if I didn’t work in a small market there are some telltale signs that raise eyebrows.  While it is entirely possible that you were waiting tables or someone’s receptionist one week, it would be more rare that that your next job would have you leading teams that approved the top dog’s speeches and/or press calendar.

I am not saying that you can’t work on a team that supports senior management, but I have to confess that professing that you were single-handedly responsible for the approval process for either a CEO or a senior politician such as a Senator, a Provincial Premier or even a leader of a country is a bit far fetched.  In the last two weeks I have read resumes that have made such claims.  In one case, the candidate had been a receptionist and his next job was working for a Premier of the Province “approving” his speeches and speaking points.  In another case, the candidate had managed a bar and the next job she was the CEO’s press secretary and responsible for approving all interview requests, messaging and speeches.  In both cases, I know the person who actually performed those roles.  As a result, I know the candidates were not performing the actual duties that they claimed to have done. I also know that people are not moved into such roles with no experience.  These roles require a fair amount of expertise and experience.

Inflating your experience is a dangerous practice and here’s why:Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 3.45.34 PM

  • On the front end, experienced hiring managers and/or HR Professionals will rule these candidates out.  That is expected, but it becomes more serious as we look at this further.
  • In small markets, your reputation and creditability will be impacted sooner than later.  People know each other and it doesn’t take long to lose your credibility.
  • Another scenario?  Suppose you try this in a market that isn’t so small and you get the job.  Things might be good for weeks or months, but eventually, it will become clear that you don’t have the experience claimed.  The results then are be bad for both parties.  Neither of these outcomes are preferable for either party.

Many organizations are taking steps to weed out false information in the event that it was not discovered in the screening and interview stage.  They use companies that investigate your education, work history and even credit history.  So, beware that more and more companies are doing this. If an employer finds out you misstated your experience, the end result is quite simple. You will be shown the door.

The cardinal rule is to tell the truth.  Eventually it comes out and it can be far worse and devastating to all parties concerned.

Want to learn more about issues and risks to your business, connect with us at www.taylormadecanada.com.

The #1 Reason You Need to Hire for Experience Versus Inexperience

I have been working with a number of clients lately who are really on the fence about whether they should hire a really experienced, knowledgable person who would be a member of senior management versus hiring someone whom they feel has a lot of energy and therefore could learn quickly.  I have counselled them about the benefits for both.  And, there are benefits for both.  Now, I realize what I am about to say will sound boastful however, it is true that those that took my advice have been benefiting from the results and are pleased.  Curious about what my advice was?  Here is the #1 Reason that you need to need to hire experience.

Image courtesy of studentwire.co.uk

Image courtesy of studentwire.co.uk

Lack of Process and Subject Matter Expertise

If you are lacking processes and subject matter expertise in a particular area, you need to hire someone who has that expertise.  This applies to project management to marketing to engineering.

My clients have a burning platform.  They need to make “something” happen.  Whether that “something” is increased sales, increased brand recognition or helping a failing or compromised project to succeed, you need someone with the experience to analyze the existing environment and provide insight about potential pit falls and road blocks as well as set strategy.  In all cases, these clients are missing this experience.  Some are small organizations.  Some are much larger and established organizations.  They are struggling.  They have tried many solutions, including moving people into different roles and hiring the inexperienced, the so-called energetic people.

When evaluating their situation, I recommended in all cases that they needed the right leadership to take them to the next level.  I also suggest that just because someone has experience does not mean that they don’t have energy.  In fact, I went further to say that if you find the experience also look for passion.  If there is passion, the energy will also be there.

Through the course of the conversation with clients I learned that often times “energy” was code word for someone who can roll his or her sleeves up and actually do the work versus just developing strategy and directing others.  Once I realized that this was the issue, I worked hard to change that misconception.  Yes, there are people who only focus on strategy and managing people, but in this day and age, many leaders realize that they have to be able to roll up their sleeves too.  This is particularly true for start-ups and organizations in flux and/or crisis.

In one particular case I recommended that the client hire an experienced person to help them through the issues and to develop the team.  The client was ready to hire.  Unfortunately the client, in this case, did not listen.  The new hire had no background whatsoever in the discipline for which the individual was hired.  The client was very excited about this new hire.  The exact  words were:  “[insert name] is really excited and full of energy.  We are going to get a lot done.  This is good.”  Fast forward one month and the client called.  You could hear the anxiousness in the tone and cadence of the conversation.  The issue?  The new hire was overwhelmed with the work and while a lot of the of recommendations I had made were implemented, they were NOT seeing the results.  It was now do or die time.  I was asked back to help identify the issues.  I already knew the issues.  While the person was very keen, the individual had no background and was attacking things from the “I have to complete this list of activities that was recommended.”  It was a check list only.  There was zero strategy — zero understanding of the business, the complex culture and zero understanding of change management.

The client was willing to hire me for a week’s worth of work.  I summed up the issues and made a recommendation within one hour.  This time the client listened and hired for experience.  Flash forward one month, the project has seen positive results.  The client’s client is starting to see results and much happier. My client has now recommended me to CEOs he knows.

Key Take-Aways:

  • Think about the end-result. It is not failure to admit that you lack subject matter expertise in an area.
  • Hire for experience, including relationships.  In some cases, projects can be derailed because your project team doesn’t have the cultural knowledge of the organization that you are working with.
  • Experience doesn’t mean that a person cannot roll up his or her sleeves and work side-by-side with the team

What is your take on hiring for experience versus inexperience?  Is it really about energy?  If you want to learn more about hiring for experience, connect with us today.