Monday, May 21, 2012

What Alton Brown Can Teach You About Social Media

I'm not a foodie and I don't cook...much.  But, I like a bunch of Food Network shows, especially the competitions.  One of my favorites that just came back is The Next Food Network Star. During the season premiere, Alton Brown gave some advice to one of the contestants that made so much sense and, just like the cartoons, lit the light bulb above my head. The advice was that the key to being on TV isn't to forget that the cameras are there, it's to make the viewers forget that the TV is there.  That's the perfect advice for social media.  The key to effective social media is to make our readers forget the computer is there!

It's such a simple concept.  However, it's not always that easy to execute for everyone.  We always hear about being engaging and conversational, but how many people that you follow can really get you to forget you're typing to a screen and feel like you're having a full conversation...even if your posts are many minutes (or even hours) apart.  Of the people you follow or like, who are the ones you reply or chat with most (other than long time personal friends or family)? Most likely, they're the ones that have a natural, welcoming "voice" to their posts.  There are some people that you may not know very well in person (or at all) that you feel very comfortable having conversations with, even just a sentence or two at a time.

That's great for your personal social media, but what about for business?  With social media for business, there needs to be a balance of your own personality and the personality of your company.  There may be some things that aren't appropriate for your business culture.  However, overall, even in keeping in your company's brand image, your posts will be much more interesting and conversational by letting your personality shine through.  When engaging customers, the goal is the same.  Talk to them like they are standing there face to face.  Whether they're saying how much they like your company or complaining about a recent experience, don't hide behind the computer screen or canned company-speak.  Welcome the opportunity to speak with them and get their feedback.

How do you develop this style?  Just like anything...practice. When posting, read it over and see if it sounds like something you would actually say. Or, do what I do, talk to your computer (or yourself...just don't answer yourself!) as though it's listening to you. Anyone that has worked with me has heard plenty of my conversations with my computer...

Thanks, Alton, for the simple, but so effective advice. While his advice inspired me, I'm curious what tips or advice all of you have heard that resonated with you or gave you that "Ah Ha!" moment.  Share how you've developed your online "voice", especially if you've had to work at it.  Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions.  As always, thanks for reading and please follow my blog to get updates by email when I post new entries. 

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