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Social media skills pt 4: standing out from the crowd


Standing out from the online noise takes a few simple steps. Colette Mason shows the way.

Companies that use social media effectively tend to follow the same tried and tested techniques to make sure they stay at the forefront and don’t get lost in the noise and chatter. Here are some of the things they do:

Complete their profiles fully

Explain their business clearly in social media profiles. Think of them like an elevator pitch on steroids, because not only can you explain what your business does, but you can link to examples and really showcase it with images, video, recommendations and more.

Have a suitable profile picture

Just because you are looking to create a professional presence, it doesn’t mean you can retreat entirely from your personal self, you still need to do certain things to your profile to show it belongs to a real credible person/business. 

"Even if you have taken the time to complete your written profile, why wouldn’t you display your photo?"

It’s vital you come across as a real, three-dimensional character. Although fake profiles are much less of a problem on LinkedIn than they are on Facebook or Twitter, that doesn’t mean you can skip adding your profile picture and some basic professional details, like the organization you currently work with.

Many people try to dodge uploading a profile picture and upload a company logo for their own professional pages, use a silhouetted picture of them way off in the distance, or worst of all, a fuzzy picture of a pet or an abstract sketch.

Which one do you think creates the best impression? Who would you feel most comfortable connecting with?

Profile pictures – who would you choose to connect with?

Whenever you assign a profile picture to your account that’s not a real person, rather than a picture of you, other social media users will question your credibility. Even if you have taken the time to complete your written profile, why wouldn’t you display your photo? Do you think you’d get great results if you went to face to face business networking event in a black balaclava, thick overcoat and dark sunglasses?

Share your successes

Let people know when you get something right. Seek out recommendations. Share awards you win. Let your social media tribe see you have risen above your competitors. Also share the successes of your clients and customers. For example if you offer consultancy services and one of your customers followed your advice and got spectacular results - why not tell your followers about their success? It's a very self-effacing form of self-promotion.

Value your following. Compliment them. Thank them

A lot of the people who struggle to make social media provide a return are not good at building strong, good quality interaction with their followers. Never take your audience for granted. Online free information is everywhere and cheaper deals are abundant.

Make sure you are letting your followers know you value being connected to them. Make it clear you are not taking their time and their interest for granted when they follow your story. Being lazy and relying on automation and not interaction is a great way to alienate your following - respond in a timely and polite way to keep your followers onside and always thank them for being in your network. 

Encourage people to interact with you

Ask open-ended questions and start discussions. Don't just state facts about your business. Ask people to make choices, give you feedback, suggest improvements to your products, services or marketing communications in general.

By listening to people, you can create stronger relationships online - after all being listened to is a basic human emotional need, and we tend to enjoy that sense of "being heard" and "contributing to a group". 

Be creative

Reward people for participating and sharing ideas by picking a response and giving them some of your products or services for free for participating. Be creative - ask your fans to do something special - perhaps to prove they are your biggest fan and to upload a picture of them holding one of your products in their hands as they stand next to a national landmark - the furthest from your head office wins a prize? Follow up the winner and how they felt receiving star treatment.

Social media is great for highlighting your corporate responsibility and the work you do for good causes. People enjoy reading good news stories, and it helps foster a good feeling about your business and its values. Sharing this information is great for coming up with ideas for blog posts and newsletters that you can promote via your social media channels. It’s also perfect for sharing photos and videos of how you’ve helped.

Our next topic is mastering your status updates and I’ll be sharing some strategies to get you started communicating regularly with your followers.

The social media skills series so far:

Colette Mason runs an international online consultancy which shows businesses and entrepreneurs how to use the internet and social media to boost their business online. With an IT background, which started in support and development and moving on to usability and online marketing techniques, she has worked on some of the biggest projects in Europe. Colette is also author of Social Media Success in 7 Days. For more information please visit:

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