It’s Tuesday – Time to Face Your Fears

So from our conversation last week – you are aware that Social Media is a Key tool in reaching more people with your marketing message.

You are an expert in how social media can boost your search engine hits and Web traffic. How Social Media can increase brand awareness and perception. How Social Media can help you reach new audiences and strengthen your relationships with your current customers. And how Social Media can enhance your brand and business in ways traditional media cannot.

But does Social Media still seem like a scary world? A fear of the unknown is what drives this…

In marketing, we’re used to control. You develop an advertising campaign with total control over creative direction, photography, headline, copy, etc. Then you get to place it whenever and wherever you want. You know exactly where and when it’s going to run, where your target audience will see it, and exactly what they’ll see. Now that’s control.

Social media is more like a conversation, except for that it’s online. You get to share information and engage your audience. They can choose to listen, or walk away, so to speak. And just as with a conversation, you hope that people will leave with something of value. Something they can share. And share they will: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Well, have no fear! Follow these four rules to enjoy a truly engaging social media experience:

Be sincere

Principle No. 2 in “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie states: “Give honest and sincere appreciation.” Well, if you want to win friends and influence people online, I’d recommend doing the same. When sharing your thoughts and opinions, sincerity matters.

Be authentic

Unlike advertising (where really, you can say almost anything), with social media, you have to keep it real. Forego the embellishment and just tell it like it is.

Be transparent

Many companies (and even PR people for that matter) have gotten themselves into trouble for not disclosing their true identities. Wal-Mart, for example, had two blogs that appeared to offer grassroots support for the retailer, but soon it was exposed that they were actually authored by Wal-Mart’s PR firm. The headlines that followed in BusinessWeek and on CNNMoney.com were hardly so “supportive.”

Be yourself

It sounds kind of corny, but that’s exactly what you want to do online. Show people the real you. Impart your social media presence with your own personality and style. Infuse your “conversation” with what makes you special and it’s sure to resonate with your target audience.

Still afraid to tap into social media? Your fear might not be a luxury you can afford. With more than 94.1 million U.S. blog readers (50 percent of Internet users) and more than 22.6 million U.S. bloggers, according to eMarketer (May 2008), that’s a huge audience to ignore. This year you should look fear in the eye and join the conversation.