I talk to folks about social media all the time. One of the things that I notice right away is the fear. Most people are worried that they don't know what to do in social media. They are afraid that they will make a mistake. That they will say the wrong thing. Or, they fear that they don't know what to say at all--even that they have nothing to say. All these fears are real and you might be experiencing some of them yourself, but you don't need to. I'd like to convince you that you really do know what to say in social media.

Let's take a real example. I know it's real because it happened to me. When Twitter first came out, I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to know what I was doing. I mean, we all think of ourselves as kind of boring and unsure as to why anyone would want to pay attention to what we do each day. I was no exception.

But, over time, I started to realize that I could share things in much the same way that I already do outside of social media. You see, when I saw an interesting article, I used to send an e-mail to a few people that wanted to know about it. Instead, I started sharing those things on Twitter. I have also recently began taking quick tips that I have written in my books and in blog posts and sharing those.

And a funny thing happened. Some people started to follow me. It's not a huge number, but that's OK. And they started to talk to me on Twitter. And I started following other people and retweeting some of what they said, and talking to them. It all happened gradually, but I realized that I do know what to say on Twitter.

But maybe you have a more difficult situation. Maybe you work for a company that fields its share of complaints about its products, and you are starting to notice customers bad-mouthing you in social media. Now, you are really nervous. What do you say to those angry people?

I believe that you already know what to say--you just need to overcome your fear to actually say it.

To channel your inner social media person, play this mind game with yourself. Imagine that whatever you see in that angry blog post or tweet or message board comment was said to you in person. Conjure up an image of that person standing in front of you and saying that to you to your face. Got it? Now think of what you would say back to them.

For one thing, you probably would not turn on your heel and walk away. You likely would not ignore what the person said completely. You wouldn't act as if they weren't there. Yet that is always our first impulse in social media--to ignore the conversation because we think we don't know what to say.

When we do that, we are doing so because it is more comfortable for us, but not because it is the right thing to do. So, think about what you would say if that person was standing in front of you. You probably wouldn't feel the need to know how to solve their problem right then and there--your first impulse would probably be something like, "I am so sorry that happened to you. I can see why you are upset. I can contact the people in that department for you and see what can be done." Or maybe something like, "Wow! That doesn't sound good at all. We pride ourselves on happy customers and you are understandably far from that right now. I am obviously not familiar with the details of your situation, but what could we do to make things right?"

You've probably got other things you thought of to say, also. That's because you really do know what to say in social media. You just need to let yourself act like a human being towards other human beings. They will appreciate it.

Originally published on Biznology

October 3, 2011

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


Interesting reading.

Im think of myself as to boring to post updates on Twitter, but in the other hand, i dont mind reading others updates :-)

I really appreciate this article. I think that understanding how to use social media is one thing, but using it appropriately is another. Great analogy to think of the person you are speaking to standing right in front of you. Thanks for this.

"Yet that is always our first impulse in social media--to ignore the conversation because we think we don't know what to say."

Great point! You wouldn't be able to ignore a customer standing in your store who had an issue with your products, so why are you ignoring them on social networking sites? I can understand not wanting to say the wrong thing, but you have to say something! Companies cannot afford to run and hide and wait for the social media storm to pass.

The problem is that when talking to people on social media its hard to read body language and you often are interacting with people that you would normally never meet and so have no experience of that type of person.

That's true, Dominic, but if you received a complaint e-mail, where you also have no body language to go by, wouldn't you know how to answer it? How is social media different? I realize that social media makes us all stop and ask ourselves if we know what we are doing. There is nothing wrong with that. But I've worked with lots of companies on this and I invariably find that they already know what to do. They just aren't confident in themselves that they know.

Thanks for the article.

Will start applying this to tweets and interaction with others

This is quite a refreshing piece! Being human on social networking sites is not only rare and thus appreciated, but will also be of benefit to you as it maintains an audience. People often over-exaggerate or rant on social networking sites because it's easier to express intense feelings on the web as opposed to in real life. Thanks for a quality read!

People need to see the differences between social websites and how to interact with them.
For example, it's impossible to allow a public access to a facebook account.
If your boss sees the last photos when you were a little too drunk, I don't think it will be very good for the career! At the opposite give full details on a linkened profile could help to get a new job.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > You DO know what to say in social media