Good Monday morning to you. It’s the last full week in the month of November and for those who are in the working world, it is a short week. I wanted to gear our week around a topic of RockStar professionals. The idea for professionalism with the RockStar twist came to me a few months ago. Gwynne had been on my case to change the voicemail message for our business line. The fact that I am a fan of the movie, The Big Lebowski, had prompted me to have the message that Jeff Bridges’ character had in the movie: “The Dude is not here. Leave a message after the beep.” It was a tag line and if you knew me, that is how you would expect to hear me talk on my phone line. But was it professional enough for my business? Gwynne didn’t think so and I ended up changing it to something that kept my character but sounds more professional.
So this week we are going to cover four areas about a RockStar image and using things in a RockStar way. Today I want to cover the idea of using social media. There are some things I believe we simply should not do in this medium to be professional. This is a world media that can reach thousands, even millions of people. Even the “expert” Ashton Kutcher makes a mistake from time to time.
The idea of the professional use of these channels of media in a cool, RockStar way, while remembering how they look on our brand, on our name, or even our business is important. Last week, I watched a business owner in the Dallas area make remarks from his personal facebook account on a group page with a lot of members who are also personal friends with each other. Within this group, it stirred a large battle among the members. It made me think about how a business owner should and should not use a personal facebook page.
When you operate a business and are its face, you must work to serve your customers – all of them. That often means making decisions about whether or not to reveal your personal life and opinions in an open forum – such as in social media avenues like facebook. When you express personal opinions on your business page, you run the risk of alienating some of your customers.
Last year I started to travel many miles with my business. It was also the time that I got more involved with the social media networking world. I learned I had to make my content on the web more professional. I also had to learn what to post and what not to post on a social sight. I did use the features on Foursquare and facebook to tell how I received bad service from two national service brands. When going into a franchise, most fast food and some other companies now have ways for you to fill out surveys online to tell what you thought of the service. Social media is better for that, as it’s a place where your info can get out to people. If it is wrong, many people will defend a place and the great service they had there.
So here are a few things to show professionalism in a new world of social media while still keeping your business unique and being true to your character.
1. Never start an online fighting match with the customer, whether in your personal or business forum. The only thing this shows is that you are willing to argue a point. Too many times, we want to defend ourselves when someone puts us down. As a business or brand you never want to do this because it shows you to be childish. If a customer calls you out in a public forum and you feel you must reply, you should follow the exact same rule you would in the business itself: the customer is always right. You can apologize for their bad experience and invite them to come by to talk to you in person or call you so you can try to make it right. I think the best thing to do is to still send a private message to that person, tell them who you are and it was your company. Mention that you want to resolve the issue, maybe ask them to stop by again and tell you what went wrong. Doing this in private and resolving the problem to make them happy will give them a higher respect for your business or brand. Let them be the ones to put out how you helped them resolve a problem, praise works so much better when it comes from others not yourself.
2. Never work to sell someone by talking down the competition. We all have those who we feel short cut the system on deals, competitors who took that big sale away from us. But you never want to make a public display of how they cut prices thinking that will somehow make you look better. Instead what you should do is build them up. Say, “Yes, they have a great sales process. If you choose to buy from them, see Charlie. I know him from an old place we worked together.” Then maybe tell them to come by and show you the great deal they got. Over the summer I bought a new bike from a salesman I knew. A week earlier I was at a sister dealership where my friend Bryan is a manager. When I told Bryan I got the new bike he told me, “That’s great. I’m glad you finally got it. You look good on it. Ride safe.” He was not upset. He’s watched me buy two new bikes, never one from him. Yet he is always excited to see me buying new ones and he knows I will buy again; he is making sure he is still someone I will think of when it happens.
3. Always make yourself open to talk about problems. Maybe create a forum page or question page where you can ask customers to go on and tell you what they want to see improved bout your business. This is a great way to use the social media to get ideas, but also use it to ask customers, “What is the one thing you would like to see change at our business?” Make it so they can come to you with truth.
4. Never hide behind your online profiles. I have met people who, when it comes to their business, use a business page to show a false image of who they are. A few years ago I watched the filming of a reality TV show. I had chosen not to be involved with it, even though I knew the group that was in the filming. I watched as the TV crews scripted an event for filming that showed two members of this group looking different from their true selves. It is so hard to change a false image about yourself or your business. In the world where we create uniqueness it’s time to show your true self.
5. Separate your personal and business pages. I had a friend on LinkedIn tell me that she was a business connection to me, but was seeing too much of my personal life because, when I posted on Twitter, it copied to my LinkedIn page. Yes we are unique in what we do and we do things in different ways, but be professional when you need to be and personal when you need to be. It’s the personal life that will attract your friends to your business, but most of the time your business friends are there to do business. Let them ask to be a friend on your personal page instead of you asking them.
Take these short bits and make your business a better place by attracting new customers. The key about social networks is they are about building relationships. If you lose a sale and find out about it on facebook, take that info and work to build your relationship with that person – outside a public forum – so they will become a customer again. The only people buying for the last time are those buying coffins. And remember, they have family and friends who are still potential customers.
Social media has given us great ways to share life with those we can’t be with all the time. Use it to make your business better by sharing the great stuff and working to improve the stuff that went wrong. Use it to make your life better by separating your personal and business lives to keep your customers comfortable and your friends knowing the real you.
I’m Tim Gillette, the Rocker Life Coach. It’s time to live your dreams, to love what you do and those you share life with. Be professional and build lasting relationships, both in your brick-and-mortar business and in your social media forums, to become the RockStar in your world.