Jeffrey Hayzlett on Using Social Media For Business Success

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My friend and fellow mastermind group member, Jeff Hayzlett shares some great ideas about using social media that I thought you’d be interested in reading.

Owning It: 3 Ways to Use Total Social Media Transparency for Business Success

My horse, Blaze, is one of the oddest creatures on four legs I’ve ever known.

Case in point: One day, my son and I were out riding our horses when we came to a shallow creek. As you would expect, my son’s horse took the stream in stride and crossed without incident. (Probably appreciated the cool water.)

Blaze? Not so much.

Despite all of my cajoling, my horse refused to set one hoof into that water. Instead, he decided he was going to leap across that creek – which he hurdled like a champ.

Up until then, I had no clue that Blaze doesn’t like water. The more time I spend with him, the more I learn about all of his little quirks and preferences — you know, everything that makes him so frustrating… and my favorite horse.

When it comes to social media success, you can’t afford to hold anything back

Because he’s a horse and doesn’t know any better, Blaze doesn’t hold anything back.  In fact, he’s totally transparent: what you see is what you get.

I share this story because if you’re using social media to grow your business, you’re going to have to hold on tight, because the social media landscape’s a wild ride. But there’s another lesson to be learned from my “what you see is what you get” life with Blaze: When it comes to engaging with customers online, nothing will serve you better than being who you are, one hundred percent of the time, no apologies.

There’s two reasons I urge this kind of social media transparency for business owners. First, nothing pisses off customers more than when someone is inconsistently responsive. You know the type. They’ll acknowledge till the cows come home when fans offers praise, but complaints and criticism send them running for the hills.

The second reason for adopting total transparency online is because your customers love knowing that you’re human, one of them. When you let people online see and engage with the real you, your business will grow as a result.

If you’re going to do it, do it right: 3 ways to achieve total transparency on social media

I’m assuming since you’re reading this that you’re already using social media to cultivate a thriving, successful business. If you’re not, it’s time to get busy.

In either case, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right.

What does that involve? Being totally in, and totally transparent. Here are my three suggestions for how to do just that:

1. Be genuine in your approach. As I state in Running the Gauntlet, social media marketing (and all marketing, for that matter), isn’t just about winning ears and eyeballs. It’s also about winning hearts and minds. And just as you would in the real world, you do this by engaging with people on social media in a way that invites conversation, demonstrates you’re ready to listen, even — or rather, especially — when you don’t want to hear what they have to say, and bringing something more to the table than just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo information that no one really cares much about anyway. People don’t make a buying decision because you’ve dazzled them with facts and figures. They buy because they feel a real connection with you and your product or service. Establish that kind of connection by being genuine every time you interact on social media, and you’ll find your reach and influence growing as a result.

2. Be true to who you are, and unapologetic about it. Whether I’m sitting in a boardroom in New York City, my game room in South Dakota, or in the saddle on the back of Blaze, with me, what you see is what you get: a big, brash cowboy who calls it like I see it and makes no apologies for being who I am.

I’m that way on social media, too. And whether they love me or hate me for it, folks always know what to expect when they engage with me. Transparency on social media means adapting this same “like it or lump it” approach to your messaging. Let your personality shine through, have an opinion, express a point of view. In other words, don’t worry about playing it safe. If some of your followers disagree with you, take offense to something you believe in, or decide they’re not interested enough to hang around, they have the option to unfollow you. So let it go. Let them go. You’re not going to please all the people all of the time, and nor do you have to. Decide to be one of those business owners who approach social media from a place that’s genuine, transparent and real — then do it big and do it well — and success will follow.

3. Share everything you can. One of the great things about social media is its “everything goes” attitude to sharing information. (For a guy who came into this world without a filter, that’s pretty awesome.) Without limits or restrictions, businesses have the freedom to share things with their customers that keep them checking in on a regular basis, hungry for more. And you don’t need steak to make things sizzle on social media. When I was at Kodak, we shared our social media policy with everyone and anyone who cared to read it. This was just stuff about Facebook and Twitter and blogging — nothing earth-shattering, but we knew that if we shared it, people would talk about it. And so they did. Make it your policy to share everything you can, too, and be prepared to respond to the feedback that comes as a result — good and bad. Because in order to be totally transparent, you’ve got to be prepared to engage with your devoted fans and those who make a sport of picking apart everything you do.

And if you’re really ready for the big time? Be prepared to admit it when you suck. Don’t hide, don’t cover it up. Own it and share the heck out of it until it’s run its course. If you don’t, I promise that someone will do it for you. And believe me, it’s much easier to go on the offensive and own a mistake than to be on the defense when others publicly flog you or your product or service when something goes wrong.

Jump, and don’t look back

If all this talk about social media transparency, about being genuine, unapologetic, and willing to share everything leaves you shaking in your boots, take heart. Successful interaction on social media requires time and the right attitude, so just relax.

Loosen up.

Let your hair down.

Transparency demands nothing less.

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to go for it, do like Blaze and jump, and don’t look back. Remember that the social media landscape is vast and unpredictable. But if you’ll just be you, I promise you’ll find a way to get to where you want to go.

Jeffrey Hayzlett Global Business Celebrity, TV Commentator, Best-Selling Author and Sometime Cowboy

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Mark Satterfield, Gentle Rain Marketing -- Author , Marketing Consulting Expert, Lead Generation, Business Development, Marketing Strategy, Get More Clients, Increase Revenue -- Click here for his Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube

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