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The Cure for Social Media Pitfalls – 5 Guidelines for Getting Recognized

With the constant barrage of social media status updates and endless marketing ploys that rage around you, how can you ensure you are heard above all the static? How can you use social media to effectively communicate your image and message?

Last week I discussed a few social media personalities that drive me crazy. This week I want to share how you can avoid these pitfalls and use social media to help you get recognized (both personally and professionally). Here are 5 guidelines for creating an engaging, memorable, and marketable online presence:

You Are Uniquely You. There is no one that can be a better you than you. Dr. Seuss says it this way, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” This simple statement has powerful implications. Confidence is attractive (not arrogance but confidence) and nothing will gain you more respect than being true to who you are. Use social media sites to publish your story as this is part of your “personal brand”. You may be surprised how sharing who you are can cultivate engagement and foster advocates who feel like an integral part of your story.

Minimalism Creates Connections. Social media is not the next-generation of the door-to-door salesman or cold call. After decades of being inundated with a constant barrage of advertisements, the average person expects genuine connections on social media sites. Do not use automatic feed generators to have an “online presence” as this is merely the modern rendition of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. When you have something important you truly want to share, you will have no where to turn because your barrage of meaningless posts severed all potential interest. Less is more. Share what is meaningful to you, not because you think you need to post eery 30 minutes to stay relevant.

Loyal Advocates Perpetuate Brand Awareness. You are your own brand. You have a message, a platform, a personality, a perspective that is marketable. You can create “brand advocates” for yourself. These people can start off as family and friends, but as you continue to invest in a positive online reputation, they will eventually become coworkers, bosses, potential bosses and even people you have never met. The power of social media lies in the viral effect of a band of loyal advocates who unite to share your story.

Content Matters. “Blue Light Specials,” incessant chatter, grammatical errors, pictures of food, etc. often do nothing more than annoy your connections and cause them to mute your message, even if it is relevant to them. What you have to say is important, and people want to listen. People do not want to be “sold” to, they want something to “buy into.” Genuine, relevant content gets your message out and gets people invested in your brand. Share real, applicable, valuable content and make your message something worth listening to – eventually you will be heard and recognized.


You Get Out What You Put In. Despite common misconceptions, social media does not perpetuate itself. Like Rome, your presence and influence cannot be built in a day. An engaging conversation takes at least two people to dialogue and time to move the conversation forward. I like to think of social media as a very large integrated conversation and I believe the more effort you put into engaging your audience, the more effective your efforts will be.

These are a few basics I use, that if you implemented could help you get recognized and may even revolutionize your social media presence. What are some tips or techniques you use to get noticed?

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Profile Photo Chris Stinson

Nice article (as was the one on personalities that drive you crazy) All good advice.

A somewhat related question…

On some government social sites people post by name i.e. Bob P, while on some the posts are generic. (i,e, Agency Staff). Which is the better way.

I know I prefer the impression that I am talking to another person, rather then “government”. Some might sign their agency post, but I then think that it is group speak rather then personal,

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Profile Photo Kevin Lanahan

Chris, we always sign ours with a name and agency. For example, “kevin@mdc”. It is important to establish that there is an actual human making the posts.

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Profile Photo Taylor Fitzpatrick

Hi Chris:

Great question! As a part of the Federal Government regulations often stipulate how one can post on social media sites. Often those who do not sign their name may not be permitted to do so. However, if regulations permit, Kevin is right – personal is better.

When one signs a social media post as the government it gives the impression of being generic and tends to be viewed an official press release. These posts do not often foster conversation but rather dictate content. Social media is meant to be conversational and it is hard to dialogue with a manual.

However, that does not mean your agency must remain a mystery. If you want to include the name of your agency to add clout or clarity to your posts, I would recommend doing one of the following:

  • Include your agency name in the post: this could be when you introduce yourself or when you explain your reason for posting. For instance: At DHS we often face this problem… have you noticed this in your organization?
  • Include it as part of your signature, much as you would in an email
  • You can always use common social media symbols (much like Kevin recommended)
    • If you want to use an @ symbol it would be best to put it on two lines like a signature so that it does not appear to be a misprinted email address. For instance:
      • Taylor
      • @agencyname
    • A #hashtag is always an effective way to communicate information at the end of a post.

A a general rule, it is better to be personal. Including your name not only gives your audience someone to connect with but it also helps you build your personal brand, get recognized in your field, network with people who recognize your name, etc.

I know that was a long answer for a seemingly simple question but (as always with the government) there are many variables that need to be considered and various solutions that can be executed. Does that help? Does anyone have any additional thoughts?

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