Officiellement installée dans les Laurentides depuis quelques mois maintenant, je lis plus régulièrement les journaux du coin. Une chronique dans Le Journal des Pays-d’en-Haut La Vallée signée Mimi Legault a retenu mon attention ce matin. Mme Legault se désole de la vie « vide » des internautes qui passent leur temps à « visiter Twitter ou Facebook cinquante-sept fois en trois heures. » Elle va jusqu’à comparer ces pauvres individus au poulet qu’elle met sous vide. « Des gens qui vivent dans leur univers tout ratatiné. Sans oxygène. » Bon. J’ai décidé de réagir via courriel. Voici ce que ça donne :
Bonjour Mme Legault,
Votre chronique dans le journal Pays d’en Haut du 21 mai me fait faire un saut, alors je vous écris pour la première fois.
Avec tout le respect que je vous dois, c’est avec regret que je constate que vous véhiculez des préjugés banals de gens qui ne connaissent pas les réseaux sociaux mais qui se permettent quand même de se prononcer sur le sujet. Vous imaginez des gens seuls, dans leurs sous-sols, s’isolant de la communauté environnante pour échanger avec des étrangers. Sachez que non seulement la grande majorité des gens utilisent les réseaux sociaux pour entretenir des liens qui existent déjà, mais que les rencontres virtuelles entre inconnus se transforment plus souvent que vous ne le croyez, de toute évidence, en rencontres réelles.
Je m’offre comme exemple : mon réseau est largement composé de contacts professionnels. Depuis quelques mois, j’en ajoute d’un domaine qui n’est pas encore le mien, ayant l’intention de faire un virage professionnel prochainement. J’ai rencontré certains de ces « inconnus » lors d’un congrès après avoir fait un premier contact via les réseaux sociaux, mais certaines relations demeurent virtuelles, les individus étant dispersés aux quatre coins du monde. Ils m’offrent un accès à leur expertise qui m’est précieux. Pour le reste, Facebook m’a permis de renouer avec des amis d’enfance et du secondaire … je vais visiter une de mes plus grandes amies d’enfance à la fin du mois. Nous nous étions perdues de vue, mais nous nous rendons maintenant visite depuis 3 ans. J’ai pu découvrir et tisser des liens avec des cousines du côté de mon père irlandais. J’en ai rencontré une à Toronto il y a un an, et je rendrai visite à une autre lors de mon voyage en Irlande cet été. Facebook me permet aussi de maintenir un contact avec un cousin irlandais de qui j’avais très peu de nouvelles autrefois. Nouvellement installée dans les Laurentides, les réseaux sociaux m’ont permis d’échanger avec d’autres résidents et d’en faire la connaissance. Hier seulement, une jeune femme de Val David et son père, résident de Sainte-Adèle, se sont déplacés chez moi pour récupérer un baril – ils en ont fait la demande dans un groupe Facebook et j’ai répondu en leur offrant le mien. De nouvelles personnes rencontrées que je n’aurais peut-être pas connues autrement. Et j’en passe.
Les réseaux sociaux permettent aux gens de se réunir autour d’intérêts communs. Que ce soit via Facebook, Twitter, les blogues ou balados, peu importe notre intérêt (le tricot, l’environnement, les chants marins) on peut trouver quelqu’un avec qui partager notre passion même s’ils sont à l’autre bout du monde. Nos voisins ne partagent pas toujours nos intérêts, vous voyez. Contrairement à ce que vous puissiez croire, un accès aux réseaux sociaux peut souvent permettre aux gens de _briser_ l’isolement.
Je ne dis pas qu’on doit passer tout son temps devant son ordi. Au contraire. Comme dans toute chose, un bon équilibre est de mise et on doit tendre la main vers les inconnus qu’on croise sur le trottoir, dans nos écoles, dans nos lieux de travail pour faire de nouvelles rencontres. Mais de là à comparer les gens qui profitent de liens qu’ils peuvent tisser grâce aux réseaux sociaux au poulet que vous mettez sous vide … aie … c’est vraiment faire preuve d’un mépris que je trouve désolant.
Divulgation : j’étais la première consultante en relations publiques au Québec à monter une campagne médias sociaux pour une entreprise. Je me baigne dans les réseaux sociaux depuis le début du phénomène. En fait, ce n’est pas la première fois que j’écris sur le sujet de journalistes qui comprennent mal l’attrait des réseaux sociaux. Je vous invite à lire ma réplique à Lise Bissonnette et Natalie Petrowski. Un billet qui date de 2010.
Si jamais vous décidez de vous lancer sur les réseaux sociaux, je vous invite à vous joindre à moi sur LinkedIn Au plaisir de faire votre connaissance, que ce soit dans le monde réel ou « virtuel ».
Are you a Quebec businessperson? Have you been following the Delilah-in-the-Parc affair, and wondering how you can be sure your page on Facebook meets Office de la langue française du Québec requirements? Or do you just want to be sure you’re catering to both your francophone and anglophone customers in the best and most efficient way possible? You’ve come to the right place. This blog post provides you with a step-by-step guide to help you navigate Quebec’s linguistical waters when you’re on Facebook. It’s easy. All you have to do is take avantage of Facebook’s language targetting capabilities when posting your content. Problem solved.
This step-by-step guide is available on Slideshare here:
A little background:
Last Thursday, English language media across Canada exploded with the news that a small clothing boutique owner in Chelsey Quebec had received a letter from Quebec’s French language office stipulating that her largely English language Facebook page had to provide content in French. The store owner seemed flustered, stating in interviews that she had always conformed to language regulations but didn’t see how she could make it work on Facebook. After all, posting in French, then in English, would mess up her page, bilingual posts were unmanageable … and how on earth could they expect her to control the font size? Spokespersons for l’OLFQ stated that they had responded to a complaint, were entering into new territory with social media and definitely wanted to ensure that French was used online as well as off by businesses operating in Quebec.
A tempest in a teapot. Why? Because Facebook provides a simple solution that satisfies l’OLFQ. How do I know? I asked. And after some explatation of Facebook features and a little back and forth, l’OLFQ confirmed.
L’OLFQ publishes its guidelines for business owners online, in a document called « Bonnes pratiques linguistiques dans les entreprises. » Clause 4.4 speaks to social networks. Unfortunately, the clause isn’t particularly clear, and only provides some examples, not directives. It appears to offer the following French-only case study as an example of best practice:
Au Québec la Financière Sun Life (…) a d’ailleurs créé, pour l’entreprise et ses propriétés, des pages Facebook et Twitter purement québécoises, et exclusivement en français, afin de créer un dialogue vivant.
I wrote to l’OLFQ requesting clarification. That correspondence is available here. To sum it all up, l’OLFQ agrees that if Facebook page managers use Facebook’s language targetting functionality in the way brands like Fido do, they meet Quebec’s language requirements. This means that French content will display when the user has his or her Facebook settings set to French, and English content will display when the user has his or her Facebook settings set to English.
L’OLFQ does not hold businesses responsible for the conversations their Facebook fans may have on their page … meaning they don’t need to ensure that discussion is being held in French only … they only need to ensure that the content they themselves publish is available in French. Which then allows a business to also provide that same content in English.
Check out my Step-by-Step guide to OLFQ compliance on Facebook for all the details.
Do you feel more confident in your OLFQ compliance now?
I’ve run some interesting one-on-one coaching sessions for independent consultants and small business owners recently, with a particular focus on Linkedin. Here are some of my top tips for small business owners who have decided to leverage this social network to increase their notoriety and position themselves as specialists in their field.
1. Be strategic when building your profile
Think SEO (search engine optimisation) when describing yourself. Rather than « President, Michelle Sullivan Communications », for example, I’ve put myself in the shoes of LinkedIn users who will use the platform’s search tool to find a PR consultant with a social media background. For this reason, my profile reads « PR consultant, social media specialist, speaker, trainer. » This is how I’ve positioned myself in the market and these keywords speak to the kind of mandates I’m hoping to attract. This will evolve as my business priorities change and, luckily, LinkedIn provides the level of flexibility needed to ensure my profile is always up to date.
2. Don’t limit yourself: LinkedIn is much more than a place to post your resumé
I’d wager a good 80% of LinkedIn members miss the boat on the platform’s social networking potential. They limit themselves to building their profile, as if it were an online resumé. They fail to explore LinkedIn’s ability to connect them with people they already know, not to mention people they’d like to get to know: potential clients, mentors and professionals who could help open doors. Take the time to explore the network to see how it can help you make the kinds of connections that will grow your business. Become part of the community, so it can start to work for you.
3. Become an active member of a LinkedIn group
One of the best ways to increase your notoriety and broaden your reputation through LinkedIn is by actively contributing to group discussions. As always, resist the tempation to join too many groups at first in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Your goal is quality, not quantity.
I recommend joining 3 types of groups at first:
- a group of your immediate peers
- a broader group of peers
- a group consisting of your target market
By joining the group of first-degree peers, that is to say of professionals who practice in the same field, you enter into an exchange of ideas that will be beneficial to your professional development while increasing your notoriety within that group. As you contribute intelligently to discussions and begin to be perceived as a valuable resource, you’ll attract the attention of peers who, while they may more often than not be competitors, could also potentially be collaborators or refer you to clients when their workload doesn’t permit them to take on new mandates. Most importantly, you’ll engage in interesting conversations that will feed your professional soul.
Joining a broader group of peers, who practice in the same general field but who don’t offer exactly the same services as you puts you in an even better position to develop ties with people who could refer potential clients to you. As you make valuable contributions to group discussions and become known within this circle for your expertise and the niche service you provide, you increase the possibility that group members will allow you to tap into their network. They’ll be able to point potential clients in your direction when a mandate doesn’t interest them or doesn’t quite fit their specific service offering.
Finally, joining a group that includes members of your target market, and building a reputation for yourself as the go-to person in your niche area of expertise is a great way to drum up new business. You’ll be able to stand out from the crowd and grow your reputation as a specialist in your field, able to provide a valuable service to group members. A warning however: tread carefully, as you certainly don’t want to build a reputation as a spammer. Contribute only relevant content that will be valuable to the group. Shameless self-promotion is not the way to win respect or clients.
4. Write recommendations for others … and don’t be shy about soliciting some for yourself
Social networks like LinkedIn work best when the principle of giving back is applied. Take the time to go further than the simple one-click endorsements LinkedIn promotes and leverage their recommendation tool to recognize the quality work of professionals you’re happy to refer to others. These short letters of recommendation will not only be appreciated by your contacts, they will increase the chances that they may return the favour. But your role shouldn’t be a passive one. Reach out to past clients and colleagues and ask them to take 5 minutes to recommend your services through LinkedIn. If you’re a speaker or trainer, grab the list of participants before you leave the venue and reach out to them on LinkedIn, following up with a new connection to ask for feedback on the workshop they attended. The platform does a nice job of making all of this easy, so take advantage of the opportunity to solidify connections and make them work for you.
5. Leverage your network
You have your eye on a potential customer? Someone who doesn’t yet know how valuable you could be to their business or organisation? Use LinkedIn to see if and how you’re connected. LinkedIn will reveal the identify of people who can serve as intermediaries. Building connections through LinkedIn is very easy for you and every intermediary able to introduce you to your future clients, so don’t be shy.
Understanding the power of LinkedIn’s ability to connect you with the people who matter is an important step towards building your credibility online. Do this, and the world’s your oyster.
How have you been using LinkedIn to grow your business?
Like a kid in a candy store, once you’ve committed to social media you’ll be tempted to grab a handful. Don’t. Resist jumping onboard the Facebook and Twitter (and LinkedIn, and Instagram, and Pinterest, and .. and … and) bandwagons just because those networks are getting good buzz in traditional media. Take a breath before succumbing to the pressure to be « where everyone else is ». Social networks are expensive. Yes, you heard me, expensive. Subscription (generally) doesn’t cost anything, but social networks are very resource greedy and before you know it you’ll be spread too thin, frustrated and wondering where the return on investment is.
And you want to feel like you’re getting a return on your investment of precious time and energy.
So what’s a small business owner or marketer to do?
Follow these 5 steps before deciding which social network is right for you:
1. Identify your target audience. Who is likely to purchase your product or service? Who is likely to identify with your content enough to share it with decision makers? Which social networks are they on? That’s a great place to consider starting. But you’re not done yet.
2. Benchmark. Identify competitors and colleagues with a presence on social networks. Where are they and what are they doing? Are they enjoying success through their social media initiatives? Do you think you can compete for attention with them there? If so, you might consider opening an account on the same social network. After all, laws of proximity that apply to commercial bricks-and-mortar spaces can also apply to the online world and being where your target audience expects to find you is an important consideration. That said, have you also considered niche networks? After all, opening a presence on Facebook or Twitter can be the equivalent of opening a store in the Mall of America or West Edmonton Mall. You’re likely to get lost in the fray. Lesser known niche social networks might be just the thing to stand out from the crowd. You’ll have access to a smaller group, but if they’re more relevant to your area of interest, the return on investment could very well be higher. After all, if you sell purple-sparkly-unicorn-ribbons, you want to be among purple-sparkly-unicorn-ribbon lovers. When it comes to choosing a social network, your strategy will depend upon your level of notoriety, your industry, your needs and your capacities.
3. Have you attached enough importance to your own web properties? Social networks are great for building links with your community and driving traffic to your website. This, after all, is home. Is your website up to snuff? Is a mobile version available? Are you blogging yet? Going off to play in Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey’s playgrounds is great, but before you do be sure your house is in order and you’re doing everything you can to build credibility through your own channels.
4. Check your ego at the door. Social media is not for the reluctant. If you’re going to join the party, you need to make sure you’re not on the defensive or fearful. Be open to different ideas and criticism. You need to begin to see negative comments as opportunities. Opportunities to thank for feedback, explain your position, clarify misconceptions and, where appropriate, offer an apology.
5. Be realistic about your bandwidth and abilities. Is communication your forte? Are you willing to set aside a considerable enough amount of time to market your products and services? The amount of time and pleasure you’re likely to give to and take from social media initiatives is going to be a determining factor in your success online. Rather than launching your brand presence on 10 social networks at once, begin with and get comfortable with one, moving onto the next when you’re ready. You’re more likely to stay the course if you pace yourself.
Follow these 5 important steps and you’ll be on your way to social networking bliss.
Before I let you go, a word to the wise and a hat tip to one of my previous blog posts : opening an account in a social network in order to squat in your brand or company’s name is good practice. It prevents others from claiming your brand name before you do. But there’s a difference between reserving your spot and moving forward with social media. I’m speaking in today’s post of initiatives that go beyond this basic point. Countless business owners and marketers embark upon the social network adventure only to give up quickly after a few tweets or posts on a branded Facebook page. Don’t be that guy.
How are you going about choosing the social network that’s right for your business?
Social media is like your exercise routine: the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Hitting the gym for a few hours a day and working with a personal trainer may get you the abs that are the envy of all your friends, but sometimes all you have time for (or even desire for) is a quick walk after dinner to get the blood pumping a little at least. As much as I encourage my clients to invest fully in their social media initiatives, I also want to be sure that if they’re not willing to do as much work as I’d like, that they’re still covering the basics.
What do you do in the social media space when all you want to do is the very minimum?
Make your web content visible. As attractive as that flash website may be, it won’t win you many points with most search engines. Your existing clients already know how great you are … your prospects are the ones that need convincing. But first they have to find you. Great website content is dynamic, relevant, informative, easy to digest and, most definitely, optimized for search. Keep keywords in mind when you review your content. And if you must use flash, be sure to be aware of its limitations.
Make your web content shareable. Even if you’re not willing to step up your social media game by investing in a blog, you should be making what web content you do have shareable. Visitors to your site will be able to spread the good word on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or any one of a number of social networks with one easy click. Plugins like ShareThis, AddThis, Digg Digg and Sociable are just some of the options available to you and your web developer. Give your website visitors the tools they need to become effective brand ambassadors.
EgoSurf. Social media is just as much about listening as it is about engaging with communities. Not all companies are willing or even able to put the time and effort into really getting the most out of social media, but no company can afford to neglect its online reputation. Ignoring client comments will not make them go away. You may not want or be able to engage with your customers online, but just hearing what they have to say about your company, its products and services and the quality of your customer service will provide you with valuable insight. In Mad Men days, agencies used to run focus groups. They occasionally still do. But more and more they’re showing their clients that in the age of social media, the real focus group is already out there and just begging to be listened to. So be sure to monitor what’s being said about your company and brands online. A number of free and premium tools are available to you, from something as basic as Google Alerts, to Social Mention, to platforms like Radian6, Sysomos and Nexalogy.
Squat. You may not want to tweet just yet, but you should consider staking your claim. Most social networks allow you to open accounts with your company or brand name. Pepsi’s Twitter account is @pepsi. Nike’s is @nike. Simple, clear and most of all obvious to anyone searching for the Pepsi or Nike presence on Twitter. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. You also want to prevent anyone else from hijacking your company or brand name. If Pepsi hadn’t staked their claim early, soft drink detractors could easily have opened a Twitter account using the brand name. As the obvious go-to Twitter identifier for anyone searching for Pepsi’s account, the detractors’ account would have been in a position to do some real damage to the brand. Just ask BP. You’ve invested time, money and energy into building your brand’s reputation. Now’s not the time to neglect it. Better an unused Twitter account reserved in your name than your brand’s social media presence in the hands of someone else. Protect your reputation and stake your company or brand’s social media claim before someone else does.
These four tips cover only the absolute basics. Effective social media requires an investment of time and energy. If you’re not willing to put much effort into social media, you can’t expect it to do miracles for you. But do the minimum, if nothing else. Doctor’s orders.