In Social Media, Basic Blunders Still Hurt

Being in the Social Media realm is no excuse for a slipshod presentation. If anything, given the SM universe’s viral and omnipresent nature, it’s all the more important to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

In rendering judgment about your professionalism, people still look upon old-fashioned notions like proper grammar, correct spelling and otherwise efficient communication.

This came to mind today as I saw a Chicago-area company, over the last 2 1/2 days, had added one whopping fan on their Facebook Fan Page. Oh, and they are in the midst of a paid advertising push on Facebook.

In their information box, on the left side of the Fan Page, the company had this dubious trifecta: a misspelled street name in their address, a web site link that didn’t hyperlink, and a sloppily noted phone number that lacked any hyphens, periods or anything that made it easy on the eye.

There’s no telling what, if any, effect this slovenly style is having on their attempt to grow their fan base. But in full view of their existing fans, the miscues are a perpetual undermining of corporate credibility.

When’s the last time you had a fresh, qualified set of eyes take a sharp look at the messages you are transmitting to the universe?

Related Posts:
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Social Media Policy: How To Get Started, And Why Your Organization Should Get it in Writing

Face(book) It: Go Where the Puck Will Be

Whenever I advise people to jump into the social media fray–often in relation to promoting their business or cause–there’s always that look I get in return.

It’s not a deer-in-headlights look, mind you.

No, it’s much more dire than that: this is the patented deer-that’s-already-been-run-over-by-a-Mack Truck-look.

It’s the look of someone who is on the brink of declaring haplessly, “How on Earth do you think I’m ever going to find the time to fit this into my already-overcrowded schedule.”

My response: anyone who is successful, or in the earnest pursuit of success, is full of to-do’s on their list. Cry me a river. I didn’t create Facebook, so don’t blame me for this historic development. Oh, and the train has left the station–do you want to get onboard or not?

The question I then pose is this: do you want to go where the puck increasingly is going to be in the weeks, months and years to come? (That’s an allusion to Wayne Gretzky’s oft-quoted tip on his unparalleled success as a hockey player–he didn’t focus on where the puck was, but on where it was going to be.)

If your target audience, present or future, is spending significant time on Facebook, then it only makes sense to meet them there. Unless, of course, you want to surrender all of that ground to your competitors. That is entirely within your rights, though it’s hardly good for business.

Another tip I share to these Mack-trucked deer: if you’re so leery of losing the best years and decades of your life to Facebook, then set a time limit on your forays.

You can get a ton done in five or 10 minutes, if you stay focused and don’t get sucked into the whirlpool of links and trivia that lie in wait.

(Psst, a little secret between me and you: I’m one of those nefarious types that trains people to provide links and trivia designed to suck in others.)

More social-media pointers in a later post, but for now, here’s a look back at an Inside Edge PR post about the “Five Stages of Facebook Grief.”

Did you know you could become a Facebook fan of Inside Edge PR?

If you allocate five minutes to Facebook today, becoming a fan will leave you with 4 minutes, 56 seconds to spare.

Some Recent `Tips of the Inside Edge’

Since early February, I have been posting a daily “Tip of the Inside Edge” at the Inside Edge PR Fan Page on Facebook.

(To visit the page, type “Inside Edge PR” in the Facebook search box.)

Here is the collection of tips from the past week:

Pick up the darn phone once in awhile. E-mail is a great complementary avenue, but there’s nothing like actually speaking with another human being to build stronger connection and understanding.

Show, Don’t Just Tell. In any endeavor, when meeting with prospective clients, find ways to show your value–and not merely talk about it.

The quality and quantity of follow-up questions help set apart outstanding connectors from ineffective or even average connectors.

When you hear “show up early, stay late” is the key to success, it might seem like a ton of extraordinary effort. Often, though, it just means five minutes on either side.

Write a sincere hand-written thank you note some time before you die. It’ll shock the recipient. And leave a positive impression.

For other suggestions, visit my Recommended Links page at

Candidly Drawing the Social Networking Line

I recently asked someone to be my “friend” on Facebook.

He declined. My immediate, gut response: pleased and impressed.

On the surface, my reaction may seem odd. But let’s consider some background:

I’ve spoken with this particular individual, a newspaper reporter, about five times over the past few years, as he worked on stories with which I had some public-relations connection. We’ve never met, and we’ve never built any kind of tie beyond our respective jobs.

He works alongside some others that have made Facebook Friend requests of me, which I’ve approved. Their outreach to me is really what prompted me to reach out to him.

With that as a backdrop, here was his written response, which he sent via e-mail:

“Thanks for the friend request, but I just wanted to let you know that I keep my Facebook account to friends and family only. I like to keep business contacts separate. No offense intended of course, I just prefer to keep my job and my personal life in separate worlds, so to speak.”

I respect his stance. And I respect even more that he articulated it.

In the four years that I’ve been social-networking on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, he is the first to take the time to broach the potentially awkward situation and explain, in his thoughtful way, why he was declining my request.

In this burgeoning social-media realm, it is so much easier to simply ignore requests that place us in an uncomfortable spot. And there certainly remain scenarios in which I am stumped about how to navigate someone’s interest in getting into my cyber-world. In the future, I fully expect to continue ignoring some requests–and to be ignored.

But whenever we have an opportunity to convey our (often-evolving) criteria as to whom to let in to our SM world, we simultaneously have an opportunity to improve at least our little corner of this growing sphere’s universe.

Indeed, inspired by my own fond memory of being diplomatically stiff-armed, I recently crafted a long-overdue reply. I created it for those seeking to connect with me on LinkedIn but with whom I have had little, if any, contact:


Thank you for inviting me to Link-In with you!

Whenever possible, I like to have more than a cursory personal connection with / knowledge of someone before Linking In. Since we are both so local, would you be interested in meeting in person sometime and establishing that face-to-face connection?

In these few words, I hope that I’ve reasonably and effectively explained my rationale and that you don’t take offense to this proposed intermediate step. I genuinely hope we can create a stronger connection that can benefit us both in the future.

Best regards,

So far, I have sent that message to two individuals. I am sure it will come in handy often in the future. Already, my newfound mission to improve the quality of my connections–and not merely strive for quantity–has borne fruit: one recipient responded by essentially stating “whoops…I intended to Link-In with someone else whose last name is Baron.”

So there’s one MisLinked-In Misadventure averted.

What do you think? Do you have another way of handling this potentially delicate and awkward topic? I welcome your ideas. And who knows–even if we don’t know each other yet, we may just build enough rapport for us both to want to join one another’s social network.

Just don’t take offense if I suggest we meet in person first.

You might also be interested in reading some previous Inside Edge PR commentaries about LinkedIn.

Marching Out On a Social Media Note

It’s been a social-media kind of day here at Inside Edge PR international headquarters.

Walked a block down the street to Marion Street Cheese Market, where I shared some pointers on how to navigate on Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, at “Social Networking Sites–Are You Connected?”

Shared photos and some text with,as well as with Helen Karakoudas at the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.

Later in the day, I learned from my social-media mentor, Sherri Lasko, that creating a Facebook Fan page is a piece of cake.

So now, as of 11 p.m., the Inside Edge PR fan base tally is on the verge of breaking into double-digits. For those scoring at home, that means seven people other than me and my wife have taken the plunge.

By the way, if you’re curious, or even interested, in becoming a fan, the best suggestion I can give for finding the Inside Edge PR fan page is to log into Facebook and type “Inside Edge PR” into the search box.

I am confident that within a few days, I’ll have learned another, much more efficient route. And that brings to mind one of the inelegant messages I shared with those who jammed inside MSCM this morning: this social-media world is a continual journey of learning something, trying it out, seeing if it works, then moving on to the next thing.

Stay tuned for what tomorrow brings.