Brand, Reputation, and Authenticity
To get your brand known, you have to get out there and make it visible (the subject of many a book and post). Once it's visible, your actions and interactions will determine your reputation. This is where authenticity comes in, as being found authentic can be part of your reputation.
Being authentic is as easy and difficult as being yourself online, though probably with a lot cleaner language (if this isn't you, sorry; I can only judge by myself). I perceive being authentic as:
- not being a stiff online (i.e., don't use a lot of jargon or refer to your NP or company in the 3rd person).
- being conversational - you don't talk like a business letter at home, do you? So don't do it online.
- letting your feelings/opinions show (we've all got 'em, why pretend we don't?), though that doesn't mean being a drama queen or metaphorically shaking your fist at people.
- being truthful while being considerate of others
This is the enchilada, in my opinion. Without it, your social media involvement will be short of a combination plate.
I want to stress again (and probably again and again) that social media is not about you or your mission (if you've got one). It's about the people you're interacting with. It's not enough to find interesting things to say about what you are doing or how well the event went off. It's not enough to respond to the questions or comments on your website, blog, or FB page. You've got to monitor what people in your community are saying and respond to that.
On Twitter I recently saw a post by a book publisher I follow and have talked with in online chats. She mentioned that she was having a pumpkin spice latte, even though she shouldn't. I could have let it pass, thinking it was just another tweet from someone about their lunch. But I happen to like pumpkin spice lattes and look forward to their seasonal appearance. I was also intrigued by the fact she said she shouldn't have them, so I responded to her tweet; she responded back and we had a micro chat about flavour, caffeine, and seasonal opportunities. Not once did the subject of book publishing come up, though I have a novel I'd love to sell her. But now I know her a little better and she knows me a little better and we both trust each other a little bit more, having found something besides books we have in common.
In my opinion, interaction is about finding commonalities and being interested in one another. People trust someone they know over a stranger, they're more comfortable giving donations to a cause whose public face (or voice) is familiar to them. There are dozens of reasons why showing an interest in the life of another can have benefits for your business, but I don't really care about them. What matters to me is that by reaching out to someone else, I help them know they are visible to me. And if we all become truly visible to one another, it will be harder for one of us to choose to harm another one of us.
Call me quirky, but that's the authentic me.
By The Way
Metrics is something that's always coming up, so I was glad to find these excellent posts on the subject:
- Dipping Your Toes Into Metrics Tracking by Jess Main
- Introducing the Nonprofit Technology Benchmarking Tool by Annaliese at NTEN
- SSIR provides some insight into measuring your impact in this article by Kevin Starr and Laura Hattendorf
And here's good news for those of you who are going mobile with your FB posts:
- Facebook page updates can now be schedule and promoted via mobile app by the Nonprofit Facebook Guy