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3 Keys to Using Social Media


There is a right way and a wrong way to use social media. Used correctly, social media can help you build your brand, create relationships, and engage with customers. Used incorrectly, social media can tarnish your reputation, create a negative image, or even destroy your business.

Athletes provide an excellent example of the benefits and pitfalls of using social media. College & Pro athletes often use social media to build their personal brand. While most young athletes have little if any training in the proper use of the various social platforms, many do very well at generating a positive image. These young athletes have the advantage of having grown up using several different platforms, and instinctively understand how to engage their audience. This does not shield them from the possibility of making a serious social media mistake.

College athletes are sometimes instructed by their Agent to avoid social media posts during the time leading up to the draft, or during contract negotiations. The athlete has built and created an image through prior performance and activity, their representatives simply want to protect that image. Pro athletes must be aware that social media activity may help or harm them in their next contract negotiation. The image of a professional athlete can change virtually overnight, based on how their social media activity is perceived by followers.

The way a business uses social media is very similar to the way an athlete uses the available platforms to build his or her brand. Like an athlete,  businesses choose which social media platforms they will use based on which platform helps them best engage their audience. There are a few simple rules that everyone should follow to get the most out of social media.

Consider these three things before you post to any platform.

1. Think about the good a post can do. Examine the message you are about to make public. What good will it do for your business or your brand? Can you use this message to help others? Is the message engaging? Does it motivate? Does it offer a unique insight or tell a story. Will it help you interact with your audience? Can the message help you build your network or promote your brand? Will the post help you create goodwill among your followers? Once you have determined that the message can do some good, move on to the next item.

2. Is the post appropriate for your market or audience? If humor is used, is it appropriate? Does this message improve your brand, help it stay the same, or potentially damage it? Consider your audience, how do they like to receive this type of information?  Could the post be worded better or delivered using a more suitable medium? Is the topic, or anything referenced in the message controversial? A topic that might be controversial for one audience may be a perfect fit for another.  If you aren't sure if it's appropriate, don't post it.

3. Consider the negatives related to your post. Think of your post as a giant, permanent billboard. Sadly, the more negative your post is perceived, the bigger that billboard gets. Once a message is posted to social media, it can't be taken back. Even if a post is deleted, screen capture and other techniques make every post permanent. Think about ways that your message may be judged. Could the message be offensive if taken the wrong way? Does the post poke fun at anyone or anything? If so, will the message be viable without it? 

Social media is often used to research the lives of its users. Businesses that are hiring research social media to determine if a person is a likely candidate for a job. Customers use social media to help them figure out where they should spend their hard-earned dollars. Businesses use social media to guide them when forming partnerships or alliances. Media outlets scan social media platforms to gather information for articles, television shows, and more.

Most followers will shun a person or a business that makes offensive, inappropriate, or useless posts. Keep your posts positive, engaging, motivational, and useful. Be yourself, but don't reveal intimate details and keep things professional. And finally, remain positive and post consistently. Follow these tips and you should be able to build your brand and enhance your image online.

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