Core Values critical to a strong Social Media “Voice” (Part One)

This is Part One of a Two-Part Post, in preparation for an upcoming discussion “Core Values & Irrefutable Laws: What do they have to do with social media?” The discussion will take place on Wednesday, February 9th, during the weekly meeting of the Wednesday Group of Rocky Mount Business Builders. To learn more about this group and receive an invitation to attend, please email referrals@rmbusinessbuilders.com.

For a while, I’ve been attending and leading discussions with students and professionals on how to best utilize social media as a business tool. Right now, I realize that the actual practice of using social media, such as discussion of new “tools” available for computers and mobile devices, would not be the most effective use of these group’s valuable time. As I gain more and more experience using social media as a business and nonprofit marketing and communications tool, the more I realize that while finding the right “app” is important, knowing how others use what they read to evaluate and make decisions on purchases and affiliations is far more important.

More often than not, investigation into the qualities of an institution’s social media presence (business or otherwise) that matter most to readers and visitors indicate that they care more about what a company stands for, and not as much about the specifics of their product or service.  The conversational nature of the medium enables users to incorporate the opinions and statements of their friends, family and colleagues, the people they trust most, into the thought process when considering what they buy, eat, wear and do. Research shows that social media users will likely trust what is said (and shared) by those they know personally, broadening the possibility for referral success (or catastrophe) as a result of actual prior experiences.

How often does a discussion on the “features” or even “benefits” of a specific product come into play when people who know one another? Ask yourself: when referring a business to friends, do you focus on product or service?

More than likely, you talk about the character and attitude of those representing the business, from the owner to their staff. You mention how they remind you or yourself, or  the best you desire yourself to be. You are not focused on their products, and you instead hone in on the behaviors that reflect their core values.

The same is true with businesses, nonprofits and their use of social media. How do their posts and tweets and shared content reflect who they really are? How do they align with the values that their customers care most about? How do they, perhaps, inspire and lead their customers to follow their example?

Without a clear understanding of one’s core values, and integration of those values into their own business, it is difficult to consistently and clearly communicate them across the avenues available to build relationships with customers, vendors, donors and volunteers.  Not only must these core values be understood, but they must reflect your strongest personal beliefs, those ideals that you refuse to waver on, even when the going gets tough.

Once you understand what those values are, they should appear front and center in the dialogue you establish on social media. The “voice” of your posts should reflect a steadfast commitment to the principles and beliefs that matter most to you. Even if they happen to not “connect” with some, it is important to remember that personal values are not necessarily universal. However, when we compromise what we truly believe, even in order to gain a sale, we find our own guilt to be far worse a symptom to deal with.

Coming in Part Two: How can you identify and articulate those core values that mean EVERYTHING to you? One option is to sit down for a serious thought session and craft your own “Immutable Laws.” Part Two will be published Tuesday, February 8th.

 

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