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Don’t let social marketing change your level of professionalism.

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Some like me think it all started with casual Friday. If you’re a fan of Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm, you might remember an episode called The Acupuncturist in which Larry and Ed Azner both are turned off by casual Friday. Larry sees his attorney in jeans and asks about the outfit. I believe after hearing it’s casual Friday he says something like “You’re encroaching on my territory, I want you people to be uncomfortable all the time”. It’s a funny comment but to me, it rings true in a certain way. I know by experience that on many tax and business forms website design companies are classified as “Professional Services”. That means we’re in the same category as attorneys and business consultants. We need to act like it. Do I wear a suit all the time? Of course not. But when I meet with clients I always make sure I’m dressed well and present myself professionally. “There’s no such thing as overdressed” as my Dad used to say.

I’m writing this article because I’m seeing a trend in the social media marketing craze. People are getting too social. Ya, that’s the idea, I know but I mean professionals that I once looked up to are losing their professionalism and frankly, I don’t like it. Do you really want to be friends with your attorney or real estate agent? Maybe. But not me. I will “be friendly with them” and talk about the weather, maybe even about our kids and life in general. But I want to be assured that they take their job seriously and know their role in my business affairs. Call me impersonal, old fashioned or just plain judgmental but I don’t want to see unprofessional posts and tweets from you. Now don’t get me wrong, if you use sites like twitter and facebook for personal use, then by all means post what you want. However if you advertise your twitter page, facebook fan page, or other social medium for connecting with your business you need to treat it that way. Here’s an example –

I attended a webinar on how to use twitter for your business. Half way through I was going nuts because the speaker kept getting off topic and jumping around all over the place. Then he made a comment and I realized he was reading and tweeting (posting on twitter) while giving the presentation. Unknowingly he changed “how to use twitter for your business” into how not to. I was so put off that I didn’t even make it through the webinar. I know I wasn’t the only one on the other end listening, but I want to feel like I am.  I took time out of my day to listen to what you had to say and you’re not giving me your full attention. Think if you went into your business consultants office and he spent half the time smiling & snickering at his computer monitor and tweeting while trying to explain how he’s going to put together this marketing plan for your business. I don’t think I’d make it through that appointment either.

Another example is a marketing company that tells you to go ahead and post your questions to twitter. Well, I have, 5 times and never got a response. Turns out I’m not the only one. So either they just don’t think my question is that important or they don’t have enough people to answer all the questions. Either way it makes them look pretty bad. Not answering a tweet is the same as not returning a phone call.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you can engage in social marketing and get friendly with people, without being unprofessional. When you make a tweet it’s out there, for all to see and for who knows how long. When used correctly social marketing is a way to reach out to clients and form or reinforce relationships with them. But don’t present yourself professionally on your website and marketing copy, then not respond to questions and call everyone “dude” in your tweets. Downwitemnoyris . It’s kind of like getting too wasted at a networking event. It doesn’t do you any good.