Ever since I heard Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most formidable marketing minds of our time, say this, it’s resonated so deeply. I understand what he means after years studying social media, finding what works and what doesn’t, building a brand and a coalition of followers who are like minded and share interests. “You ARE a media company!” Today, that’s never been more true.
What does it mean to be a media company? Aren’t only TV stations, news organizations, marketing companies and video makers the only media companies? No. No, they aren’t. I would contend that anyone who creates content, whether it’s a less than 140 character tweet, or a lengthy Facebook status with pictures, or a Youtube video or hosts a Google+ Hangout, can be considered a media company today. And, make no mistake, you’re building a brand/media company just by having social media profiles. Whether it be through the thoughtless (and continual) posts on Facebook and twitter to let our friends and family know what we’re eating for lunch, or we’re posting content to Facebook and twitter that we feel is beneficial to others and will build our brand or impact others’ perception of us, you are a brand. You are a media company.
I’d like to make the argument that since we’re all media companies because we utilize social media and online content creation avenues, we should begin acting like we’re media companies! Whether you’re a college student looking for a job or a top level executive that’s tracking the progress of his/her employees online and posting information about the development of HR resources in your company, YOU ARE A MEDIA COMPANY. You, the individual, are a media company. Here are 5 (of the many) ways to act like it:
1. Be positive! Nobody likes Debbie Downer on Facebook. If you think a future employer or supporter is going to support someone who whines about their station in life incessantly online, you’d be wrong. In my experience hiring personnel, one of the first things I check when considering a new hire is social media and Google. Don’t let the first thing that people see about you be incessant whining or negativity.
2. INTERACT: You want your media company to take off? Stop posting information that only highlights how amazing you are (Because more than likely you’re the only one who cares) and go out and find content that others post and interact with it. Serve others by highlighting THEM and what they’re doing. Help others receive recognition for what they’re doing, especially those folks who are partners or potential clients in your field. “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” -Zig Ziglar
3. You are being watched. That’s right, you’re being watched. Yesterday, today and/or tomorrow, someone will see what you post. Act professional and know that what you post after a long night out on the town on Saturday night will be seen in 5 years by your teenage son, or by your future boss, or client, or by your mom. Online content and data is being saved in the cloud and will be there for generations to come. Plus, your brand is dependent on you creating a positive perception (Hopefully an open and honest perception). One ill advised post can take down a reputation. A good example is former Congressman Anthony Weiner who destroyed his career by sending explicit photos of himself to multiple women. It’s not worth it. Always protect your brand, your reputation!
4. Be authentic! People see right through you, believe me, they do. Be honest, and tell the truth. Does it mean that everyone needs to know your dirty, dark secrets. No, please no. But, it does mean that you shouldn’t act like you have it all together, all the time. For instance, recently I posted a number of negative tweets towards a company that I felt was not providing the type of product I was promised due to service outages. I began complaining pretty heavily, only to find out that the reason my service was out was due to not having paid my yearly membership fee. It was all my fault… Yeah, I felt like a major idiot. I could’ve just moved on and tried to ignore it, but I knew I needed to apologize for my antics. Social media is an effective way to interact with brands, and it’s also an effective way to be authentic and real, showing that you’re not perfect. We all know you’re not perfect, stop acting like it.
5. Use social media to build a network. I’ve met some of the most amazing individuals as I’ve built my brand online. I’ve interacted with huge brands like MC Hammer and Acura, which is nice. But, it’s the real relationships that I’ve established through networking online that have made it so worth it. I’ve had the opportunity to consult with a major radio personality. I’m in contact with a number of best selling authors who have helped mentor me in various ways. It’s such a joy to establish relationships through social media as they begin to add up and provide a significant network for future reference. Your brand and media company will go nowhere without people behind it. So, interact with those who interest you and go beyond social media to establish contacts with these folks. A strong network will always pay dividends.
Remember, YOU ARE A MEDIA COMPANY! Act like it.
Travis Fitzwater is the Chief Operating Officer of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, owns a social media marketing consulting company and is running for political office in the state of Missouri. For more information you can find him online pretty much everywhere.