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7 Social Media Mistakes Professionals Should Avoid

7 Social Media Mistakes Professionals Should Avoid

Do a quick search of just about anyone and you’ll be bombarded with ads for services that offer all kinds of information, including criminal records, phone numbers, and home addresses. To make matters even worse, you can search just about any social media network and have instant access to the personal views of an individual.

For a professional trying to establish their career, the internet has traps and snares all over the place. We live in a world where it is all too simple to find out what you want to about pretty much anyone.

For these reasons, among others, it is increasingly important that professionals be aware of the common mistakes made on social media to avoid while establishing their careers.

1. Personal, Non-Business Posts on LinkedIn

For anyone familiar with the very professional community of LinkedIn, this is a big no-no.

This network was created for professionals to reach out to other professionals. Posting inspirational quotes, images of your last vacation, or of that “cute cat” is super unprofessional and almost offensive.

Posting anything non-professional on LinkedIn sends off alerts in the minds of others, causing them to be wary of you and ultimately destroying trust and credibility of your professionalism.

Posting relevant items that help others understand your profession is completely acceptable and expected. You can check out this relevant post from Travis Bradberry here.

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2. Bad Spelling and/or Grammar

“trust me im profesh and ur in gud handz”
“Riiiiight.”

Regardless of the nature of any social media post, a professional who habitually posts with bad spelling and grammar conveys the message that they don’t have a good education.

In turn, this demonstrates to your target audience you’re probably not a very reliable resource. Habitually posting with improper spelling and grammar relays the message and idea that you’re a fraud.

Always double-check your posts, ensure spelling and grammar is correct.

3. Having Unclear Messaging or Objectives

As a professional, your audience expects a purpose behind everything you say.

Before you post anything, answer these questions:

  • What is the goal of this post?
  • Is it relevant to my target audience?
  • Does the wording make me look incompetent (or stupid)?

Whether it’s informational, helpful, or has a call-to-action, always have a purpose behind every post. The goal is to be in the “business” category in the minds of your audience.

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If you fail to have purpose with each post then you’ll risk falling into the “social” category. Here is a great article from Forbes about clear social media messaging.

4. Using A Social Media Account for Personal and Business

Unfortunately, the social media landscape is littered with professionals who use their social media for both business and personal reasons. Many people don’t realize how much of an adverse effect their personal views have on their audience.

Most social networks have the ability to separate personal and business profiles. This is very useful, and should be utilized.

As an example, a real estate professional using social media to engage with their market can ruin their career with one or two personal posts about politics or religion. Take advantage of the professional profiles most social networks provide. Heidi Cohen wrote a great article about social media for business versus personal.

5. Only Sharing Content From Your Website

Social media exists to help people be social. Only sharing things from your website says to the audience that your views are the only ones that matter. Recently, Google SEO updates have punished sites that publish articles with only themselves in mind. This is because the mindset of one who only shares their views is perceived as self-serving.

The more value you provide to your audience, the more valuable you become. It doesn’t matter where the value comes from. This is good news, it means you don’t have to be Superman and be the only hero.

Albert Costill of Search Engine Journal states, “You need to have a variety of content that is informative or entertaining for your audience. And the best way to do that is by sharing insightful content from authority figures.”[1]

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6. Posting Confidential Information

This one should be a given. Social media is seen by thousands and practically creates a permanent record.

A professional should be aware that your competition is watching you. For example, in my own business, I have alerts set up for anytime relevant competitors or potential partners post on social media.

Mashable.com posted a great article that includes a section with great points about confidential information. You can check that out here.

7. Making Enemies

We’ve all made a comment or two aimed at putting down one person or another, mentioned someone in a derogatory way, or minimized a set of ideologies at some point in our career.

President Trump, as well as his rival, both made comments that upset one crowd or another. The result was public backlash through social and mainstream media that impacted both campaigns.

While this kind of attention is a given for a presidential candidate, both candidates could have avoided these situations if they had been more mindful of their professional roles.

The lesson?

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Don’t put down other groups, ideas, or cultures. This demonstrates a lack of tact and discipline.

Kissmetrics.com put together a great article that discusses this here.

Conclusion

The basic rule of thumb when doing anything online is to remember that you’re a professional and to treat those you are working with as professionals. Recognize that you have value to provide and that your audience has intelligence enough to receive and understand that value.

Also, keep the message relevant. The team over at www.calvinwayman.com teaches a simple recipe they call the “4 Cs to Social Media Success”. These refer to content, context, consistency, and connection. All of these are critical for social media success.

Their blog is loaded with great information about how to manage your social media accounts. Check it out here.

Just keep in mind, if it wouldn’t provide value to you, it won’t provide value to your audience.

Featured photo credit: Rival IQ via rivaliq.com

Reference

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Herbert Timpson

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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