In the 1980's, a popular commercial for a chain of fast food restaurants featured two elderly ladies praising the “bigness” and “fluffiness” of a hamburger bun. A third lady looks more closely and hollers, “Where's the beef?” The circus-like music in the background reminds of us how ridiculous it is to praise a flashy hot dog bun if the burger inside is practically invisible.
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It's kind of the same way with you and your business. Think of the products and services you offer as hamburger buns. No matter how great they are, the real meat is what's inside the buns — you! Everyone has fancy buns these days. What set your buns apart from their buns is the beef on the inside!
Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in social networking and micro-blogging sites like Twitter. While there are many components to an effective Twitter page, perhaps none is more obvious — or more overlooked — than the need for a real person to take up residence there. (If you've not yet set up your Twitter page, now is the time! This video shows you how!)
Business Is About Relationships
Relationships Are About People
Twitter is a great way to participate in conversations about things that matter to you and your target customers. But people are not having conversations with your products and services. They are having conversations with other people, and in order for you to positively influence these conversations, you must show up personally and make a valuable contribution.
The difference between making a lackluster contribution and a memorable one could be as simple as the avatar you use when participating in the discussion. Why should this be a photo of you?
Because people don't follow inanimate objects. People follow other people.
People don't befriend things. People befriend other people. And that's why it's important to resist the temptation to use an inanimate object as your avatar, even if it's one you sell.
Social Networking Is Still Just Networking!
When you go to a networking event, do you plaster your business card or your logo on your forehead? Of course not! You smile as you mix and mingle with others, welcoming them into your personal space as they welcome you into theirs. As they warm up to you, you establish a rapport with them by sharing some of your ideas or perhaps discussing your opinion about current events. No matter what happens next, you establish a foundation for future dealings, which are quite likely to somehow involve your business.
Your business is composed of a lot of things: public perception, the colors in your logo, your blog, the performance of your products over time, etc. But first and foremost, if you're Indie, you are your brand. And beefing it up is often as simple as behaving that way.
Indies On Assignment No. 1: Beef Up Your Brand!
Take an honest look at the avatar you use on Twitter. If it's not a photo of you, replace it. with one. If it is a photo of you, could it use some sprucing up? Maybe the smile could be more inviting. Or the 80's hairdo can be replaced with a more recent photo. Does your avatar welcome people into your world, and by default, into your business? If not, it's time for a spruce up. Once you do this, monitor the level of interaction you enjoy when you participate in conversations. You're not the only one offering products and services like yours, but you are the only one with your awesome smile.
Question: If you try this for a period of time, what do you notice? Do more people refer you to their friends? Do you experience more engagement? More Retweets of your posts? Increased acknowledgment of your contribution to discussions? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section here, or feel free to share your results at the Indie Business Fan page!