When using social media -- especially for business purposes -- young people have a tendency to put their conservative pants on and act like robots. I don't understand this at all.
Just because you represent a business doesn't mean you have to be boring and lifeless. We're in a new age where consumers are smart enough to know that companies aren't faceless, but in fact they are run by real people with real personalities. Some of the most popular business Twitter/Facebook accounts are ones where people inject their personality, humor and interests into posts. Here's how you can too:
Shake it up.
It helps to think of social media like a party. When you show up to a party, are you going to stand in one spot and spout off about the outfit you're wearing, what you plan on doing for the next hour and expect people to come up to you begging to hear more? No. You're going to walk around, shake hands, introduce yourself to people, listen to strangers, jump in random conversations and actually be social. That's the key. You need to avoid treating social media as a one-way street, and you need to talk to people online like you would in real life. Relate to them, have conversations about things they want to talk about and actually care about the relationships you're building.
Don't mind critics.
For some conversations, you shouldn't even mention your business/product/service. Also remember that, just like at a party, you may encounter people who don't like you. Fortunately, attention spans on the web are incredibly short, so that person who's unhappy with you now will likely move on quickly. Either way, though, you'll need to develop a thicker skin, and try not to let criticism hold you back from injecting your personal voice into your online activities.
Then of course there are the tried-and-true tips like be a human being and transparent in your social-media activities. Saying, "Hi, this is Jason from XYZ company and these tweets are all written by me," is much more approachable than referring to yourself as the proverbial "we" or pretending to be the entire company. The Twitter accounts for Delta Air Lines (@DeltaAssist) and Zappos (@Zappos_Service) offer great examples to learn from, especially when it comes to customer service.
Ask real questions.
Ask questions you'd actually want to answer, and answer other people's questions. It's easy to say, "Who wants to try our new XYZ product?" Instead, try something like "What's the last thing you purchased online?" Or "Anyone buy anything cool lately?" This opens the door to conversation more easily than a post about your latest product offering.
Have a sense of humor.
Don't be afraid to add a little humor to your updates/posts/videos. Humor is something that connects us all, and for the most part people like things that surprise and delight them. The world is filled with so much content, so having a little fun with things can go along way to building trust with your audience.
Every business is different, and every social-media community is different. If you focus on your strengths and keep an authentic voice, you're never going to replicate something someone else is doing. Be who you are and your social-media audience will respond positively.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Each day at IWearYourShirt, Jason HeadsetsDotCom (formerly Sadler) and a team of four professional T-shirt wearers represent a different company online using an array of social-media sites. Before getting paid to wear T-shirts, he co-owned a web-design company. HeadsetsDotCom is an automotive enthusiast that loves playing Scrabble, watching terrible movies and has been known to dominate a basketball hoop or two. He lives at the beach in Jacksonville, Fla., which gives him the freedom to prance around in T-shirts 365 days out of the year with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Plaxico. Follow Jason @IWearYourShirt and Plaxico @PlaxicoTheDog.