It's really easy to get swept away with the hype of what everyone is doing.
The press and media love to join the bandwagon and hype up anything that is the fad du jour. The media speak about it because it's the "in thing," those in the industry speak about it because they are making a living from it, and the people, feeling they are missing out, quickly joining in, creating the frenzy and the fad of the hour.
There is no doubt that social media has become a huge platform filled with opportunities and endless connections, yet is it REALLY good for the consultant or entrepreneur?
There is a saying most have heard and that most do not question but just accept as true:
"People do business with those know, like and trust."
And their thinking is, "If I do social media, people will get to know me, and like me, and trust me, and the result will be that they will end up choosing me to do business with." Yet I believe the opposite is true.
The truth is, anyone doing business by choosing someone they like over the person who is the most is qualified is not a wise businessperson. I also believe people actually do less business with people they know too much about.
When choosing a graphic designer, do you choose the one you know and like or the one who has the great artistic ability that meets your vision?
When receiving an audit notice from the IRS, would you use the taxman you know and like or the one with experience in IRS audits?
How about if you were looking to have a website created? Would you look for the web designer who you like and trust, or the one who has the eye and ability to create the look you desire?
There is something in the psychology of humans that tells us to do business with those whom we imagine and believe to be experts. And typically, we see those who are true experts as being too busy honing their expertise to invest time in being known, liked and trusted.
There's something about hearing what my taxman is doing on any given night that takes away from my view of him as an expert. Yes, tax professionals have personal lives – yet I feel better believing they are conservative and spend most of their lives thinking about and doing taxes.
Something about seeing my chiropractor on Facebook makes me think that he has no customers … and why? Maybe he's no good?
Oh, and if I had a therapist, I certainly would not want to see him or her on Facebook or Twitter, as it immediately brings him or her down to my level, and really, I pay them because I would like to imagine them are far above me.
You see, in our minds, we want to believe our experts live and breathe their work, that they're focused and busy doing what they are so good at.
Although we know they are just like us – having family problems, going to the lake, drinking margaritas – really knowing that they do all this takes away from that imagined expert status.
Business is business. Smart people choose the best person for the job – and knowing too much about you can actually downgrade you in their minds.
Most people will do business with those who believe to be experts at delivering the best job or product possible – whether they know, like or trust you first or not.
The only way you'll ever really know, like or trust someone in business is to go into the trenches with them in business. This is where you will see their business ethics, their quality of work, and whether they take ownership of your project.
I believe social media is a great tool to get the word out about a company, or special deals, or to get the word out about a cause – but for creating and building expert status , I believe one can actually do more harm than good to their image.
When creating a strategy to integrate social media into your marketing plan, think long and hard about what your goals are and how your business will be perceived by your potential customers in that atmosphere.
Will it benefit or possibly hurt you?
Are you the type of consultant that will appear less professional if people know too much about your personal life?
Will your efforts in social media make you look like you do not have enough work?
And remember … just because everyone is doing it, and it's beneficial for some, does not mean it is beneficial for everyone.