The other day I was looking for a company that works with business owners on personal branding. Not necessarily online branding, but an individual or company that helps business individuals improve the first impression they make. And the second impression. And the social media branding impression. And all impressions. So I turned to my network and got referrals for PR firms, life coaches, media trainers AND, surprisingly, dating coaches.
Lightbulb! Of course dating! In business just like in dating first impressions matter.
Here are 9 ways social media branding is like online dating:
1. You need to know what you want
In dating just saying, “I want to date a woman,” won’t help you find THE woman. The same goes for business. If your goal is to attract everyone; you’ll end up with no-one.
In dating, you’ll have a list of qualities you’re looking for in a partner. In business, you should also define those qualities. You can’t really do marketing until you have a clear vision of your ideal audience member.
Bela Gandhi, Founder and President of the Smart Dating Academy says that one of the biggest challenges in dating is, “understanding the purpose of your connection.”
Knowing what you want exudes confidence. Confidence is sexy in life and in business.
2. You have to take the time to listen
Gandhi says another big challenge in dating is listening. “You can look amazing, have a great dress and makeup done; but if you’re so in your own head and you’re not present to what this person is saying, you’re not showing interest. Game over.”
Businesses suffer from the same problem. In the digital age our audiences dictate the tone and pace of our interactions. They decide if they’ll subscribe to your email newsletter, if they’ll follow you on Facebook or give you a positive Yelp review. You can’t decide for them. But you CAN pay attention and tailor your communication to their wants and needs. And the more you listen the faster you’ll be able to predict what those needs are, and how to respond to them.
While you can’t completely be in control, you’ll be able to turn your targets’ online behavior into an advantage.
3. You must know and show what makes you unique
I’ll confess, I’ve done my share of online dating. And I could never figure out why so many people list traveling, discovering our city and sports as the things they love. I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t like traveling (for leisure). I also don’t know anyone who says, “I don’t want to discover anything about Chicago.” And sure, some people don’t care about sports, but MOST people love sports, ESPECIALLY in Chicago.
In business too, stay away from the obvious. And don’t say what everyone else is saying. Stop saying you have outstanding customer service. Your competitors are saying the same thing. Stop saying “top-notch” business service. So do your competitors. Stop talking about your widgets. Guess what, your competitors do too.
So revise those “About us,” pages and sections on your social networks. Modify your content to depict what makes you unique. Tell a story, break the mold, dig deep and find your organization’s passions and hidden expertise. Dare to say and be something different.
This will take some work. You really need to know yourself. In dating you need to take the time to figure yourself out before you can attract someone. In business, the same applies. Go through introspection, self-discovery or whatever other exercise may help you figure out who you are.
4. You’ll need multiple high-quality pictures
My “favorite” dating website pictures are the party pictures. Here’s me drinking at this party, and doing a keg-stand at this other party! I get it, you want to show that you’re fun. But do you really think I’ll go out with you just because of your beer chugging skills? I’m not looking for a partner to join a collegiate drinking contest. Or maybe I am, but not on Tinder.
The images we use are the most noticeable elements of our online presence. There are three kinds of profile pictures:
- the ones that tell no story,
- the ones that tell a good story and
- the ones that tell a bad story.
And which category do you want your pictures to be in?
In the professional world I’ve seen pictures cropped out of wedding shots, pictures cropped so close I can see the nose hairs, work ID pictures and selfies. And the worse offender: no picture at all.
“90% of your success with online dating comes from people having the right imagery,” stresses Gandhi.
So, invest in professionally-done photos. Work with a photographer who will let your personality shine through, in an environment that makes sense to the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t focus too much on staging, focus on being you. People won’t date or hire you because of what’s in the background. They’ll pick you because they have a positive emotional response to what they see.
You’ll also want to be sensitive to what’s expected of your profession. If you’re a medical professional you want to get across professionalism and positive bedside manner. So ditch the polo shirts. And if a child would wear it, stay away from it.
As Gandhi puts it, “if you’re a professional business person you should have a professional image. The client is going to hire you for your expertise and professionalism so step it up.”
5. You’ll want an attention-grabbing headline
Did you know there are professionals who write dating profiles? And in marketing there are copywriters. And they both have the same job – to describe you (your services and products) in a way that makes the reader want to know more.
In the business world you may not have dating profile headlines but you will need web page headlines, catchy calls to action, and social media profile copy. So you have more than just one “headline” to write.
Here are some tips for how to write these quick web intros:
- Write about who you are, not what you’ve done
- Avoid buzzwords, especially these buzzwords
- Tell them what’s in it for them, why they should care
- Make it fun, if not funny
- Be ready to change the copy as times and interests change
6. It’s best to be positive
Gandhi warns, “negativity breeds negativity. So you’ll only attract the wrong people.” This is what we call, attracting bad clients.
In an earlier post, Lightbug Hilary talked about why you should stop saying your brand is boring. It starts there.
Believe that you have a contribution to make, and problems you can solve for your targets. Show it and they will believe it too.
7. It’s important to be honest
So while I want you to look good, keep it real. Gandhi advises to be honest by, “having great images of yourself that actually look like you. And then that’s the person that needs to show up on the date.”
8. You must edit
You know what the key to good writing is?
“I love rewriting because that is where and how you discover the story. It’s like you have this skeleton, and you get to put flesh on it and hair and clothes and really wonderful jewelry.” Caroline Leavitt (New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You, as well as 8 other novels)
So write your profile or “our services page” and then rewrite and rewrite.
Another trick is to read it out loud and see if it sounds real.
9. Publish or else you won’t see a status change
We see so many businesses that are afraid to publish anything online. Every written word goes through rigorous and many layers of approval.
If for no other reason, stop being afraid because it’s expensive!
“Nothing destroys money faster than a panicked boss. If your boss is the kind of guy who, five minutes into a six-year project, starts shaking, closes his eyes, turns purple and suddenly vaults across the room, fires everyone and unplugs everything, you need smart people to keep him/her from doing that. You would be surprised how often this happens,” writes Peter Visser.
Let it go. Set it free. Be online and the rest will follow.
10. What should number 10 be?
It’s your turn. Tell us in the comments section!