Blog: Jessica Soulliere

In the competitive web world, virtual shut-out is all but certain if you don't have the right text message. Here to discuss optimizing your own type space is Jessica Soulliere, the social media communications manager for the University of Michigan Health System. Off-hours, Jessica can be found, live, dancing the salsa.

Post 3: Getting on the Tour Bus

If you think just sitting back and recording music and selling albums is good enough, you might be right. But, that robs your fans of the opportunity to see you in real life.

A lot of people sit at their desks and tweet and Facebook and blog, or whatever. They do it for personal reasons, and some of them do it for business. And those people may very well be carrying on meaningful conversations and are racking up followers and fans and comments. But, the magic doesn't always happen until you've met those friends or fans in person; the ones you've really connected with in some way.

First stop: Authenticity.

There are a few issues at play for ensuring your road show is successful, whether your goal is personal or professional.  First, it's authenticity. If you are going to put yourself out there online, then you had better do it honestly and authentically. If you claim to be something you are not, or act completely differently online because you are hiding behind an avatar or fake persona, then you probably never intend to meet others with whom you've connected online. Or at least you shouldn't plan on it. That goes the same for a business.

The point is to make meaningful connections online, so what people perceive you to be online is something they may very well likely tap you for in the future. If Zingerman's is entertaining online, they better have that same feel and personality when I walk in the door or I may very well be disappointed.


The second issue is acknowledging and embracing your personality. I like to say I have multiple personalities online because I am passionate about several things. But I can tell you that what you see of me online is what you get in person.

I love salsa dancing and the people who are a part of that scene, so I am frequently promoting or chatting with others about that and I guarantee all the friends or followers I have in my "salsa peeps" friends category I've met at least once in person.

I've hooked strangers up with instructors and gotten others interested in salsa dancing because they see all the stuff I post, including photos, videos and events. They love it.

I love gardening and post albums of my gardens each year so that I can keep track of what I've done and share with others. Not only have I learned tips and tricks from others who have engaged me online about my garden, I've also shared my food with people who have asked and gotten others interested in gardening too.

And then there's my professional passion, which is writing and how social media can help me meet my work goals and my professional goals. That happens to be why I'm writing this series in the first place.

Be sure people can tell who you are.

This is definitely related to authenticity and personality. And it's a great exercise in evaluating yourself in terms of how others out there might perceive you.

If you want to be active in social media, for business especially, it's critical you have accurate and robust online profiles and use real photos of yourself or something you are closely associated with for your avatars.

If you do nothing else, be sure to fill out a profile on LinkedIn and Google (you can do this if you have a gmail account. If you don't have one, I suggest you get one).  


I sometimes chuckle at the term "social networking" because it seems crazy to me that people need online tools to learn how to connect with people. But, it’s really the modern version of the old fashioned, old school term called "networking" and the tools make it insanely easy to do so.  

In this vein, who you know is very important. This does not mean that you conduct yourself with the goal of friending everyone you think is important or that you plow through the online party drinking a cup of burned coffee to be polite and handing out business cards to everyone who says hello to you. It also doesn't mean schmoozing up to the big wig just because you think it will get you somewhere. There is an art to it. People may be annoyed that you've tried to connect with them or ask them to do something for you and they don't know who the heck you are or why they could possibly want to connect with you, a stranger (this is where online profiles come in handy. If they look at it, they may be able to tell if you are worth friending).

In the beginning, you really need to sit back and observe. Pay attention to who is following you and who you are following. Look at what people are saying and how they're saying it. Learn the geeky lingo, acclimate yourself to the tools. Look at who your friends' friends are and slowly make connections based on a common interest. Then engage in discussions. Ask questions. Learn and teach.

The value isn't in the number of friends or fans you accumulate necessarily. It's in how meaningful those connections are. You need to prove to others you have value as much as they need to show that to you. This brings me to my final point, which is to get out and meet people!

Move and shake.

Now is the time you are ready to go on tour. You've made connections online, so start meeting those connections offline. Use these tools to host promotional events or parties. Host a Tweetup for your business. Go to events. One awesome and affordable event coming up is Future Midwest in April where you'll find some of the area's most interesting social media-minded folk who are actively engaged and who you can learn from.

Whatever you can think of, the tools are great for getting people to come together for whatever the reason; community pillow fights, auditions for our burgeoning film industry, health screenings, '80s roller skating parties, electing the first black president, all of it.

If your friends or followers care about and believe in you, because you are authentic and true to your personality, you understand the value of creating meaningful connections and mastered the art of it, they'll come.