Shaquille O'Neal Let me start by saying that I love social media. I probably use Facebook the most, followed by Instagram. My favorite right now is Vine mostly because it’s new and different. I have to admit that Twitter doesn’t do as much for me. I recently watched a video interview with Shaquille O’Neal called, “Shaquille O’Neal on What Inspires His Business Decisions” that has helped my personal branding efforts on Twitter. I was pulled into this video out of curiosity because I didn’t know that O’Neal was considered a businessman. He apparently was an early investor in Google and has invested in other companies like Five Guys, Muscle Milk, and other traditional businesses and tech startups. Did you know that? During his interview he talked about how he is a self-proclaimed “nerd” and how he has uses technology to help his personal brand. O’neal (@SHAQ) has close to 7 million followers on twitter. That puts him in the top 100 most followed people on Twitter (according to twitaholic.com). When asked if he is behind all of his tweets or if he has hired ghostwriters to tweet for him, he responds by saying, “A lot of people know that I’m many different type of people. Very ‘ebonic’, very ‘homeboy’ but every now and then I can throw on a suit and have a conversation with Bill Gates, President Obama, President Clinton.” He continues to give his recipe of how he has so many followers: 60% Humor People love to share something that makes them smile or laugh. It’s why people quote movies, TV shows, or stand up comedians. When you share a funny tweet, it is just like a well placed, timely, and appropriate quote from a movie. Even though others know you are re-tweeting (or in the case of the analogy, quoting) someone else’s thought or words, it will still validate that you are funny, smart, or witty. 30% Inspire Humor may not make anyone take you seriously but inspiring someone does. Being an inspiration to someone is harder than making someone laugh but, if done correctly, it will get you much further. Inspiring people changes you into their hero. You don’t have to be an NBA all-star and/or Olympian to do it either. Start by talking (or tweeting) about something you are passionate about, something that inspires you. You will come to find that there are others who are just as passionate and inspired by the same thing. Again, if done correctly you will steadily build your followers. 10% Sell Product/Self-Promotion Who gets onto social media to be sold something? Not me! That is why 99% of consumer social media is free. If you are selling a product/service your company provides or trying to do some self-promotion, people are quickly going to un-follow you. With that being said, sometimes you have to “toot your own horn.” Just make sure to keep it minimal as possible. When I look at this recipe it is different that most of the way that we use internet and social media. It is a lot easier to be criticizing, make fun of, or be negative online. What you need to remember is that everything you do online is attached to your brand. That also includes everything you do offline. Almost everyone has a smart phone that can video record, tweet, upload, or post something online at any moment. That is why the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is now more like “What happens in Vegas, ends up on Facebook”. You can’t control what others tweet, post, upload about you but you can control what you post. So how do you make sure that you aren’t writing something that is going to hurt your brand or image? Ask yourself these questions: \tWould this help my brand? \tWould my (current or future) company/employer approve of it? \tWould my mother be ok reading or watching this? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you might want to think twice about putting it out on the web. Finally I wanted to answer the question, “Do I always have to be professional?” I answer that by saying, of course not! But, it’s safer to be too professional than not professional at all. Remember that social media should be fun and if it isn’t, you need to take off your virtual suit and put some flip flops, shorts, and a t-shirt on. Just like Shaq said, “…I can throw on a suit…” He knows when to be professional and when to have fun. What rules or advice has helped you when it comes to interacting online? Mike Alder is a University of Utah business marketing student and marketing specialist at Lendio. Passionate about entrepreneurship, small businesses, and inbound marketing. Mike shows his passion by sharing stories of successful entrepreneurs and companies with small business owners on the Lendio blog. He makes these big success stories easy-to-apply in simple and easy to read language for the everyday small business owner and entrepreneur.