7 Deadly Sins of Social Media
Social media’s been a great tool for marketing, networking, and sharing information. This relatively new technology has truly revolutionized the way businesses, brands, and communities interact with one another. When used right, it starts engaging discussions. It informs people of the latest developments. It helps businesses compete in this global economy. When used incorrectly, it’s an incredibly inefficient use of resources, simply put.
See if you’re committing any of the digital “sins” from this list, and learn how to fix them!
Are you constantly sending out tweets? Is your Facebook wall covered with links, photos, and your latest Foursquare check-ins? Just as much as you dislike being bombed with status updates, your followers do, too. If you’ve found a great link, or have important news to share, prioritize. Pick which updates are most important to your networks, and then create a schedule in which to post them. Unless you’re a newswire or a “broadcaster” who has big social influence in the digital world, hold off on constantly sending posts. Your networks will be more apt to listen to what you have to say if you aren’t constantly doing the talking.
While you can’t monopolize your networks’ newsfeeds, you can’t disappear from them, either. Remember the quiet kid in class? The few times she raised her hand, the teacher usually didn’t notice because it was such a rarity. That same principle applies. You don’t need to become a social butterfly and initiate every single discussion, but participating to some capacity is key. If people visit your page and notice that it’s bare or outdated, they’ll pass on by without looking back. Take a page out of Assault’s book and try outlining a schedule of posts if you have trouble talking on the fly.
There are lots of cool things on the Internet. However, if you’re trying to build credibility as a marketing genius, posting an abundance of links to funny cat videos won’t help you (no matter how cute they are). People should be able to get a sense of what you’re an authority on when they visit your page, and read your posts. If you’re the CEO at a PR firm who has a love of music, include your interest somewhere in your bio. Share a link to a new song you like, or a concert you’re seeing from time to time, but don’t let that lead the conversation. Your main mission is to showcase how much experience and knowledge you have in your industry. Follow the classic 80/20 dieting rule: adhere to the plan 80% of the time, and indulge 20%.
Remember how our last example involved a CEO highlighting an interest in music? That’s just one of the many ways you can incorporate a little of your personality into your messages. If you have a sarcastic streak, make your next tweet about SEO witty (if you find a way). It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen and let the web do most of the work, but people want to talk to other people, not robots on auto-pilot. No matter how informative or important your post is, remember to be approachable. More often than not, people are guided by the same principles they follow in real life for befriending someone online.
As you read earlier, social media is great for getting conversations going. While you should be contributing, don’t simply pose a question to your network, and then disregard the responses you get. If someone makes a thoughtful point, respond to it. Re-post it and elaborate on it. Take the topic to a new level. Some of the most valuable information out there is found when people come together to express their points of view. One of the key things to remember is that social media is social; the more people talk about something, the more of an impact it has. The more you perpetuate the discussion and make intelligent contributions, the more respect you’ll command from your audience.
Engage in a variety of networks and services, and give people multiple ways to connect with you! You probably wouldn’t shop at a store that only had one type of shirt and one type of pants, right? You’d rather have a few racks of clothing to browse through to get a better sense of the store. This same idea is true for using social networking sites. The more types of services you use, the better represented you are online. You can use a site like Last.fm to connect over music preferences, while using a bookmarking site like Digg to share your favorite news stories. Your credibility won’t become muddled as long as you remember the specific objective of each service, and post with a purpose.
It’s not all about the numbers. Sure, to a point you should keep your follower count (and Klout score) in mind, but it shouldn’t be the top source of motivation for your posts. Whether you’re in the PR industry or not, the real motivation for posting should be building relationships with new audiences, and maintaining relationships with old ones. Social media ROI is significant, but only if you weigh qualitative aspects more heavily. It’s easy to “Like” a Facebook page, and it’s just as easy to hide it from sight. You’re still quantifiable as a fan, but qualitatively you’re not actively engaged or listening. See the difference?
Social media is a lot like dating: you don’t want to appear disinterested, but you don’t want to come on too strong, either. If you make calculated moves at the right times, let your personality shine, and focus more on the conversation than the end-result, you’ll build a strong, healthy relationship with your networks.
Steph Parker is currently a part of Hill Holliday's digital strategy team In Boston. She was also named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Marketing & Advertising in 2012. Steph gets her hands dirty with research, planning, content, and design, and has worked on several Fortune 500 brands in the space as both a community manager and strategist.
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