For most businesses, participating in social media is unchartered territory. When there are no examples to follow, the only way to learn is to experiment. Over the last 18 months, I’ve been observing what’s worked and, more importantly, what hasn’t.
Here are the top five ways a business can alienate people and waste time using social media.
1. Use social media as a broadcast medium
The beauty of social media is that they permit a two-way conversation. They lets us communicate with individuals in a way that mass media cannot. Participating on social media is not the same as booking an ad space—don’t treat it that way.
For the first time in history, individuals have their own voice and platform and they’re not afraid to use the power that comes along with it. Use your platform to communicate with individuals and build community. It’s not only the “new” way to do things—it’s fast becoming the only way you should operate online.
2. Sound like a robot
When someone is considering following you or liking your page, they’ll check out your profile and what you’ve said first. If it’s repetitive, self promoting or sounds like an automated feed, people won’t feel a connection to you, and they won’t want to connect with you.
The increase in spam bots that are infiltrating social networks means that people are becoming more cautious. You need to use a human voice (more casual than corporate) if you want people to connect with you.
3. Only focus on work topics or yourself
Sometimes I feel like people forget about the social part of social media. It’s important to think about what interests your audience members have in common, and talk about them. For example, I know that my audience are women in business (or women who want to be), but they also have a universal love of design, travel, and organization.
Know what current affairs, movies, TV shows, music, magazines and other cultural activities your readers have in common. Ask their opinions about them. Start conversations.
Not sure what they’re into? One way to find out more about their general interests (outside your blog) is to look at profiles of people who follow you. Check out their blogs, and see what they’re talking about and linking to. Talk about what they like. You’ll find that if one person in your audience is into something, there are bound to be others who are too.
4. Grow your network too quickly
This one is self-explanatory, and relates to Twitter specifically. If you’re following 500 people and you have 46 followers, you’re trying to grow your network too quickly and you’re wasting your time.
Cull your numbers. Focus on connecting with the people who are following you first and then gradually add to your network.
5. Don’t start conversations
This is such a common pitfall. You start up an account and wait for people to start talking to you. No one does, so you give up and think, “this social media stuff is a waste of time.”
Don’t wait for people to come to you. Start conversations and dip in on conversations that you can contribute something useful to. Share a link and ask a question about it.
What are the things holding you back from understanding social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.