If you want to build a house, do you start with a hammer? No, you start with your vision of the house – the floor plan, the interior and exterior style, the materials, and even the landscaping. The hammer is simply one of many tools to help you execute your vision.
Same goes with using social media for business. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – these are merely tools to help you fulfill your vision. If you are using these tools with no particular vision, you are likely hammering your followers/friends/connections with scattered thoughts and comments that lead nowhere. Or worse – chasing would-be fans away.
I took a very unscientific poll on Facebook to learn what caused my varied friends to either hide or unfollow people in their networks. Most of my network consists of professionals over 35. Most are college educated. Quite a few are independent business owners. Here are some reasons they have wanted to “mute” someone:
- Inflammatory political rhetoric
- Too many games and quizzes
- Feeling like a target for someone’s business
- Negativity and toxic ranting
- Promotions or invitations that are irrelevant (inviting you to a next-day workshop many states away, for example)
- “TMI” – Sharing personal details that are better kept private (or, the “ewwww” factor)
- Automated feeds from Twitter. This presented two different turn-offs: One is when Tweet jargon shows up in other arenas, for example, using @ and # symbols, short-hand words like “ur” for “your,” and “RT,” which feel alien on Facebook or LinkedIn. The second reason automated feeds are a turn off is that they can feel sterile and impersonal.
Okay, reality check: Go read your own feeds. How do you stack up? If you aren’t sure what turns off your network of friends, go ahead and ask them.
On the flip side, here is what my polltakers adore – and even crave – in their social media feeds:
- Positive, uplifting messages
- Humor, cleverness
- Interesting videos
- Celebrations of success
- Opportunities to lend personal support
- Inspiring stories or thoughts
- Photos of your real life
- Insightful observations
- Thought-provoking musings on pop culture
- Sharing of depth, what really matters
- Discoveries of common interests and ideas – making genuine connections across the globe
Seems most of us want to be entertained, inspired, informed. We want to make meaningful connections that offer a glimpse into another human being’s world. We don’t want rhetoric, negativity, and most of all, we don’t want to be in the crosshairs of some machine-gun marketer, broadcasting their message across the social media landscape with no regard for accuracy on target. Most said they don’t mind – and even like – some marketing. But not if that’s the only dance in your repertoire.
Consider your networks. How well do you know them? What do your “peeps” want to hear from you? And what turns them off?
And equally important, what is your purpose? Assuming you use social media to grow your business, what is your company’s vision? How can social media – remember, it’s just a tool – facilitate your overarching mission? And it’s time to become super aware of your impact on the feeds to which you contribute. Keep hammering the wrong kind of messages out and you will lose your audience.
The level of success you have using social media to grow your business will involve a blend of clarifying your purpose, honing your personal style, and finding a way to serve your readers through engaging conversation and sharing what matters to them.
And I hope you have fun along the way!