Growing Business

Social Media: How To Avoid Being Boring


It’s important to let down your professional guard a little when using social media. Social Media Land is, surprise surprise, a “Social Place”. In this article online marketer Colette Mason talks about how you can stand out from the online crowd, and how to keep people’s interest.

People share things they find funny, thought-provoking, interesting or useful with their connections as well as serious or business related information. It’s important to pay close attention to the more light-hearted subject matter you can share with your followers.

You could start with something as simple as asking them what they’ve got planned for the weekend – few businesses connect with their customers on that level – but those that do find they can build strong relationships with their following – just take a look at Coca Cola, or Starbucks’ pages on Facebook for that. They are often asking simple questions to build rapport with their loyal audience.

Admittedly, you only have a certain number of options for the actual format of your updates – pure text, adding links, uploading a photo or sharing a video. Nevertheless, you can vary the type of update you post, and its content, to keep things fresh – and soulful.

You should always try to keep things varied because if your updates get formulaic, and by that I mean predictable, boring, irrelevant or annoying, at best your followers will hide your feed and at worst, break their connection with you permanently and “unfriend you”. Tempting though it is, do avoid taking the easy route by constantly auto-publishing content from your blog, or republishing your tweets as a Facebook status update, or syndicating someone else’s RSS feed for weeks on end.

No one ever wants to talk to a robot
We all know how annoying it is meandering through an automated telephone system trying desperately to talk to a real person. Automated social media campaigns can easily be tarred with the same brush.

Your followers will spot these updates for the automated “filler” content it really is – a subtle display you’re being a bit lazy and fairly disinterested in them and their needs online… Not good, and certainly not the way to build a loyal, respectful following.

People who constantly share identical (syndicated) content from their favourite profile on their other profiles usually forget to check into their other social media accounts. So, some hapless Facebook follower may reply to one of these syndicated Twitter messages, and the profile owner fails to spot that interaction for many weeks, leaving their follower feeling rejected. “2 out of 10… Must try harder”, is what I say to the overly-automated approach.

Don’t push your products and services every 5 minutes
Although you may represent the brand and your offerings you are not here to promote it constantly. Your comment threads, Facebook wall, Twitter, email lists, forums or any other communication channels in your control are not to be used as purely promotional vehicles either.

Your job is to help and support, so inform any other individuals in your organisation that may think otherwise and ensure the protection of the trust, openness, integrity and fun in your community.

A good rule of thumb is to do one purely promotional message in every 20 updates you do. You can play around with the ratio depending on how your following feels about your promotional messages. Some businesses do one in 50, others one in 10 – it all depends on your market. You have to do some openly promotional updates to get a return on your campaign, just use some common sense to keep the tone right for you and your followers.

It really is OK to be you
Don’t bring into your community a rigid professional, corporate image if that doesn’t fit with the people you’ve connected with. Be yourself. Fit your community and be as comfortable in yourself as you can be. This makes it easier to represent the opinions, subtleties and aesthetics of your community. You are a human extension of a URL in being an online community and social media marketing manager so any clash between your personality and brand image will become not just an obstacle but an insurmountable one.

Don’t invite all and sundry
This is crucial to a successful social media marketing strategy. Although large numbers of registered users looks great you need to be sure they are the right kind of users.

Don’t just simply connect with anyone
Whilst it may boost your ego it won’t boost your sales. It’s like a musician in a Jazz band doing a secret gig and packing the venue with gangsta rap fans – yes they’d have the numbers, but not the influence and the relationship to make them spend money! A smaller, targeted following of raving fans beats a large rag-tag bunch of indifferent strangers!

It can be helpful to seek out a few untargeted followers at first to get rid of the “tumbleweed look” to your profile pages, but bear in mind you will be unlikely to influence those people and turn them from prospects into customers.

New users that have no passion about the focus of the community, who aren’t bothered about contributing unique, interesting content will soon disappear, so it’s better to focus on a steady growth of users who are more likely to be committed to the community. A smaller number of passionate quality users are much better than a mass of bored users contributing nothing.

Words By Colette Mason, who runs an international online consultancy and is the author of the latest social media guide, ‘Social Media Success in 7 Days’

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