For the first time in several weeks, I sat watching my Twitter stream and attempting to interact with others. Between health issues and moving, I simply hadn’t had the time to spend being social. It turns out that the break was crucial for me. Coming back, I’m noticing something that is very troubling – social media is no longer social. Tweet after Tweet flew past my radar, with about 90% of the missives being full of everything BUT true engagement.
When was the last time you actually paid attention to the things being posted in your social streams? How many of those messages contain links? The more self-promotion I saw, the more distressed I became. I began to understand that we are all treating Twitter, Facebook and even Google+ as nothing more than a vehicle to our own success. Of course that’s important… I’d never deny that. However, I am convinced many of you are doing it completely wrong.
You’re talking TO people instead of WITH them. Where did social go? When did we stop having conversations? Don’t give me that baloney about Twitter not being conducive to carrying on a dialogue. 140 characters is more than enough to enable you to make someone feel as though you care about them, who they are and what they’re doing. Drawing people in and making them a part of what you’re up to is the biggest key to being successful that I can think of. It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in. The fact remains that you better damn well be talking with people or you’re getting nowhere fast.
When was the last time you took the time to not just respond to @ messages or questions and actually went looking for things to discuss? Click on profiles of people in your community. Take the time to read what they are talking about and join in their conversation. Who cares if they don’t happen to be discussing your brand at that particular moment? By integrating yourself into THEIR world, you’re seriously upping the chance that they will want to be a part of yours.
We hear talk all day long about building brand loyalty. There are many ways to do this, of course. You have to have a solid product. Keep your prices reasonable. Have a great return/replacement policy. All of these things are pieces of the puzzle. I’m here to tell you that true interaction with your audience is the single most effective way to build their trust and earn their devotion. I promise.
Additionally, can anyone show me where the rule is written that says everything you must put onto a social network must in some way deal with your brand or business? I’m definitely not telling you to share your lunch menu with the world, but it is a pretty darn good idea to show all of us that you’re human, too. Occasionally opening up conversations about your interests, frustrations and goals outside of your business is another great way to get people interested. It shows them that you’re no different than they are, and gives them another way to make a connection with you – which again translates into someone who will remember you when they need your service or product.
I have never claimed to be any type of expert, guru or rockstar. In fact, I loathe those titles. I’m simply a girl who has spent more than twelve years working with large communities online – beginning long before Twitter or Facebook showed up. I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of hours TALKING WITH PEOPLE, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. I can not and will not promise you that I can get you more followers, raise your profits or fill your head with some mythical ROI. What I can guarantee you is that if you make yourself SOCIAL in the truest sense of the word, you’re going to get a lot further than if you keep doing things the way you are.