Okay, nobody wants to be a robot. Well, nobody except for my five year old daughter who likes to do the “Robot” while we listen to Skrillex… but that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at is that we as people AND brands are inherently more interesting to other people when we act like humans and not robots on social networks like Twitter, Google +, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Before you sigh and hit the back button on your browser, hold on a second. I promise you that I have a point that applies to both business use of social media by individuals AND brands.
Take a step back and think about the last neighborhood party you attended. Or better yet, the last cocktail party you attended. For bonus points, think of the last cocktail party you attended as part of a conference or business gathering where you were mostly intermingling with people you didn’t know (or didn’t know well). While I know that this analogy has been beaten to death, it helps make my point.
While you were at that party. did you get trapped at any point in time talking to one of those sales-y types? You know, the ones who look at your name tag and immediately ask you what you do? And within two minutes, are asking you questions like, “do you manage a budget” and “tell me what your 2013 goals look like?” In most cases, you can’t run away fast enough, right? It’s because you derived zero value out of the conversation and worse yet, you know you were being pitched in a place where you were hoping you could just enjoy a cocktail, some passed hors d’oevre and perhaps meet an interesting industry colleague or two.
Unfortunately, there are still a ton of people on the social Web who take the sales guy approach to Twitter. Either that or they immediately start talking to Oprah Winfrey or Lady Gaga like they are good friends with no hope of ever receiving a response. Or worse, they autoconnect their foursquare account and bless you with a non-stop stream of checkins from places like Joe’s Coffee Shop and Chili’s. While brands are getting better at this, most are still in broadcast only mode.
One of the biggest problems is that a lot of people and brands forget that the reason people come to social networks is to be social. That doesn’t mean that social can’t include business. And in fact, social networks are a great place for brands to better engage their customers and fans with an eye toward driving sales, increasing loyalty while solving customer service issues and gathering important intel for future products. But it’s important to not forget the “social” part of the social networks.
Here are five tips to help engage on social networks that ultimately will get your more important stuff better noticed while growing your personal/brand fan base and driving key metrics while you do it:
- Be Interesting: While people tend not to care about what you are having for breakfast, talking about things that are interesting will get you noticed. Is there a new mobile app that you recently checked out that’s worth downloading? Did you read a helpful article on AdAge? eMarketer? Life Hacker? Give it a share.
- Don’t Go Cold: Don’t forget to warm up your audience before you decide to post. I’ve found that just posting a link on Twitter or Google + cold gets little to no traction if you haven’t been active on that platform that day. As a rule of thumb, before I post a link to a colleagues blog, something I’ve written or a client’s website, I try and retweet a few folks and/or post a couple of useful links.
- Pictures are Good: Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. While people don’t necessarily want to see hundreds of pictures of your new puppy, Max, they might be interested in seeing a cool picture of a concert you are attending. Or maybe a cool shot of a local landmark. Hint: Instagram and Path are good for helping make you look like a better photographer than you might really be.
- The Thank You Economy: Remember to thank your followers/customers. If someone @ messages you, retweets you or says something nice about you/your brand, take the time to say “thank you.” If you do this on Twitter, you can take advantage of the fact that people only see @ replies where a follower is following your account and the person you are tweeting to. This helps cut down on noise. On places like Google + and Facebook, don’t be afraid to bundle your “thank you’s” into one update.
- Don’t Worry… Be Sappy: Once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to let your hair down. This doesn’t mean that you should overshare but as you can see in the image that I embedded of a recent Facebook post I did, I got nearly 60 likes and more than 25 comments (and I’m just a guy). Bottom line, people like to know that you are real whether you are a brand or a person.