Social media sites are fascinating. Regular interchanges on these sites have become a crucial part of everyday life for the majority of people – who ten years ago could only interact with friends and family by phone or email. It’s even more incredible to think about the roles that Twitter and Facebook played during the Arab Spring and other recent world events.
Social media sites are also fascinating because you can clearly see the plan many businesses use for their social marketing efforts. And you can see that their plan usually stinks.
Open a browser, find the feed on one of your social media accounts, and take a close look at what everyone else has been posting. If you’re like most people, your feed shows content and links (from both businesses and individuals) which look like they could be random messages produced by a malware robot.
To be successful on social media, you do not need to post two, four or six times per day. What you need to do is truly engage with others. Don’t just follow postings of people or businesses you find interesting or impressive. Interact with them. Comment on their posts. Offer differing views. You know – act human. As you do this, others will start to react and follow your own postings on social sites.
This does something very important. It puts you in touch with “influencers” – people who use social media correctly. And a single repost of your content from one of these people can produce massive exposure for you and your business. Consider Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net. He has 204,000 followers on Twitter, but he only follows 912. If you can become one of the exclusive 912 people he follows, or get him to retweet one of your tweets, the exposure will be massive.
Why don’t people engage with others on social media, rather than just automatically post random thoughts or sales messages? It’s usually because they’re afraid to. The truth is that most of us are inherently afraid of saying the wrong thing or receiving negative reactions. This is true in all social interactions, online or offline.
Stop being afraid. Think carefully about your posts beforehand, then post something interesting or thought-provoking. If someone disagrees with your position, that can be a good thing because the two of you can debate the issue. The other poster may not change his mind, and others who disagree with you may not view you positively. But many people will agree with you, and start following you.
A good example of how this can play out involves an infamous online customer service debate. It started with a company looking bad, but ended with the customer being exposed as a buffoon. The customer started the debate on Twitter by complaining that the posting service offered by the company in question had not produced the desired results. He complained that the company was continuing to charge him, had refused to stop charging him, and was basially evil.
The company heard about the bashing and entered the conversation. They explained that since he was paying on a subscription basis through PayPal, he could only stop the charges through his PayPal account. The customer claimed this was the first time the company had told informed him of that fact, and was only responding on Twitter to counter bad publicity. The company’s response? They posted eleven emails they had sent to him, not only explaining the situation, but giving him step-by-step instructions on how to cancel the payments inside his PayPal account.
The only reaction from the customer was to demand that Twitter take down the conversation. Those watching the interaction who may have initially had a negative view of the business now had a very positive impression, since the business was not only in the right, but had bent over backward to try to help the customer.
Interaction on social media turned out to be a major positive for the company.
What if you are obviously in the wrong? Then do something that will show that you aren’t evil, you’re human – apologize. In a world where few people and businesses seem capable of doing that, you will be shocked at the positive response.
One Week Experiment
Try this for a week. Don’t post any new content or links to your social media accounts. Instead, spend an hour or so a day simply interacting with others. Post comments, like posts, retweet interesting content and follow fascinating people.
By the end of the week, you’re likely to generate more exposure for your business via social media than ever before. Once you see the results, you will quickly realize that engagement, not posting four times a day, is the real key to success on social platforms.