Why are we still being dumb about social media?
The good news is most people understand the importance of social media and are using it to make the world a better place. The bad news is, we’re also making the same mistakes over and over and over – as individuals and as businesses. As social media becomes more mainstream and more powerful, the stakes to game it get stronger too.
So do the stupid ways we use it.
Last week I started a discussion on Twitter about how people choose who they follow and how they stay connected after the first click. The discussion both surprised and delighted me – I’m surrounded by some pretty smart people. The more we chatted, the more I realized that while a lot of us are using the tool fabulously, there’s still a lot of people who are only out to game it.
Dumb and dumber social media
Everyone’s on social media to share something. Whether it’s my mom, using it to connect to her grandkids or a friend using it to share sorrow over the loss of a pet or a business trying to reach new customers, we all have a message to share. And we want others to hear it. That’s what makes it a powerful tool for all of us.
But it’s also what makes some of us think we can forget the golden rule of treating others the way we want to be treated. Isn’t it time we stopped making the same mistakes and just be nicer – and smarter – about how we use social media?
Mistake #1 ~ Asking for something not earned
Recently someone on LinkedIn asked me for a recommendation. Although we work in the same industry, we’ve never met and our contact has been minimal at best. I’m not sure what kind of recommendation I could offer – her exceptional emailing skills? Which by the way were courtesy of LinkedIn’s email template.
Easy fix: Request recommendations from people personally acquainted with your work. And give lots of recommendations to others. Give to get.
Mistake # 2 ~ Creating pseudo social media accounts
Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to sharing on social media. If you don’t want your mom, your best friend or a future boss to see what you’ve posted, why are you posting it?
If you have one account to connect with your boss and coworkers and another for your “real” friends, you’re heading down a dangerous path. Facebook has never claimed to protect your privacy and if you’re hoping that the two groups will never see the other side of you, good luck!
Easy fix: If you won’t broadcast your update in your local paper, don’t put it online.
Mistake #3 ~ Being the opera singer
Social media works because it connects us with people we may never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. If you’re using it as a broadcast channel, people will do what they do with commercials – turn them off.
Easy fix: Dial down the me, me, ME song and dial up the sharing. People will respond with reciprocity – I guarantee it.
Mistake #4 ~ Arguing with trolls
Engaging in an argument on social media is beyond dumb. We’ve all seen disagreements erupt into full-fledged flame wars – it’s the 90’s message boards all over again. Why can’t we stop doing this? Is it really that difficult to agree to disagree and move on? Think about what would happen if we took that energy and channeled it to share info about a charity that desperately needs our help.
Easy fix: Embrace positivity. State your opinion (if you feel the need) and then focus on contributing to positive discussions that can help your business or your community – or both!
Mistake #5 ~ Following people to game your numbers
If you’re using Twitter to make yourself attractive to marketers, Klout is probably on your radar. The thing is, your Klout doesn’t have anything to do with how many people follow you. It has everything to how many people engage with you. There’s a big difference.
Easy fix: Connect with people you can help and who can help you. Service your online community with good information and connect them to each other.
Why do you follow who you follow?
I love when people are willing to jump into random conversations on Twitter and share their opinions. The quotes below are a small sampling of the Twitter discussion on how and why some people in my online community follow and unfollow people. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
@JennAnnis ~. If I’m friends with them IRL I enjoy following them otherwise we wouldn’t be friends. The only annoying thing is when people follow / unflollow 4 or 5 times but never interact!
@MisherMash ~ -I only “follow back” those who share relevant, relatable posts, unless I know them personally.
@willemrt If they are boring/annoying they have no place in your feed. Only follow back if it helps your experience. Way too many ppl trying 2 game ppl who follow back without thinking.
@RobWinters01 ~ I think it depends what your online goals are: fun; influence; sales? And if B2B or B2C. What I want to know – is there any real value to those so-called retweeters and “professional” followers? I thought interaction is the point of social media…otherwise it’s just “media”. Numbers have no value if their followers are not relevant to you, your market or industry. Fluff. Businesses, and people, need to understand this about social marketing. It’s counter-intuitive from the age of advertising.
@LauraORourke ~ I try to always check out a follower’s profile to see if I want to follow though. It’s about connecting.
@MelissaOnline ~ I don’t follow eggs
@sarahcasm ~ I will always follow someone I know. If I know them, personally, their content is relevant to me. I probably would re-follow unless I unfollowed b/c of racist, bigoted content.
@LadyCarni ~ I try to only follow ppl who post industry-relevant things, in a variety of areas of expertise – with the exception of big egos. I think good communities (even in social media) can help alleviate that. We’re all ppl behind the feeds after all!
How do you navigate through the tricky waters of social media? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!