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January 19, 2011

Sorry, but Social Media Is Not Like an Old Friend

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You know those old friends you have – the friends you’ve known for, like, ages who, no matter how much time passes, you can always call them up and it’s like there was never any space between you? Yeah those friends.

OK, take those friends – you picturing them in your head? Take those friends and think of the exact opposite of them. And those are your friends on social media networks.

I’m sorry to be the one to break the news, but unlike an old friend, your peeps on social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others will forget about you unless you take the time to let them know you’re there.

Friends

And unlike an old friend, it takes more than just a phone call or drop-by every so often to let them know you’re thinking about them. It’s a full-time job pleasing those finicky little social media goers.

People in the social space expect a lot from you. If you’re gonna show up, you have to show up and socialize the bejesus out of yourself, all the time.

Just because one day a couple weeks ago you had a lot of engagement with your followers, doesn’t mean they will remember you next week, unless you’re an active part of the experience.

Let’s take a look at some of things you might be doing that could hurt your social media (and real-life) friendships.

You Have No Personality

Perhaps you have a profile but it doesn’t really say much. There’s no use having a Twitter account, Facebook or LinkedIn profile if it doesn’t give any information about you.

In fact, it looks real suspect if you don’t. For example, most spammers on Twitter have nonexistent bios (and surprisingly all look like college-aged women). Those are people I don’t follow back. [I actively report them. –Susan]

Just like offline friendships, you have to open up to the people in your life so they can get to know you and so you can make a genuine connection.

FACELESS FRED.

If you’re one of those people with little information in any of your social media profiles, be warned that it reflects poorly on you. Why would anybody want to befriend someone with no personality?

Take the time to say something interesting about who you are or what your business does. Give as much information as you can upfront, so people will want to engage with you.

“I like stuff. And I say funny things.”

This does not qualify. This is a Twitter bio you can only get away with if you are an über well-known celeb.

And since 90 percent of the population (don’t quote me on that stat) is not über well-known nor a celeb, you have to tell people who you are.

You Never Add Anything Valuable to the Conversation

There are two types of friends in life. There are the friends that are extremely vocal, talk a lot and basically have no shame when it comes to what comes out of their mouth. [We call those Lisas. –Susan]

Then there are the friends who are the more reserved, quiet types, who probably have something to say but rarely speak up or are more selective with what they say.

Each one of these personalities has something unique to offer, but sometimes they need to practice qualities in the other’s personality type.

This is also true in the social media world.

Let’s just remember that social media networks are not a place to practice no-holds-barred, free-for-all banter where you say anything and everything that comes to mind (unless of course it’s your job, like Ricky Gervais).

It’s also not a place to spam your friends’ feeds so that all they see is a bunch of crap from one person. This is one way to alienate people.

But, not speaking up can be just as bad. When you don’t add to the conversation, you pretty much become nonexistent, and you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice.

Take the time to share interesting information, engage with your followers through conversation, ask questions of your friends, join groups that matter, give tips your followers won’t find elsewhere. Give them a reason to care.

Like any real friendship, if you don’t take the time to do small things to let people know you are thinking about them, you might grow apart.

Paparazzi

You’re Likable but Lack Meaningful Relationships

In life, some people feel most at home surrounded by a lot of friends. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be good friends, just superficial acquaintances. These people are social by nature and truly feel “the more, the merrier.”

Others are more selective with their friendships and prefer to have a small group of very close friends whom they engage with on a more personal level.

Then there are the people that have a close group of good friends and then a bunch of acquaintances that they hang out with due to shared interests.

You’ll want to decide what kind of relationships work best for your social media efforts, so you can create meaningful encounters.

If you’re running a huge operation and you have a team of dedicated social media employees that focus on multiple Twitter accounts, profiles on Facebook, groups on LinkedIn, communities on YouTube, etc., great. Those 10,000 followers will feel loved and appreciated.

If you’re a small business with limited resources, you might want to consider being more selective with your efforts to make sure your presence on social media is worth it.

That doesn’t mean don’t seek to build a community if you’re trying to build your brand online, but maybe choose the relationships that you’re committed to nurturing.

Or, if you have large quantities of followers and friends in your social networks, think about ways you can make the experience more personal.

For example, how long would it take to quickly look at a person’s biography on Twitter who followed you, and send them a personal direct message using their name and commenting on something related to their business or interests? Or maybe you see a professional on LinkedIn with a question that you can answer.

Be helpful to your community as much as possible. This can show you care beyond just showing up or having automated messages.

So, what’s your tips for making social media a more meaningful place? Weigh in below!

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9 responses to “Sorry, but Social Media Is Not Like an Old Friend”

  1. Get In Nepal writes:

    Nice post Jessica. The people following you and adding you is massive. Write something to make your presence and to make people notice you.

    I like your point of deciding what kind of relationships work best for the social media & creating meaningful encounters.

    Thanks again

  2. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hi! Thanks for your comment! I hope to see you here again.

  3. Paul Gailey Alburquerque writes:

    scaleable intimacy – a term I can’t place with whomever I’ve heard it – is a real tough one. Everyone is interested in it probably has a different special tip that may have worked for them. Here’s mine: don’t obsess on the now and the realtime, by that I mean rake over someone’s past updates and answer a pending question from them or add a thought to one of their past ones. A quick way to do this on Twitter is to trawl the often undervalued favourites of someone you are reading. I find people are really receptive to this.

  4. Andy @ FirstFound writes:

    That picture of faceless Freddie is incredibly sinister. I would post something about the transient nature of social media relationships and the importance of managing them properly, but I see that face every time I blink!

  5. Jessica Lee writes:

    Thank you, Andy. That’s a good point :) And hopefully faceless Freddie doesn’t haunt you in your dreams.

  6. Uttoran Sen @ Directory Sieve writes:

    social media is dynamic, so much happens each day that if you are not updated, it becomes impossible to catch up. Same goes with your followers, they get interested in someone else’s tweets and updates and forget about you. After all, twitter is a micro-blogging platform, if you do not blog for a few weeks, your readers and followers will move on.

    The about-us bio on social media is a very important component, there are so many automated accounts on those platform that without a convincing bio you won’t get any real followers. Nice that you bring out the point of – personality, when we talk social, being personal should be on top of the list, unless you get personal you can’t be social.

  7. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hello, Paul! I like that approach — just because it’s not “real time” doesn’t mean you can’t still engage in the conversation, right?

    Someone may very well still need help with something, and you might still be the first to reach out, even if the statement/question is days or weeks old.

    Thanks for the great tip!

  8. Jessica Lee writes:

    Happy Monday! I like that you reminded us that Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. Really puts things into perspective.

    Makes me wonder if there are best practices of how many tweets one should be doing a day to keep up (just like blogging, we often say post at least once per day).

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Hope to hear from you again.

  9. Sarkari Naukri writes:

    Nice post Jessica. The people following you and adding you is massive.



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