The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
If you’ve read any my posts on the topic of social media you’ve probably picked up that I’m not a fan. But, since you have to “be there” I am “there”. (I’m totally not there for my off-line life.)
I understand that with my current approach that I cannot and therefore do not have expectations of a return on my investment. That’s because I haven’t invested all that much. And I’m okay with that. My business is healthy and I have a hard time keeping up with requests. To the point where I have to decline projects I cannot fit into my schedule.
Had to get that out of the way before I get emails about not practicing what I preach.
My philosophy is it’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am, and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.
~ Anthony Hopkins
What I am “preaching” is for the benefit of those who are not as established as I am and are struggling with why they are invisible on social media. These folks are not the big hitters with thousands or hundreds of thousands of minions pining for their next tweet or post. These are small biz folks just trying to gain some semblance of visibility.
Don’t Worry About the Number of Likes or Follows
I’m more about one on one contacts — not blasting to the masses. I realized a long time ago that what I have to offer is not for the masses. Forget about numbers and your self worth — instead target those that really care about what you offer.
I remember back in the day where one could follow #WordPress on Twitter and actually find folks having conversations and asking for assistance. You could pipe-in with some help, get a sincere thank you and make a new contact. Now that hashtag is just a lot of noise with everyone pushing their latest posts — mostly with affiliate links. One-way broadcasting — actually a blow horn.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Add to that all the social sites throttle and pick and choose what you see in your feed. Add the necessary sponsored advertising and the more folks you follow the less you are going to “see” of any one person. All those folks who follow you — how many others do they follow? The more they follow the less they see of you.
It’s Just Math
You follow hundreds or thousands (What exactly is that about!?) of folks. How can you see what all of them are up to in your feed? You can’t. There is only so much room and the math just doesn’t add up to you being able to see what you may deem important. The social sites do that for you. And they really don’t care what you really think is important.
This goes for your postings too. If folks follow hundreds or thousands of others, how can you expect your great post that you spent days crafting to get any visibility? It probably won’t.
I recently witnessed a situation that brought this home for me. A person posted that they were traumatically distraught because they had just discovered a “friend” or contact on Facebook had passed a month earlier. It was a veteran who had PTSD. She found out through another Facebook contact by “tripping” on a post in that person’s feed mentioning the suicide. What was her reaction?
- Evil Facebook hid this important information from her.
- Why can’t Facebook feeds show important information like this? Her friend had posted he was on the edge — what she deemed as a call for help. Why didn’t Facebook feel that was important?
- She also noted that she friended/followed 342 people.
What she worried about most, is that he died thinking no one cared. The last weeks of his clearly distraught cries for help had no reaction, no responses from the over 1,000 supposed “friends” listed on his profile. Most likely his posts were suppressed for more “valuable” or profitable blurbs that were pushed to his 1,000 friends.
She had a valid concern. The story broke my heart.
It also reflects how social media has skewed our definition of what a friend is and we have given them the power to determine what is important in our relationships. How can you truly be a friend to 342 or 1000 people? You just can’t. If she cared about this person as much as she claimed, why didn’t she go to his page/feed and check in on him?
Business or personal you make your relationships what they are. Relationships of any kind require your involvement. Time to stop being passive in your online relationships and actually be engaged. It’s probably time to start pruning all those you follow and friends as well. Less is more. Less is more personal.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
~George Bernard Shaw
Embrace the Reality
Social sites have to monetize their users. They really do not care about your friends, your contacts or you. They want to get you to click on ads — or purchase ads so that your postings can maybe, possibility rise to the top of those who follow you. Only if they determine those followers may be interested in your ads.
If you are social and “work it” you can make contacts, even gain new clients and customers. But boy do you have to work it! You have to be present, personable and prompt! You can’t just post and expect results. You have to respond to anyone who reaches out and you have to do so within moments. Take too long and they lose interest.
That’s tough for me to do. If I’m coding I isolate myself in an environment so that I can test and concentrate and not make mistakes. Social media alerts are not part of that scenario.
How to Be Visible on Social Sites
Okay, so let’s agree that social media can be a useful tool and when used properly as a way to connect and build your brand.
When. Used. Properly.
I’ve watched how social media has evolved and have witnessed what works and what doesn’t. Today, I’m jotting down my thoughts off the top of my head.
- Be active and engaged. Comment on and share others postings.
- Don’t over share (personal) or over post (annoying).
- Be very selective with who you follow. The company you keep thing applies here.
- Don’t worry about being visible to the masses. You just want to be visible to those who care.
- If you really want to follow onliners because you care what they say, don’t follow hundreds or thousands of folks. No way to keep track or actually follow that many streams.
- Don’t join every possible group and repost like a robot to each. Be selective and customize your messages to the venue.
- Different approaches are required for different networks. What works on LinkedIn doesn’t work on Twitter. What works on Twitter may not be effective on Facebook and visa versa. Find what works best for you and prioritize that network.
- Be consistent over all your networks. Same info, same photo, same visuals, same color scheme. That’s called branding!
- On Twitter, you can setup private lists and add those you are interested in watching. You don’t have to follow to add them to a list. Name your lists accordingly and check in often to see what those folks are up to.
- Proofread your postings out loud. You won’t believe what you catch with this approach. Typos and grammatical errors do not instill professional confidence.
- Think about how each point of contact can move to a personal interaction off the social network (phone, email, lunch).
- Don’t be needy and ask for retweets or likes. If your stuff is good (and visible) people will react.
The goal is to provide inspiring information that moves people to action.
~ Guy Kawasaki
Last but not least remember…
Nothing, nothing will ever replace that one on one contact made between one human being and another. Keep that in mind when using social media. Be you, be real, be approachable and work towards making true connections. Not just those provided and recommended by a bunch a programmed computers.
A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.
~ John D. Rockefeller
At your service,