Remember when people got excited because they had 100 followers in Twitter? I joined in 2007, when Twitter was still in the nest, so to speak. It was really FUN then because I actually knew all of my followers and we had great conversations every day. I loved it.
Then along came the marketers, and I soon started to look for something new to do with my free time. All of my DMs (direct messages) began asking me to buy something. In the stream, there are even more offers, a ton of meaningless quotes or jokes that aren’t funny.
Twitter just doesn’t turn me on anymore and I haven’t really been active (aside from auto-posting SEO articles) on Twitter for years. I feel like it’s a waste of my precious time.
And yet, I have 13K followers and then some. It doesn’t mean squat. I’m not engaged and neither are the people who follow me. Don’t get me wrong; not all of my followers are marketers who don’t know me and just want to pitch to me. (Not the marketers’ fault, either. They were taught to do those things by other people taking their money for teaching them to do it. Grr…)
My point is that the number of followers or friends you have doesn’t matter a hoot. That number won’t get you where you want to go alone. You have to put some effort behind it.
Mark Traphagen reports in his article on Marketing Land last week that “Follower counts in and of themselves are poor indicators of social media effectiveness.” I totally agree, and my Twitter account is a prime example.
And that leads me to wonder how important any of this social stuff is, right? I mean, are you really working at better social media engagement for every social media site online? If you are … good luck with that.
Enjoy or Leave
My advice is to find one service that you enjoy and can have fun with, whether it’s Facebook, G+, Pinterest or whatever. I figure if you’re not having fun, you’re not engaged, so how can you expect your friends to be? You can’t.
My social home is Facebook. I spend a few hours a week there, if that, but it’s a place where I can communicate with business pals, writing friends, neighbors, family, and even people I went to grade school with! Why wouldn’t I like it there? I love it! But I have to admit that I don’t think about engagement each and every time I make a post.
And still, social engagement is important. Facebook gives me a way to connect with my present, my past and potential customers. I can write to them about things that happen to me, give folks helpful information and just party with people I like and enjoy.
Social media’s effectiveness falls back to the old marketing mantra about getting people to, “Know, Like and Trust” you before they will buy from you. So, if you’re in business, social media is a great way to gain that bonding, which is really important, whether you’re selling vitamins or Web services.
People are still very leery of the Internet. They don’t know who to trust, especially if they’re new online. Social media helps you to span that fear factor bridge, without eating worms, but just by being you. Even if you’re running a business page, people want to know that there are cool people behind it.
Coca-Cola, for example, is on a mission right now to “Make the Internet Happy.” They want to stop the bullying and negativity of it all. Who can’t like that? You need to reach out, grab your audience and pull them in.
5 Tips to Help
A couple weeks back, I did an interview with Douglas Ward of www.ubcboxing.com where we discussed his views on social media, which were very interesting. I ran across an article he had written on Galahad Productions with some ideas about how he runs social media for an unusual niche — boxing.
I mean, when you think about it, boxing is a huge market. So, I wondered how Douglas used social media to make the kinds of connections he needs to improve his business, which is teaching people to box.
Here are 5 of his ideas, that really resonated with me and so I decided I’d share them with you:
- Don’t be too self-centered: Think about others in your niche. Reach out to them and create a connection. Because their friends/followers are in the same niche as you are in, you’ll pick up friends/followers from their lists, too. Just remember, you have to engage them or they’ll leave.
- Keep your design simple: When there’s too much clutter on your page, it looks unprofessional. Focus on imagery, but don’t go nuts. Make it interesting and eye-catching. Use images in your posts, too. We live in a visual world.
- Keep posts short: This is also a very busy world. If you’re writing very long posts, they’re probably not being read. People don’t have the time to sort those out. Give them short bursts that they can read quickly, like, and comment on or retweet. When you have a loyal audience built up, you can post longer stuff now and then. Just don’t overdo.
- Focus on making a connection: All good business is about your connections. Remembering people’s birthdays, asking how their last promotion went, or adding posts to meet a particular interest can be great for small businesses! (Don’t forget to tag people in posts, too, so they don’t miss your good wishes.) It’s impossible to remember everyone’s life details. Remember details that matter and sign up for services like “Birthdays” on Facebook so you don’t miss any.
- Be deliberate: Here’s where Douglas and I differ. I think you should be deliberate to a point, but I wouldn’t calculate every move before making it. If you do that, you take some fun out of the equation, and remember, you and your reader need to be engaged. Will your post be important to anyone but you? And how many likes/shares did you get last time you posted something similar? If you deliberately watch how well your posts are accepted or ignored, it’s easy to see what to do more of and what to stay away from.
The Bottom Line
Though social media engagement is still important, it’s not the be-all and end-all of search engine rankings. So, spend some time figuring out what works and what doesn’t for your brand (be that you or your business). You need to understand what impact you’re making, for sure. And if you’re not doing very well, change your tune. Otherwise, it’s not just your time you’re wasting. Remember that.
It may take some trial and error to figure out what people want from you, but when you recognize what that is, you’re in sync with your crowd. Give them exactly what they want and your social media engagement will soar. And along with that, you’ll have search advantage from that area of operations.
Search engines are certainly taking social media engagement into consideration when ranking your business in the SERPs. How much or how little is anyone’s guess, but how people respond to what you put up there does matter.
Image credit: MorgueFile.com & Canva