When someone called me a social media Rock Star back in 2008, I was thrilled. My first thought? “Boy, that was easy!”
Yes, it was truly easy, which is what I’ve realized after all these years on social media.
The thing with social media is that we marketing folks often see it as a game — at least, many did in the early days. Top 100 influencers, top 50 Digg users, top 20 Stumblers… the lists were numerous.
Many of those lists made sense in one way or the other at the time. Top Diggers would be “bought” by brands to submit and FP (front page) their stories on Digg. Top influencers would be invited to “brand engagement” programs. Some of this exists even now, in more sophisticated form.
But today, the social media scene has evolved for the better. Number games and charts are gone for good, and brands and agencies have come to understand the significance of quality over quantity.
However, there are still some residual bad habits that make our social media profiles seem less genuine and trustworthy. Here, I’ll address some of those bad habits — and hopefully prevent you from ruining your social media profile.
1. Setting Your Social Media Profile Up On Auto-Feed
We’ve seen this many a time. Folks like Guy Kawasaki can pull it off easily — but when everyone in your feed starts doing it, then it becomes a problem.
There are several tools that will help you set up your Twitter or Facebook profiles on auto-feed mode, but — to put it bluntly — most of them are not great. Imagine my Twitter feed with ten guys tweeting exactly the same story in exactly the same format, exactly when the news is published. Looks like spam to me.
Refraining from using auto-tweeting RSS feeds might be a good idea, especially when you’re talking to a social media-savvy audience.
But, we all do it. So here are some clever ways to make it valuable and not spammy.
- Do not tweet the story as-is. Spin it with a unique template for each website. If you choose to keep the article title and description as-is, you’ll be competing with a hundred others doing the same thing. Create templates for your RSS feed title aggregator to make your updates appear unique.
- Do not tweet/share/post immediately as the stories are published. Set them to be shared with a time delay (possibly a random one) so you don’t end up with the other folks who are sharing the same content.
- Choose your RSS feeds wisely. Selecting mainstream and obvious news channels within your niche might not be a good idea; people already know about those. Instead, try to provide your followers with something a bit more off-beat. Do your research and find those hidden gems of news sources. You’ll be adding value to your followers’ streams by being different, even though you’re using auto-feeds.
2. Having An Unhealthy Mix Of Links/Convos/Thoughts
People on social media can be divided into three different types based on their interactions:
- Conversationalists. These are folks who actively indulge in conversations on a regular basis and share knowledge through debates, as though they are in a big chat room. Their signal-to-noise ratio is often really thin. That doesn’t mean they’re not adding value to the conversation, it’s just that you have to search and find those little nuggets of info.
- Listeners. These are folks who are mostly silent, listening to others and consuming content like crazy. Listening is a good quality in social media — and if you know what to absorb from what you hear, you’d clearly be on the learning curve.
- Curators. Curators are folks who share selective content from different sources. They read and consume a lot of content, so they know what works and what doesn’t. These users fill their social media streams with interesting content.
The right mix of the above three types of participation is crucial in designing a healthy social media profile. Be it Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, a good social media profile/portfolio is one that balances well between a Curator, Listener and a Conversationalist. Lean toward any one side too heavily, and you may have an issue.
Having said that, the right mix depends on what niche you’re in and what your audience/circles look like.
3. Posting With Poor Timing
Timing is everything on social media. Your great story is only as good as the timing of your post.
It is for this reason that major companies break their PR stories on a Tuesday morning. You’ve got to figure out what’s the best time that works best for your audience. There are two timings to consider, as well — seeding time and amplification time.
Seeding time is that time when you can reach the maximum audience attention. Some argue that mornings are the best, while another group claims that afternoons are. In my opinion, it depends largely on your audience.
When do most of your friends/followers come online? When do they retweet you the most? When have your tweets been favorited the most? When have your photos been liked the most? These are some of the questions you must ask as you research what time works best for you.
Amplification time is that time when you get a second chance to squeeze out that little bit of extra exposure you missed in seeding time. There’s always going to be a group that you missed when you initially seeded your content. Make sure that you hit these groups during round two.
This is tricky, however! You could easily annoy the first group who saw your content when you originally shared it, so make sure your amplification time is spaced out from your seeding time (possibly with a 12-hour gap so you’ll hit different time zones exclusively).
There are people who overdo it by posting a story repeatedly throughout the day just to make sure it reaches all their followers. Personally, I think this is a bad idea, as you might be annoying the 90% when addressing that 10%.
If you’re clever enough, you can do a little bit of spinning that can bring a different and interesting angle to the same story when repeated. That way, you can avoid annoying your followers by tweeting/posting the same thing multiple times.
4. Posting On Topics You Like Vs. Those Your Audience Likes
We’re all experts in our own niches — marketing, SEO, Web design, etc. — and our fans are likely following us because they’re interested in our thoughts on a particular subject. If we want to increase our reach and engagement, it’s important to determine what resonates with our audience and focus primarily on that.
For example, I personally love comics — but that doesn’t mean my followers and fans do, too?
So, figure out what they want. Sharing things that you like is fine, but if you only do that, you might be disappointing a lot of your followers/fans.
If you’re not entirely sure what they like, a good way to find out is to sift through your past updates and see which ones have the highest level of engagement. What content have they retweeted, liked or +1’d the most?
Add those topics to your content calendar so your audience gets what it wants.
5. Failing To Have A Content Calendar In Place
This is a very basic mistake many of us make. One might argue that social media has to be spontaneous in order to be “genuine.” But, having a content calendar in place can actually help you to be more organized and focused, ensuring that you always have fresh content while giving you the freedom to be spontaneous when the mood strikes.
When I say “content calendar,” I don’t necessarily mean a sophisticated one with time stamps and months planned in advance. A simple one with a couple weeks planned ahead and topics of interest ready should do just fine.
Not having a content calendar adds big gaps to your social media feeds, causing you to potentially drop off the radar within your circles. To stay in the “attention zone,” plan weeks ahead and ensure that you have content going out at regular intervals.
A friend once asked me, “Which is the best social media monitoring tool out there?”
To this I answered, “Nothing like an attentive pair of ears!”
If you can listen well, you’ll learn more things on social media than any monitoring tool can teach you. Listening and observation can teach quite a lot, especially if you know how to filter signal from noise.
We’re all masters of our own social media circle, and there are no concrete thumb rules to follow. But, the above tips can definitely help!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.