If you are anything like me, you are feeling completely overwhelmed with all the information on social media. Thousands of people tweeting, posting, sharing, it’s just too much. I recently read that the average person spends 27 hours a month in Facebook. Just that statistic alone makes me want to close my account and get others to do the same. Shouldn’t we be spending that time actually talking with people rather than just “liking” their cat photo?
In addition to the viewing of friends’ photos and status shares, as a business owner, there is so much pressure to be involved with everything and anything regarding social platforms. We are told we must engage with our audience and build our social presence. But in my opinion, most of us are doing just the opposite. We are confused, have trouble focusing on what’s important and what isn’t, we spend too much time reading nonsense, we post too much, or too little, in the wrong places, and we aren’t using social media to our advantage. And by “advantage” I mean we aren’t using it to enhance genuine interaction.
For instance, how many of your Twitter followers are actually interested in getting to know you? How many really care about who you are or what you offer? Many of them probably chose to follow you, simply to get you to notice them. Then you will follow them and they will build their numbers. They will look important because they have a high following. Twitter is like joining a club you have no interest in, just to say to others that you belong to “the club”.
Building thousands of followers who have little to no interest in you is a waste of time. You would be better off having a small number of followers who truly interact and engage with you, and one another, in a genuine manner. We need to start making our social interactions more meaningful, and less overwhelming. We can do this by making some changes to how we handle social media.
1. Clean Out Your Twitter. Set aside some time to go through the list of people you follow on Twitter and clean house. Ask yourself, among these people, who do you genuinely care about or want to get to know better. At the very least, who are you simply interested in following.
My list consists of a variety of people. Some I don’t know very well, but I enjoy following them because they offer good content and seem to be interesting and inspiring people. I also like to follow news and media outlets, and causes that I believe in. Everyone else, it’s time to unfollow them.
2. Use Facebook for Business More, Personal Less. Facebook is an odd duck to me, and after all of these years of using it, I still find I am perplexed by it. It reminds me of what someone does when they sit down to watch TV, scrolling through channels endlessly, admiting there is nothing good on television, yet they continue to scroll the guide and eventually settle for something boring that they don’t want to watch, rather than turning the TV off and finding something better to do.
Yet at the same time, Facebook offers potential for certain types of businesses. Specifically, I think it is best for B2C business, but you have to offer consumers something they will find interesting, and not have them feel overwhelmed with all of the entertainment media that fills their feed. I would encourage people to start making your business page more interesting by sharing what your customers want to see, and would get them to engage in conversation.
For instance, if you own a hair salon, showing before and after pictures, or clients who are getting their hair done while drinking complimentary tea/coffee/wine, laughing and enjoying the pampering experience is great PR. Many people socialize in salons and showing camaraderie is relatable to others who may be looking for that experience. No matter what your business, show clients and potential clients what you offer and how it benefits them.
We all enjoy seeing our friends on Facebook, but it’s too easy to get lost in the abyss. I recommend limiting your personal FB time, perhaps deciding that for 10-15 minutes a day you will check in on friends, engage, see what people are up to, and then close the window for the day.
3. Interact More on LinkedIn. Over the years, I’ve made many connections on LinkedIn. Some are people I have worked with and know well, while others are people I’ve met at networking events and conferences. And like many of us, it seems too easy to make the connection and then never interact again. Why connect if you aren’t willing to engage?
The purpose of many networking events and conferences is to get to know new people! We have the opportunity to stay connected to all kinds of interesting people from all over the world. Something people couldn’t do 20 years ago. We should embrace this opportunity to build our network and business friends.
But to do this we need to offer interesting content and interact with one another. Start commenting on blog posts more, get conversation going about worthwhile topics, and share ideas.
4. Don’t Just “Like”, Favorite, and Share…Engage! I have often tweeted asking for recommendations or advice, and have been met with people favoriting my tweets, or retweeting, but no one actually responding! You are missing opportunities when you don’t respond. If I ask for a recommendation for a graphic designer, and you are one or know one, you have the opportunity to engage with a potential customer or recommend someone else who might return the favor. Don’t just favorite it.
5. Join a (Paid) Online Community or Start Your Own. I recently joined Fizzle.co, which is an online community of entrepreneurs who are looking to interact, engage, and get advice on how to grow their businesses. Because it is a paid subscription, it weeds out the people who aren’t truly interested, and keeps the conversation relevant. I’ve also considered starting a group for my industry, as well.
Online communities and forums are a great way to interact with others who share your interests, in a meaningful way. Rather than just tweeting something or sharing an article, you are getting involved in conversation and strengthening your network. This is a better use of time than the estimated 45-minutes a day of scrolling Facebook.
6. Stop Using Social Media To Sell Something. One of the greatest, yet most simple books I have ever read for business is Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. I find the wisdom of that book continues to be present in my mind throughout most of my daily living, even outside of business. In one sentence, I would say that the message of the book is that to be truly successful, you have to genuinely care about others.
Stop trying to sell to people. I don’t care about your 5-day program for getting 10,000 followers on Twitter, your free ebook on “how to…[insert anything]”, or how you are going to make me a star. Does anyone buy into this stuff?
So many people on social media, especially Twitter, look like they are salespeople pumping out sales material that no one wants. And it’s a waste of our time to sort through it all, and quite frankly, insulting at times that they think people will buy into it.
Instead, use social media as a chance to get to know and care about other people. Find out more about who they are and what they offer that will help change the world.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Interact. Sometime ago, I received a message from someone I met at a conference. They said “hello” and told me to have a great day. That’s it. And I thought this was pretty cool. We tend to think we can’t talk to people we don’t know well, but why not? If we share a common interest or goal, we should reach out and try to get to know people. They may be happy to get to know us, as well.
8. Yet, Don’t Feel Obligated To Connect When You Aren’t Interested. We’ve all had people who connect with us for the sole purpose of selling to us. And we know who they are. Don’t feel obligated to get involved in lengthy conversation with someone you know just wants to make a sale. Politely decline, and move on.
And finally, remember that social media is supposed to be “social”. Through building a community we can change the world. And isn’t that what we are really in business to do?