Pretty much all the articles we read about social media are about how to use it for marketing and be more visible to your audience and what the Return on Investment is for using social media. But social media is more than just marketing or even networking. Social media is social and we need to recognize that in order to use it effectively. What many people focus on is the marketing and the networking and the technology, but ignore an awareness of the norms of behavior that can and do influence social media activity. That ignorance can lead to unfortunate situations where people start to unfollow someone because of actions that person is doing. The following tips can help you recognize if you are engaged in good or bad social media behavior.
1. Retweet with care. Some people will only retweet a mention of themselves by someone else. Not only is this a very vain practice, it shows that the person only cares about how others are promoting him/her. If you choose to retweet, make you sure you retweet articles that are interesting. Show people that you aren’t just on there for yourself.
2. Post messages to multiple networks with consideration. Not every message needs to go to every network. Just because you have Twitter linked to LinkedIn doesn’t mean people want to read about the Cowboys sports teams on Twitter. Likewise if you make a response to someone on Twitter and it also goes out to your other social networks, it may not make such sense to the people on those networks, because the context that informs the discussion is occurring on Twitter. Remember that each social networking site has its own audience and specific purpose. Posting messages that aren’t relevant to that purpose and audience takes up bandwidth and can also be unprofessional.
3. Don’t auto-follow people who follow you. Auto-following someone can lead to some embarrassment and spam, especially if some of the people you auto-follow are porn stars and spammers. You’ll start getting spam in your account and the icons of the people following you will show up on your profile page. Take time to research who is following you. It only takes a couple of moments to see the content a person is putting out. If the person is just putting out lots of links s/he is a spammer, or if the content is something you don’t like, don’t follow the person. Pick the people you’ll follow and you’ll build better relationships as a result. One note about following people: If a client follows you, follow him or her back. You want to be more visible to that person and it’s just good manners and good policy to follow someone who has chosen to do business with you.
4. Personalize your invitations. When I get an invitation from someone and its using the generic message, I find it harder to accept the invitation and sometimes will decline it and even indicate I don’t know the person. Personalizing a message only takes a few moments of your time, but can really make a good impression on the person you’re sending the invitation to. I always provide a comment or two about where I met the person and what we discussed. That context can help me stand out a bit further, and also help that person decide to accept my invitation. More importantly, it continues the conversation and relationship building that started when you met the person.
5. Make time to respond to someone who mentions you or responds to your message. Taking a moment to respond to someone acknowledges that person and it also continues the conversation! In fact, when you make a reply, you actually improve the chance that other people will also comment and you improve your visibility in the process. You’ll also get higher ratings on social media sites, in terms of being searched for.
To make your social media marketing successful, you’ve got to think of the behaviors and actions you display while using social media. Because we are using technology to communicate, it’s all too easy to let ourselves forget some of those social norms and behaviors. Technology distances us from fully recognizing the effect our words and actions can have, but learning to recognize that reality can help us be more conscious in how we communicate using social media, and make our networking and marketing that much more effective.