This article was literally JUST inspired by a podcast interview I listened to, in which a certain executive coach and consultant goes on to berate Twitter as a waste of time. Well Sylva, let’s dance…
By the way: following applies equally to virtually anyone who gripes that social media is a waste of time.
Let me give you some context before we tear into this. The example used in the podcast was that she tweeted she was looking for a videographer, but nobody got back to her. She was ready to engage someone in a paid (I assume well-paid) contract to provide videography services and there was an immediate need to be fulfilled. Alas, Twitter never responded with a viable candidate, a potential contact or really anything at all. Therefore, the conclusion is that “Social Media DOES NOT work and is a waste of time“. Which brings me to the following…
This is why you suck at social media:
1. Monologue vs Dialogue.
Immediately after listening to the podcast, I hopped on Twitter and did a quick search. Within 2 seconds of getting to the right account, one thing was painfully obvious. This was nothing more then a digital billboard. A monologue. In the first two screens of results, there was NOT ONE @-reply. In order to solicit some sort of feedback, one should have some sort of relationship with their social circle. It’s like picking up your phone at 7PM while you’re having supper only to have the person on the other end of the line verbally assault you with three pages of sales script without giving you a chance to get a word in edgewise. Engaging? No.
2. ME ME ME ME ME ME.
Moving on… The updates which were posted are of little to no value to anyone except for the poster herself. Guess what? If most of what you post are links to your own articles, events, random quotes and general self-centered banter… how do you expect anyone to pay attention to what you say the other 3% of the time? People tune out and eventually this becomes nothing more then white noise, much like cheesy elevator music at a cocktail party. Unless your name is Kim Kardashian, it’s NOT all about you.
3. Um… Hop on once in a while.
Looking at the first screen of results (as of January 15th, 2012), it’s easy to notice yet another fail. Posting twice a month is not really engagement. Here’s the last 5 post dates: December 2, 2011; November 23, 2011; November 2, 2011; October 25, 2011; October 6, 2011. REALLY? And you want people to be responsive? It’s like speaking to a random acquaintance once every three months and expecting them to help you move on a day’s notice. You’re building relationships with people who barely know you. Doing that twice a month, or for that matter even once a week, is not good enough (especially on Twitter).
4. Put your time in.
At the time of this writing, our subject has 365 tweets since March of 2009. REALLY? Looking at the pattern from the beginning, it’s VERY similar to what we see all the time with new social media users who expect that Twitter (or any network de jour) will revolutionize their business.. They heavy up on the first month or two and then fizzle out. Compounding this issue with the one above, the amount of time and effort invested in this particular channel logically CAN NOT produce any significant results. It takes time to develop an audience and build trust.
5. WHO are you connected to?
Getting back to our example at the beginning of looking for a videographer… let’s have a closer look at WHO is actually following this particular account. Well, it turns out it’s mostly (but not all) other inactive users with same patterns of behaviour. Will that particular audience, made up of other coaches and generic company accounts (which may be manned by outsourced people) have something intelligent or valuable to reply with? Chances are: NO, they will not. Like I mentioned more times then I care to count: it’s all about WHO you’re connected to. Add to this the fact that there’s virtually no engagement, conversation or effort invested, you have a nice, concise summary of how to fail at social media.
In conclusion… we all run into situations where we feel like our marketing isn’t working or business just isn’t happening. Rather then blame the internet, newspaper, radio or your uncle’s second cousin who designed that last ad because it saved costs, take a step back and get a perspective on things. Social Media, or any marketing effort for that matter, is not something that just magically happens. It takes time, effort, planning, execution and nurture. Remember that, on social networks, you’re speaking with REAL people who have REAL lives, REAL interests and REAL(istic) attention spans.
Ernest Barbaric is a professional keynote speaker and social media consultant. He helps clients engage customers, reach new markets, launch products and transition into digital marketing. Sounds interesting? Get in touch today.