You have a site. Awesome. You started a blog. Great. Now sign up for every social media account you can, and get it out there. No problem.
Tweet, follow, favorite, retweet…repeat.
What’s wrong? Why are you not “blowing up” the internet? How come you’re not #1 in Google search, and WHY is the balance in your bank account not any higher from doing all this? You did everything you were supposed to, right?
You started off trying to connect with users in your industry, and you gained as many followers as you could. Sooner or later though, you realized that this “easy concept” is just about anything- but.
Take us, for example. Our small team at TrafficApe did exactly what we thought we should. After launching our site, we made our grand entrance to the world of social media, through Facebook and Twitter, to start out. Sure, our team is made up of the funniest and the most good-looking members within 10 feet of our office- but apparently, that’s not enough. Clever phrases squeezed into 140 characters, not to mention solid animated gifs of Denzel Washington, have not only failed in converting any follower to actually becoming a member of TrafficApe, but has proven to go unnoticed in the sea of content and endless tweets.
We very quickly started to feel like Twitter was for “engaging with your followers on an on going basis”, while Facebook tended to be more of a “once in a while thing”, or great for ensuring that what you put out there wouldn’t end up disappearing from existence after 30 seconds.
At the time of writing this, we have 90 followers and are following 180. We’ve realized that only a small number of followers actually use our product. Beyond that, only a handful of followers care about what we say, or retweet anything. We could tweet that our building was on fire and that we are jumping out of the window, and we would likely receive 2 favorites and 3 retweets. Proving, that most people aren’t actually reading, but are simply looking to engage with their users without doing any actual work.
So, what’s the remedy? How should we really be using social media? How do we avoid the pitfall of having it merely become a popularity contest with no actual meaning behind the stats?
Recently, we have been trying to connect with people OUTSIDE of our industry: Food and Fashion bloggers, self-proclaimed comedians, home improvement specialists, you name it- we are into it. Why, you ask? We realized that if we only followed users within our industry, we would see the same articles shared over and over again. And you can sure as bet, that your followers are seeing the same articles on their end too. It’s like a giant version of “row-row-row your boat”, with endless background singers. What’s really being gained by this, except for the fact that the few guys that actually wrote these articles are killin’ it!? Nothing is gained or learned. And in time, the idea of being able to exchange information and start a conversation with those, other than you would have ever been able to reach, gets lost. Wasn’t that the whole point of social media to begin with? Expanding outside of your comfort zone will brighten your day, give you thought provoking ideas, and puts you in a more creative state of mind for your own posts and tweets.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s say we started to truly connect with others outside of our industry. Perfect. Oh, but wait..you’ve been scheduling tweets this whole time..and now to the new connections you just made with people outside your industry will be seeing them, too? Oh boy.
Scheduled tweets. Great idea, but a terrible idea. Yes, please engage- by all means. The reality is, is that most of us don’t have the time to sit and “engage” in real-time. So thank you technology, for making it even easier to deviate from using real social skills, once again. Hey, we’re guilty of it too. We get it. But the elephant in the room that somehow became ‘okay’ to ignore, is the lack of genuineness that real people still, and will always crave.
There is nothing worse than seeing the same user post a tweet every 5 minutes of the day. Nights, weekends, holidays. There they are, “engaging” their followers. Truth is, that’s not engagement. That’s called the “fire-hose” effect, and is simply a new form of spam. It must be stopped. And it starts with you.
As a small exercise, let’s make a truce and lay off “auto-anything” for a couple of weeks. Sure, others won’t see your avatar 80 times within one hour- but, there is something to be said for giving others the chance to “miss you”. When engaging: make it real, make it true. What do YOU think? What is YOUR opinion about the article you’re sharing?
Remember, engagement (in it’s true form) with others outside of your industry will not only inspire you, but allow you to start actually enjoying sites like Twitter, again. Soon enough, you will stop trying to compete by realizing that it’s not a contest.
One more thing…
Some people think they are much more important than they are. Have you ever read a tweet from someone who says they will “unfollow you” if you mention anything about some random topic? “Oh no! Please don’t unfollow us!” Get over yourself, you aren’t that important.