Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed and others, enable us to interact with people we know well and those we have never met IRL (In Real Life). My husband refers to my online friends as my “imaginary friends,” but I know more about my imaginary friends than he does about some of his “real life” friends.
If you feel isolated because you are working alone, social media sites can seem like a lifeline to other humans. They can also be a way to make connections with new customers, influencers and others who can help your business grow. Too often, though, I see people make simple mistakes that harm their reputations, rather than helping.
Here are some common errors and how you can avoid them.
Too little information. Let people know a little about you. Put a picture on your profile, tell us about your business and your life, link to your web site and help others make connections to you.
Too much information. There are things I do not want to know about you, such as the fact that you and your spouse had a rip-roaring fight this morning, or the exact color of whatever just came out of your nose. Spare me. Please.
Updating too infrequently. Out of sight is out of mind. You can’t form relationships with people if you only show up once a month or so.
Updating too frequently. I do not need to know every move you make. “Just woke up.” “Headed for the kitchen.” “Getting coffee. It’s hot!” “My iPhone battery is dead.” You get the idea. If you update every two minutes, you will overwhelm your friends and followers. Only update when you have something interesting to say.
No conversation. Don’t just push your thoughts out to everyone, engage with others, too. Respond to what others are saying and doing. Offer answers and help.
Too much conversation, especially when it doesn’t make sense. I will not be interested in what you have to say if all I see in your Twitter stream is a series of @ replies saying things like, “Oh, yeah. I couldn’t agree more,” or “That is one of my favorite sites, too.” When you do an @ reply, remember that many people will see only that, and not what you are replying to. Make it stand on its own: “http://IdeaLady.com is one of my favorite sites, too.”
Endless self-promotion. If the only things you ever post are links to your latest blog posts, or news about your upcoming product launch, I will lose interest. Spam all of your Facebook friends with nothing but self-promotion, and you will eventually find yourself without friends. Share information, news and helpful links to sites other than yours.
Too many time-wasters. I do not want to be poked, nudged, get in a snowball fight, or be bothered with any of the thousands of useless Facebook apps that are out there. Send one too many and you will be an ex-Facebook friend.
By now you may have surmised that being effective in social media requires balance. Consider what other people do that annoys you, and don’t do those things. Instead, focus on making yourself useful to your network.
Of course, the biggest social media mistake is not having a presence there. Just dive in and get started. Set up an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace or other site. You don’t have to use all of them. Start with one or two. Watch what others are doing, then join in.
To follow or friend me, see the links on ConnectWithCathy.com/