Antisocial Media

“Twitter is an ‘all about me’ place. So is Facebook. Both will be replaced with something else someday.”

The radio host who said this, a man who lives in the social space as part of his livelihood, was making a fairly shrewd observation. Perhaps the condition is temporary, but most social media is about micropublishing, allowing everyone and their grandpa to broadcast to anyone who remotely cares. As proven in the last election cycle, everyone voicing their opinions and preferences online strains the patience of others, and over time reduces the desire to participate. As a young store clerk in a Forever 21 outlet recently said to me “Facebook is too noisy. Nobody my age hangs out there.”

anti-social-twitsSadly, a lot of marketers are in the “all about me” mode of social, and achieving the same sad results. I scanned a few B2B twitter accounts to spot check social activity and found most to have devolved into self-serving broadcasts. Seemingly, only people who have a stake in the companies – either as investors, employees, bloggers, reporters and relatives of the CEO – were followers. More importantly each tweet was some form of either self-congratulation or promotion. This includes one funded start-up with which I am familiar that bases its go-to-market strategy on social media (which is a poor strategy for a B2B “big data” service where the key buyer genotype is a non-IT staffer or a senior IT person).

All communications are about the audience/buyer. Politicians who talk about themselves lose elections. Those who talk in glowing generalities about voters’ lives (hope, change, middle America, freedom, values, children, pork) win. Social media then is about engaging audiences in pursuit of their self-interest. Those interests can be obvious, such as Dell pushing “insider” bargains to their Twitter followers, or they can be helpful by providing education and information that may not be directly related to products.

Let’s take two quick examples from Twitter. The feed from the big data company I spoke of – a post VC start-up – are exclusively about their company, their CEO, their announcements and their events. Nothing about the scope of big data. Nada concerning thought leadership. Squat about the mechanics of big data or strategy that drives adoption. They spend more bandwidth announcing their press release than they do about their customer’s needs (in fact, after scanning three months of tweets, I saw not a single customer-focused message). On the other side are folks like HubSpot, who definitely understand social.

On just the first page of their tweets (which covered a mere 17 hours of activity) all of the information concerned aspects of their customer’s needs in terms of social, marketing, analytics, inbound and more. Not a single self-promotion or overt aggrandizement. They engage their audience by engaging their audience’s self-interests.

Communicate to your market as if you were the market. Wear their hat and think what you, as a potential buyer, need to know today. That will tell you what to communicate and give you ways to draw them closer to permitted contact, nurturing and sales.

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