Are You Talking to Yourself on Social Media?

As I work with clients, or evaluate social media sites as part of the research I do on the topic, I frequently find that many sites–even those owned and managed by some top organizations–are more engaged in conversations with themselves than with interested followers or fans. They’re not sharing information that is of interest or value to their audience–they’re talking about themselves! That’s a strategy destined to fail. Why?

Think about the last social networking event you went to. Who are you most likely to be drawn to–someone who talks only about themselves, or someone who seems interested in you and, when they do talk, what they have to say has some relevance to you and your interests? If you’re like most of us, you’ll pick the former: the people we are most drawn to are those who are at least equally, if not more, focused on us than on them.

The same is true as you’re engaging audiences online, whether one to one, or one to millions. To be effective, you need to make it about them.

The biggest issue I see when I look at many web sites is that the web site owner is posting messages about them – what services they offer, what media coverage they recently attained, what whitepapers they have to offer, what seminars or webinars they’re presenting (and, for healthcare organizations, I’ll add to that list what new equipment they just purchased, what new building projects they’re involved with and what service awards or recognition they’ve achieved). It is no wonder that many of these sites are filled with lots of “me chatter” and very little interaction.

My rule of thumb is that of the three-four posts I schedule each day for clients, only one should mention or link back to their own material. The others should offer new information that the audience may have overlooked or tips and best practices tied to their areas of interest. These are the sorts of postings that create retweets or likes. These are the sorts of postings that create engagement, build followers and yes, ultimately, lead to new clients, customers and patients.

Yes, business development is, of course, why most of us engage in social media. But, perhaps counter-intuitively, sales should not be your primary consideration as you work to engage the people who have expressed an interest in you. Starting conversations should be.

Work to provide your followers, friends and fans with useful and interesting information that represents some combination of research and reports they may find interesting, your own insights and recommendations on topics and issues that matter to them and–every once in a while–a link to something that you’ve created or that you offer. Do this effectively and you’ll begin to see engagement and, ultimately, sales grow.


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