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Social-Media Club: How Not to Get Left Out

November 24th, 2010

social media clubHubSpot offers an interesting take on how to use social-media, and the information can also be used in conjunction with SEO marketing-software:

One can demonstrate antisocial behavior on social media in the very same way one can be antisocial on a crowded bus. This behavior would include talking about yourself or being negative in your posts and updates. It could also mean dismissing established social media etiquette or inability to maintain long-term relationships. On the bright side, we believe one can never be too social on social media.

I’ll address the issue of “talking about yourself” below. But the other points by Hubspot are spot-on. Remember this precept in social-media marketing: Do not do anything that you would not do within a group of people in the “real world.” I have a friend on my personal Facebook page who uses every status-update every few hours to complain about the latest drama in his life. It is always something negative. I would “unfriend” him if he were not, well, a friend in real life. Although my friend does not behave in this manner in real life in front of people, the effect is increasingly the same as the world moves online. It turns people off.

In a business context, negativity is usually something else — denigrating the competition. If any of your blog posts, Facebook updates, and Twitter tweets focus entirely on insulting a competitor, delete them immediately and never write them again. Negativity always turns people off — think about political campaigns — and little is ever gained. People today are educated, jaded, and media-savvy — they know that you think you are better than the competition, and they want you to tell them why in a good way.

Why You Need to Join the Social-Media Club

In social-media terms, this means highlighting the positives about your product or service, announcing sales and update, and so on. Discuss yourself and your company — not anyone else. Most consumers and businesses will do their own research, so they will know everything about your competitors as well. It is up to you to sell yourself as much as possible without going negative.

Social media has arguably created a more self-centered culture since people can broadcast themselves every few seconds, but HubSpot correctly warns against this temptation:

If you are going to create a message that spreads, Dan [Zarrella of Hubspot] noted, stop talking about yourself. Yet you shouldn’t lose your personality and stop sharing curious facts about your hobbies and passions. Revealing a newsworthy piece of data about your favorite beer or music band, for instance, is not the same as sharing that you are going to bed or brushing your teeth.

Narcissism is never attractive — offline or online. No one likes a person who always talks about himself. In a social-media marketing context, this involves sending Facebook updates or tweets every few minutes that you are, yes, brushing your teeth, eating lunch, or listening to a CD. The sole reason that a person is following your Facebook page or Twitter account is because they want to know what you think about the topic at hand.

At the Twitter account @myseosoftware, I post one link roughly once an hour to the latest headline on SEO and online-marketing news. After all, anyone following the account is going to be intensely interested in that topic. I am not going to tell people what I ate for breakfast today (for those who care — an egg-and-cheese omelette with basil, salt, pepper, chili powder and Tabasco sauce). As Christopher Sibona, a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado (Denver), discovered in recent research, the most-common reason for “defriending” or “unfollowing” people on social-networking websites is “frequent, unimportant posts.”

Still, variety, as HubSpot notes, can be the spice of digital life — when done correctly and rarely. At my Twitter account, I retweeted a post by another user criticizing the news that someone other than Joss Whedon may be remaking the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie that preceded the television series. (I love “Buffy,” “Angel,” and “Firefly.”) Of course, the topic had nothing to do with online marketing. But a single post — as long as it is interesting and occurring once in a while — can reassure users that there is a real person (with real interests) behind the posts rather than a dreaded spammer or robot. A spammer or someone who otherwise engages in black-hat SEO techniques is the worst thing to become — Google (and your customers) will find out.

If you are looking for cost-effective, efficient ways to incorporate social-media marketing into your online-marketing efforts, I invite you to check out our SEO marketing-software review page, where My SEO Software presents the varying aspects of all the major programs out there.

Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.