THIS >>> Or How to Guarantee I'll Never Interact with Your Content

An image of a Canadian $20, folded, origami-style, into the Twitter logo.

Content, connections, commerce (where have I heard that before?) -- those are the three Cs of social media interaction. If you want people to read your content, make connections, and -- hopefully -- engage in some sort of commerce, you need to focus on providing value.

Commerce doesn’t have to be an immediate financial transaction. It can be the beginning of a relationship that leads to something down the road -- enhanced trust based on displayed expertise, leading to a referral or validation, for example. But the key thing is that, in our social interactions, we all want to feel that we’ve gained something for it.

For me, these “commercial” aspects that I gain value from can be:

  • More information
  • Updates and awareness of events and topics
  • Diverse opinions that challenge my beliefs
  • The benefit of interacting with people of different backgrounds, geographies, and cultures, which can help expand and inform my views and expose me to new ideas, concepts, and options.

None of those are traditionally “financial.” But they all have value. And they help to build trust, so that when it comes to peer referral, I know where I’m going.

That said, the opposite can be just as powerful. There are people whose social behaviours act as an anti-referral to me -- or, at the very least, cause me to delve in for deeper scrutiny based on the past behaviours of the "referrer."

Social behaviour matters. And whether you’re engaging in social activity as a person or from a corporate account, you want to ensure you’re adding value to the conversation. Especially when you’re sharing other people’s content. As we’ve said before, “You can’t be seen as a ‘thought leader’ if you spend all your time serving as a window to someone else’s words.” Curation has a place, but the true benefit -- for me -- is the added value, perspective, and expertise you can add.

As a result, there are three behaviours that will guarantee that I won’t read your content, which I’ll discuss below.

Now, as with all things, this isn’t absolute. And this is just my opinion (though shared by others). Some of these behaviours are less egregious in a personal context -- but still lazy and still could benefit from the few seconds it takes to go from being a content curator to someone who is adding value to the conversation.

This or +1

You see this on Twitter a lot. One person, simply typing "This," with some collection of emojis, arrows, or other directional icons leading you to a non-descript URL.

I've got three major problems with the practice. First, it's horribly disrespectful for people who use screen readers or other adaptive technologies. Absent context, these people have no idea what the content is to which you're so adamantly pointing.

Secondly, the value of social networks isn't that of mere exposure. It's not a glorified link dump. Instead, the value is context. If I'm interacting with you on social, I likely know you on a personal or professional way. So by adding the value of your expertise -- quickly summarizing why you feel it's important, or what key takeaway I'll get -- will help frame my assessment of whether or not I want to click on that link.

Thirdly? Respect. If something is important enough to read, I will. If you feel that your followers should read it, tell them why. Don't expect that they have nothing better to do than to simply follow whatever rabbit hole you place in front of them. Respect their time.

Simply put, if it's important enough for you to share and you feel people should, amplify it the best way you can -- following advice we all likely heard from our parents since our earliest days -- "Use your words."

Vague Tweets or Clickbait

The clickbait issue has been discussed ad nauseam and there are entire companies that make a living off of content structured merely to increase clicks -- not provide any actual value to the reader.

Generally, when you’re Tweeting to your own content (or sharing someone else’s), you want to do one of two things:

  • Concisely explain what the content is about, or
  • Write an interesting teaser that’s immediately paid off once the user clicks (hopefully all on one page)

Now, the latter may sound like just a hop, skip, and a jump to clickbait. But think of it like a news service headline. You can write clever, catchy, intriguing headlines that give the overall sense of the piece that they’re promoting -- then pay off with the content’s lead.

Your Tweets should rarely, if ever, have your readers ask, “What are they talking about?” There should be a clear understanding of the value of the content to the end user. Again, it’s about respect -- tell your followers why they should follow you down a path -- don’t just expect that they have time to waste.

Exclusive Focus on Transactions

I know I said that commerce is a key point in all social media interactions, but the almighty dollar doesn’t have to be the ultimate point each and every time. There is room for subtlety.

Relationship-building is a key. If I trust you and your content, I’m going to trust in the quality of your product. If I see you interacting in a positive manner, responding appropriately to questions and criticisms, and generally being open to dialogue, I’m going to trust that what you put out isn’t just the “party line.”

Authenticity is key in social media. If you’re just ignoring criticism or negativity, it makes it hard to believe you. If all you’re doing is focusing on getting me to buy something with every Tweet, then I don’t believe you have my interests in mind -- you’re just focused on your own needs.

Recently, we had an election. And one of the parties sent me daily e-mails. They ranged from faked conversations to pseudo updates, but each one was focused on getting me to give more money. Honestly, it really became offensive (especially as I had previously requested six times to be taken off the mailing list…)

No one likes those people who ignore you until they need you. No one wants to help the person who comes up, after a few weeks, and acts all nicely… “Hey, how have you been? Good to see you…” only to set up an “ask.”

We don’t like interacting with those people in real life, so why would we online? After all, we know they’re not actually interested in us, but rather interested in getting something from us.

Now what social media behaviour bothers you? What companies do social right? And are there any that just rub you the wrong way? We’d love to hear!

Questions Answered

What's the value of social media to my customers?

How do I build trust in my social media profiles?



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