Why Antisocial Social Networking Doesn’t Work

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The prevailing logic of many influencers, experts and journalists is that the best use of social media is as an anti-social, automated feed of messages germane to nothing, in response to nothing, and to no one. Inc.com recently explained this line of reasoning with an article, Why You Should Post More and Interact Less on Social Media.

The author acknowledges that engagement is vital to keeping existing customers and building a community, but goes on to say that the world seems to be moving in the direction of social media as a distribution channel first. I certainly have no argument there. It is going that way. But following the masses is not always the right direction to head in. If everyone is abandoning what is vital and works, stay with what works. Social media is a fantastic way to listen, discuss, and become a trusted member of communities.

@joshmccormack @LUCYrk78 @martinlieberman @JoelRRenner @IAmMrSid @CBarrows So much noise out there. Here’s to value & good conversation!

— Gregg Weiss (@greggweiss) February 17, 2016

The author contrasts building a brand story with interacting with present and potential customers. As if it’s not possible to share relevant content and engage. The author goes on to compare discussions and content as if they take the same effort to create, and theorizes that full length content will “probably” be shared more than discussions. Brand development is a part of discussion. Content creation should speak to specific interests, needs and concerns of people that you’re in discussion with, rather than just a list of subjects you think people would care about. It’s highly debatable what constitutes full length content anyway, but it’s a lot easier to get someone engaged with your content if it meets their current needs, regardless of length. The easiest way to know what those needs are is to listen and ask.
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Discussion doesn’t just mean 10 word responses. It’s the fuel that drives the subjects for videos, blog posts, photography and infographics. And even better, it’s for specific people that you know really want it, and will share it. Content made to respond to questions from your community could be lengthy and detailed, and highly polished, but no matter what, if it’s in response to needs it will be relevant.

Content that’s made to help and enlighten people doesn’t feel like marketing, either. It seems more honest. It has a feel of informality about it that makes it more trustworthy. Highly polished content written for no one on subjects no one may be interested in is hard to get read. We’ve all seen the statistics – the quantity of content is growing like a giant wave forming, and it’s harder to get that content read. That notion of “Build it and they will come” is a sure way to spend a lot of time building things no one wants. Modern marketing and product development should involve the public for feedback and refinement. Done properly, content in the context of discussion takes on the feel of referrals. When you get an audience on your side your discussions can develop into them advocating for your brand, which is worth a lot more than you saying it yourself.

Listening and replying, helping and sharing in discussions on social media is not just so you have material to create content. It’s also beneficial for developing friendships and building trust. People buy from people they have a rapport with, who they respect and trust. This is built by helping, and giving away your knowledge. It’s what shows you’re an expert and makes people trust in you. Listening in a way that people know you’re listening, by providing feedback, makes people listen to you more.

You should post more, but not for the sake of posting more. Don’t set up bots or schedule content to fill your feed with quotes and links to articles so that you’ll always show up in your audience’s feeds. That waters down the quality of your overall content. Instead, put out a lot of good content and replies. That’s how you make it onto lists and have people set up notifications to see when you’ve posted. That’s how you get strong relationships that can translate to sales, and even better, people who will advocate for your brand.
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Social media is meant to be social. It’s a way to hear what your potential customers want, to win their trust, and sell to them. No one makes friends by not listening and spewing out information at random that doesn’t address anyone’s questions. Listen, engage in discussions, create great content, and deliver it to those who want it. Post more and interact more. People will appreciate your effort in engaging with them personally, not pushing automated content at them. Relationships and community matter, and social media is an ideal method for developing those friendships.

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