Social Media: Quality Over Quantity

Are you abusing your social profiles? A lot of trainers, consultants, and professional coaches don’t think they are but on analysis their profiles contain very little quality information.  Rather it’s a long series of hastily crafted messages or reused content with little or no value add. Social media marketing isn’t about finding and posting anything with relevance to your profession.  The value of viewing or subscribing to your social profile is in getting expert viewpoints on industry or professional topics.   Social media marketing is much more effective when the focus is on quality rather than quantity.

Regurgitating other profiles
Reposting is the most prevalent abuse of social profiles.  There is never a situation where your profile should automatically repost everything from an industry or professional resource.  People can link to that resource’s profile if they want to see everything they post.  Your social profiles should reflect you or your firm’s view on a topic. It’s OK to selectively repost from an industry or professional resource but, at minimum, any repost should have a short note on why you are linking to it.  A follow on commentary can be a nice touch if what you want to say won’t fit the space restrictions in the first post.

Posting low value blurbs
Space restrictions are a fact of social media life.  That isn’t an excuse to post gibberish that no one cares about to fill a lull in posts.  Take some time to write a message that means something to your audience. Here’s a real-life low value message from a sales training firm: “Do your behaviors today!”  That has no meaning to people unfamiliar with their content and little value to those that do know the content.  With a little tweaking it could be more impactful, something like, “Sales success comes from doing assigned behaviors designed to meet goals. What are your non-negotiable behaviors for this week?”

Pawning off other’s Content as their own
Some people ensure that they are “scooped” on everything they post to their profiles.  This happens when they largely plagiarize from other industry sources.  The internet is a big place and many people get away with taking content but it’s never really an original thought.  It’s impossible to steal an authentic consistent voice.  Worst case scenario is that your content is exposed as copies of other’s information which damages credibility.  Best case is that you have an inconsistent set of postings that provide no overarching principles.

Too much one way communicating
The beauty of social media that many trainers, consultants, and professional coaches ignore is the potential for interaction.  Ask questions of your audience.  The above revised post is an example of writing a question that can be rhetorical but invites interaction from dedicated clients or interested prospects.  There’s a fair chance that interaction will be low but the post is designed to add value even if no one responds.  However, if someone does respond then it makes for a quality interaction and encourages others to participate in the future.

Frequent reposting of the same content
It’s ok to repeat an important point.  Reuse can be spawned from calendar recurrences or current events.  Using the example above, the same post might be used at the beginning of the year for a sales training firm, something like, “The new year is here.  Are your sales goals set and behaviors written down?  If not attend our goal setting workshop on ____”.  But it’s important that some time has passed between posts and that reposts have a logical reason for reuse other than a scramble to put something new on the social profile.  For instance, if you have an event or a tactic, don’t use it back-to-back.  If you have to post something similar within a few weeks of one another, at least change the message up to generate interest.  There should never be a time where the same thing is posted more than once in a week.

There are two techniques to avoid quantity over quality.

  1. Set a social media editorial calendar.  A monthly schedule is a manageable amount of time.  At the end of a month, take a few hours and write out all your posts for the upcoming month.  This ensures a balanced calendar and gives some time to write well thought out, quality posts.
  2.  Links are your friend.  Sometimes space restrictions prevent a quality communication going right on the social profile.  Use links to your advantage by creating content on your website and then linking to it.  In that way, the social post just needs to function as a subject line teasing people to view your more robust content.

Quantity is often the focus to “fill up” a social profile.  However no one ever complains if they get higher quality content but it come less frequently.  Better to post once a week with something impactful to your audience, than to post several times a day with content that holds little value.

Honest Social Media Evaluation

Social Media has become a popular marketing topic.  That’s not news to anyone.  In fact, I’d suggest it’s become a trendy topic.  The problem with trendy things is that people tend to overweight the importance assigned to it.  Social media seems to be heading that direction.  Many marketers overemphasize the engagement levels of their social media audience to artificially inflate its importance.

To make a valid assessment of your social media channels, solid metrics need to be established.  In other words, it’s not worth spending a lot of time working on social networks if your audience isn’t paying attention.  Generating a list of people that accepted a single request is not valuable.  An engaged audience that pays attention to, and acts on, your communications is the goal.  So how can a marketer assess social media engagement?

The first rule is that just showing up doesn’t count as engagement.  A like click for your Facebook fan page is not engagement.  A follower on Twitter is not automatically engaged.  Gaining a contact in LinkedIn is not an engagement, etc.  Any of these activities are just showing up.  Sure, it’s a critical part of becoming engaged but not the act itself.

A better gauge would be someone on Facebook who liked the fan page and takes part in discussions or references links in their own communications.  Someone who retweets your posts is engaged.  Some one who provides a referral or joins your company group on LinkedIn is engaged.  Simply put, someone needs to actively interact with your content or offer to be engaged.

Engagement is flexible and can be custom defined from marketer to marketer.  Ideally a marketer should be able to put some general metrics on engaged contacts.  Social media can be a powerful communication channel but over-inflating its value often leads to neglecting other marketing efforts that might offer better ROI.

While translating social media marketing to a bottom line dollar can be difficult, marketers need to be careful they aren’t looking at social media through rose colored glasses.  After all, most of us have accepted a Facebook friend or LinkedIn contact we don’t really care for.  Just because they show up doesn’t mean we want anything to do with them.  Same goes for your company’s social media interactions.

Define Success: Social Media

There is one metric that most people use to measure social media:

  • Contacts (LinkedIn)
  • Followers (Twitter)
  • Friends (Facebook)

However the number of people watching is not always the most important number to review.  Certainly social media is about interaction but our ultimate goal is what needs to be kept in mind.

For example I worked with a client who was frustrated by a lack of followers on Twitter.  Upon review we discovered that no notification or promos were put in place for the Twitter account.  It basically existed to feed other social media systems.  Under that goal it was a complete success.  It had been well set up and the Tweets were feeding multiple system.

This was more of a misunderstanding but it shows how legitimate goal can be mixed up.  Twitter was serving the intended function it was designed for in this case.

Remember, social media needs to be gauged by the opportunities it generates.  An audience that doesn’t interact is fairly worthless.  Don’t assume that contacts, followers, or friends is a measure of success.  It’s more of a gauge for the number of opportunities you have for success.