Social Media is the new Wild West. A shiny, splendid El Dorado for marketeers, daring entrepreneurs, eclectic tycoons, fashionistas and so on. However, just as California for the pioneers, social media has also proved to be an arid and desolate land for those looking for an easy and fast way to zillion-dollar-revenues. What you will find below is not THE list, but MY list of the 10 things you should absolutely avoid on social media: it is very personal and absolutely liable to any correction or comment. And I like to think this can be applied to both private profiles and business ones.
1. The success of a digital operation is NOT directly related to the number of followers
There has always been controversy among Digital Marketing professionals about definitive metrics to define the success of a social media activity. However, one thing remains undisputed: the simple count of fans/followers itself does not guarantee the excellence of a Twitter account or a Facebook page. There are profiles with millions of followers but very little conversation, as well as more restricted communities with intense discussion and interactions going on. Needless to say which one of the two s more effective.
2. Don’t talk about things you don’t know
In real life, you just can’t be a pro at everything. Nonetheless, from gardening to cooking, from truffle farming to rocket science, social media are home to every know-it-all on the planet and beyond. But mistake me not, debating without a deep knowledge of the facts – or bringing theories plagiarized here and there on the net- means running the risk of being publicly exposed and scoffed by the only real expert in the field. Who is, by Murphy’s Law, always around the corner.
3. Don’t become a slave to social
‘’You are not your Facebook profile” was the claim of a successful T-shirt from last year, generously parroting Tyler Durden’s infamous speech in Fight Club. However, the cheap piece of clothing conveys an important truth: social networks are highly addictive. The pattern is pretty much this: you begin reading a relevant inbox message from a coworker, and after 40 minutes you find yourself watching your kindergarten classmate sister’s wedding pictures and murmur “How on earth did I end up here?”. When it comes down to social, having some kind of rules is important, and so is self-control in social media, too. According to some recent research, if you spend more than an hour and a half per day on Facebook or Twitter, you should reconsider your habits, unless you are a community manager. To sum up, you are not obliged to reply, comment, like, repost or retweet 24/7. Get out, meet some friends, have a walk, or get some actual work done. Because, remember, commenting on a post at 2 am on a Saturday night won’t make you look cool or hyper-connected. Just weird.
4. If it’s all about business, you’re doing it wrong
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram might as well be excellent business tools or lead-generation platforms. But we should never forget that social media was not meant for business, or just for business. Sure, we can tolerate a couple posts about your latest discounts or unmissable marketing opportunity, but nobody is really interested in the deal you signed for the staplers supply or in the enjoyable 345 pages you have just written about the use of electronic money in Cyprus. Social networks, maybe with the exception of LinkedIn, were born with the purpose of relationship, of socialization and getting in touch with friends and coworkers. At the end of the day, be sure to throw in some catchy content, something funny, meaningful or entertaining, and keep the latest “buy, buy” graphics for tomorrow. Or, despite all that “social” effort, you’ll end up by yourself.
5. Hasty much?
Behind their monitor, many people are more aggressive than Spartacus in the Arena. From the clash of YouTube comments to the never-ending verbal fights on the blogs, the category of Keyboard Lions features a wide range of personalities. Don’t, just don’t. Do not offend, do not go overboard, do not challenge, do not shout. In addition to the common rules of good behavior, there is also a difficult to calculate backfire that is often dangerous. Being reported as spammers or jammers is the least that can happen, without dragging in authorities and institutions. Apart from that, an argument on the web is something really miserable.
6. Avoid poor third-parties or cheap apps
Like any commodities sector, even the third-party applications market for social media is full of choices. And rubbish. While there are many useful, stylish and well-developed tools that actually add value to your online experience, there are loads of cheap tools that completely undervalue the social, in its digital sense. Reading this tweet on Paul’s timeline “Thank you for your message. Via twitterfornoobs.com” does not make Paul an eminence in the field of communication. It simply makes him ridiculous. You can paint your 1999 Fiat Punto in shiny red and place the Prancing Horse sticker on the side, but it aint gonna turn in a Ferrari. However, we all tried that once.
7. Social are not the only way to communicate
Social media enrich the communication experience, but they do not complete it. “The medium is the message” McLuhan used to say, meaning that HOW we say something is as important as WHAT we say. In this sense, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram do not replace e-mails, phone calls or -worse- vis-a-vis conversations. So, if you have something important to say, a subject to develop with order and professionalism, a strategic reasoning to deal with, send a good old email. If you need to agree on the next steps, double-check a list or discuss a strategy for your new product, make a call. Trust me: good communication never gets old.
8. Don’t use them if you don’t know them
Everything has rules: internet and social networks make no exception. Reading, learning and practicing all the features and the special tricks of your social toolbox is not a waste of time, but good digital management. If everything looks the same to you (“Oh well, Pinterest and Instagram are more or less the same”), it means you are making some mistakes out there. Think of social media like photography: if you do not focus, all you have is blur.
9. It is not mandatory to be there
Have you instinctively joined to the very last social network in black and white for Scandinavian designers? Good, I mean, bad. I am pretty sure your account will fall into the 2.0 oblivion after just 3 or 4 updates. And if you are wondering ‘what’s the 2.0 oblivion?’ here is the answer: the universe of abandoned social networks, conquered only by those who work in this field. (Everyone has at least one or two examples of those half-filled profiles) Let’s be honest here: it is not essential to have a personal profile on any existing platform. It’s not useful either. On the contrary: it is better to choose a medium or two and manage them at your best, updating your profile with consistency and accuracy of data.
10. Take it offline, if you can
Far from being a marketing commandment, this is a very personal point of view. Because digital might be cool, but sometimes you just can’t beat a handshake, a hearty laugh or a lunch together. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and communities allow us to get in touch with new people who share our passions, jobs and desires: this is an extraordinary enrichment and a great possibility. Technology has made the world smaller, more connected. Potentially, we are just a click away from anyone we want to reach, but to make it meaningful we have to go the extra mile. Make it personal, make it significant.