The trend of inauthentic social media.
Recently I've come across many online pressences that are missing the whole point of social media. Inauthenic, information pushing people are running rampant online. The crazy thing is how much time and effort these people are putting in to doing it wrong. With so much information readily available (both free and paid) about how to do it right, it's always suprising to me how many businesses are doing it wrong.
Most of what I've seen can be broken down into two categories. First are consultants and entrepreneurs who are inauthentic. They are so concerned with spreading their message and trying to expand their reach, they forget to authentically share valuable information. They connect with you just so they can show their face to another person. No engagement, no strategy, just throwing a rock into the ocean and hoping they hit a fish.
Second is the corporate page that only pushes information, but it's never all that beneficial, and they don't interact. Sharing information isn't a bad thing, but engagement is the real value of social media. It also looks like you're being self serving, and people don't respond well to that. Take a look at these two corporate Twitter accounts doing it right (@Westjet and @WholeFoods).
Doing Social Media Right
Be real. It's as simple as that. Authenticity is the cornerstone of social media. People are becoming very aware about who really cares about their business and their customers, and who doesn't. Show people you care and they will reward you with their loyalty.
Reciprocation and ROI
I've come across several "follow for a follow" and "like my page and I'll like your page" groups on LinkedIn. Nothing gets me more riled up than those. Stay away from asking for 'follows' and 'likes' from people who will add no value to your cause. It's not authentic. If people see value in what you're saying, they can connect with you, it shouldn't be dependant on your reciprocation. The same goes for you, don't engage with an expectation of getting something back.
An ongoing question for online marketers is the ROI of social media; how much is a 'follow' or 'like' worth? That's a very difficult question to answer. But I can almost guarantee that any 'like' or 'follow' that comes from one of those groups mentioned above is going to be worth $0.
Really, every 'like' or 'follow' isn't going to be worth something, but if you convert 1 out of every 100 people who have their first touch point with you on a social network, that turns out to be a pretty good ROI. The lifetime value of that one customer could be quite substantial.
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Image courtesy Flickr user smemon.