On Social Media, Learn When to Keep Your Mouth Shut
This is a guest post by Shanna Mallon, a writer for Straight North, an Internet marketing Chicago company that provides SEO, Web development and other online marketing services to B2B clients.
The other day, I was sitting at a quiet window-front table in the coffee shop, sipping a latte and working on my laptop, when the thing every writer dreads happened: just behind me, at a large corner table, one loud and assertive voice started dominating the entire room. And with every off-color joke and obnoxious laugh he made everyone nearby listen to, I grew more sure of one thing: I wished he would just shut up already.
This sort of thing doesn’t only happen in the world of coffee shops and restaurants. According to the 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study, over half of social media users will stop following you if you talk too much and/or if the information you provide isn’t relevant to them.
When you come across as an online loudmouth, you lose your credibility and scope of influence.
That’s why, sometimes, the most important thing you can do for your online reputation is one of the most overlooked: stop talking.
There are all kinds of ways people lose followers by overcommunicating on social media, and they’re about much more than too many Tweets. Here are some examples—could any of these describe your brand?
Not Speaking Your Audience’s Language
You know how it is when you’re talking to someone and he doesn’t pick up on any normal social cues? You said you weren’t really interested in politics, but he keeps quoting pundits. You crossed your arms when he asked about your family, but he keeps probing. Well, that’s exactly what it’s like when you post, Tweet or blog in a way that doesn’t consider and connect with your followers.
Understanding your audience is key to being able to reach them. What does they care about? What are their desires, fears, hopes? What are they saying?
Once you know these things, find a way to translate that knowledge into helpful, friendly dialogue that is a real conversation between you and them, in the style and tone they’re used to. Otherwise, you’d be better off not saying anything.
Doing All the Talking
It’s as true on social media as it is in real life: to build relationships, you must learn to listen. In the online world, your responses matter just as much (sometimes more!) as what you say because when followers get the sense that you only want a monologue, that’s one of the fastest roads to unfollows.
Listening well online means saying less, as well as making it a practice to skim your feeds on Twitter, Facebook and blogs and, when something interests you or your industry, respond in a thoughtful, authentic way.
Beating the Same Drum—Over and Over Again
Too many brands turn their feeds into boring, repetitive posts always about their company. While in theory, any social media presence is good, here’s the thing with posting the same kind of self-promoting content day in and day out—at some point, any reader is going to look at it and ask that crucial online question: what’s in it for me?
Always talk-talk-talking about your company makes you as guilty as that man in my coffee shop, and pretty soon, no one will care what you have to say. Better to vary your content and post about yourself less, opting for quality over quantity in promoting your brand.
What do you think? Are these descriptions true to your own experience in social media, either as a follower or as the one followed? Do they matter? What other ways have you seen people talk too much online?
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