Last updated on September 1, 2014
One of the most common things I see across the various social networks I frequent that gets in the way of business progress is consumer thinking. I don’t want to make this post a rant but I would be happy as pie if I could help just one blogger shorten their path to success.
Know your customer but it takes more to solve problems
We know it’s very important to understand the way our customers and readers think in order to be of value to them. The problem occurs when we can’t break out of that consumer thinking and find it difficult to breach the barrier to business success. Let me give you a couple of real life examples to explain exactly what I’m referring to.
Don’t get the wrong idea
I already know it’s coming so let me clarify something before I go any further. I am NOT suggesting we should follow, engage with or accept spammers, hate, or undesirable people; not at all. If fact, I’m not suggesting you follow anyone, I just want you to look at your way of thinking and be honest with yourself. You may be doing everything right and blowing the rest of us out of the water, I have no idea.
This is is just my simple criteria that fits my business goals and it may not reflect yours at all; I just want to share this for those it might help. My unwritten follow-back policy (unwritten until now lol), is very simple. I’ll use Twitter for this example.
- They must be a real person, no bots allowed.
- The need to have the profile filled out, including a photo. If they don’t, I assume they’re a bot. Never follow an egg.
- They need to post in English since that’s my language and I can’t read any other.
- They can’t have blatant hatefulness showing. If I see some extreme nut job with an inappropriate image or content, I move on.
- They can’t post the same thing over and over; that’s spam.
- There needs to be actual activity from them or I have to assume they’re just building numbers to spam us later.
I’m also not suggesting you let business overrun your personal accounts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with separating your personal profiles from your business accounts and pages. In fact, I think that’s probably best in most cases. My beef comes when we’re running our business accounts and pages as if they were our personal accounts.
The typical social media user
I talk with a lot of bloggers that severely restrict their reach when it comes to social media because they’re thinking as a consumer, not a business. I’ve heard and read every excuse why one should only follow a limited number of people in order to experience “true” interaction. Lets take Twitter for example; does any of this sound like you?
- I can’t possibly follow thousands of people.
- I don’t follow anyone that doesn’t tweet on regular bases.
- I unfollow anyone that hasn’t interacted with me.
- We don’t share the same interests, why would I follow them?
- I don’t care for many of the people they follow.
- They tweet and retweet too much, too little or the wrong content.
- They can follow me but why should I follow back?
Every one of those lines is consumer thinking and it’s a real barrier. The problem, I humbly believe, is they’re putting personal experience above business. Business isn’t a bad word. It’s not evil to think like a business, no more than being a success is evil. It is a crime to say you want to run a successful business and then tie your hands in the name of personal satisfaction.
My lesson in judgment
Let me tell you a quick little story that helped me take a hard look at this problematic policy. I had a Facebook friend request and we didn’t have any mutual friends. At the time I probably had around 1,200 Facebook friends and most requests have quite a few mutual friends. So without considering the “why“, I just hit the ignore button. My next stop was comment moderation for my blog. Sure enough, that same person left one of the best comments I’d seen in a very long time. Not only that, they shared the post on several social networks leaving a very complimentary post on each. I suddenly realized my tendency to jump to quick judgment wasn’t smart business. To really top things off, I later seen his name in an aWeber email notification that he’d subscribed to my list. I’ve since connected with that person and now we’re pretty good friends but it was a real lesson. You never know who you’re closing the door on.
Your audience has an audience
Do you understand the true risk of alienating potential social media contacts? One thing we need to keep in mind is that the audience of today has their own audience. So you decide a follower isn’t worthy of your return follow because they’re a sports nut and you have no interest in sports or they’re a jewelry maker and you don’t know a thing about making jewelry. The risk we face with this foolish behaviour comes not just from that single person but the lost connections that could have been gained through that contact. What if you just dissed a brand advocate? Do you have brand advocates? If not, ask yourself why.
What’s your “why”?
Ask yourself why you’re online and why you’re involved in social media to begin with. If it’s to chat with close friends, meet new ones and have a great experience, no problem, you’re in the right place. We all need a life and we should enjoy it. Let me ask a question though; where do you stand out from the average Joe or Jane using social media after they’ve had a hard day’s work? If we can’t, or are afraid to, mix in a little business to the masses, are we really getting the most from the network?
I was pushed by fear rather than being pulled by desire” ~ Alexis Neely
My advice is simple; if you’re not a social media guru that can attract a massive following without interaction, stop making decisions based on your own personal satisfaction. Don’t restrict your reach because you can’t see the real value of influence. Don’t cut yourself short or you may as well kick back in the recliner, grab the remote and soak up all the TV you can because influence and reputation won’t come to you, you have to go work for it. You can yield influence on the same small group of people year after year or choose to grow the audience you were born to help.
Brian D. Hawkins is a late-blooming thought leader in his mind. So please don't disturb his happy thoughts. It's all he has.
Brian D. Hawkins has been a blogger for over twenty years, having written thousands of public articles on dozens of websites. He currently blogs for NextStepSurvival.com and his personal blog at TheOpinionBlog.com.