You can spend an age researching social media effectiveness. What’s the best time to share, which approaches work best on different platforms, which tools can you use to leverage your time more effectively, what’s the right balance of promotional content…. The tweaks you can make are endless.
Yet in my experience, social media success comes down to two key things. Whenever I speak to anyone not achieving the results they’d like to be achieving on social networks, invariably they’ve dropped the ball in one or other of these areas:
Attracting Interest + Having the Honey = Social Media Success
I honestly believe that if you assess your own social activities, you’ll find that you’re deficient in one or other of these areas. It could be a social networking deficiency full stop, or it could be that your results are being let down on just one or two social sites owing to unintentional differences in your approach on each. For example, overall I think we do both these things well at Social-Hire – except on Facebook, where we consciously don’t invest much time in “Attracting Interest” and we have less “Honey” than on our other network profiles. The upshot? Of all the mainstream social platforms, it’s the one where we generate more modest results. Now if that’s a conscious decision, it’s not a problem. But with most people I talk to, they’re failing in one or other area on some of their social profiles without having made the conscious decision to do so. That’s costing them dear.
So let’s spell out what we mean by Attracting Interest and Having the Honey. Allow me to tackle them in reverse order if you will, as it’s Attracting Interest that seems to receive far less coverage.
Have You Got the Honey?
Pots of honey that are full to the brim attract Winnie the Pooh every time! Those with barely a trace of honey left get only the most cursory of glances!… and so it is with your social profiles. When someone first comes across your social profile, does it entice them and make them want to follow you, engage with you, share what you’ve shared? Or do they quickly move on to the next profile in the hope of finding someone more appealing?
The importance here is that you can invest lots of time and money attracting interest in your profile, but if there’s not enough honey to entice people to stick around then your efforts at attraction will mostly be in vain. Consider some of the following:
- Is your profile warm and engaging, or cold and corporate? Is there some personality that shines through? (People warm to other people)
- Do you appear to engage with your followers and network, or purely broadcast to them? (People don’t like being sold to and they don’t like know-it-alls)
- Does your follower / following ratio indicate you are desperate to build your social presence, or that you seem to attract followers with ease? (People are rarely attracted to someone who appears desperate)
- Do you share valuable information and insights from a broad range of sources, or only your own materials? (People like to learn and further their knowledge)
- Do you seem like someone who Pays It Forward (People are attracted to those who seem willing to help without expecting anything in return)
- Is your profile one that they’ve frequently seen in social streams, being engaged by others, being shared by or recommended by others? (People are reassured by social proof)
When you think about some of the most obvious examples of recruiters generating poor results from their social investments, you can immediately see how they’re falling short in terms of “Having the Honey”.
- How many people’s profiles have you seen on Twitter where their following count is close to 2,000 but their followers count is barely at 200?! Your immediate reaction is “if 90% of people are deeming this person to not be worth following, they’re probably not worth my while following either!”
- How many recruiters have you seen on LinkedIn whose update activity is a constant stream of job adverts and requests to help them fill their latest role? “Is this person really going to add value to my professional day to day life?” is the kind of reaction that this activity will prompt.
- How often have you seen someone on Google+ (or indeed LinkedIn) sharing the same update into dozens and dozens of communities or groups, without targeting their messages adequately and without mixing up the sharing of their own and other people’s materials? This immediately comes across as someone who’s in it for themselves and only paying lip service to sharing valuable information and resources.
- How many people immediately ask you to “like” their Facebook page or visit their website as the first impression they create when you connect. Wouldn’t asking if there’s any way you could help them generate far more goodwill and interest in your profile?
So I challenge you – on each social network where you aspire to having a strong presence and noteworthy results – to go back and review the first (and ongoing) impressions that other users will have of your profile and activity. This will have a huge impact on the numbers of people who choose to follow you… and the numbers of people who stick with you.
Are You Attracting Interest?
Having the Honey is all well and good, but you’ve got to leave a scented trail if you want Winnie to actually find the honey! On a serious note, the networks where I’ve had the greatest success have been those where I’ve taken time to think of all the ways it’s possible to help people and get on their radars… and then to do all these things in a way that means you aren’t overly focusing on any one approach. Take each network of interest to you and spend a few minutes thinking about all the ways you could get your profile noticed by the right sorts of people:
Network Search: Are you sharing a variety of topics consistently, so that you are regularly appearing in relevant search results on the platform?
Hashtags: Are you using hashtags relevant to your sector, so the chances of your updates being noticed are increased?
Following / Connecting: If a portion of all people you follow will choose to follow you back, are you proactively going out and researching who to follow and then following them?
Profile Search: Have you optimised your profile so that it appears in the types of searches that your desired candidate or client audience are likely to be searching for? Have you remembered to include your location and specialisms (both things people will search for)?
Mentions: Are you consistently helping to raise the profile of other people by mentioning them in your updates? Recognise great authors, those who made you aware of something, those who’ve impressed you, etc.
Comments and Likes: Are you showing people that you value their presence by commenting on relevant updates and liking others?
Generating Shares of your updates: Are you sharing valuable content from unusual and niche sources? If you only share mainstream content, most people will already have seen it. If you share hidden gems, these are much more likely to be shared on and so raise your profile with other people’s networks
Popping onto their Radar: Are you browsing lots of people’s profiles on LinkedIn, endorsing people (where appropriate), marking tweets as favourites, thanking people for a particular update you found valuable?
These activities all help to raise the visibility of your profile. But nonetheless we’re wary aren’t we? We’ve all seen it happen. The above all have the potential to be used in a spammy manner. The new twitter user who immediately follows 2,000 people. The LinkedIn user who is obviously spending hours of their time just handing out meaningless endorsements. These negative connotations can push people too far in the opposite direction – to the point where they are hardly doing these things at all. Done in moderation – and in a way that is targeted, tailored and personable – they can be highly effective.
If you want success on a social network, it’s critical that you ensure you Have the Honey and that you Attract Interest so that enough people come to learn that you Have the Honey. Having the Honey without Attracting Interest is like opening a fabulous shop in completely the wrong location. It’s loved by those who do stumble across it, but ultimately the shop produces poor returns for the owner. Don’t let yourself be the person who invests in their social profiles but then gets poor returns.
Be honest with yourself in every social network where you want to invest and objectively assess whether you’re really doing these two things as well as you possibly could. If you’d like a frank assessment or someone to brainstorm with, you’re most welcome to schedule a call to pick my brains. Tools, timing, sharing valuable content – they’ve all been written about at great length and they all contribute to success. But your overall social success will be a function of how well you get the above two elements just right. Fall short with either one and your results will be compromised.
Had experiences on social networking that reinforce the messages above? Or related tips to share with the readership? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.