A Rant: Why I May Ignore Your Social Media Invitation

Note: This post originally published in 2012 was updated on June 21, 2018.

Social media etiquette – introductions are requested

How often have you invited someone to Link, Follow or Friend without reminding the person how you are connected? There are some “rules” for social media etiquette that somehow don’t cover this topic and some that do.

Social media etiquette makes the Web a nicer place

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter all have suggestion mechanisms to help you find and connect with those that may be your friends, former co-workers, colleagues, or even former sweethearts. In the drive to “get the numbers up” many people click, click, click to add new peeps.

Twitter and Instagram allow you to follow people without their permission. Though on Instagram, if an account is private, you will not be able to see or follow. So, understanding new connections’ motivations is not as much of a concern as it is with Facebook and LinkedIn. With these two social media platforms, the emphasis is on a personal connection. I like what Cision’s Yvette Pistorio wrote in her blog post:

Introduce yourself. When you follow/friend/engage with people who may not know you, introduce yourself. It helps break the ice and open the door to conversation. Let them know who you are, what you do (if connecting for business) and how you came across them…it might just make a great impression. Be transparent about what you are connecting with them for.

Now I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but if you want to be my Facebook Friend isn’t it just polite to introduce yourself? And if you want to be Linked, shouldn’t I know that you’re not a ball and chain?

Tell me who you are

I’m delighted to get to know new people, after all, I do brand myself “The Connection Maven,” but if I don’t know you, I don’t always understand your motivation.  Do you want to sell me something? Do you want to become a client or do you just want to ask me out for a cup of coffee? Or maybe you want to find a new job? I’m not a mind reader and so I have no idea why you may want to become connected. So, just tell me and we’re cool.

I’ll be your Friend. LinkedIn posse member and I’ll re-tweet your amazing tweets. Just give me some context for our pending friendship.

After we’re connected

And after we’re connected, please do not tag or mention me in every post.

Especially on LinkedIn. You know. You’ve seen them.

The posts where someone attends a meeting and then proceeds to humble brag about how awesome the event was, how much they learned, and mentions/tags 35 of their *friends* or connections in attendance, all in an attempt to increase engagement. If someone there said something cogent that you want to credit them with, for heaven’s sake, do mention and tag them. Give them all the credit they are due. But just piling on the mentions for the sake of ginning up some response to your post should be avoided at all costs. It feels and looks like begging. Events are all about face to face connections. Take selfies with the peeps you sat with and post away. Then you have a reason to mention them.

If it feels forced. If it feels like something you would not do in real life then stop. Don’t do it. Keep it real. Keep it human. Keep it sociable.

Thanks, and rant over.

Photo credit: flickr user Kate Ter Haar

Make My Website First on Google: SEO Isn’t What You Think It Is

How can I make my website first on Google?

If I had a $50 bill for each time I’ve had someone tell me that they want to “be first on Google,” I’d be a very rich woman.

In 2001 with Panda and 2012 with Penguin updates, Google has publicly stated that it cares about content that is important, relevant and useful to people–not bots or spiders. Additional evidence indicates your site be more visible in search results if your business is active in social media, is conversational and seeks to answer questions, solve problems and be a source.

Advice for those wishing to be first on Google

In a very articulate and concise article from Fast Company, Veronica Fielding sums it up:

…the Panda and Penguin messages go deeper. With them, the search engines are openly acknowledging that a website isnt the only place on the Web that a brand needs to maintain a strong presence. [emphasis mine] The interactive exchanges that people have with each other and with the brand–online–are happening in the social media channel, and the search engines are placing an increasing importance on how these conversations influence their views on brands and how their websites should rank. This means that a brand can no longer rely on a well-optimized website to earn Google’s attention. A brand must be a conversationalist, going where the people are and engaging them in discussion, and by doing that earn a wonderful reputation. [emphasis mine] Smart brands are doing this by fully leveraging each social channel’s particular properties.

If you want to be number one on Google, you must read and follow the advice in SEO Isn’t What You Think It Is via Fast Company.

Follow these tips to be first on Google

  1. Make your website useful. Have an interesting website that provides potential customers the information they want. While it is good to have information about the products and services you offer on your site what is even better is to provide your potential customers information that helps them make decisions at every point on their path to purchase.
  2. Give value. Regularly author (on your website) and share helpful, relevant and useful information across the web. This does not mean copy and past in whole articles you’ve found in other sources. You can quote as we do here, providing attribution and links, but do not copy and paste the entire article which is authored by others elsewhere. This will get you bad karma as well as pushed down in search rankings.
  3. Converse and share in social media. Avoid marketing speak and share messages that are of help to others.
  4. Demonstrate your involvement with others through links to your website from high ranking sites that are relevant to your industry and sector.

Following these simple tips will help you rank first on Google. And after all, that is what we know you want.

Social Media Marketing Loves and Hates

Become a social media Jedi

As social media has matured, it has become a part of most every small business’s marketing plan. However, just when you think you’ve become a Jedi Knight you find that they’ve changed the moves. So, as a small business owner, what do you love or hate about social media for business and why?

We shared this question with small business owners and those who manage social media accounts for business. Some of our respondents are public relations and social media specialists and some are small business owners themselves.

Social Media Likes

Most like using social media and have multiple profiles on many platforms. Some like Mike Rembis, Executive Director of The Clearwater Film Festival hate it. Mike said, “I find social media to be useless and a time waster. So far, I don’t see how social media has done anything for us as a business.” Another business owner who is not convinced of the importance of social media is Steve Silberberg of Fitpacking who believes that if your Tweets aren’t cool, you are ignored, not only by individuals but by search engines. However, Mike and Steve are in the minority as evidenced by this comment from Kelly Albert at The Perfect Cardbox:

The big question of course is this….does all of this help drive traffic to my website and convert into sales?
Because in truth my goal at the end of the day is not to tweet, like, pin and post…it is to sell wedding card boxes to every bride in America.

With sales up by … I am going to go with the idea that social media is here to stay and helping a little bit anyway!

Kelly, I hear you! And you are a perfect example of a business owner who has her eyes fixed firmly on the goal of using social media to create content to boost your sales.

Social Media and the future

Some business owners like Ian Aronovich CEO of Government Auctions  are future oriented,

What we love about social media … is the ability to connect with potential customers long-term. With social media, we have expanded our marketing strategy and we are constantly improving our methods to gain new followers. The social media element allows us to view trends and interests of individuals to further our development.

Echoing the forward focus is Ben Norman of Koozai who relates his firm’s approach:

I definitely love the way Social Media is headed … with Twitter, YouTube and Facebook being the most valuable platforms. …no matter how small a company is, with social media they can compete with the big boys by creating and sharing valuable content, and they can also be seen as an expert in their niche. Facebook is good for engaging with existing clients and gathering a following, whereas Twitter is really good for identifying and engaging with new opportunities. YouTube is often missed out, but it is a great place to share valuable video tutorials. It can very quickly fast track your brand to a higher social standing, as video has a higher perceived value against written text.

Also, even though the tactics may change across social networks, the fundamentals remain the same, maintain a consistent brand and create good unique content.

Focusing on the percieved lower cost to use social media, Deborah Sweeney of My Corporation offers this:

As a small business owner I love that social media is a great way to connect and carry on a ‘conversation’ with customers, potential customers, and vendors alike. …social media is a low-cost opportunity to get the word out and communicate a business message.

It is difficult, however, to maintain ongoing attention to the social media outlets. When you run a business, you have to worry about hiring, firing, employee matters, marketing, partnerships, business development, sales, customer service – the list goes on! So, it’s often hard to stay attentive to social media, as social media requires consistent and frequent engagement…

Deborah’s comment really focuses on the reality that as valuable as social media is, it can take a lot of time to manage, do well, and track. As a small business owner, it’s easy to be inconsistent in social media. Being inconsistent then conveys the impression that social media might have been a fad for your business and not a genuine component of your brand. Not the impression you wish to leave.

Social media pet peeves from just bad to horrid

However, much everyone loves social media, many have peeves with it. One of the chief pet peeves is the rate of change and flux that exists in social media. Several cited the Facebook’s changes. Others dislike the difficulty of tracking or quantifying ROI. Typical of these responses is Ed McMasters of the Flottman Company who states:

…we despise the lack of ability to track results, to quantify the value of Facebook Fans and to determine a direct correlation between sales success and social media success. We have not been able to attribute any of our sales to our Social Media efforts. We are on Facebook and Twitter and this year it will be part of the Marketing plan, because it has too be to keep up with our competition.

Rounding out the list of difficulties of marketing via Facebook these days is Shaun Walker, Creative Director of Hero Farm a social media marketing firm who assesses the current state of Facebook:

The toughest part about Facebook is the dwindling newsfeed presence. As FB continues to grow and change, it becomes increasingly difficult to become a mainstay on a users’ newsfeed, thus negating sending out outdates and posts via status message. Facebook has changed each person’s newsfeed to show a very limited number of contacts at any one time, usually concentrating on the people they interact with most, and majority of people do not realize this and miss updates [from] many, many friends. This has increasingly been pushing businesses to the wayside.

Shelia Scarborough of Tourism Currents is spot-on in our opinion in her assessment of what is the most missed opportunity of social media well as the greatest vulnerability businesses have in using social media:

What I hate about social media: most of the platforms are owned by somebody else. The empire you’re building on Facebook? That belongs to Mark Zuckerberg. All of those Twitter followers? Could be gone – poof -tomorrow. The current giant sucking sound on the posterior of Google+? Nope, that’s someone else’s pocket you’re lining. I hate that not enough businesses effectively use the most powerful social media tool available: their own blog, that they host, on a domain name that they own.

And Bill Fennell of The Little Guy Marketing notes “I hate that most business do not know how to interact with fans rather than just post their special of the day. Small business owners need to leverage social media to brand themselves as experts in their field and create a trust and likeness factor with their fans. Most business owners just post the special of the day or say come see us today, not very enticing.” So while Social Media has come of age and become accepted, it is a pet peeve that many small businesses have jumped in and not taken time to learn the skills of social media marketing or best practices.

Jonathan Rick offers as his dislike, “The thing I hate about social media is the expectations people have about its power. By itself, your tweets aren’t going to generate sales, but, used properly, they can generate a lead.”

Colette Mason really hates syndication across platforms. She is explicit in her dislike:

The thing I hate about social media is when people syndicate a status update across all their social media platforms – using their favourite as the starting point.  They grow the followings on the other platforms and then update those people with regurgitated, syndicated messages, never checking back to follow up on their responses and interact with those people. I find that totally infuriating – it’s worse than not having a profile at all. I think it comes across as incredibly rude and presumptuous. There is nothing social about this sort of churn. What makes my blood boil even more is when this is done by social media marketing experts for small businesses. Why you would want to follow any sort of overly-automated system if you want to boost the level of trust and respect your business receives remains a mystery to me.

I think there should be a limit to this sort of behaviour – its not a million miles away from spamming in my book – yet somehow it’s not been killed off.

Syndicating for time saving is one thing, syndicating to flatter the ego is quite another.

Social media take-aways

While social media has become a marketing mainstay many do not do it well. With the move towards pay to play on most social media channels, it is now more important to not only post, but to advertise on social media channels. Facebook is the new Google for many people.

Most business owners recognize social media is an easy-to-access method to connect to customers, but is hard to master. And with more channels, like Facebook, requiring you to pay up to gain reach, fewer businesses will continue to master social media. What social media agencies note most frequently is the lack of a strategic approach by small business users. What small business owners agree on is social media done well can contribute to increased leads, sales and enhanced search engine rankings.

What do you think? Share your likes, peeves and hopes for social media marketing for small businesses.