Social media, participate or don't bother

I can’t tell you how many titles I had for this post. “Social media, do you really want to?”, Social media, participate or go home”, and  “Social media – it’s about the interaction stupid”. Basically it all comes down to one thing; if you are going to get involved in social media marketing do it because you’re interested. Do it for the love of community interaction and interacting with current and future customers. But don’t do it with the sole  motivation of increasing traffic or collecting “friends”.

I answered a question a few days ago on a popular business networking site and got a response from the poster that really triggered me. Many of the posts he’d gotten were flippant and self centered. Not many took the time to even fully read the question, much less think about it. It was clear they were posting to increase their number of answers rather than to help. He didn’t feel he’d gotten much value out of  his interaction on the site.

This kind of behavior is very common, and  it devalues the whole idea of social media. It’s supposed to be a community folks, it’s supposed to be about helping out some people and learning from others. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t learn a dozen things from my social media contacts. Sometimes it leads to a job, but often it’s not a job I landed at first contact, but after having helped someone find a solution and then developing a relationship.

A colleague recently told me a story about  a meeting where she was asked to set up a personality on LinkedIn complete with seeded questions and answers, connections that topped the 500 mark, and recommendations from “customers and colleagues”. They didn’t have time to engage their own customers. She refused the rather lucrative offer, but probably they found somebody to build them their persona.

I fully understand the idea that the more leads or connections you have the more likely one of them will develop into an opportunity. It’s just not the way I want to do business.

The same holds true on social media sites like myspace, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re going to take the time to be a presence there, participate! Add value to the community and the community will remember you as an asset. Post an overwhelming number of “me too!” comments, or send daily invitations to fight your vampire and people are going to tire of it.

If you want to participate in social media, that’s wonderful. Spend the time to learn what tools are right for the way you do business,(or hire me to help you figure it out). Decide how much time you have to spend, and what you really want to get out of it. Then set up a blog, dive into some of the existing networks and participate.

If you don’t have the time to participate, give back to the community and get involved, do us all a favor and just don’t.

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