Last week I had a call out of the blue from an old colleague I've not heard from in ages. I need to just preface what I'm about to say next by emphasising: I like this guy. He's a good person.
But whenever we engage on the phone it's always completely, inexorably, one-way conversational traffic. He talks. I listen. There's no chance of a word in edge ways. That's just how it is. And I invariably leave these conversations thinking "what the heck was that?"
We've probably all had that similar kind of sensation on social media. Whether it's friends, colleagues or family members, who post non-stop about themselves or who seem to be eternally broadcasting, promoting or selling something.
After a while, if it's a constant barrage of one-way communication, it's easy to find yourself zoning out or stopping "listening" altogether.
So what's good social media etiquette? And how can we better engage with the people we're trying to connect with and create more genuine and meaningful interactions?
Bianca Rothschild explored this topic in her blog post where she listed some of the top techniques for positive engagement on social media. Here's an overview of her thoughts:
1. Love to Chat - Start talking to people in your industry. Reach out to people you admire. Aim for one-to-one conversations and focus on the quality, not the quantity, of your interactions.
2. Think Visual - Photos and video continue to be some of the most engaging content on social media. People connect more emotionally with posts that include a picture, video or graphic so try to include a visual element wherever possible.
3. Share the Love - Establish authentic relationships and connect with key influencers in your industry. Following people you admire and sharing their content is a great way to extend your own networks and build credibility.
4. Be Invaluable - People like to think they're being communicated with, not sold to, so be guided by the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your posts should be focused on the creation, curation and sharing of useful information. The other twenty percent can be more promotional in style, with clear calls to action.
5. Sweat the Small Stuff - First impressions count, so take care over the small details. Check and double-check the grammar, punctuation, relevance and readability of your posts before you publish.
6. Ask for what you want - When you tell your audience what you want from them they're more likely to respond, whether that's asking them to answer a question, to share content or to click on a link.
Simply being active on social media with one-directional, broadcast posts is no longer enough, and honestly, unless you are engaging and building your social community, it’s likely to be time poorly spent. As more and more small businesses establish their social media channels, engagement must be front and center, taking time in establishing brand relationships will be the deciding factor in your message being heard, and social media having a positive impact on your business.