- 07/08/2014


Be a Human Not a Handle

Social Media has become a pervasive ingredient to business, and one that startups – for better or for worse – must utilize to network, brand, and develop their product. But social media marketing takes a lot of time, and the ROI can be elusive, slow, and frustrating process.

Those of us who push these social media channels are constantly teased with promising headlines. “The Twitter Trick You Aren’t Using, But Should Be!” and “The Answer to More Facebook Likes is Here!” – these bold claims grab us and momentarily fill our bleary eyes with hope. Will the big secret finally be revealed, allowing our numbers to soar?

We anxiously scroll through the bulleted content, hungry for something useful…

Follow more people in your industry!

Retweet thought leaders!

Post engaging content!

Use images!

We reach the bottom and all we find is a concluding link to the author’s free eBook and discover that, alas, there is no secret (other than the effectiveness of catchy headlines in marketing your next eBook).

Everyone who utilizes social media, including your great-uncle Fred, could probably write the exact same textbook on how to create a mediocre social media strategy.

So let’s try a different angle. Let’s look beyond the media façade of what we’re trying to do with social media marketing. The keyword isn’t media here – it’s “social”.

Let’s be humans before handles and hope that real connections and conversations pay off more than the easy answers we’ll likely never find…

Insights over Likes

Have you ever liked, favorited, and retweeted so much that “Social Media Blackout” set in, and before you realized what was happening, you retweeted five videos of twerking fails to your professional social network?

This can happen when you focus on touching and spewing so much content that you lose focus on why any of this matters.

Take the time to refocus and identify content that you really like and truly believe your audience will as well. Then engage with that content yourself before asking your followers to do so.

People want to engage with companies and brands that have useful information and interesting insight to offer. If all you’re ever doing is retweeting and liking this content from others, you become a faceless middleman that can easily be overlooked.

Friends over Follows and Fans

Attracting followers and fans is important, but how effective is building those audiences if there is no real connection?

Instead of following lists of random people on Twitter in hopes of a follow back (only to secretly unfollow them later – ya jerk), connect with people for a reason, and make that reason known.

Whether you meet them in person first or discover a commonality through a blog post they wrote or a company they work for, identify your common ground and say hello. You’ll become more than a handle to them if you take the time to address the human behind their account.

Feelings over Fluff

Now don’t take this one too far. We don’t need to know about the dent you just left in the side of your cheating boyfriend’s Camaro, but we do want to know who you are and what makes you special, beyond the 160 bio character limit provided by Twitter.

Give your social media content some personality (whether its your own or your brand), and give your audience something they can relate to.

Have a question related to your industry that could easily be asked in a tweet? There’s nothing wrong with being humble and reaching out, but be careful not to harm your credibility. Conversations may grow around your question and you may learn something new in the process.

Be personable, vulnerable, and inquisitive. People will respond.

These suggestions may not be the fastest way to build your fans and followers, but the wait will be well worth it. Take the time to be a human, an engaging brand, and a thoughtful voice in these crowded, noisy platforms, and soon enough, the right people will hear you.

This post originally appeared in WeWork Magazine.