Lee Odden

5 Tips For More Impact From Social Media Participation

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

overcome social media introversionWhen Twitter launched and started to get a lot of buzz, I was skeptical. I didn’t get it at first. Like many others, I signed up and started to experiment to see what all the noise was about. After a little while it clicked for me and Twitter (@leeodden@toprank) has been an instrumental communications channel ever since.

But Twitter is just one social platform of many. Tweets are just individual messages out of many. When it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of your social media participation, are you evaluating individual tweets, status updates, and comments or the overall experience others have by consuming your content?

Twitter has been amazingly valuable to me personally, to my online marketing agency and for my book, “Optimize.” But if I evaluated each tweet, the obvious assessment would be that my Twitter participation is more often a failure because the vast majority of the individual messages I post do not result in public content interactions from others. But does that mean my Twitter involvement or Twitter itself is a failure?

Have you ever posted a message that received little if any response, only to have someone mention to you in person or on another social channel their reaction? Did you think to yourself, “I didn’t think anyone noticed” because your network didn’t respond publicly?

While there’s a lot of media attention about social media, there’s also a lot of skepticism because people often evaluate based on the presence or lack of immediate public reaction. You might hear things like, “I tweeted and nothing happened” or “No one in our boring industry is on Facebook/Instagram/(fill in social network here).”

The point of social media engagement isn’t about participation and that’s the big disconnect for a lot of people. Engagement and participation are a means to a bigger picture end.

The mistake I see a lot of people making in regards to social media participation and with content marketing too, is that they evaluate individual messages, content, or social objects vs. seeing the effect those social and content objects have as a whole.

To evaluate personal or even professional social media effectiveness, consider the collective impact of your participation, not just individual actions. Part of the value social networking brings is that people come to know you. They see some of your personality but also your professional interests and expertise.

The outcome of that kind of connection can translate into trust and confidence in your expertise, even though you’ve never met in person or done business together.

In my many years as an online marketing consultant, I can’t even count how many times prospective clients have approached me saying, “We follow you on Twitter, read your blog, and have a project we’d like to hire you to help us with.” What’s not to love about that sales cycle? What’s the cost of a sale when a new business educates itself to a sale and seeks you out?”

To make a little more sense of how to better understand the value of individual social media participation, here are a few essential questions to answer:

Who are you? What do you want to be known for? What do you stand for? What’s unique about you?

What makes you special? How are you incorporating your professional “unique selling proposition” into your social content, sharing, and engagement?

Have you looked in the social mirror? Have you looked at the past 20 tweets that you’ve published? Do the same on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or other social networks you’re involved with. When looking at 10 or 20 social content objects together, you can see what kinds of messages you’re sending and determine if those threads support your social objectives or not.

Are you reactive or proactive? Are you thinking about the impact of your social content on others or is it mostly a form of self-expression in the moment? If you have professional objectives from your social participation, think about that each time you tweet, update, or comment.

What’s it like to experience you on the social web? Rather than viewing each tweet, update, comment, or blog post as a standalone engagement effort, think about how others will view the cumulative of your social engagement. What memes can be found within your own social content streams? Do they support what you stand for? Do they reinforce what you want to be known for?

Sure, social networking can be fun and the satisfaction that comes from seeing a tweet get retweeted by hundreds of people or a Facebook status update get hundreds of “likes” and numerous shares is motivating. But think about the overall experience of others that follow you, not just each individual piece of micro-content.

Some connections may never interact with you until they’ve seen the 10th super interesting thing you’ve posted. It would be a shame to stop or assume a lack of success prematurely just because you’re focused on social sharing counters instead of the larger impact your social content and participation has on those who are connected to you.

Does this mean you shouldn’t monitor the impact of individual social and content objects? Of course not. Just don’t think you’re a failure or that the social platform isn’t for you just because of what’s not directly observable. Consider both the public and latent impact of your social engagement and you’ll realize the crack-like spikes of retweets don’t compare to the overall winning of hearts and minds within your community where it matters most.

A version of this post originally appeared on ClickZ, Social Media Smarts.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Great post Lee – I recently tackled this issue from a different angle in my blog post “Going Public” http://www.mollyporter.com/2012/05/28/going-public/

  2. Excellent post! I’ll admit that I should know better, but I fail to “follow the rules” of Social Media at time, especially when first creating those accounts.

    • Clint, I think the only rules you should care about are those that help you and your social network reach your goals. 

  3. You are absoutly right on with this.  I was just thinking to myself today that I know so many people who mention to me “oh ya I saw that on your facebook” but 9 times out of 10 those people hardly ever comment.  They are viewing and gaining their assessment before they reach out to you.

  4. Agree with Clint below…excellent post – we have a planned review of our social media strategy this weekend…more so as we are creaking at the seems…we are finding on twitter our tweets rise in volume daily – but are not targeted as they were with a smaller following – same on Facebook….In regards linkedin & g+ need to engage more…social media is about Evolution – and tweaking as you go. For sure someone, somewhere notices the messages..but we need to work better at getting the right message to the right person! Thanks again for the post – getting us in the right frame of mind for a tough Saturday! 🙂

  5. Yes, your followers and comments are important but this will only give you a small glimpse of the big picture of your overall impact.  

  6. Great tips and I am always in favour of interacting your readers in comments section at social media channels or your own blogs that’s certainly help to build your online authority rather than only updating tweets or statuses on your channels.

  7. Benjamin, I can relate to that very well. Some blog posts or tweets that you don’t think will click go BOOM and others you pour a ton of time on don’t. The thing about analytics and monitoring as well as engagement with the community is that you can more predictably improve the likelihood of the BOOM. But surprises either way will still happen.

  8. This post is very timely for me.  I’m grappling with the question of how to get more participation on social media.  The “essential questions” you listed are very valuable.  Thanks.

  9. April54321 says:

    Really helpful post especially for my company where we are all about teaching the power of social media! You say,”…
    they evaluate individual messages, content, or social objects vs. seeing the effect those social and content objects have as a whole.”  Yes, Lee, you are a clever man! I have just written a fun blog where I am trying to get our small biz clients to have a little fun with Spotify http://www.thinkbigonline.com.au/20-must-have-play-list-for-spotify/ and hopefully join in the conversation (and not worry too much about specific tweets or number of likes in 24 hours…) Thanks, April

  10. Yes, I agree with Casey how many may see things you post but never comment. You find out from them in person and I first I was amazed when people starting knowing things from my FB page and never liked or commented. With Twitter I find it much more easier to converse with people and in real life I’ve had people introduce themselves to me because they recognized me on Twitter. Almost the opposite effect the two have.

  11. Aditi Datta says:

    Thank you Lee Odden for providing this tips based on social media participation. I really feel that social media such as twitter, facebook plays a very important role. Great concept and quite a helpful post!!
    Regards,
    Aditi Datta
    http://www.brochure-design-india.com/

  12. Twitter has been useful for sharing the news and getting overall attention while LinkedIn has led more to real business.

  13. MeganMatos says:

    Many times people are silent observers but expect followers and others to send praises, comment, and like a status or tweet. We are not all celebrities and we do not have people following us just because of our status in pop culture.  In order to leave an impression as an average person the best way to do it is through conversations.  Who knew this is how we would be communicating and conversing with one another? 

    • Indeed – what works offline, works online – just a little differently and with the aid of technology.

      • MeganMatos says:

        The Internet and technology both bring us together while pushing us apart from one another. A fan can see their tweet retweeted by their favorite celebrity without ever having to step foot outside their house. The technological ages to come will either make us or break us as a civilization. For now, let the social media marketing take precedence in the business and watch the online world expand!

  14. Great article and very motivational! You are the social media coach. Thank you !

  15. I read your all writing specially the category of tips writing is very effective to all….
    I want more writing in the same.

  16. Thanks for this v useful article = “oh yeah, I wish I`d thought of that”!

    Got upbraided about a tweet lately, my reaction was ooops, sorry BUT I didn’t know you followed…should have been how do you feel about the other 6,000 & my blog then?

    Thanks for helping see the timber!

    jim

  17. This is a game changer for sure. But – here’s my question. I work in entertainment as a casting director and I engage with actors and provide them with insight into the business and auditioning specifically. My followers are from Hollywood, but most of them are not from around here and I wouldn’t be engaging in conversations with them in “real life”. So – if I’m not getting feedback from RTs or sparking a conversation on Twitter or social media – how do I know if my posts are hitting home?

    • That’s a great question Marci. Based on whatever your reasons for Tweeting are or sharing messages on various social channels, there should be goals and approach. Part of that plan is then to affect an outcome that can be measured.

      For example, if I want to use Twitter to boost attendance or interaction where I’m speaking, I’ll make sure I post messages that encourage those outcomes. I might not get RT’s or replies, but if more people attend the event, I’ve accomplished my goal.

      In the way that direct marketers use response codes, social media messages can include things like hashtags or links to your site that are trackable. That way, even if no one responds directly to your original message, you can often track where it spreads or the traffic it drives to your site over time.

  18. Great advice to anyone who is slowly growing their Twitter presence and are feeling frustrated at the early stages.

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  20. Twitter has been amazingly valuable to me personally, to my online marketing agency and for my book, “Optimize.” But if I evaluated each tweet, the obvious assessment would be that my Twitter participation is more often a failure because the vast majority of the individual messages I post do not result in public content interactions from others. But does that mean my Twitter involvement or Twitter itself is a failure?
    Have you ever posted a message that received little if any response, only to have someone mention to you in person or on another social channel their reaction? Did you think to yourself, “I didn’t think anyone noticed” because your network didn’t respond publicly?

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  21. BossDigital says:

    You are most certainly true and it is such a challenge still to get more connection. For me it would be best to connect slowly and build lasting connection on these platforms. There’s nothing that could beat that because even Auto Generated followers will be lost in your connection in the long run. Because they are bots.

  22. nice

  23. pretty good

  24. Great article and very motivational!
    Thank You 🙂