December 5, 2021

How To Fail At Social Networks

I’ve seen a thousand and two posts over the past few months that all say things along the lines of: “Is your company on twitter?” “do you have a facebook app?” and “why your company needs to embrace social networking.”

While that’s all and good, most of these posts (and most of these businesses) are completely missing the point about social networks.

Yes your business needs to be on social networks – but only if you’re truly embracing the social part of them.

When I think of the world “social” I think of society. In other words, people. Social networks are all about people, and they differ from traditional old school marketing greatly. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses aren’t realizing it yet.

The same mistake was made 3 years ago when everybody was screaming that companies need blogs. Since nobody knew anything about blogging they quickly assigned it to somebody in marketing and they quickly filled up post after post with marketing speak. Even today most corporate blogs still read like a brochure. They don’t allow comments, they don’t talk about anything interesting, and they only talk about how great their company is. In other words, they’re boring and nobody reads them.

I’m starting to notice the same trend as I look at various Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook accounts. Blogging and social networks are about conversation, but nobody in the business world wants to converse. Everybody just wants to have a site out there to push their brochure style marketing statements.

If you’re going to use social sites like that, you’re better off diverting your resources elsewhere.

Social sites MUST be a conversation, and all conversations require 2 or more human parties. So instead of typing corporate marketing speak, you should instead focus on being an actual person. A good example of this is Google’s Matt Cutts. In addition to blogging about Google related things, Matt also blogs about geek related things. Matt’s twitter account regularly links to interesting articles from all around the web. He shows us that he actually has a personal side, allowing him to build rapport with all of his readers. Rapport is crucial.

That’s how you should use social networks. As a CEO or marketing manager you should be blogging, on twitter, and on all the sites like Facebook. You should also update these accounts regularly with both normal personal stuff and business stuff. You should be monitoring Google Alerts for your company and responding to comments on other social sites. You should even encourage your employees to do all of the same. Give them some leeway and see what they do. Most employees will do more productive than harmful things.

For more examples of companies who get it you can look at Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist who I’ve seen comment right here on this blog when I reviewed job search sites or Bob Parsons of GoDaddy. Both of these blogs regularly mention all kinds of current interesting things – not just news about their company. These are the guys who “get it.”

What about you? Does your company get it?

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com

Comments

  1. eZanga gets it. We have a social network, HopOnThis.com with regular blog posts with interesting topics. We don’t just brag about ourselves and talk about industry related stuff, we actually want people to become engaged and talk about stuff.

  2. Very timely article! We just released a web-based email system marrying social networks with email found at http://www.wrapmail.com/social. Would love your feedback.

  3. Yes, me too! Check out http://www.akpcep.com because I have also just discovered the fact that people when brought together in groups, communicate with each other! Let’s monetize it!