When it comes to social media, ‘missing the point’, is a key thought that often runs through my head these days.
There’s no doubt about it, there’s a lot of noise. And within that noise, there’s just too much, of what I will refer to as, #fakesocial. If you’re like me, passionate about the far reaching and authentic connection opportunities social technologies can enable – no doubt you agree that it’s frustrating and more than just a little disheartening.
I’m calling out three #fakesocial culprits – and no doubt there are others. I invite you to vent in the comments.
1) The Vanity Empires
There are many organisations and people on social that are only concerned with building ‘big followings’. They’re using tools, apps and tricksters to help them grow huge followings, so that they ‘look’ credible and influential on social media.
Such activity is of course, ego all the way. Look at us, me. We have 100,000+ followers. My questions are always the same – ‘But to what end?’: are they relevant, are they engaged, are they interested in what you do or have to say or sell, are they right for your brand or business?
Just today I was asked my view about one of the many apps that goes out onto the social channels, in this case it was Instagram, to find relevant users and like their photos. Nothing ‘authentically social’ about that at all. Robot systems, doing their stuff – and whilst some do it in a more targeted way than others, from all of my personal experiences of testing of these tools, and indeed from discussion with respected peers in the landscape, these tools are most certainly not ‘best practice’. Yet the lure of ‘getting big numbers’ and the speed of which they can be applied, for many, is intoxicating.
But what’s the point of a load of irrelevant followers. It’s like buying a ‘highly targeted’ mailing list – and being surprised at the 0.0001% response rate.
To build huge networks of relevant and engaged audiences takes time and it takes commitment. For those with huge numbers, really seeing genuine success out on the channels, ask them how long they’ve been on social and the response is usually, several years and a whole load of effort. They’re aware that they are playing a long game, being genuinely and authentically social – invested in the content, conversation and connection.
And having social influence is not all about building huge audiences – quality over quantity. Wouldn’t you rather have 100 people heavily invested in your brand and presence, that champion and share your message and content, and grow your presence organically in a relevant and purposeful way – than 100,000 passive irrelevant fake followers?
2) The Impersonators
Yesterday I had a conversation with a someone who contacted me via LinkedIn. Effectively, she wanted my viewpoint about whether or not it was possible for someone else to truly be her voice on social media. She was considering outsourcing her social media activity, because, she wasn’t doing it as often as she wanted to – and she believed that this lack of activity was largely down to a time issue and not being able to fit it in and so if she outsourced it, ta dah, she had a solution.
Now, a quick look at my profile and you’ll notice that I’m a digital educator helping organisations with their digital and social media activity.
And so, you may be thinking, oh ok, this is where I pitched my services – and how we can make it all ok for her.
But you’d be totally wrong. I advised, that whilst, it’s okay to get support with social media activity, it totally has to be her out on the channels, looking, listening, commenting, sharing and conversing.
Whilst agencies such as mine do indeed help and support teams and organisations, it’s never to the detriment of the authentic voice. The services we provide are largely about supporting internal teams, bringing our knowledge and experience to them, training them so they understand best practice, get clarity on the tactics of each relevant network, assisting with strategic planning and ongoing mentoring and supporting. And in the few cases where we do offer social media management, our team members have been inducted into the clients’ business as if they are a new employee – and the working agreement is that there has to be someone client side that is aligned with us weekly, and daily if necessary, to keep us truly in sync with what is happening within the business and to answer any questions.
If we’re not careful, those ‘social conversations’ are largely going to become agency to agency, where due to the difficulty of sharing an authentic voice, the ‘safe’ way to play it is synthetic social, which really only pays lip service to being ‘social’, pushing out one way broadcast PR, marketing and sales messages, with the occasional surface engagement.
So yes, get support with strategy, planning, training, creative, content development, tactics, messaging, campaigns, advertising etcetera, but be sure you don’t completely put your conversation and messaging in the hands of others. It can become so apparent and programmatic, that the total in-authenticity shines through. As I’ve said so many times, the gold in social is often the listening, and if you get into a habit of tuning in to what’s happening out in the native channels, rather than reading a monthly report telling you what’s happening – it provides a very real and ‘social’ perspective. I urge you to try it.
The No Shows
And third and finally, for me, (for now) – the next #fakesocial culprit is ‘The No Shows’. This culprit is probably the least of my issues, but still, it makes the list.
These are the social media accounts that are often lined up on someone’s LinkedIn profile, webpage or organisation, yet when you actually click on to see what the activity it – it’s tumbleweed territory.
I found this when I was writing #GetSocial – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders. One of the features of the book was my interviews with leaders that were out there doing social and doing it really well.
Initially, thanks to headlines from many notable sources, highlighting research that showed that more CEOs and leaders were taking to social media, I was encouraged. Finding and seeking out relevant CEOs and leaders to interview was going to be a doddle. And indeed, I did find a lot of leaders and CEOs on social. However, when I actually looked into their account activity so I could connect with them – often I was met with updates that were a couple of years old.
Now I get that some people set up Twitter accounts purely to watch what’s going on with people and organisations they want to keep updated about. In fact, 40% of people on Twitter, never tweet. But if there has been activity, and then it’s stopped – it may be worth mentioning something as to why in the bio. Or of course, deciding to actually get social again and pick it back up.
The key here is if you are going to set up the channels, have a plan as what you want to do with them. Otherwise, social media purists like me, (definite smiley face), on a mission to #savesocial and the real conversations to be had, may think it’s all just a little #fakesocial.
So, they are my #fakesocial culprits – do you have anything to add, or say…? I encourage you to join in the conversation.
Michelle Carvill, Digital Educator, Strategic Marketer. Obsessive about objectives and getting things done. Founder at Carvill Creative, Three times published author. Latest book ‘Get Social – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders, published by Kogan Page, May 2018. More info on how to work with Michelle, visit www.michellecarvill.com