If you’ve been participating in social media, you may be getting a tad overwhelmed and a bit numbed out by the constant din of endless information, nonsense, frivolity, rioting, arguing, emptiness, and opinion pouring through your Twitter stream or Facebook newsfeed.
Recently, a client of mine called me, exasperated, saying, “I can’t believe all the garbage I get in my Twitter stream! And even on Facebook. It’s disgusting. And the last thing I want to do is contribute to all this noise on social media… I don’t know if I want to have anything to do with it!”
He’s right. Anytime there’s a crowd, there’s often a lot of noise. And there is a huge crowd on social media today.
It’s where people are hanging out, getting their news, making connections, finding information and even entertainment. In fact, I heard a rumor (I must have heard it on social media!) that social media will soon be more popular than television when it comes to how people spend their spare time.
This is good, and bad.
It means that people are choosing to interact rather than mindlessly numb out with their spare time. AND it means that if you want to find your prospective clients, you don’t have to buy TV advertising. You just need to strategically participate in social media.
But it also means… more noise. A lot more voices out there to compete with when you’re trying to reach your ideal clients and be heard.
So, how do you rise above the noise? How can you participate and not be yet another small, lonely voice drowned out by the virtual roar?
First, pay attention.
When you’re on Twitter or Facebook, what captures your attention? Whose posts do you always tend to stop and read, or even look forward to? Who can get you to comment or reply to what they’ve posted?
Then ask yourself, why? What is it about that person or what they post that makes you want to pay attention and respond?
My Twitter stream and Facebook feed are packed full of people, so I find myself scrolling through, looking for the juicy bits. A link to a blog post about email subject lines. A photo taken by a friend. A quote about the creative process.
But I also look for certain people who always tend to post stuff I don’t want to miss. People like Brain Clark of Copyblogger. Sandi Krakowski of A Real Change. Derek Fredrickson of Authentic Internet Marketing. I also look for my musician and artist friends, my clients and other local friends (some of whom I’ve only met on social media!) because I want to know what they’re up to.
And then there are some guilty pleasures as well… which I won’t disclose at this time.
When I ask myself, what is it about these folks that makes me stop and read what they post, my answer is: they always post valuable information that is perfect for me and my business. They aren’t afraid to share themselves in a personal, real way. They don’t hold back, and they’re often funny, insightful, loving, smart and surprising.
So, how can you be one of those people on social media who your clients and friends want to read and engage with? How can you rise above the noise rather than contribute to it? Here are some tips:
Have something to say
Too often I see entrepreneurs who post something just to post something. They’ve been told by social media experts that they need to show up regularly, no matter what. But they don’t have anything to share, really, so they simply repost something someone else has posted. Or they find a quote and post that. Or they’ll ask a question but they really don’t care about the answer.
And you can tell. You can tell when someone has something to share from the heart or gut and when they’re just… contributing to the noise. So, be sure you actually have something to say. Don’t just throw junk out into your stream because you think you should.
Check Your Intention
Get honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “why am I posting this?” before you throw it out there. What’s your intention? Is it to be helpful, inform, make a connection, engage, entertain, amuse, startle, start a conversation, grab attention?
If you have a clear intention behind your post, you have a better chance of being heard and rising above the noise.
Be Real. Be Who You Are
This is where so many entrepreneurs get squeamish. They find it easy to share information, but to share the truth of who they are… that feels too scary, for some. I’ve had clients tell me that it feels inappropriate to share their personal lives. After all, they’re online to market their business, not themselves!
Okay, but if you want to rise above the noise, if you want to engage people through social media, you need to show up as a person, not a business. And especially not as business that is only interested in promoting itself! You don’t have to reveal your deepest darkest secrets! Just the things you’d say to a friend or you’d share at a cocktail party. Your views, observations, feelings, and experiences as a person!
“But why would anyone care that my cat went to the vet? Or why would they be interested in what I ate for breakfast?”
Well, it’s not that anyone is necessarily riveted by the news that your cat went to the vet. But they are interested in things they can relate to. Like having a cat or eating breakfast. AND they are interested in knowing who you are as a person. Really. They are. In fact, I’d dare to say that they’re a lot more interested in who you are as a person than they are in those blog posts and product promotions you keep shoving down their throats.
Be of Service
If your intention is to be of service, to offer information and insight that you feel is truly helpful, then you stand a much better chance of being heard. Think of your community, your clients. What would uplift them, encourage them, give them a tip or insight? What would make them laugh?
There are a lot of different ways to be of service. Being available is a great one. Being generous is another. Being funny is always appreciated but not required. Being real, open and honest takes the cake.
Social media is not a one-way conversation. It’s about creating and being a part of a conversation. It’s about creating connection, a heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul, gut-to-gut connection. And to do that, you need to listen as well as speak. In fact, I’d say you’d be better off listening more than you speak.
Listen to what your clients or target market is saying on social media. And respond. When they post something that evokes an idea or comment, make that comment! Be interested. Lean in. Listen to those who have something to say, and enter into the conversation.
Think about it. Who would you rather listen to? Someone who never listens to you or someone who listens, comments and connects with you? No brainer, right?
Be a friend
If a friend of yours sent you a message via social media, would you ignore it?
Nope. Chances are pretty good that you’d read that message before you looked at anything else. Because, after all, friends take priority.
Show up on social media with the intention of being a friend to your online community and clients. Be real, open, honest, generous, considerate and loving. Be the best friend you can be.
If you follow the tips above, you will be a good friend indeed. You’ll be helpful, receptive, available and perhaps even amusing. You’ll listen, and you’ll respond. You won’t offer your friends garbage and you won’t waste their time, but you will tell them what’s up for you, what’s important or fun or meaningful to you.
And as your friend, it is my sincere hope that this post didn’t add more noise to your day but instead gave you something valuable, something you can use to rise above, be heard and serve your clients well. Either way, I invite you to have your say by making a comment below. I’ll be listening!
Nancy Tierney is a writer and copywriting coach who gives entrepreneurs the simple steps and creative guidance they need to create their own powerful marketing copy so they are never at a loss for the right words to attract the right clients.
With over 30 years of experience in marketing, sales and public relations, Nancy has written sales pages, websites, emails and social media profiles for some of the most highly respected coaches, consultants and marketing gurus on the Internet scene today.
If you’re ready to take your copy from blah to blistering and get hip to the hottest copywriting tips, tweaks and insider secrets, join Nancy on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 for The Copywriting Cabaret. You could receive a free copywriting makeover!