Social Media: Leverage Technology, But Be Human!

by Jennifer Beever

Social Media RobotsI’ve been doing a presentation called “Leverage Technology for Marketing Success” for about the past ten years. It’s about how to use technology as a tool to make marketing easier. The message about leveraging technology has been valid the entire time – it’s the technology that has changed.

Earlier (2000) my presentation was about having an optimized web site, adding content (articles and such) regularly, and then using an email tool like Constant Contact to outreach to an opt-in list and drive them to your web site via links to the articles.

Now it’s about having the great web site, the content, the eLetter, plus a presence on social media. And, yes, technology exists to make your presence on social media easier and more cost-effective, but I never told anyone to be an automaton! I do suggest that folks use some tools to automatically send links to new blog posts to Twitter or RSS feeds to send new press releases to a Facebook company page.

My  presentations on social media are intended to help people manage their time investment in social media so they see a way to participate and get results. I never meant anyone should (for example) spam someone’s personal Facebook profile page with uninteresting, scheduled stream of links on your professional area of specialization. Or that you consider grabbing an RSS feed of news stories that meet certain criteria and dump it to your LinkedIn status so you spam your contacts’ home pages with a regurgitation of news stories! No, no, no! It’s really important to be human in your social media efforts.

I think I need to change the name of my presentation from “Social Media Marketing Machine” to “Human Social Media Marketing Machine.” I like the idea of creating a social media machine or system in which you crank out contact and engage your followers. But there has to be a human behind the machine.

I searched for conversations about this topic and found a great blog post by Chris Brogan, Social Media is No Place for Robot Behavior, in which he bemoans the use of automatic tools that send a Direct Message on Twitter as soon as you follow someone. The users of these tools often send an auto message that “suggests” that you visit their web site. In a blog post long ago, Chris recommended a ratio of 12:1 for helpful, outward-focused tweets to self-promotional tweets.

I also recently saw a comment by Kneale Mann, author of  the YouIntegrate blog, that impressed me. He suggested that we actually spend time to get to know our followers on Twitter. Astounding! You mean visit their profiles, read their blog and visit their web sites? Have an online conversation? Note that Kneale’s tagline is “Create Experiences Not Campaigns.” I love that!

And here’s a tweet by Andy Britnell, personal & business development specialist in the UK:

Dear Twitter – please ban robot tweets for keywords – it is not clever, it is annoying. This is social media not robot media!

Got it? Tired of social media spamming and robotic behavior? Agree or disagree? Please comment below.

Photo from Flickr, AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Simon Zirkunow


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kneale Mann October 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Hey Jennifer,

Wonderful piece and I think I may read that last guy you mention. 😉

Keep presenting, keep sharing, keep going!!


Jennifer Beever October 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Thank you for your insight! I do believe I’m having that experience where I hear what I need to hear when I need to hear it! Your post about getting to know your followers…. Then, a seasoned consultant pushed back when I mentioned social media and said, “Don’t forget that it’s all about maintaining relationships…!” Then, another consultant and Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, Cox Ferral, said (when I told him I heard a statistic that inside sales reps were being hired to do virtual presentations – webinars, etc. – and hiring of outside sales reps was on the decline), said (sarcastically) “Oh, right, Jen, don’t you know that people buy from computers they like…?” LOL! Then at the same conference Philippa Gamse mentioned making emotional connections on your web site….. I’m thinking…. convergence = pay attention!

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