Social Media Relationships: Nurturing vs. Smothering



A few weeks ago, Matt Honan from Wired conducted an experiment. For two days straight, he liked every thing he saw on Facebook—yes, every single post, picture, and status update.

So what exactly happens when you “like” something on Facebook? Facebook uses an algorithm to decide what shows up in each individual person’s news feed. Facebook doesn’t just show you posts and updates from your friends, or things you have expressed interest in. Rather, in a more complicated fashion, they track every action you take on (and sometimes outside of) Facebook and use that to craft your feed.

When Honan began to “like” everything he came across on his news feed, Facebook took note of this, and began to feed him more. And more. In his article, Honan states that “By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked. To be honest, I really didn’t like it. I didn’t like what I had done.”

For marketers, Honan’s experiment highlights just how sensitive social media relationships are—there is a fine line between being informative and making your audience resent your mere presence.

For Facebook in particular, this probably means limiting the number of posts and activity. You want your target segment to connect with you on Facebook; this means being able to “like” your page without regretting it. Once they like your page, Facebook takes note, so you don’t want to post too many times a day and flood their newsfeed. As we noted in a previous blog post, we’ve found that posting no more than twice a day on Facebook warrants the best results.

Honan states that one of the worst effects of his experiment was the machine-like quality his personal Facebook soon acquired. He claims it was like traveling down the rabbit hole—the Facebook algorithm reacted to his actions, curating only content matching his likes, and he began to only a narrow view of news and information. He felt like Facebook was trying to conform him—something he didn’t like at all.

Which brings us to our next takeaway: smothering doesn’t only mean posting too much, it also means too much self-promotion. You don’t want your followers to feel like you are forcing them into a relationship—you want them to like you on their own. Be careful of posting too much on your company. Self-centered posts will feel abrasive to your audience, and they will soon feel like your relationship is suffocating and one-sided.

The same applies for all social media platforms. LinkedIn is similar to Facebook. On LinkedIn, it’s very easy to annoy your audience, so posts should be fairly infrequent. Also, LinkedIn is the networking hub for business people, meaning your relationships will be more professional. Do not connect with people and then immediately try and sell yourself to them.

Instead, develop your professional relationship first—making sure the content you curate is relevant and well informed, as well as infrequent enough so as not to come off as trying too hard. You want your company to become respected, so your connections value your presence in their professional network.

Twitter relationships are less volatile. Twitter is so instantaneous that with Twitter feeds changing every second, posting more frequently is perfectly fine. But again, don’t overdo it. This also means mixing it up between tweeting, curating content, and retweeting.

If you’ve engaged with your target market, it’s likely that they follow you on more than one social media channel, and they don’t want to be bombarded by the same information from you multiple times a day.

All in all, there is a distinct difference between engaging and connecting with your target audience, and suffocating them. A “relationship” regards a connection between two or more people, not a one-sided conversation– so make sure your relationships remain true to form.

Social media marketing may connect you to the masses, but it is not mass marketing.



Reprinted By Permission.

Image Credit: CC by Woodleywonderworks via Photopin

About the author: Catherine Walsh

Catherine is Editor at Social Media Contractors. She graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where she earned her B.A. in English and M.A. in English, specializing in Rhetoric and Composition/Ethnography.

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