I am not for a moment suggesting that you are unpopular. In fact, it actually appears that many people, even those with large social media followings have difficulty being "liked." Happily, social media makes it relatively easy today to engage others and even easier to measure how others engage with you. The flip side is we can no longer optimistically speculate on our efficacy.
For example, in my recent column about shameless self-promotion I invited people to promote themselves in the comments and attract "likes" in hopes of winning a free copy of my latest book. The response was overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.
I am pleased to say that we had thousands of page views and over 1,000 social media hits. Here are some actual numbers.
As of the posting of this column:
1,041 people viewed the funny video
485 tweeted the column
351 re-tweeted a separate bit.ly link
346 Shared the column on LinkedIn
170 people "liked" it on Facebook
37 People gave it a Google +1
This is a respectable showing for a short article on a busy website. But the real interesting data comes from the comments. Despite encouragement for self-promotion among you many entrepreneurs and marketers, only 35 people, or less than 1% of viewers actually pitched in a comment. Those 35 pitches garnered only 20 "likes" in total. In fact only 14 pitches received any "likes" and only 5 pitches got more than 1.
Megan Torrance, Pam Aungst, Thyra Dehaven and Dave Kerpen all received just 2 "likes." Fascinating, since social media expert Dave Kerpen is the author of The New York Times Best Seller Likeable and tweeted the column at least twice to his more than 22,600 followers.
Congrats to the winner (and my personal favorite), Roxanna Elden who grabbed the top spot with a mere five "likes." All five shameless self-promoters will get free books as promised and you should check out their links.
So what does this apathy of engagement tell us? Are Twitter and Facebook now over-saturated and nearly useless for stimulating activity due to too much noise as Seth Godin implies? Perhaps the medium is not to blame as much as the people using it.
Were the pitches uninteresting? Maybe. Some were better than others and many of the promoters could learn how to engage their audience with more empathy. But at least they engaged... a bit. I assume that the 35 people who pitched have friends, family and co-workers. Why pitch, then fail to engage the people they speak to everyday to simply "like" their post, or spread the word.
Ironically, one author/entrepreneur I admire, even joked about promoting his book on my Facebook page and then never commented on the column even after encouragement. The brutal truth is that I find these results somewhat pathetic. Why spend time using communication tools if you won't communicate in a thoughtful manner?
So you don't waste your time or that of your community, here are three tips for maximizing the energy and effort you give to social media.
1. Slow Down
We move so fast trying to tweet, comment and "like," we forget that we are communicating. To be meaningful, take social media action with meaning. Be choosy when you "like" or comment, and take just a few more moments to communicate with a reason, and some personality. I personally love re-tweets in my twitter feed that include the tweeter's own take on my articles, and I'm sure their followers do as well.
2. Pay Attention to Detail
The contest in my last column had some complexity to it, but it certainly wasn't rocket science. More and more, marketers are trying to get you to engage. They have to provide value and make it fun. But you lose if you only participate halfway. Early promoters in my last column would have had thousands of views if they had followed the specific instructions of promoting themselves for "Likes" rather than just hoping the column would get them attention. Plus, in all my columns I include often humorous and interesting learning in my hyperlinks. Those who read them had an advantage in getting more exposure.
3. Think it through
If you invest time in social media, you need to think about why you do it and what value you add to the conversation. Are you improving people's lives? Are you stimulating thought, or simply creating noise? What actions should be taken by friends and followers once you "like," tweet, or post? Why would they bother? How can you make your communication awesome instead of just another boring post?
It's presumptive, expecting people to give time and mental energy to a "Thumbs Up" button or even 140 characters. But I work hard to follow these precepts whenever I am communicating with my readers, friends, and followers. Because like me, ultimately I just want you to be "liked."