Using Social Media Right – For You

Chris Brogan wrote a post the other day about connecting your Twitter profile to LinkedIn. His take was that it’s annoying, and you should only be sharing some of your Twitter stuff.

There are a ton of folks that say you shouldn’t be tweeting about what you had for breakfast, or how silly your cat is. Doing that means you’re not using Twitter right.

Then you have folks that say you shouldn’t connect Foursquare to your Twitter account, because no-one wants to know that you’re sitting on a patio having a cold one somewhere, or you’re in Best Buy getting a game for your Xbox 360.

Again, it’s “not the right way” to use the service.

Here’s a little heads up – there’s no right or wrong way to use social media.

There is a right way to use it for you and your needs, though, and that’s different.

To take Chris’s point about Twitter and LinkedIn, I worked with a client in the service industry. They used Twitter to help resolve issues and technical queries. We fed their Twitter feed into LinkedIn and Facebook.

Because of this, they won three big clients who were impressed at how quickly they resolved issues, and how concerned they were for their customers. Where did these clients come from? Two from LinkedIn and one from Facebook. The three new clients equated to six figure contracts – something that would have been missed had the Twitter account of my client not been linked up elsewhere.

As for not using Twitter to share personal stuff? Look at Twitter’s own description of the service – “Twitter is a rich source of instant information. Stay updated. Keep others updated. It’s a whole thing.” Nowhere does it say, “Please keep this business related.”

And sharing what you’re up to on Foursquare allows others to see your tastes. We keep complaining about ineffective advertising – by sharing what we like, we’re allowing marketers and advertisers insights into what we’d like to see from them. Seems like a win-win (as long as they don’t abuse our trust, obviously).

This whole “doing social media right” mindset seems to miss the mark. Who said that using Twitter or LinkedIn should be one way and one way only? Where did these “social media rules” come from? I don’t recall seeing a Social Media Ten Commandments movie. You?

Social media is just like anything else – people will either like what you’re doing or not. They’ll either agree with your viewpoint or they won’t. The ones that agree will be your customers; the ones that don’t probably weren’t a good fit anyways.

And isn’t that the way business and personal relationships have always been anyway?

Creative Commons License photo credit: QualityFrog

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  1. says

    Bravo, I am not a fan of the whole right vs. wrong way. The biggest problem is that like people who love National League Baseball, early adopters feel that their beloved tools are being bastardized.

    While the geek community (me included) like using things for reason X, the tools will cease to exist if the site owners can’t get mass appeal and generate revenue, they will close up shop.

    People need to get over themselves as we’re just not that important.

    • says

      Hey there Jeff,

      Amen to that, mate. Sometimes I think we allow the whole “Internet fame” to get in the way of common sense. Heck, even celebrity offline is a short-lived thing. Besides, you’re only as relevant as those that think you are… 😉

  2. says

    Very good, Danny~! Smack on the money, once again.

    I’ve been arguing (with myself, mainly) about this issue. Right or Wrong? What I’ve come to believe is that Social Media, in it’s essence, is truly an intuitive resource. The folks who try to cram it into a box are not looking at the big picture. The picture that is in NO way 2 dimensional or linear.

    Empirically, this Social stuff is all over the place, a huge fractal of new marketing reality. Our best choice to wrangle it is to remain flexible at all times…allow it to buck and charge in whatever direction it likes…and hang on with a firm hand.

    • says

      That’s the main thing right there, Janet. Your intuition will tell you what’s right for you and your audience. The “one size fits all” approach was outdated the minute it was coined.

  3. says

    OK, I don’t use Twitter or any of these other social media things. I don’t understand them, haven’t given them a chance, wouldn’t recognize Twitter if I was looking at it, and I often call it Twatter because I think that’s funny.

    So correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m sure you will) but don’t you have to “follow” people to know what their updates are? So if I didn’t want to know what someone’s silly cat was up to, I would just not follow them. And if I only wanted to use it for business, then I could choose only to follow my business peeps?

    Isn’t Twatter designed so that you can use it for what benefits you?

    • says

      No, you’re correct – it’s all opt-in, so you can unsubscribe any time. That’s the beauty of these platforms, and the irony of being annoyed by other users – you’re the one that’s letting yourself be annoyed.

      • says

        my point to Brogan… i bet he has short man syndrome, he just seems like the kinda guy whose angry at everything… there’s always something to complain about. You can tell him he doesn’t have to worry about hearing my crazy antics any time soon. I’m not likely to join the twitter

        • says

          Haha Jack – I could be wrong but I don’t think Chris suffers from too many moments of inferiority in his day to day life. But regardless your point is spot on….people will vote with their feet. I know I do.

          Btw what’s holding you off from joining the conversation on Twitter?

  4. Chris Eh Young says

    I agree that there is really no right or wrong way to use social media, there is only the way that works best for you.

    I check in at far too often at a certain coffee shop and I am known for that. I get tweeted all the time about my coffee addiction in humerous ways. It’s become ongoing fodder for conversation. Is that bad? Not in my eyes, it lets people know that i am a real person doing real things. Not just some straight laced business guy.

    Sure, i’m all for using it to further your business, but I also believe that businesses are built on relationships. I take the time to establish relationships and build from there. besides, when i talk with people they are comfortable with me. They feel they already know me.

  5. says

    That’s the beauty of social media. It allows you share as much of you as you want and where. Every channel can be used differently. On Twitter, It is a mix for me between personal and professional. LinkedIn is straight professional and Facebook is mostly personal. Some of the same people overlap in all three, but most are different groups.

    • says

      Right. You choose the approach for each one, and if that cross-pollinates then it’s because you feel the audience will appreciate. And you’re the best judge of that.

  6. says

    Yes and No.

    I would agree that its not up to you or I or Chris Brogan to dictate the rules of Social Media. I would also agree that we shouldn’t be obsessed with embracing Social Media the right way.

    As someone who is mindful of his personal brand, I am very interested in the things that might turn people off. I’m not sure if a stand offish “Don’t follow me” is the best solution.

    I wouldn’t be so bold as to label that “the right or wrong way”

    I’m a fan of Chris Brogan’s and generally agree with his point of view. I just don’t think his point was worthy of a second mention in his blog (within a month I believe).

    Thank you for sharing your perspective!

    Paul Castain

    • says

      Hey there Paul,

      Thanks for your thoughts, fella, much appreciated.

      With regards the “don’t follow” approach, do you think that changing your voice for the medium is a true reflection of your brand?

      Or does it give a “false” image of your brand company, and one that will be revealed further down the line as you inevitably slip into your normal personality?

      • says

        I see your point Danny and its a damn good one at that!

        Here’s how I look at it. There are lots of things that comprise who I am and more specifically the “Paul Castain” brand. I think there is a profound difference between a lack of transparency and simply “keeping the main thing, the main thing”

        Paul Castain

      • says

        Hey Danny and Paul,

        In regards to “changing your voice”: I agree you shouldn’t be fake, however shouldn’t your brand and business be something you create with your customers. This site is a great example of co-creation. I spend just as much time reading the comments of fellow readers as I do the actual post. Google has found success involving their customers in the creation of new tools and apps.

        It seems to me that you shouldn’t change who you are, but there are somethings you should be willing to change in order to make it a brand that belongs to your community.

        Thanks for taking the conversation further.

        • says

          Agree completely Jeremie.

          Your brand is how it’s defined by others. You can try and build a brand persona, but ultimately it’s how you’re perceived that will decide how you’re actually viewed.

          You can certainly amend your voice for different audiences; but there still needs to be you that’s inherent all the way through. And sometimes, trying to be what you’re not naturally sees that inherent side get lost…

  7. says

    It’s funny, when I saw Chris’ post, I agreed. I have leaned toward seeing LinkedIn as a place where we need fewer updates, and that they need to be more professionally oriented.

    Then you highlight a single, powerful example of how the opposite position benefited a company in a significant way.

    I think it demonstrates how careful we must be in differentiating between “here’s my advice” and “here’s the right way.”

    • says

      That’s a great quote right there, Brandon – “advice versus the right way.”

      I think we need to make sure that we (both as bloggers and readers) separate the two, as often the source doesn’t.

  8. says

    Bravo, Danny. You’re absolutely right.

    I agree with Chris Brogan’s main point (and think I left a comment on his original blog post) about the danger of irritating your followers. And many of the people who cross-post everything (especially Twitter to LinkedIn) aren’t doing so strategically. (Or, if they have a strategy, it certainly escapes me.) If you’re trying to reach me, but I tune you out or hide your feed, aren’t you failing?

    On the other hand, you’re quite right that there are other perspectives (and sometimes strategic reasons for cross-posting or breaking other perceived “rules”).

    Plus, as you quite correctly point out, Moses hasn’t yet appeared with those social media rules tablets.

    • says

      Perhaps one way to approach it is to look at what you’re doing offline and then see where that type of audience is online. If your focus groups (or similar) are telling you something is working, then becoming the opposite to that online seems kinda counter-productive?

  9. says

    I agree that there are no rules per se. There are vague and morphing expectations that surround various platforms, which can lead to a set of evolving “semi-best practices sometimes” – but one person’s best practice is another’s bad advice.

    • says

      Couldn’t agree more, Steve – just because something works for you doesn’t mean it’s carte blanche to work on a wider scale. That’s the beauty of individuality :)

  10. says

    Nobody might care what Chris had for breakfast (maybe cold pizza) but my Mom cares about what I had (Whole Grain Bagel with some fat free stuff that tasted like most fat free stuff).

    I thought “social” media was supposed to be social?

    I’m sure there are a lot of people that care what Warren Buffet had for breakfast.

    • says

      That’s the thing, Brad. For every 100 folk you piss off, you might make another 100 just as happy. It’s called personal preferences. 😉

  11. says

    I am glad you have addressed this Danny because it is easy for people to hear the word of a well known social media consultant and take it as Gospel. (Thought that was fitting considering the religious references)

    I’ll admit, some things tee me off on social websites but that is just my opinion. I will borrow some of the words someone else wrote on Chris Brogan’s site after he made a blog post about a particular ad… “This tells us how to approach advertising to Chris Brogan”.

    In other words, some people hate the constant stream of what you are eating for breakfast whilst others think it’s great because it gives them ideas on what they can eat. Horses for courses.

    On the topic of purely LinkedIn, since when did you need a suit to attend a social website? I know it has become a culture of business talk and that’s great but if there is anything social media tools have taught us, there are people behind these computers.

    • says

      The funny thing with LinkedIn is that they’re fast becoming a more open platform anyway.

      There are apps for travel, blogging, books and more. Say I read a book that folks hate – does that then put me out the vision of that person because our tastes don’t align?

      It’d be sad to think you close your eyes to the best talent on the market, just because they don’t use a platform the way you do. That doesn’t seem to make great business sense.

      • says

        Spot on mate. I think that is part of the reason why Gary Vaynerchuck has said he wants to get back into the grind. Sometimes you can look from the outside for so long, you tend to miss what is going on inside.

  12. says

    My thoughts exactly, Danny. I love how this is at least Chris’s second time complaining about this. God forbid we don’t use these tools the way Chris Brogan does.

    That’s exactly what Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are – tools. Use them as you see fit for your needs. Don’t listen to anybody telling you differently. They’re probably trying to sell you a steaming pile of crap.

    Thanks for the important reminder Danny!

    • says

      If I used Twitter as a strait-laced business account, I would probably never have made anywhere near the connections – valuable connections – that I have.

      Same goes for LinkedIn – I’ve had some great discussions based on a fun status update, or the occasional tweet filtered in there that has nothing to do with business, but all of showing who I am.

      And at the end of the day, I want to do business with a person, not a check book.

  13. says

    I agree with your sentiments, Danny. There really isn’t a right and wrong way to use social media. It’s what’s right for me – and works – is the right way to use social media.

    I do want to throw in a pinch of salt here, though. The right and wrong ways do not preclude common sense. Not using common sense is not an option, no matter how I am using social media.

    For example, linking FourSquare and Gowalla with Twitter is great. But do I want to send out tweets every five minutes about my exact location – and what I am doing?

    Perhaps I do want do, and that’s great. But then, am I also sending the information to true “friends” or “strangers” and unknowingly helping them invade my privacy and/or security?

    As I always like to day, social media is what we make of it. Take a step back; draw up a social media roadmap that works for you, environment, requirements, constraints included – and then play by it. We’ll find it far more rewarding – and relevant when we do just that.

    • says

      You’re out and about every five minutes, Kapil? Holy monkeys! 😉

      But yes, you’re right – in anything you do, common sense dictates. And that’s what will tell you whether you should be cross-pollinating sites or not.

  14. says

    Love the post! It is all about “what’s right for you”.

    I have my FourSquare connected with both my Facebook and my Twitter. I don’t check into places that often but have made new connections that way.

    At the end of the day – we should use any form of social media in a way that feels congruent with ourselves and take what others say with a grain of salt.

    • says

      What I see as a great opportunity for Foursquare is to leverage the community it has, and explain that check-ins will allow advertisers and marketers to tailor offers just for them.

      Instead of crappy generic ads, we get what we’re actually interested in. And for that reason, public updates are definitely a bonus.

  15. says

    This is a really current and pertinent topic for me, Danny.

    I have until last week had my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts connected, so that my Twitter updates appeared on LinkedIn automatically. However, one of my LinkedIn connections – someone who represents my absolute target audience from a coaching point of view – told me that he was unlinking from me on LinkedIn because my Twitter updates were “spamming” his LinkedIn updates. He emailed me to tell me that he felt this was, in his opinion, not doing me any favours with my LinkedIn connections.

    I’ve subsequently uncoupled these accounts. While I am very comfortable to be chatting with people on Twitter – yourself included about HootSuite or whatever – I have to remember that actually a lot of my clients and/or potential clients see social media (especially Twitter and Facebook) as being a more frivolous than business oriented “thing”.

    • says

      And that’s how you determine what’s good for you and those around you, Christine.

      The great thing is our ability to measure and react. Cross-linking won’t fit for everyone, but it will fit for some, and calling it out as annoying for all seems to make it too simple a statement.

  16. says

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Danny. To me it really boils down to the basics. Know who you are, know where you want to go, and know your audience. If you are secure in those areas your own solution will be clear.

  17. says

    Hi Danny
    I don’t have much to add to this particular conversation, except that as usual, I like the way you put things. There’s something gentle and accepting and so not “know it all” about your sharing info that I really like. And of course I second that every individual should have a look at her/his own needs…
    thanx Yael

  18. says

    I’ve actually been thinking a lot about how to get some of our clients activated on Twitter for the sole purpose of feeding to LinkedIn and increasing SEO. The Google spiders take a Twitter account into consideration when they crawl your site and, even though we all talk about Twitter being an engagement tool, if the company is in an industry that isn’t yet on Twitter and their customers and prospects aren’t there yet, what’s the harm in using it for SEO?

    • says

      I guess the main “harm” could be from a relevance standpoint, Gini?

      There are a ton of ways to garner SEO for either your site or profile, but if folks aren’t connecting with you on one due to noise, it could be seen as less important in the search engine eyes?

  19. says

    Hi Danny! I like the bigger message in your blog post ~ that holding onto your own ideas of right and wrong is fine, it even helps to define who you are in many ways. In no way should others be required to define themselves according to those terms though.

    You’ve also highlighted that holding fast to your present beliefs and customs can halt the process of evolution itself. Evolution, change and growth all accelerate in new ideas of ‘what is so’. Keeping an open mind to alternative and creative perspectives is beneficial.

    What I like most about Chris Brogan is his ability to transfer seemingly unrelated information into useful practice in the social media realm. I also love how he quotes sources outside of the social media realm to underline a point he’s trying to make.

  20. says

    Great article. It is definitely very important to be “you” on social media. Every person has their own goals for social media and reasons for investing their time into it. Some people may use SM strictly for business, and others may want to use just to socialize. I think its great for both and a mix is ideal.

    Most importantly, though, you need to be personable, even if your SM goals are strictly to grow your business. Even in business, people like to see a little personality shine through from their business partners. I’d rather purchase a product from a person that has offered me great advice or that I identify with than from someone that is just pushing their product 100% of the time. SM is a parallel to REAL life. Be nice, be genuine, and good things will happen for you.

    • says

      Couldn’t agree more, Kyle.

      You can look at any business in the world, and at the end of the day, even the most automated ones still need a form of human input to make work.

      And it’s that personable approach that can resolve a situation in a way that a phone tree never can, for example.

  21. says

    I disagree: when you use Twitter for your business, you should not tweet about how silly your cat is, or that you are having coffee at Starbucks. Well, you can, but don’t expect a ton of faithful followers. People are looking for compelling, interesting rich content, that will add something of value. Not trivial nonsense stuff. You should think strategically about which accounts to link and which not to, if you are using them for different purposes. Using Twitter and Social Media is a strategic step in ones business and marketing goals, don’t screw up. Know the rules. Know what works.

    • says

      But that’s the point of the post, Yasmin – the relevance of the platform. If you want to use Twitter as a business platform only, go ahead and do that – many have, and successfully too.

      But I think you’ll find that those that infuse a human element are far more engaging than a strait-laced business account, or at least are perceived to be.

      Dell made a fantastic success story via Twitter, as did Zappos Shoes, and a huge part of that was their humanity via their accounts.

      And still not sure about this whole “social media rules” viewpoint. You can’t say that what’s right for one company is right for all; that’s just not how business works.

      Different methodology is what separates us from our competitors; otherwise we may as well just have one company per industry.

  22. Nancy Cawley Jean says

    Danny, I just loved this post. People are all different, and so are businesses, and there is no one right model for everyone and every company. And if there really are some social media commandments, they needed to be tweeted, then linked to LinkedIn and Facebook… 😉