Know your (social media) audience

Frontiers 2011 - Day 2 By frontiersofinteraction

One of the things that frustrates me on LinkedIn is the number of people I follow who set their account to automatically share all their tweets simultaneously on Twitter and LinkedIn. What I’m often left with is a LinkedIn newsfeed crammed with – well, people’s tweets!

This problem is two-fold…

First of all, if I’m connected to someone on LinkedIn, there’s a good chance I’m also following them on Twitter. That means that when I log into LinkedIn I want to experience a social environment with updates and news related to my connections’ professional lives and not a carbon copy of their Twitter stream.

Secondly, automating tweets to LinkedIn means that any tweet, regardless of context or subject matter, is updated as a LinkedIn status. Since when is “Had a great time last night… roll on next Friday – only 6 days to go!” a suitable update for LinkedIn, a professional social network?

A wider social media issue

This isn’t a problem exclusive to LinkedIn and Twitter but one related to social media as a whole. And it gains even more importance when brands, companies or professionals are concerned.

It’s one thing for someone who only casually uses social media to (knowingly or unknowingly) syndicate updates to multiple social networks, but another one entirely when a company or brand does so. It’s vital that if social media is to be used professionally (say, for example, as a marketing tool) then it must be used correctly.

Know your audience

It’s important that any person, brand or business intending to use social media in a meaningful – or even better, strategic – way understand that each social media platform must have its own raison d’ete. I have often visited a company’s Facebook page only to see update after update of links to their own blog posts. Unless you are a major brand or celebrity it’s highly unlikely anyone will want to ‘like’ your Facebook page.

Facebook should have it’s own unique experience for users and add value to their newstreams. By all means link back to your blog posts, but what is it that you’re offering your Facebook fans exclusively? The same is true for other platforms, including the company blog, Twitter stream and LinkedIn page. All must have their own, distinctive personalities whilst at the same time compliment each other and the overall brand.

Do it right – or not at all

I’m a firm believer that unless you’re prepared to take the time to investigate who your audience is, where they hang out (online) and prepare a social media experience tailored to them and the platforms they’re using, then it’s not worth using social media at all. It’s far better focusing on a targeted and well-maintained blog and Twitter presence, for example, than spread yourself thin across multiple social networks that are left unvisited with ten or twenty updates from two years ago.

Every online presence – whether it’s your website or within a social media site- is an opportunity to make a first impression. Don’t let clumsy use of social media spoil such an important encounter with potential colleagues, business partners, prospects or customers.