Are you treating Social Networks like your personal networks?

I follow a number of businesses on Facebook and Twitter. Surprisingly, I find that many of them do not act like businesses, but instead they act like several of my personal Facebook friends. Does your business fall into one of these three categories?

The Spammer
Everyone on facebook knows at least one of these people. You know the ones that have at least a dozen updates each day. Most of the updates are not that interesting – “Just had this for breakfast,” “Visited this store”, etc. Now, maybe if you are TV and Movie Star Ashton Kutcher, your fans will want to hear everything that you are doing.Look at me! But, if you are a business, I don’t want a lot of tweets or posts. I especially don’t want you telling me stuff that I, as a customer and businessman, don’t care about. I’m busy, and I follow you because you share relevant information that I’m interested in. Maybe I want to know about your weekly special, coupons, new products, etc. Maybe you review and highlight a product once a week. Perhaps you share your thoughts on something about your market or industry. If so, great! That’s what I want to know about. I don’t need you to tell me to have a happy holiday or that you just had dinner with a business acquaintance.

The Lurker
I have facebook friends that friend me but rarely, if ever, update their status. The only updates I see are that they have friended other friends, so I know that they are still active on facebook. Apparently, they watch everyone but never contribute anything themselves. I’ve seen something similar occur with a few businesses on twitter. They have a presence there (they link to twitter from their web site, for example), but they rarely post anything! Why have a business presence on Twitter and/or Facebook if you are never going to use it?

The Spazmatic
This person is sometimes a spammer and sometimes a lurker. For friends, it is ok for them not to post anything when they have nothing to say.
A business, on the other hand, needs to post updates in a relatively timely fashion. Of course, we want that update to be relevant! Even if you do not have some great insight to post, I would bet that you’ve read someone’s tweet or facebook status that linked to a great article. At the very least you can retweet that. Then I will know that you are alive and that you are still sending me the relevant information that I’ve come to expect from you!

I think the rules for businesses on Facebook and Twitter are different than that of friends or celebrities. Decide what kind of information you want to have a reputation for posting and stick to it. Doing so will cultivate the audience that is after that information. Maybe you provide the special of the week, the new product of the week, the review of the week, or even the joke of the week! Just as your web site is tailored to a specific audience, you should likewise tailor your Facebook Brand page or your Twitter account. Besides giving me the relevant information I seek, remember to do it on a somewhat regular basis. That may just be once a week or several times a week. Just don’t post something to post something. Remember, just like you, I’m busy (except for when I’m playing Farmville on Facebook!)

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