Are your friends boring?
I read a great article this week about social media skepticism. Alexis Madrigal wrote in response to some poor fellow named Roger, who complained he couldn’t find anything useful on Twitter. The key passage–addressed to poor Roger–is (with my emphasis):
My diagnosis is simple, Roger: your friends and associates are terrible and boring. Being that you are a smart and interesting guy who would distill only the finest information from any social network, the problem is the garbage going into your feed, which can only come out as garbage in your column. And that garbage is being created by the people who you choose to follow and know.
Have you been discouraged from using social media to boost your personal brand, by acquaintances or friends who complain about the lack of quality of the information there?
They’re doing it wrong!
Value is there, but you have to find it. In the context of building your personal brand, you can create it. Your online job lure should be a source of value for others! Your objective is to follow people who post quality content about your specialty, so you can participate in the community and boost both your knowledge and your profile. And by creating a presence with value to offer, you provide a source of great information for others to consume.
Your social channels (such as Twitter) need to be targeted. You want your brand to be thought of as expert in a specific area; your content should focus on that topic. If you include too many topics, the purpose of that online presence won’t be clear and you won’t win followers.
Leaders Follow the Focused to Learn
Let me use my own subscriptions as an example: Generally if someone posts 75% or more about a topic I’m interested in, I’ll follow. If that ratio drops, however, I stop following. Why? Because I want to know about topics I care about, not any and all topics the author cares about! This is not about you, it’s about your audience!
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever cheer on your favorite team, or post a funny anecdote about something that happened. But these should be exceptions to show your personality, not the main type of content you provide. Your audience needs an anchor to latch on to, a reason to follow.
Create a focused presence on the social media sites you use, and you’ll build a quality audience over time.
UPDATE: Turns out, Roger is a New York Times columnist who wrote a delightfully backwards column called “Thanks for Not Sharing.”
TL;DR: Social media provides as much value as you’re willing to invest in it. Follow people who provide value!
Join the conversation! Comments and questions are welcome!
Image from Flickr.