Saturday, March 28, 2009

Only allow yourself one topic on social network sites?

I recently read an article on Microgeist that I found interesting. It is about actions that degrade your brand on social media sites. Very nice article! I found most of the points interesting, but disagree about this point.

"Inappropriateness ... in this case it means a post, tweet or picture that doesn’t fit into the context of what your account has defined itself as. Some networks are more forgiving, even encouraging, in sharing personal information while others have rather strict requirements as to the kind of content that belongs there."

I agree that if the network you are on requires certain types of content only, or in the case of blogs or articles, that this is an appropriate recommendation. However, I don't believe it is a universal point. And certainly not worthy of being #1 on your list, although I am unsure whether your list was ranked or just randomly listed.

On twitter, and other social networks that have a great deal of potential interaction, I talk about more than just my business. I have a new age mail order store, so there are certainly plenty of topics to discuss; spells, book of shadows, tarot, pendulums, meditation, herbs, etc. But I also discuss my personal life, thoughts on world events, and my reactions to other people's tweets or posts. I don't think this degrades my "brand" at all. I think this helps people realize that I am more than just a store. My interests, like those of most people, are varied not limited. I'm real, not just a logo. I'm a person, a friend (an online one at least,) someone to talk to. Reachable, touchable. Not only that, but I can have a wider circle of followers, readers, etc

Let's take Twitter for example. What should I do? Not respond when people I follow write something interesting just because it is outside of my "brand" topics? Why even read other people's tweets then?

The best kind of advertising from a business perspective is backed by trust. Can you build trust by showing you are an expert in a field? Absolutely. Can you build trust by showing you truly care about other people's thoughts and feelings? Absolutely. As a person is it natural to do both? Yes. Do you reach more people that way and feel like less of a spam bot. YES.

Social networks are just that, a place to network socially. Although it can be a great place to advertise as well, all advertise all the time gets you unfollowed, unfriended and unfavorited, and frankly... isn't as interesting. I'm not saying spend 5 hours a day on Twitter, or a similar network. I'm just saying if something catches your eye that someone has to say, or if you see something off-network that you think others may find interesting, helpful, or useful, and it is unrelated to your brand, one shouldn't feel it is hands off. If you do, are you much more than a robot?

Save the strictly branding accounts for Whole Foods, Google, etc. And hey, if you are that big maybe it is sound advice. But real people with real businesses have something that sets them apart. The ability to think outside the brand. The ability to interact on a more complex and varied level. That can be a tremendous asset, not a detriment.

In the case of blogs and articles, however, I do think you should stay much closer to your brand. Although a stray topic here and there would be fine, many people bookmark sites that are specific in their topics when it comes to blogs and articles. Blogs & articles are more about information (or opinion) delivery than they are about interaction, so I think they are a different animal altogether.

Anyway, that is my opinion on the matter. And a new off-topic off-brand post for my blog :)


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