The Truth Behind Why Social Media ‘Hates’ You

by on 12/14/2010 • 29 Comments | Social Media

Sometimes it feels like social media is out to get you. Like if it’s not actively plotting your demise, it’s certainly giggling at it. You give it everything you’ve got and it never calls, never sends a gift and you’re constantly hearing whispers that it’s out canoodling with your biggest competitors. They’re getting retweets and media mentions, while all you’re seeing is frustration and a boss who wonders if this tweeting is costing everyone more than it’s making. What do you do? I mean, other than break out the bat and beat the world into submission?

I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s about this level of frustration that people finally start to seek out help. It’s only after they’ve tried everything and fallen down that they inquire about getting a customized social media plan. And when they do, internally we make it out goal to identify the reasons their efforts haven’t been successful. We want to find the frustration points so we can help them turn it around and create a better social media experience. Often knowing what you’re doing wrong is a good foundation for how to be better. And it doesn’t even require a bat.

Below are some reasons social media may appear to hate you. If it sounds familiar, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

You’re not original

The first time I watched Rudy, I cried. Like…big, sobbing tears. I’m a sap and when the crowd started chanting (which apparently never happened in real life, BTW), I lost it. These days when I watch the movie, I may smile when it gets to that part, but I don’t have nearly the same emotional reaction to it. And that’s because I’ve seen it before. It’s not original; I can sense what’s coming. Are people having the same reaction to your content? If your content isn’t catching fire the way you had hoped, it may be time to ask yourself some questions. First, where did that idea come from? Was it something your team brainstormed and put together or did you borrow it from someone else? Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to be ‘inspired’ by someone else’s social media campaign, just like it’s fine to be ‘inspired’ by someone else’s blog post. But if you’re not adding your own twist and your own flavor to it, then you may be coming off like duplicate content. You’re an also-ran that doesn’t mean anything to anyone. And people don’t care. If you want to be adored in social media, give them something they haven’t seen.

No one trusts you

This is a big one. If your message isn’t being shared as far as you would have hoped, it may be because no one trusts you. Trust in social media is influenced by a lot of things – authoritativeness, connectedness, observed interaction, sexy avatars, etc. That means people may not trust you because of the information you’re putting out, because you don’t have enough social capital or because they’ve witnessed you doing/saying something that breaks their trust [ie being rude to a customer, giving bad information, being too aggressive, etc]. Part of what we do as social media consultants is take a look at how you’re being perceived vs your goal in order to find the bridge between the two. While it’s great that you’re an expert, it does you no good if you’re an expert no one can stand. We only share content from people we trust.

You’re crappy at promotion

You think social media hates you because no one is tweeting, sharing or voting for your stuff. However, that’s probably not the case. They probably just don’t know you exist. That’s actually worse. For all your complaining that no one is sharing your content, did you remember to ask them to? Have you IM’d or emailed them with a link to your blog post that you think is exceptional and worthy of attention? Have you hit up your social Rolodex put your content in front of the right people? Or did you just hit publish and then hide under your desk? If the mountain will not come to Mohamed…

You have campaigns, not strategies

There’s a difference between creating a social media campaign and creating a social media strategy. A campaign is often a one-time thing. It’s that single idea you have, plan, and execute without giving any thought to what’s happening around it. A strategy is something bigger. It’s when you coordinate how you’re going to execute your idea, when it’s going to take place, and you sync it with everything else that’s going on. Ever notice how when an author releases a book, they’re suddenly everywhere? Instantly there are interviews about them on very station, they’re at every event, they’re being photographed with a new love interest, they have a new dark secret to reveal, etc. It’s almost as if it was…timed? That’s because it was. Your social media presence should be just as calculated. Not in a scary way. But in a “this-is-happening-right-now-for-a-reason” kind of way. Everything should be working together.

You’re not good at making friends

I found a really great post yesterday, liked the conversation that was happening and wanted to share it. Until I went to Twitter to look up the handle of one of the authors. When I got to his Twitter page I found him screaming at someone for a series of seven tweets. I decided not to tweet the post. Mostly because this dude now scared me. I didn’t want to step into that mix. I imagine other people didn’t tweet his post for the same reason. Not shockingly, social media is about people. It’s about those relationships and those personal connections that you make and then count on for support. If you’re not good at making friends, you don’t like people or you can’t at least fake being a pleasant person when needed, there’s a pretty good chance social media is going to hate you. You have to be social. If you’re not, go learn to code or something.

While it’s not true that social media hates your brand, it can certainly feel like that when push and push is ignored. Don’t wait til you’re about to grab the bat to seek help. Fix the problems early to help you start connecting with your audience.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

29 thoughts on “The Truth Behind Why Social Media ‘Hates’ You

  1. Good stuff. I like the originality thing a lot; I find a lot of drivel on a lot of social media outlets, and it’s nice to see someone acknowledge that. Being yourself and actually having something to say goes a long way, in my opinion.

    Keep it up!

  2. Being original and strategic seem insurmountable obstacles for so many people out there. I’m still trying to decide if it’s because they’ve found themselves in positions outside of their skill set or if it’s because they can mail it in and still get credit.

    • I think it’s a good degree of the latter, actually. Why stop what’s obviously not working and take the time to fix it when you can phone it in and get just enough attention? In a lot of environments where it’s “keep on keeping on” there’s no time to stop and evaluate why things suck. You just have to push out more suckage and hope something sticks.

  3. Thanks for your continued insight. Another problem is frequency burnout. If I see someone trying too hard by overposting (OP) it causes me to loose interest and I tune them out. It seems the misconception is stemming from the old media mindset, which is, “If they aren’t listening to me, I’ll scream louder!” That’s a knee jerk reaction to some of the problems you mentioned above.

    • Burnout is a big problem [noooot that I'd know anything about that. ;)]. It’s really difficult to keep producing quality content on a consistent basis. That’s why you see a lot of bloggers and social media people burn out after a year or so. It takes its toll. That’s where the professionals come in.

  4. Love it (of course; love everything you write; still waiting for something to blow raspberries at).

    Wonder about the whole strategies thing. Just read something yesterday in my new favorite business book, “The New Capitalist Manifesto” , “To become more competitive over the long term instead of just blocking competition temporarily, they were shifting from strategies to philosophies”.

    Gotta admit; we could all use big philosophies.

    • We certainly could, right?

      I think it’s really important businesses take the time to pull themselves out of the moment and create a plan of action for the future. What’s going on company-wide? What’s going on in the industry? What’s going on in the world? And how can you tie that all together? We miss a lot of opportunities looking right in front of us instead of just a little ways down the road.

  5. Funny you bring this up as just today I unfollowed someone that just RTs the same source I already follow. I don’t need the duplicate content in my stream right after they tweet it.. It’s getting harder not to see the same story in Twitter feeds, especially in the internet marketing area.

    • Really, I think that’s something twitter needs to fix. It should be “smart” enough to hide retweets if you’re reading them in the same block.

    • Ha, yeah, marketers are good like that, aren’t they? I think if people ONLY RT’d content they actually liked instead of content they felt forced to RT, we’d see a lot less noise. Maybe one day.

      • As long as marketers feel the need to market themselves to other marketers (why god why??) I don’t see that issue being solved anytime soon – unless Twitter sprinkles their magic on the issue.

        • Ha, marketers marketing themselves to other marketers. That’s a T-shirt slogan in the making. :)

          I can’t see Twitter stepping in and “hiding” block retweets. I’m not sure I’d even want them to. It’d just be so much easier if marketers were more responsible with what they shared.

          • Marketers won’t get more responsible until Google does a better job of rewarding authentic marketers brand evangelists. Right now it pays to spam, and so as “our” culture is so deeply tied to it, it’s hard not to retweet that Mashable article (even when we know that it doesn’t benefit our followers, clients, and especially friends to do so). It’s not intentionally spam in this case, it’s the culture of quick promotion, void of core marketing value consideration. Laziness.

            What I think Twitter could step in and separate out RTs as another column, just like @ & DMs, where the original link is credited to the original source of that link (even if not on the user’s follow list), and all variations of that RT (by followers or by all, depending on setting chosen) are displayed in linear format, such as a comment system on a blog. Not only does this remove the noise from primary feeds, it gives the initial reporter credit for breaking the story (link), gives a place for the author’s tweets (based on using the Twitter share widget or domain linked to on Twitter), and would give people ways to interact with other tweeps in a less random manner than hashtag chasing.

            But that’s just another one of my crazy ideas.

  6. It may seem weird in this day and age of over sharing and the constant attention that social media affords people, but I think that one of the obstacles for some people (myself included) is an ingrained sense of modesty. Asking for a RT, sending an email or IM about a particularly good blog post, RTing someone else’s nice comment about you or your work are all forms of self-promotion that may not come naturally to some people. Whether you’re in charge of managing your company’s social media presence or just trying to get your own pet project some exposure, some people need to constantly fight the desire to “hit publish and then hide under your desk.” As someone who gets annoyed with people who only promote their own work/company without adding any other value, I get a weird feeling when it comes to sending out links to my own stuff. And while a certain amount of restraint is definitely necessary, I’ve started to realize that sometimes you really need to just get over it and put yourself out there (just like with anything else in life).

    • I can certainly understand that sharing your content isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone – but it’s also what social media was based on. If you don’t feel confident sharing your material, why would anyone else? We all have this (false) ideal that if the content we create is “good enough” people will share it on our behalf. But the numbers show that’s really not the case. People don’t share something unless you ask them to share it, in most cases. You shouldn’t be IMing people every day (at least not the same people) every day trying to get them to share your content, but when you have something that’s really worth it – why WOULDN’T you want to tell everyone about it?

  7. It also seem to be a constant identity crisis. Who are we and how do we continually define ourselves…as the world changes, as tech evolves, as we grapple with creating a meaningful tension between lifestyle marketing strategies and relationship engagement? There is no “This will ALWAYS work.” perfect way. That challenge is the breaking point for some and the rushing point for others. But until you are in the mix, fighting and making and promoting, you never know if the person you hired is one or the other.

  8. I feel like the biggest problem with social media is the illusion that, since the networks associated with it are basically free and accessible to anyone, people expect to have the same chance of results wether they put effort in what they do or not.
    Since I can do it easily, I will be successful at it. That’s kinda wrong, and that’s why so many end up whining.

  9. Social Media is something that can be done right if there is a plan in place to be followed. The assumption that social media is an easy way to gain exposure is very wrong, it is easy to sign up for all the social media outlets, but to effectively gain exposure it takes time and effort.

  10. great post Lisa….and I ‘specially like the phrase “…If your message isn’t being shared as far as you would have hoped, it may be because no one trusts you…”

    couldn’t a said it better, tho I’ve tried to get that message across to clients who always want to “game” the rise to an authority/trust site….via Social media….sigh…

    :)

    Jim

  11. Agreed; it’s funny that everyone is so concerned with social media and how it’s affecting their business … Just facebook and twitter aren’t good enough anymore – you’ve got to submit your information everywhere, get syndicated, and generate some buzz for your company….

  12. I feel like the biggest problem with social media is the illusion that, since the networks associated with it are basically free and accessible to anyone, people expect to have the same chance of results wether they put effort in what they do or not. Since I can do it easily, I will be successful at it. That’s kinda wrong, and that’s why so many end up whining.

  13. Agreed. People think social media is the illusion and basically its free services to create network which is accessible by everyone and generate results rapidly. Its a kind of platform which help marketers to grow rapidly and get amount of traffic in short span of time but at the same time many of them forget about the actual goal and ROI which really required to be taken into consideration.

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