How to make social media a total waste of time

I admit it: I’m not a lover of all things social media. I am participating in the Facebook and Twitter discussions a bit begrudgingly. It’s not that I don’t think these tools work to grow businesses and create interesting discourse. They do.

It’s just that as a solo, I have only so much time available to me, and I’m interested in being involved with the things that offer the most bang for the buck. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to “sell” to my followers and friends, or looking at them as a means to an end. But at the end of the day, I have to make a living and I’m trying to use my time as efficiently as possible.

That’s not to say that I don’t have some fun with social media. How better to complain about careless drivers or Wisconsinites seemingly paralyzed by snow? I’m also using these tools to promote my business by tweeting about my appearances on CNBC, and by pushing my blog feed into my Facebook updates.

It’s a fact that major media outlets are using tools like Twitter and Facebook not only to promote their publications, but also to look for stories, sources, and experts. And frankly, I’d rather spend some time on Twitter to get a media contact, than pay a PR firm thousands of dollars to find me media placements.

Having said all that, Heidi Miller (the Podcasting Princess) did a great piece on her blog last week… How to frak up social media and guarantee it’s a waste of your time. You’ll have to go over to her site for all the details, but here’s a bit of what she has to say. Aspiring social media participants should definitely take note.

  • Treat people in your new social networks as prospects, not friends. Make sure that you constantly bombard them with one-way messages about how great your product is.
  • Be in a hurry to show “results.” Forget that “Connections over time equal trust” (–Tara Hunt); insist on showing immediate sales, hits and clickthroughs from your blog, podcast, Twitter or Facebook page with no concern for building relationships with your friends and participants.
  • Keep it impersonal; sounds like a corporation. Avoid speaking in a human voice; always “regret any inconvenience we may have caused you” instead of saying “sorry we messed up.”
  • Be the same. Never change. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Don’t bother to differentiate yourself from your competition; just stick with what you know. Never reach out.
  • Be afraid. Let your fear of loss of control of the conversation cause you to treat social media like traditional media. Insist on 100% control of everything you produce and keep channels closed so that when a PR crisis comes along, you have no connections, no credibility and nothing but slow, clunky methods of reacting publicly.

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