Why Big Companies Suck at Social Media & How You Can Avoid Doing the Same

January 17, 2012

Photography Credit: Amber Anderson for Elle France by Simon Burstall via Fashion Gone Rogue

Last week I had an email from my Dad asking how many followers on Twitter and ‘likes’ on Facebook I had. I told him (cos you know, he could have just taken 3 seconds to look himself!) but then asked why he wanted to know. Apparantly the company he works for – don’t ask me what they do…it’s something to do with software I think – want to increase their social media presence and therefore wanted a benchmark as to what some ‘good follower numbers’ would be.

While flattered, I was confused at what relevance my social networking had to do with a massive multi-national corporation like this – one with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of staff turning over millions of £/$/€ a year. But then I realised that I shouldn’t be so damn self deprecating and that in all reality, it’s the small businesses that rock at using social media and the big boys that (I’m sorry but generally) suck at it.

FYI when I say ‘big companies’, I’m not really talking about giants like Starbucks, McDonalds and Coca-Cola. Companies that are household names will always have hundreds of thousands of followers – maybe it’s the thought of seeing a tweet with a discount code for a free coffee/burger/fizzy drink. If I thought about it a bit more I’m sure I could come up with a much more concise reason why, but that’s not really what this article is about anyway…

In my opinion, the biggest failing of large companies who use social media is this:

♥ People go on social media sites to connect with real people (Twitter) to be entertained (Facebook) or to procrastinate (Pinterest). Big companies often fail to notice all these things. Instead of thinking about the people that will actually read the updates, they simply use their outlets to promote themselves or just to post links to their own websites. This is neither genuine, entertaining or worth your valuable procrastination time.

However here’s a few things you can do to make sure you rock social media like a small time pro:

♥ Be yourself – this is the most important thing! If you are a one-man/woman band then celebrate this. Be personable and genuine.

♥ Post exclusive content – maybe run competitions or share things that are exclusively for your Twitter followers or Facebook fans – its not all about driving traffic to your website, it’s about extending your brand and making people want to follow you.

♥ Balance promoting yourself with being entertaining (i.e. posting random non-work related status updates). Again, this makes you seem like a real person and enables people to connect with you on a genuine level. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve met people who follow me on Twitter and the first thing they ask is how my cats are!

♥ Promote other people. Share links to things you think you readers will like – not just links to your own site. This will not only carry favour with the people whose links you are sharing, but it will make you a valuable person to follow. Everyone likes to discover new things – be a source of new things for your followers.

♥ Engage with your followers. Ask questions and actually take the time to reply to the people that respond.

♥ Don’t stress about the numbers. The question I always get asked is ‘how did you get so many followers?’ and the simple answer is that I don’t really know (!) but that I can only imagine it’s because I’m entertaining (I ain’t afraid to poke fun of myself and ‘tell it like it is’), because I take the time to reply to people and because I talk about a topic people are interested in.

I’d love to know your thoughts on social media. Are you finding it a struggle and if so can us GreenRoom-ers help? Do you have any tips that I’ve missed out? Let’s get social people…