How to use social networking in a (gasp) different way

When done correctly, social networking can be an incredibly useful—not to mention cheap!—marketing tactic. But it can also be easy to slip into complacency with this medium, and complacency rarely equates to sales.

What I mean by complacency is falling into a regular, unchanging pattern, such as visiting the same blogs everyday, Tweeting exactly once an hour, and updating Facebook and LinkedIn statuses and profiles with identical posts. Who exactly are you reaching by rehashing the same tired social networking routine each day? It’s like any other type of advertising: If the content isn’t fresh and relevant, the end-user will cease to notice it. You’ll be a billboard among billboards that nobody remembers. And that’s just a waste of time.

Robert Pagliarini of CBS Moneywatch refers to this sameness, this routine-ness, as social media groupthink ( Or, in other words, the tendency to search for and connect with people, sites, and organizations that are directly in line with your own goals.

Obviously, this isn’t bad in itself; you should reach out to your most natural audience. But if you want a shot at increasing that audience, try interacting with people and sites whose ideas, needs, and goals aren’t just likes yours. Leave comments and join the conversation; even disagree (politely). The interactions that follow might just give you new ideas, which you can use to refresh your social networking and marketing strategies. They may also help you expand your audience, reaching out to new end-users to fill a gap you even didn’t know existed.


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