Say No to Shortcuts

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Whenever we got into the car with my dad for a trip that was not part of our normal routine, we got ready for adventure. Why? It wasn’t so much that our destination was that adventurous. It was the trip itself. My dad loved to devise shortcuts. The problem? They never shortened travel time. They either increased the time we spent in the car, or increased time spent in the car AND got us lost.

ShortcutsI often see the same thing happening with newer social business journeys. The driver gets excited by apps, tools and other shortcuts “guaranteed” to grow their fan/follower/connection base in a lightning quick fashion. Unfortunately, many of these shortcuts lead that social business driver on a merry chase full of wrong turns, detours and one way only avenues that end up with the driver lost and unsure where they are or how to get home.

“With record speed” and “get it fast” are phrases bandied about by many an app/online tool developer ready to promise you a shortened journey. The problem is that successful social endeavors require that you take active part in the journey. Shortcuts, while seemingly faster, often take you in divergent directions that detract from the real reasons your engaging in social business.

  1. Relationships can’t be rushed. They build in their own unique time. Relationships that result in business are built on trust. Trust can’t be rushed.
  2. Social business relies on stories rather than sales tactics, telling rather than selling. What happens when you speed through a story? Key points get missed. The listener finds themselves unsure of the plot, the message. Sharing stories takes time.
  3. While sharing is an integral part of social business, you can’t just share anything. It’s vital that you read and assess each item you think you might want to share. Rapid fire shares and retweets without reading often create bad business buzz. You might share a dead link, spam or worse – information that is completely outdated or off base.

Yes, it’s important to build a following – you want someone to see and appreciate that great information you’re creating and sharing. But you can’t rush. All likes are not created equal. Same goes for followers on Twitter and circles on Google+.

While Facebook like parties are going strong, as are ladder events, don’t rush to like hundreds of pages to get several hundred likes in return. You might get the numbers, but will you get:

  • People who will actively take part in discussions?
  • Content worthy of sharing?
  • People willing to share your good content?
A recent blog post on this very topic started a lively discussion about these like building events and the people who take part. You can read it here.

While the idea that you must follow to be followed on Twitter is basically sound, again – you don’t want to just click the “follow” button without real intent. Michael Hyatt states that “the higher your follower count, the more people assume you are an expert”, and therein lies the quandary for us. Do you want to be an “assumed” expert, that assumption based solely on one number? Or, would you rather be known as an expert based on the ideas, tips and tools shared? I’ll state openly that I prefer to work toward the latter.

Numbers for the sake of bigger numbers don’t have any real ROI. And yes, as much as social business is about the relationship over the sale, you have to consider and track ROI. There’s a purpose to the building of that relationship (see what Social Media Examiner has to say on the topic), one that your boss really wants to see well documented.

Shortcuts don’t build the types of numbers that help you put together the reports your boss, even if you’re the boss, wants to see. Careful planning, attention to detail and good old hard work build the relationships that build the numbers that net you positive ROI. Skip the shortcuts and get busy creating that plan of action!

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Mallie Hart
After a long career as a graphic artist, web designer and ghost writer, Mallie found her true calling when personal social media embarked on the path leading to social business. While she still gets busy with graphics, most of her creative energy is now directed to unique social media content creation, curation and cultivation. Her dual love of graphic design and social media requires her to research, write about and promote a wide variety of topics while staying true to brand integrity. A research junkie - she majored in medieval history, Mallie enjoys the opportunity to find an interesting angle on just about any type of business or industry niche. When she’s not busy with The Media Barista, Mallie has been known to devour books (several per week), careen over rocks and roots on her bicycle and seek out the newest, edgiest music; all while drinking a lot of coffee.
Mallie Hart

@themediabarista

Caffeinated creativity and connections...building the best social media campaigns! When not here, I'm herding cats at @collectiveSS! #socialbiz
Have you noticed I don't post here anymore? Please come connect over at @moremallie. No automation - all off the cuff! - 2 months ago
Mallie Hart

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  1. bowden2bowden says:

    Awesome, Awesome post Mallie and I now have a grasp of the cluttered never ending "Like" party! I often see these events as oxymoronic…if you know my point.

  2. I completely agree with you Mallie. If you take shortcuts the value of your Facebook/Twitter account will have almost no value. Yes, you may 5,000 followers but how many of those followers are even real or even care about you or your brand. I would much rather build my social media presence organically. Even if it takes years!

    • As someone who has a low-ish count, but very active discussions, I admit it can be hard to stay focused when we're bombarded with notices that it can be done more easily!

  3. Great stuff Mallie! Very well said and so true! It's sad how many businesses want to skip the "social" part of social media, instead they try to push their message on people and treat them like numbers.

    Good things happen to those who are diligent and take the time to build real relationships.

    Keep it up Mallie! :)

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks, Paul. I appreciate the "getting behind me" nature the comments on this post have shown. Only when we highlight the benefits of good old fashioned hard work will they "matter" more than the quick fix tactic.

  4. Well done Mallie, and might I say I believe that …"Relationships can’t be rushed. They build in their own unique time. Relationships that result in business are built on trust. Trust can’t be rushed." says it all for me. Sometimes I see those that are Social Managers themselves be so wrapped in showing results to their clients "get it fast" partake of questionable practices.

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks, Gerry. It's that careful balance between ROI and the actual conversation that leads to a relationship. You have to find the right spot in-between. We all know people who lean a little too far to one side or the other.

  5. James Oliver, Jr. says:

    Really enjoyed this one, Mallie. Thanks for the post.

  6. Terrific metaphor! Of particular note are the phrases you likened shortcuts to with – record speed and get it fast. Thanks.

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks so much, Pat. Yes, those phrases really ought to "PING" our OH NO, this can't be legit response. But we all fall prey from time to time!

  7. b2brookeballard says:

    So glad to hear someone with experience focus on the RELATIONSHIP. I think people, companies and brands that put the relationship first and selling or their own agenda second (or last) will do far better than those who only push their own stuff. I know it's easy to get caught up in the numbers – even I have to pull myself back from counting 'likes' from time to time. Besides, the conversations are WAY more exciting and fruitful than any amount of Fans or Followers could ever be (in my opinion)!

    • Mallie Hart says:

      We all fret over our own numbers – if we didn't it would mean we weren't paying attention. But sometimes the numbers don't tell the whole story even half as well as one comment from someone you've helped!

  8. I absolutely agree with you Mallie! Social media is about being social, not adding numbers just for the sake of adding numbers.

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks, Jen. While we all have to keep an eye on ROI – we aren't trustafarians all, you can always tell when that number edges out good old fashioned social sensibility.

  9. (Your dad does what my Paul has done as long as I've know him (that is until we FINALLY got a GPS for the car this year)

    It's takes two to build a relationship and it takes time!

  10. Kerry Armour says:

    A subject near and dear to mine own heart, Mallie. I natter on about this ALL the time. It's SOCIAL media people SOCIAL…it takes real connections, and real time to create these. But it's completely worth the time when you have fans/follower/subscribers who actually share their thoughts and reactions with you. That kind of direct connection of supplier to consumer and consumer to consumer is worth a little bit of ROI leaning!

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Very true, Kerry. It's taking the time to reply, discuss, and even disagree (nicely) that builds a relationship!

  11. As with all good marketing, Social Media depends on strong relationships. Keep the reader in mind rather than your desired outcome. Ironically, by doing this you'll likely achieve what you set out to do…connect and make a real relationship. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks so much for coming by to comment, Kristin. It's always nice when something you say resonates. It's a reminder to make sure our shorter posts do the same, resonate while being relatable!

  12. Daniel Hebert says:

    Great post Mallie!

    I agree, there is no quick and easy way to build a valuable community. It's a time investment for sure. I would also say, it's a continuous, on-going process to build your community. When you think you're done, think again. You'll always need to nurture your relationships that you build through social, so it never stops. I think a lot of people don't necessarily realize this when they first jump into social.

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