The best way to impair your social media presence

If it frustrates you when customers start actual conversations on your Facebook wall or talk to you on Twitter, just automate your status updates. They’ll go away—fast.

Have you ever visited a Facebook page that looked identical to the company’s Twitter page and website? Did you then wonder if a feed or robot updated the pages instead of a person?

Unfortunately, as companies work to do more with the same—or even fewer—resources, automated social media updates are becoming increasingly common. Though the technique can save organizations time and money, it sacrifices the five key components of an effective social media program:

1. Engagement

Though it may be convenient to update social profiles with a news feed, it compromises one of the most significant values social media offers—engagement. Without this key element, it is challenging for companies to build community and viral buzz.

2. Relationships

It’s difficult to build a relationship with a robot. To build a real relationship with your customers, show an appropriate amount of personality and address individuals who interact with you. This one-on-one communication quality is lost with news feeds.

3. Interaction

How do you get feedback from consumers? You ask questions and provide forums to share opinions. Though someone may occasionally retweet a news-feed update, you won’t get the same level of interaction you would from a Facebook poll, blog post, or even a “retweet for a chance to win” program.

4. Dialogue

Social media enables companies to have two-way conversations with members of key audiences. Talking at someone through a news feed doesn’t lay the groundwork for a dynamic conversation.

5. Community-generated content

When a company reaches the point in its social media program where community members create wall posts, share photos, and start their own discussions, it lessens the company’s need to create content. It also shows audiences are invested in the online community.

When customers don’t participate, social media can take on a brochure-like persona. Avoid the news-feed approach to social media to build a community where users feel compelled to share their own content.

When you plan and implement a social media program, consider what resources you can use to maintain the program, and identify techniques to engage and build relationships with members of key audiences. If you’ve based your existing social media program on a news-feed model, evaluate how you can develop a more interactive program to drive key audiences to action.

Danielle M. Cyr is director of social media and senior PR account manager for Co-Communications. A version of this article first appeared on the Co-Communications blog. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleCyr.

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