How To Fail At Using Facebook and Twitter For Yourself (And Your Business)

October 4, 2009 § Leave a comment


My curiosity with how people connect online has led me into a  job as a new media consultant. It seems a natural progression for me for the moment. If not for Facebook and Twitter, I wouldn’t have been able to keep in contact with my friends from Vietnam, as well as the volunteers from the rest of the world. I wouldn’t have known that Milena solved her transportation problems in Hanoi by buying herself a spanking new scooter. Elizabeth from the UK wouldn’t have been communicating with me about our post-Vietnam blues if not for Facebook.

While nothing replaces the intimacy of hearing the voice of someone you care about, or to see them in person, social media bridges some of these gaps for us. I’m no absolute authority on how to use social media, but through my own follies, I’ve learnt quite abit.

What I’ve noticed…

I’ve seen and heard about this trend recently: Companies and organizations hear success stories about how Twitter and Facebook is the next “in” thing, and how it can create a cult following around your product or service, leading to huge sales. They all rush to connect with the community. Its hip, Its trendy. Hey Coca Cola’s doing it, why shouldn’t we?


Research firm Gartner predicts that in 2010, “over half of companies that develop a social media campaign will fail, potentially having a negative effect on their brand.”

If you have no intentions of connecting with your audience, you will fail. Period.

On a personal branding level, I am guilty of that too. I failed. Big time. What I’m laying out here are the lessons I’ve learnt so far in my uses of social media tools. Thinking that Facebook and Twitter was my speakerboxxx, I blasted messages everywhere, thinking that everyone would be interested to read. I ignored what was going on around me. After all, Facebook and Twitter is about telling everyone how great I was, how exciting my life was isn’t it?


Individuals and businesses take note: No One Cares About You! Its not about being a loudspeaker. Its about creating meaningful conversations and relationships.

What Social Media Really Does…

Social Media is meant to be a bridge across individuals, peoples, groups, and organizations. It increases and improves transparency of organizations. Sure, there are dangers that come with being open. But do you choose to not use fire, just because it might hurt you? Everything that’s known to be useful to man has almost always been a double-edged sword.

Sure, social media has virality potential that can destroy your brand, sweep you of your feet, leaving you high and dry. But it also bears positive viral potential for your personal brand name, or products and services.

This is indeed a new way of thinking.

Selling The Invisible…

Wait.. is it really new?

In 1997, Harry Beckwith wrote about how all of us “sell the invisible”. No matter what business you’re in, even if you’re selling physical products, you are in service marketing. And service marketing needs a focus on relationships, less on features and benefits.

The same way you deal with a PR disaster, you can apply those same skillsets on the online world.

The rules of invisible marketing apply to the world of social media.

Think of how Steve Jobs and Apple tells its customers to Think Different and try to change the world in terms of the computer usage experience. Originators in trying to bring simple, user friendly computing to the mass audience.

Think of how Zappos prides itself not as simply an online business selling shoes, but a business powered by Service.

Here’s what Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh thinks of Twitter:

Think of each tweet as a dot on a piece of paper. Any single tweet, just like any single dot, by itself can be insignificant and meaningless. But, if over time, you end up with a lot of tweets, it’s like having a lot of dots drawn on a piece of paper. Eventually there are enough dots for your followers to connect them together. And if you connect the dots, in the aggregate it paints a picture of you and/or your company, and it’s that total picture that is your brand.

The emphasis in any social media campaign success should be put on the value of the relationships formed and the feedback and data gained from consumers. On a personal branding, and being a friend, that means communicating more with those you care about, as opposed to simply raking up the friend or follower count on your social networks.

How people and companies fail by not being proactive:

Don’t listen

Why bother when people are talking about your brand? Because if you don’t just a spark can bring an entire forest ablaze.

Don’t ask

Most of us neglect social media, not realizing its potential a focus group tool. Even if its relatively inexpensive to conduct tests online.

Don’t start preparing your team

Hey it should be easy to get on facebook and twitter right? Anyone in the company can do it! Hmm… but who’s gonna maintain it? Remember… establishing a connection with your customers is not a one-time affair, but ongoing relationships.

What are we doing today to make social media more relevant to ourselves and to others?


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