Thursday, June 21, 2012

Your "space junk" in social media: Need a cleanup retreat, communicators?

If you've ever used an app like Twitcleaner, you've seen what I call "space junk" -- those social media accounts you follow or own that don't produce what you expected. They can disappear from your radar pretty quickly, because, well, they're not doing anything for you...and that's true in many senses.

Twitcleaner shows you which Twitter accounts you follow that have no nutritional value--all or mostly links, quotes or RTs, for example--as well as those that post infrequently or not at all. Most of us could stand to do this across the social media dashboard, at least once a year. It's a sound premise for a communicators' staff retreat, a day where you bring in pizza and get together as a group to clean out your accounts and discuss priorities. And it's a chance for you to turn the mirror on your own company's posts, as well as clean out those of others.

Here are the cleanup items I'd focus on if you're going to devote a day to your "space junk" in social media:
  • Start with your own accounts. What are you neglecting?  Have someone on your team who follows your Twitter account run it through Twitcleaner to see where it shows up. Are you mostly RTs? Haven't posted in 3 months? Only on autopilot? Chris Brogan documented how some major grocery products' neglected Twitter feeds were a public embarrassment to their companies. Inc. magazine calls neglecting your corporate blog a "big mistake." (Think SEO.) Facebook has started emailing admins of neglected pages, so figure this out before they find you.
  • Should you keep those neglected accounts? Start by looking at the social accounts you've abandoned, or those to which you post too infrequently to matter or build relationships. Better no account than one that's obviously neglected. Remember, you don't need to have a company page on every social network that offers one--particularly if you're not going to keep it up. I'd rather see you doing one account well before you expand to others.
  • Are your followers real? If you've hired a consultant or firm to get your social media accounts up and running, you may just have bots following you, according to this analysis. That's just one reason that I focus on helping clients develop strategies that they can manage on their own--no padding your friend list when you work with me. Having a lot of followers from the ranks of your PR firm's staff doesn't really cut it. Better to have fewer, real followers than a lot of shadow accounts.
  • Don't junk an account just because of your fan count. It pays to keep in mind that 31 percent of Facebook pages have fewer than 31 fans and 56 percent have fewer than 256 fans. If they're the right fans, you may want to keep that relationship going.
  • Who's neglecting you? Seth Godin, in Multiplying or Dividing?, gives you two options with a customer or subscriber list: You can work at expanding it broadly, or winnow it down to the customers who are actually wanting to buy something from you. If your goal is the latter, start by cleaning out subscribers who haven't opened your newsletter in the last quarter, then follow Godin's advice on finding out which ones want to buy from the remaining subscriber list.
  • Where are you listed? Who has you on a Twitter list, and why? Where do you appear on blogrolls? Who's quoted, retweeted or shared your items most in the past year? Have you engaged with or thanked them, or figured out who they are and what you can be doing together?
  • What are your feeds neglecting? Maybe that blog you subscribed to isn't what you thought it would be, or just never posts. Clear out those RSS readers and unsubscribe from their emails.
  • What do your feeds look like to the outside world? Any team member who follows the corporate accounts can use, say, Twitcleaner to see how your accounts and posts on Twitter are viewed. Where do you come out when others are cleaning their feeds?
I like to structure these types of retreats by providing some data before each round of cleanup, so participants get a quick refresher on best practices and norms right now, or on new tools to use. Keeping track of your cleanup data (who lost the most accounts? who's striking the right balance?) can help motivate the team, and allows for an end-of-day discussion around what you've learned from the cleanup.

Ideally, you'll also spend time thinking about how to make better use of your time on social networks. Then--and only then--I like to include time for the team to share a few recommendations for accounts and feeds they think their colleagues might want to follow. But just a few. Let me know if you need a facilitator to help you take your social media space junk out of orbit, at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

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