Excessive, off-topic tweeting: Do you or brands you follow do it?

What the hell is he doing? Stop! I can't look anymore!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about brands over-posting and over-tweeting and how much is too much, if there is such a thing.  I teed up the question to some fellow PR colleagues on Twitter this week. The exact question was:

How can a brand prevent from over-posting/tweeting and driving peeps away?

Jeff Esposito said, “Respond when needed, don’t oversell, make it about customers, not you.”

Andrew Shipp said, “Write out a conversation calendar, Try and stick to 1-4 ratio. Only mention the brand 1 time for every 4 tweets/updates. Always add value to community. What do they want? Think about Info as currency, Here’s a post I wrote: http://ow.ly/3ZB1i.”

Allie Herzog said, “As long as you’re communicating what your AUDIENCE wants to hear (rather than what you want to tell them) you’ll avoid probs.”

Solid advice I’d put on the first and last slides of any social media presentation any day. Do you see the common thread? Make it about them, not you. For most of you, this isn’t new.  It’s Social Media 101. But do you follow this advice when it comes to your personal brand?  I don’t! And as a result, there are actions to not repeat and consequences to endure.

That said, growing up, I got in trouble a lot for talking too much.  I also got in trouble once for hitting a teacher in the shoulder with a wad of paper but we can discuss my youthful indiscretions another day.  There were plenty! Any ways, back then the penalty for excessive talking ranged from a calm “stop talking” from the teacher to a frustration-fueled scolding in front of the entire class.  Yeah, embarrassing. Today, the consequences are similar.

Now I totally agree with Jeff, Andrew and Allie.  I also agree with those who say if you drink too much Chianti Ruffino you’ll wake up with a headache the next day. But I do it anyways some times.

I use Facebook primarily for personal relationships.  It’s why I started it in the first place. In short, like millions of other users, it’s a network of family, old and new friends and some of their friends I met at a party once and politely accepted their next-day friend request. Whatever.  Even The North Face executives have some Snuggie peers who’ve infiltrated their space due to their worlds colliding at a conference somewhere.

Twitter is my conduit to PR, Marketing and Social Media pros and journalists.  Twitter is my little world that hardly anyone on Facebook is even aware of. Explaining it to them is like trying to educate my mom about the finer intricacies of “what I do for a living” when all she cares about is if I’m healthy and regularly brushing my teeth. She doesn’t really care! Realizing this, I don’t try to blend the two worlds, which is fine.

Perhaps it’s only me (I know it’s not) but I monitor the number of followers I have on Twitter.  I retweet, ask questions and tweet information myself all in an effort to connect with like-minded people who enjoy the profession.  However – here it comes – I deviate from time to time and share about OTHER topics. Why? Probably because I care about those things.  I go so far as to even engage in conversations about them!  Gasp!  When this is happening, I envision my PR peers watching the ball flying back and forth, asking their iPhone, “What the hell is he doing? Stop!”

Perhaps I’m wrong and paranoid, but when I engage in said social media sinful behavior, I swear I lose followers. Why? Well, hello Jeff, Andrew and Allie! Could it be I’m not only talking too much but about subjects my primary audience doesn’t care about? In that moment, am I making it too much about me? So much so that people eject me from their lives, wielding their phone in the their right hand, their thumbs navigating to my Twitter profile followed by a swift and decisive touch of Unfollow. (Thunder booms and fades into silence.)

I believe social media “rules” are completely applicable to all users, organizations and personalities, especially those who use platforms with a specific purpose.  As the follower of a small but highly engaged group on Twitter, I too am bombarded from time to time with tweets in which I have no interest. Some days I come so close to enacting the event sequence described above leading to an Unfollow, but I’m stopped by the thought perhaps they will share a nugget of information that changes my life or at least makes me smile.  But that’s me. Not everyone is so tolerant especially customers who, despite the social media manager’s best efforts, don’t feel overly invested in the business.

So for all of you who have come close to banishing me from your Following list but resisted the temptation for some reason, I’m sorry, and I promise I’ll try to do better! For those who follow me and have somehow avoided an off-topic tweet or conversation, just ignore this entire post except for Jeff’s, Andrew’s and Allie’s advice.  That’s the part I’m taking to the bank!

Have you stopped following people or brands because they stopped adding value to your life?

In examining your personal social media use, do you drive people away by not following the “rules?”

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