Social media tip #22: Do not overshare just because you can

Shutterstock_55559416 This is one of the toughest marketing truths to swallow.  Just because we have all these ways to connect — does not mean your audience wants to hear from you every hour. You're just not that interesting.

Check out this e-mail I got from a reader.  Pay particular attention to the 4th paragraph:

"Perhaps you could write about how some people engage is relentless posts on LinkedIn–like once an hour, yet say absolutely nothing. I have a LinkedIn connection who works for a major ad agency here in Des Moines, touting himself as an advertising phenomenon, and always shows up #1 on my LinkedIn page every time I log on.

I have to confess that I don't tweet and can't be bothered with it. I am far from being alone in this, by the way. So his blurbs show up and they are mostly gobbledy-gook. Sometimes I click on them thinking they might lead me somewhere interesting, but they don't go anywhere.

So I emailed him saying I would like to be able to see what he has to say at a glance since he's a permanent presence at #1 in my LinkedIn hit parade. Maybe he could be clearer. He didn't answer, but I noticed he didn't post anything for several hours. When he did, he was slightly clearer. Then the more he posted, the more he went back to saying nothing.

So I decided just to hide his posts permanently so I didn't have to be bothered any more. Interestingly, I couldn't figure out how to reactivate someone's post once I turn off their lights. I suspect my reaction was the opposite effect he was attempting to have on people.

Goodbye ad genius–out of sight and out of mind."

Not only are you boring people if you blather on and on — but you gain a reputation for being all talk.  Is that really why you're investing all that effort?

There's a whole lot of "talking at" someone going on in all forms of marketing — traditional and digital.  It's a lot easier to just fire off a statistic, fact or link than it is to actually have a conversation, ask a question or connect with someone.

Confident that you're not guilty?  Check yourself against these:

Are you tweeting, updating your Facebook status or LinkedIn account multiple times a day — spouting resources but never connecting with the people listening?

Do you only Facebook message people when you are having a sale, holding an event or in some other self-serving way?  (Oh…and do you do that in a mass msg sort of way?)

Do you always initiate Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook conversations — as opposed to joining in someone else's?  (In other words…do you only care about what you want to talk about?)

Remember — it's the cocktail party rule of social media that earns credibility and respect online.  And no one wants to hang out at a cocktail party with someone who can't shut up about themselves!

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16 comments on “Social media tip #22: Do not overshare just because you can

  1. Jeff Tippett says:

    Drew–great piece. I think you’re final sentence about the cocktail party sums it up best.

    When I decide whether or not to follow a person back on Twitter I often check the stream. To many posts without corresponding @s is always a caution to me.

    I guess your post also challenges me to make sure that I’m engaged with the interests of others–and not just my own posts. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Lynn says:

    I think one of the things you’re suggesting is that people use their best judgment as to how much sharing is too much. Since there’s no real feedback mechanism – should I post more info or less? – this is a very subjective area.

  3. Joe Winn says:

    Social media is a tool most effective when used to engage others who share a commonality; it’s not a tool to abuse just to nurture your ego, particularly when you don’t actually have anything valuable to say. Those people have magically vanished from my feeds as well – and sadly, they don’t even know it.

  4. Hi Drew,

    The increasing integration among social media platforms has amplified the blather. It’s most evident to me in LinkedIn, which is the social network most single-focused on the “professional” side of life.

    Ever since I started pulling in the Status Update RSS Feed, I’ve been bombarded by Twittersteam drivel that is more personal than professional. People really need to think about this…

    To tweak the old saying: If you have nothing interesting (to everyone else) to say, maybe hit MUTE instead of ENTER.


  5. The key difference between Twitter and Facebook/LinkedIn is quantity. Even with the cocktail party rule, most people tweet more in a day then they update their Facebook status.

    The option to update your LinkedIn feed when you update your Twitter status should be considered carefully. You better have a really strong reason to update your professional contacts with everything you do; especially if you’re the kind to Tweet when you are brushing your teeth or going to bed.

  6. Nigel Dean says:

    Thanks for another good post Drew,

    There is nothing worse than someone who shouts all the time without listening to anyone else. I think it’s like Crying Wolf. If you talk constantly, how will people know when you are giving them a really good offer, or a great nugget of information to re-tweet. There is enough social media noise without creating it yourself. Keep it clean and clear so people will be able to hear what you say.

  7. I totally agree! To update what most of our mothers taught us when we were growing up, when using social media for business, if you can’t say something useful, don’t say anything.

  8. Lucas Starks says:

    Social Networks already has proven a lot of people it’s power. It is one of the most fastest word spreader in the internet world. Using social networks to advertise one’s business can either make it successful or not.

    What people say in or do in this sites greatly reflects the website itself. For reputation is also one of the factors which one should be aware of when marketing something.

  9. Jeff —

    On Twitter, I don’t mind someone who mostly shares resources, as long as they don’t only share their own stuff. In fact, too many @s implies they’re having lots of conversations that I probably am not a part of.

    I suppose each to his own, eh?


  10. Lynn,

    LIke all relationship nuances…you’re right, it is subjective. I’ve always operated on the belief that if I share more than I ask for (in other words, I make it to the other person’s advantage) I rarely can lose.

    So in this case….the less I talk about me, the better. How do you moderate your own participation?


  11. Joe,

    I’m curious — have you ever been tempted to write to the person and tell them why you’re unsubscribing? Or do you think they just wouldn’t get it?

    Or worse yet…they wouldn’t care if they lost you, because it’s a numbers game to them? Ouch.

    The good news is — there are lots of people producing great content who actually do want to have an intelligent conversation.


  12. Daria,

    You bring up an excellent point. I must admit, I worry about this one in terms of my own content. Sure, it might be fun to read once. And then it’s okay to see a link to the same content on Facebook…but geez, if I also tweet it, put it on LinkedIn etc — people are going to get sick of me in a hurry!!

    I try to balance the amount of content duplication I create. I figure better to under share when it comes to that issue.


  13. Andrew — it seems that you, Daria and I are in agreement on that one. Re-posting your many tweets a day on Facebook and LinkedIn is just plain annoying.

    I don’t care how interesting you are. (Of course, I don’t mean you…but the royal you.)


  14. Nigel,

    It’s about balance, isn’t it. The more you listen…the more you’ve earned the right to talk/share. I suspect that a person’s online behavior is pretty reflective of their off line behavior too.

    Which is probably a good indication to what they’d be like to do business with. I don’t know about you, but I could easily cross quite a few people off my “possible vendor” list.


  15. Randall —

    Our mothers would be so proud! I agree. Add value or shut up. (Not the way my mom would say it but the same core message!)


  16. Lucas,

    Nice point — I agree. Reputation goes a long way to either forgive or expose a person’s over sharing. If your reputation is solid, your community will allow a bit of over sharing and forgive it.


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