Be an informer, not a meformer
“How do you find time for social media?” my speakers’ network e-zine asked subscribers.
“I don’t have time to not use social media,” I wrote back.
That’s because the people I follow on social media (heart emojis to @ShelHoltz, @BillSpaniel, @mar_de_palabras and others who surprise and delight me every day) serve as sort of a virtual research team. They scour the web, finding valuable information — new studies, quotes, resources and insights — so I don’t have to.
That is, they’re “informers” — the 20% of Twitter users who tweet information, ideas and insights — not “meformers.”
Not surprisingly, informers have nearly three times as many followers as meformers, according to a study by Rutgers University professors Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase.
Here’s how to be an informer, not a meformer:
1. Share helpful information.
Why do people share? According to a study by Chadwick Martin Bailey:
- Because I find it interesting/entertaining: 72%
- Because I think it will be helpful to recipients: 58%
- To get a laugh: 58%
Want your status updates to travel the world instead of staying home on the couch? Make them helpful to your social media network.
2. Write service stories.
What kind of information do people retweet? News and how-tos (PDF), according to research by Dan Zarrella, viral marketing scientist for HubSpot.
Here’s how often six kinds of information get shared on Twitter:
- News: about 78%
- How-to information: about 58%
- Entertainment: about 53%
- Opinion: 50%
- Products: about 45%
- Small talk: about 12%
Please note: News is what CNN and the BBC report. It’s not your urgent updates about your Widget 126.96.36.199.
That leaves how-to information, or service stories, as our best bet for content.
Want more retweets? Pack blog posts and status updates with tips and techniques.
3. Tweet like H&R Block.
That’s what H&R Block does. The company’s Twitter feed offers tax tips and help on demand. Sample tweets:
“IRS urges you to perform a Paycheck Checkup today to make sure your tax withholding is right for you. http://thndr.me/87pU7v”
“Have a question or problem while doing your taxes online? We have tax pros standing by to call or chat. If you’re really stuck, they can even share your screen to help you through it. Expert help, if and when you need it with H&R Block online. http://bit.ly/2AprdFm”
“More people file free with H&R Block Online. Find out if you’re one of them: http://bit.ly/OnlineTaxFilingHRB”
This how-to approach earned H&R Block a place on Time magazine’s list of top 10 corporate Twitter feeds.
4. Post novel ideas.
Stop posting the same old thing. Fresh ideas — even fresh words — move further and faster on social media.
For this study, Zarrella counted how many times each word appeared in his sample set of 10 million tweets:
- Each word in a regular tweet was found 89.19 other times in the sample.
- Each word in a retweet was found only 16.37 other times.
Want to get retweeted? Share something different. You might even coin your own word.
5. Share tips & techniques.
Take a tip from Whole Foods Market: Give your social media network news they can use. The all-organic market tweets recipes and how-to stories about cooking:
“Check out our foolproof three-step method to cutting a mango. Plus, get tropical ideas for ceviche, grilling and desserts. http://bit.ly/2VE1m5f #Mangoes #MakesMeWhole”
“We got an all-access pass to @Joan_Nathan’s kitchen while she helped us create our Passover dinner menu. Check it out: http://bit.ly/2UQItiW #Passover #MakesMeWhole”
“This melon guide is big summer vibes. Check it out: http://bit.ly/2vxeEF8 #Melons #MakesMeWhole”
“Our wine experts pair the top 12 wines with summer. Reds, whites and bubbles for all occasions. Read their suggestions now. http://bit.ly/2YTbg47”
Whole Foods’ recipes and service stories have made it one of the most followed brands on Twitter, with 1.9 million followers. No wonder Whole Foods landed on Time magazine’s list of top 10 corporate Twitter feeds.
6. Transform news and events into insights.
Alan Weiss is the consultant’s consultant. His social media status updates rock.
Instead of blah-blahing about what he ate for dinner or bragging that he’s tweeting from the Imperial Suite at the Park Hyatt-Vendôme, he spins news items and everyday events into insights and ideas:
“If you want a referral, don’t ask someone to ‘represent’ you and never send materials. Here’s the line to request: ‘Joan, I’d like to introduce Tom who’s done outstanding work and I think the two of you would benefit significantly from knowing each other.’”
“Use observed behavior and evidence, not ad hominem attack and assumption. ‘You’re late by 15 minutes each time we schedule critical calls on which you’re needed,’ is better than ‘You’re clearly not a team player.’”
“If you don’t know the size of your prospect’s business, or their major competition, or if they’re independent or a subsidiary, don’t show up. Or did you pass all your tests in school without studying? If so, I guess you’re just gifted….”
How can you take a tip from Weiss and transform news and everyday events into insights and ideas?