You know the scene: You meet someone at a networking event and you genuinely want to know more about them. After 1 question that is a nicely-phrased “who are you and what do you do,” you quickly realize you’ve made the biggest mistake: you opened up the social fire hydrant. Out comes a steady stream of information that doesn’t leave room for air, much less for you to engage with the person. Your eyes glaze over while hearing about the 5th most awesome thing they did on their 21st birthday.

At this point you could:

  • Break out doing the Macarena
  • Try to interrupt and let them you have hemorrhoids
  • Silently start recalling the sequence of Pi

No matter what you do, their response would be the same: nothing. Their stream of self-promotion is apparently never-ending, and even doing a bad line dance can’t save you.

This is exactly what I think of when I see companies on social media who fail to respond to customer messages, take action on company social mentions, or include any personality in their communications. Instead, they see Twitter, Facebook, and in some cases Pinterest, as a way to just talk about themselves:

  • We are awesome!
  • Look at what we do!
  • Look at our newest brochure!
  • Look at our newest brochure in 140 characters!
  • Look at the picture from our newest brochure!
  • Did you see our new brochure?
  • (If you’re lucky) Look – our newest brochure in Spanish!

Translation to the consumer? La la la la la….
we don’t want to can’t hear you!

There are very few differences between being a good social butterfly and being a good social company. Don’t approach social media channels as another way for you to “advertise” your business. Look at it as an ideal way to connect with your prospects and customers. Listen to what they’re saying, and respond publicly. Social media is to traditional advertising as Toto was to the Wicked Wizard – it removes the curtain. No longer can companies operate by sending out messages and shielding their ears to the responses. You can’t put an automated call system and computerized help systems behind a social media account and achieve the same personal communications expected by someone trying to reach out to you.

Don’t be a social media fire hydrant: if all you do is spew, no one will listen to you.

Want some great examples of interaction on Twitter?

Do you have any good examples of businesses effectively interacting via social media? Or how about some examples of a social open fire hydrant? Share below!