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If a Tweet falls in the Internet and no one hears it...

With all the noise being made about and on social media networks, it’s amazing anything of value comes out of them at all. Let’s face it; most of us old people got going on sites like Facebook to monitor what our kids were doing. While keeping tabs on our teens we got friended by people we don’t really care about and we quickly un-friended them when they posted once too often about what they ate for dinner. There’s a lot of useless information out there that makes the value proposition of social media look dismal.

If you’re a small business or nonprofit trying to build awareness and relationships, it’s important to listen and be heard without becoming a part of the problem with a lot of social media today.

Despite my rant, I am not saying social media participation has zero value and should be avoided at all cost. However, companies and organizations participating in social media have to strike the right balance of sharing information with their fans, friends, and followers as to not alienate them. Tipping the balance to far in favor of annoyance can do more harm than good with your customers.

We know that it’s important to have some presence on the major social media networks – particularly Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, you can monitor what people are saying about your brand, products, or the market you operate in.  With Facebook, there’s an audience of 300-plus million people and chances are, a few of them are your customers or people you would like to be customers.

First you have to make sure there’s an audience on the various networks interested in reading what you have to say?  You also have to make sure what you say to that audience is of use to them. Offer them content of value – not just noise for making noise’s sake.

Finally, don’t get caught up in the numbers game. It’s not how many fans, friends, and followers you have. It’s about the relationships you build with them and how you interact with them.

It’s called social networking for a reason. Social networks are about conversations and sharing of ideas and content. Be social with your virtual friends in as balanced a way as you would with customers when dealing with them in person.