This past year, I’ve re-connected with several friends I used to have frequent conversations with on Twitter. We all agree that this medium has changed significantly in a few short years.

When many of us began adopting Twitter in 2007/2008, we collaboratively found a collaborative group of “strangers” who immediately became “friends”. We jumped into conversations. We shared our thoughts, our fears, our triumphs and we also found our “tribe”.

At that time, the etiquette was to follow back someone who followed you (unless they were a spammer or an MLM marketer, of course).

Jump forward to 2014, the cacophony of noise is unbearable. Too many people and brands are simply auto-forwarding posts from one channel to another because they think “If I just make enough noise, people will pay attention and buy from me“.

Seems a lot of people have forgotten the one fundamental element of Social Media: it’s SOCIAL.

Social Media is fundamentally about conversation, collaboration and community. The goal should be focused on providing value based on quality, not quantity.

In the past few weeks, I’ve begun to cull my list of people and brands I follow so that I can bring the volume of “noise” down. I want follow people and brands that authentically want to be involved in the conversation.

I want MEANINGFUL content and connections. I don’t want people/brands to waste my time.

Brands need to realize that it’s no longer business as usual. It may be easier to just assemble an ad, or create content that can be pushed from one-to-many, but unless that interruption is relevant, it’s not going to resonate.

Whether we are solo-preneurs or large corporations, Social Media has allowed us to become our our own digital media agencies. We have hundreds of sites and tools at our disposal so that we can share our messages to the world.

And while the reach of Social Media is getting larger (over 1.23 billion served via Facebook), niche marketing HAS to get “nichier”* by deepening relationships with the audience they have – and keeping them happy – instead of spending all their efforts on making a lot of noise to acquire a new audience.

Having said that, paid, owned and earned media should be part of an integrated digital plan, but to obtain the almighty holy grail of Social Media – which goes by the letters ROI – it’s more cost effective for you to nurture the relationships and clients you currently have, instead of looking for “what’s next”:

  • Say “Thank You”, click “LIKE” or favourite when someone shares your post.
  • Reward your most active followers with exclusive offers or behind-the-scenes access that no one else knows about
  • Ask your audience what they want to hear from you. Invite them to participate in the launch of your next product or service.
  • Pay attention to what they don’t like about your business and change it. Be sure to thank them for their feedback.
  • Map your client/customer’s journey. How did they become a part of your community? What made them want to connect with you? What made them want to buy from you as opposed to your competitors?

As I mentioned before, I’m not alone with my views on how the channels are becoming noisier all the time. People are beginning to click “unfollow” or tuning out altogether.

And once you’ve lost them, you’ve likely lost them forever.

So think of 2015 as a new fresh start to your marketing and engagement. Focus on fewer channels but master them well. Be where your audience is and solve their problems.

Don’t dial it in. Be real. Be authentic. Be engaging. Be social.

Now it’s your turn: What do you think? Have your online habits changed over the last few years? What changes will you be making in 2015?

{*nichier: not an actual word, but seemed a propos in this context}

This article was picked up by LinkedIn’s content management system, “PULSE” and has received over 13,000 views. Original post is here: http://lnkd.in/dqt8RUH 

Leslie Hughes is a LinkedIn Optimization Specialist, Professor of Social Media, Corporate Social Media Trainer and Principal of PUNCH!media

Founded in 2009, with clients such as The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, and as a corporate instructor for the “Social Media Marketing Certificate” at The University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s (UOIT) Management Development Centre, Leslie works with organizations to help them gain confidence and develop a strong presence on LinkedIn and other Social Media sites.

From defining clear strategies, to content development and deployment, PUNCH!media’s goal is to help you save time and build business. Whether you’re using LinkedIn to connect with business associates or Facebook to connect with consumers, we connect you with the right audience at the right time using the right channels.

Are you ready to gain confidence in your business by creating a really strong Summary? Are you interested in converting higher-paying clients – in under 1 hour? If you’re ready to take action click here