Image courtesy: Ian Murchison
‘Online chaos’…what an appropriate phrase, because what comes flooding out at us from the platforms we use to conduct our social endeavours online, is more often than not, just that: chaos.
I’ll mostly use Twitter for this discussion, but just because of its propensity to become the open-air marketplace of Social Media-dom, where everything is so often shouted at once.
So, there it sits. Existing as a light blue button, upon which is emblazoned a white sparrow (or some such member of avian classification), and if clicked, touched, opened, information dost flow, and from sources uncountable.
But herein lies the dilemma. Often overcrowding the truly valuable gems a powerful platform like Twitter can project in adding to the betterment of our industry, our knowledge, our frame of reference, banalities like sepia-toned pictures of cheese sandwiches, incoherent statements written in vowel-less drawl and bizarre mad rants drown out the symphonic posts - just as a jagged crow-call will dampen the pleasant trills of a single songbird.
My approach to noise on my personal platforms is infinitely simplistic: ‘unfollow.’ That’s just me, though, and I certainly don’t have to worry about myself being noisy, not with my Klout score. Most of us can’t personally claim to be big influencers on Twitter, so that’s okay.
There’s more to this, though: What about your business? How do you know when you’re being noisy when engaging with people behind the façade of your company or brand? What exactly is noise? Is there a formula to toning it down when your ‘unfollowings’ increase? The dangers of adding to online chaos and the association of this noise with your brand could be detrimental when endeavouring to harness the power of Social Media for your business.
I spoke to two illustrious notables of the 'Twittersphere', in the hopes of gleaning from their wise words, a better understanding of the concept of Social Media noise, and basically, how to avoid being guilty of it. Suzanne Little, Head Of Social Media at Quirk Cape Town and Sarah Britten, writer, blogger and artist, lend some of their valuable thoughts here on the definition of noise online, how noise affects them and if there is a sure-fire way, in their opinion, to prevent yourself, or your brand from adding to the chaos and thus losing impact.
What Is Noise Online?
Opinion varies on this, particularly when you take an open-minded stance, and realise that one person’s noise may be another’s ‘favourited’ tweet: ‘…noisiness is in the ear on the listener,’ says Sarah Britten.
And she has a point, but there does also seem to be a consensus when asking Social Media professionals to define noise, to pick the concept apart and lay it bare: ‘[Noise is]too much brand talk that offers little relevance to the audience. Some brand campaigns can be noisy when they are only focused on brand awareness rather than promoting something of value to their potential customers,’ says Suzanne Little.
‘Noise is uninteresting, irrelevant communication,’ adds Britten.
Type Of Content Or Frequency Of Posts, Which Is Noisiest?
Again, it seems opinions vary. Sarah Britten says: ‘A lot of my most successful tweets are narrative updates of some or other drama, like being late for a plane. Followers love that, and that's quite noisy.'
For Suzanne Little, it’s both: ‘Irrelevant content is as much noise as post frequency.’
It would probably then be safe to assume that for your brand, a good balance of relevant content coupled with a consistent rate of postage – not too little, not too much - is the obvious formula for tolerable posting. It’s not an exact science, but like Louise Peacock mentioned in her post yesterday, it is about knowing the target market and catering to their desires, the nuances of their relationships and how they interact on- and offline, in order to bring full value. Once you get that right, the most appropriate content and postage rates will reveal themselves to you.
Turn It Down
Okay, so you know your brand, and you put out perfectly geared content, but ‘unfollowings’ persist and you still feel your audience slipping from hand, like fine sand. If you feel your noise – whether frequency of posts or content related – is the main contributor to people losing interest in what you’re saying, the professionals suggest turning it down: ‘I ensure my bio describes exactly what I tweet about. This allows my followers to know that although my music festival tweets are irrelevant to them, my Social Media tweets tomorrow will be,’ says Su Little. You can apply this to how you manage your brand’s social spaces.
‘I space out my tweets,’ says Britten. Sarah also benchmarks her rate, frequency and content against other tweeters with high ‘klout’ and industry standing: ‘I benchmark myself against people like Khaya Dlanga,’ she says. So check out the competition. If they’re garnering good engagement, watch, learn and do.
Reduce My Noise…But How?
Sarah Britten – after confessing that she herself has been deemed a noisy tweeter at times – says to post anyway, ‘…expressing myself is more important than pleasing a follower.’ This may not apply to a brand function, though - you may be shooting yourself in the foot - and might only pertain to your personal profiles, but she does prefix that statement with a very wise point relating to noise reduction: ‘Think first.’ That, I think, speaks volumes.
‘On Twitter, keep brand tweets that are not direct replies, to an absolute maximum rate of every 30 minutes, as Twitter doesn't have a filtering system,’ says Su. ‘This is enough time to get the attention of new users that may have missed a previous promotional tweet and engage existing users. But this is still an extreme and I wouldn't suggest this as a long term strategy for noise reduction. @replies can be a constant as Twitter doesn't show these tweets to your followers, unless they are following the profile you're mentioning too.
‘When it comes to live tweeting,’ she adds,’ tweets can be as frequent as every 10 minutes as long as they are adding maximum value to the audience.’ So it’s about gearing output to your brand’s online strategy, and again, the common thread is content that adds value is never noisy.
No Need To Shout
If the content’s good, you’ll be heard. In conclusion then, that’s the mantra. You won’t need to post every hour if what you’re saying adds value, and you’ll only add value if you understand your market, your audience: ‘People should learn and understand the platform they are engaging on, but this often doesn't happen and Twitter can be used as a chatting tool,’ says Su. ‘Grab my attention while you have it through relevant and engaging content,’ she concludes. Keep that in mind, and the stigma of noise will never be associated with your brand.
Can you add to these points? How do you avoid the noise problem on your social channels? Let us know in the ‘Make a comment’ block below.
About The Author
Nash Sprenger joined the Jozi QuirkStation in September 2011 as a Junior Copywriter. He got into copywriting as he loves communication, and aspires to be a novel writer. He has since moved across to Team Marketing and is loving the dynamic, fun, busy vibe.