Here is a perfect example:
Recently, someone sent me a connection request on LinkedIn. I did not know this person and so I went to their user profile to learn more about them. Nothing. Since this person could have been anyone with any kind of issue--the obvious comes to mind--stalkers, predators, and men pretending to be women so they will be accepted and have access to certain profiles, etc, I rejected the request. Later, I found out this person is new on one of my email loops. I don't pay attention to this loop due to all the chatter, and I end up deleting most of the posts, therefore, I didn't know about her.
You may be thinking that you are protecting yourself by not filling out your profile, but it can also work against you. Those of us who are trying to promote ourselves and our work will need to find a balance regarding how much information we need to reveal. If you have a hidden profile, it doesn't give people who don't know much information to make an informed decision on whether or not they want to give you access to THEIR lives. The key is balanced caution.
I thought it might be helpful if I gave a checklist of reasons why your friend requests and follows aren't reciprocated so you can take action to make your social media efforts more productive.
- You're profile is empty, hidden or too vague. When people are trying to make a decision if they have something in common with you such as friends, interests, and if you post offensive things, they need to be able to see "something" from your profile. You can post a bio, photo and a few things of interest and what you do without giving away your life's secrets.
- You use an image of something else besides yourself. When people comment on your posts and connect with you, it helps to feel like they know who they are talking to.
- Too many useless posts that do not inspire, help others, or educate and inform. It's called being too noisy and cluttering people's timelines, especially on Twitter.
- Too much self promotion. Your announcements and self promotion should range between 15% - 20% of ALL your posts. Layer in the promotion and try not to make them consecutive. When you're in the midst of a book launch and a special campaign, the percentage may rise to 20% - 25% of your posts, but make sure this is for a limited time.
- Posting spam. Don't repost and retweet without reading what you are sharing. If you start forwarding and sharing spammy posts, you will ruin your credibility with your followers and they will not be able to trust you. Also, don't post your announcements on someone's page.
- You're posts aren't interesting. You need to make sure you target your reader's interest. Why did they start following you? Why are they following your competition? How can you change the angle of what you post to make it more interesting to your readers, where they will "get" the connection to themselves? Don't be repetitive. Spice things up and take advantage of trends and things that happen in a tasteful, not self-serving way.
- Too much automation. Some automation and scheduling ahead of time is expected and necessary. However, if you do not respond to people who send you direct messages, ask questions, or comment on your posts, it will become obvious that you are not engaged and automating your social media.
- You automate all your social media. If you post the same message on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Google+, it's obvious you are on automatic pilot. People don't need to hear/read/see the same message 4-5 times on on the same day. If someone is being loyal enough to follow you on multiple channels, you should be courteous enough to post something different or at least stagger the messages at different times and on various days.
- You don't know the varying cultures of each social media channel. The kinds of posts that go viral on Twitter do not always have the same effect on FB and Google+ and vise versa. People are willing to tolerate more tweets on Twitter than posts on FB in a given day. Hashtags and @ symbols and abbreviations are used on all social media sites, but understood and used more effectively by Twitter.users.
- People forget to be professional and courteous to others. You have a right to your opinion, but so does everyone else. Being offensive, controversial, argumentative, and unprofessional will make people reject, unfollow and unfriend you faster than any other annoying pet-peeve.
- Too quiet and inactive. If people see that you haven't posted or tweeted in a couple of years or months, most will unfollow you. Social media is meant to have a measure of socialization. If you fail to keep your end of the bargain then they won't be losing anything when they flush their friend and follow list to streamline their activities. Temporary silence is different, especially if you go on vacation, fast the Internet, or take breaks for other reasons. Just post that you are taking a break and most people will be forgiving and await your return.