How do I change the mix of my social media connections?

This post follows one day after I’ve had the opportunity to think about the readership and popularity of the past two year’s worth of LinkedIn activity in “What do LinkedIn users like to read?“).

One free and easy source of business outreach is the people who ask to become Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections. These are the people who I don’t know who contact me to become connections without any effort on my part. I receive a few of these requests each day. It’s sort of a good feeling to know that, for whatever reason, I am attracting social media attention. Since the relaunch of this web site in January 2016, the trend seems to be slowly increasing along with readership statistics.

In the past, if it was a “legitimate person” asking to connect – not someone from another country with no social media contacts – I responded “accept”. As a result, my LinkedIn followers accumulated to 1,000 over the past two years. (I’ve written separately that the number of new Twitter “follows” is similar but for unknown reasons they drop off just as quickly as they follow). It seems that most LinkedIn and Facebook connections stay for the long term once we are connected. But the problem is that these new connections are almost all other accountants or professional service providers. Very few are people in my target market of contractors and private foundation officers. Similarly, maybe 1/3 of my Facebook friends are really just other accountants I’ve never met in real life who have some interest in reading my posts. I’m actually amazed that these professional peers tolerate my social activist rants on Facebook apparently just to occasionally catch a post that might be useful. (In contrast, CPAs on the closed-group online forum of the state professional association don’t hesitate to tell me that they just tune my posts out. At least I know where they stand).

So lately I’ve started clicking “decline” to perfectly good professionals who ask to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook. I just don’t like the fact that my content is primarily read by people who are not in the target audience. I often feel like I am providing marketing ideas for my competition. It’s not that I mind sharing ideas but rather that the ratio of target audience to other professionals has become so ridiculously skewed.

I realize that clicking “decline” to friendly professional social media invitations is not a good permanent solution to my frustration. What I really need is a way to attract more foundation leaders and contractors. For me, that’s the real challenge. I do understand that this is a marketing strategy issue that requires specific action from me. Quite honestly, I’m only now developing a vague notion of how to accomplish that more effectively.

In the “old days” before SEO explosion and Google monetization efficiencies, my social media posts received 400-500 reads and about half of these would be people who were possibly in my target audience. That success is likely what spurred me to put out more than 2,000 short business articles in social media the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Now it’s down to about 50 reads per new article with few in the intended audience. But with more investment of time and advice from others, I expect to see it grow back to a healthier mix of readers in my target audience and other professionals. That will be a welcome improvement.

My response to messages of bigotry on Facebook

I’ve noticed an unfortunate increase in hate messages spreading on Facebook. These messages tend to be spread by people who might characterize themselves as politically unsophisticated; that is, they likely didn’t fully consider the meaning or social consequence of the message they are spreading through a simple action of a “like”. Yet the world’s greatest human atrocities were made possibly by such attitudes of not questioning this type of message and not taking an individual stand against hated and bigotry. So I decided to draft a short, polite but strongly worded protest to be used whenever I see these messages. Here it is:

“We’ve seen this message of hate before and simply cannot ignore the actions of people who spread of this type of bigotry even through  absent-minded “likes”on Facebook. This message of intolerance and selfishness is wrong and indefensible. Do you really believe that you are more entitled to a share of the available wealth and world’s resources than another person because you happen to have been lucky enough to have been born in the United States? Or that your language or culture is somehow superior than other people simply because they are not like you? Please realize the lack of integrity in these small-minded ideas and the damage done by spreading such bigotry on Facebook.”

The definition of a bigot, for those who may not know, is someone who, as a result of their prejudices, treats or views other people with fear, distrust, hatred, contempt, or intolerance on the basis of a person’s opinion, ethnicity, race, religion, national origin, citizenship, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics. Bigotry is often spread based on fear, ignorance, economic frustration or anger and is sometimes viewed or dismissed as comical. Bigotry directly opposes the core beliefs of the world’s major religions, societies and governments that stand for open-mindedness and tolerance of our fellow humans.

Sometimes these bigoted messages appear under the guise of the Tea Party movement. Realize that this is not the message of America’s main-stream Tea Party activists. This is simply hate, bigotry and ignorance.

Realize that successful bigotry campaigns often share a familiar structural pattern: they start with come position of broad public appeal and then drift to specific less supportable political agendas. For example, many start with a message like “get Obama out of office” and end up with a message like “blame the immigrants for our economic problems”. The subtle turn of ideas is intended and crafted to take the audience unaware.

Some day we will look back on this type of social media bigotry with the same level of distain that we view the statements of Americans who used bigotry to support the institution of slavery or the Europeans who tolerated the racial cleansing measures that led to Hitler’s massacre of millions. For now, I believe, the right thing to do is to take individual responsibility to point about and object to it wherever it makes an ugly appearance.