In the year of the “selfie,” you may find it difficult not to think of social media as just a means to promote yourself and get your message out. The more you post, the more connected you look, right? Not necessarily, according to a growing number of surveys that show too many posts can actually disconnect you from others, especially depending on what you say in those posts.
If you’re a real estate professional who merges your personal life with your business life on your social networks, make sure you’re not turning people off by becoming one of the growing number of what are called “meformers.”
What’s that? Rutgers researchers Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase place Internet social network users into two broad categories: meformers and informers. Meformers are people who use social networks (Twitter for the researchers’ analysis) to post updates on their everyday activities, social lives, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. They found the majority of Internet users in their research fell in this category, while only 20 percent were informers.
Informers use their social networks to share information; they interact more with their followers and tend to mention others in their messages more often. Informers also tend to have more friends.
Social networking “super sharers” are becoming an increasing annoyance online, according to a recent Pew Research survey of 1,800 adult Facebook users. In that survey, 36 percent of respondents said that they dislike when people share “too much information about themselves.”
A study of 500 active Twitter users by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Computing found that others welcome your message more when you limit talk about yourself. Researchers found the most effective approach to tweets is to make them “informative” — in this context, sharing news stories or statistics rather than talking about, say, what you had for dinner. Also, researchers found that users preferred positive messages and did not have a high tolerance for posters who tended to share negative tweets. Other recent studies also have linked oversharers on social networks to narcissism, according to a 2013 University of Michigan study.
Being an oversharer not only can cause others to tune you out online or unfriend you but can also impact your real-life relationships, according to a study by researchers from University of Birmingham, University of the West of England, University of Edinburgh, and Heriot-Watt University. For example, posting too many photos can spark feelings of jealousy among others, and others may also start to tune you out if you post every accomplishment or the same content over and over again.
Here are four tips for proper social sharing:
- Don’t make it all about you. Take a critical look at your last few posts on your social networks: Are you a meformer or an informer? “When every post someone opens up is all about you, you risk becoming annoying,” Gottsman says. “When it’s all about you, people tune you out. You can occasionally talk about yourself, but do it every fifth mention or so.”
- Seek connection. Build rapport and be inquisitive of your followers. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your other social networks to engage in conversations with others by asking a question, answering a question, or sharing pertinent links (other than just your own). Make a point of commenting on your followers’ posts, Gottsman says.
- Question the value, before you post. Before you put a message out there, ask yourself: What’s the value and what’s your motivation for posting it? “The information you share should ultimately be the type of content other people are interested in passing along to their own followers,” Gottsman says. “Keep your tone informative, unique, and conversational.”
- Segment your lists. On Facebook, you can use the Friend List feature to segment your contacts. This allows you to get your message on the feeds of only the followers who you know will find it useful. You can segment your followers by close friends and acquaintances or even create custom lists. (Others won’t be notified about how you’ve segmented your lists on Facebook.)