A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark for lunch at popular Nashville spot called Urban Flats. At the end of our meal, we were impressed to receive a card promoting the restaurant’s Twitter and Facebook profiles with our checks. Certainly, this was a great way to invite customers to connect with the restaurant online.
Recently, I visited Urban Flats again and received the same social media promo card. I decided to tweet about the great meal I had there with a friend. As a social media enthusiast, I was hoping to hear back from the restaurant. But, instead of a tweet, I heard crickets chirping.
A couple of days later, I checked out the restaurant’s twitter page and found they hadn’t updated it in months. What a shame. It’s like sending out invitations to a party at your house, but you’re not home when people show up.
The Urban Flats Twitter page is a prime example of a social media ghost town, and I’m quite confident this isn’t the only of its kind on the web. In fact, I think this is scenario is becoming more common as statistics show that only 21 percent of Twitter users are active on the site.
So, why do people let their Twitter profile, blog or Facebook page become a social media ghost town? Here some common reasons:
- Lack of time. While social media may indeed be “free”, people rarely take into account the investment of time needed to tend to it. Although you don’t need to spend hours a day on social media sites, it’s important to carve out some time to get anything out of it. When people don’t take the time, the site falters.
- Lack of content ideas. On many ghost town sites, you can practically smell the desperation as the posts begin to dwindle. “We have a patio!” or “We have great food!” It’s clear that many people just don’t know what to say, so they quit trying. Let’s use Urban Flats as an example – what could they share with their customers? Here are some ideas:
- Ask customers about their favorite flatbread or wine.
- Thank customers who tweet about the restaurant or check in via Foursquare or Gowalla.
- Create a recipe contest – the winner gets to name the flat bread and gets a free meal to go with it.
- Retweet posts from the shops nearby.
- Share articles about healthy eating, events in Nashville or urban renewal (something Urban Flats promotes).
- Search for people looking for restaurant suggestions in Nashville and suggest Urban Flats.
- Send menu updates, offer specials and promote events.
- Post photos of your staff members or share behind the scenes look at making the flatbreads.
- Lack of success. Some people believe that merely having a social media presence will cause piles of money to show up on your doorstep. Clearly, this is not the case. While there may be a number of factors that contribute to an unsuccessful social media effort, businesses that don’t see immediate results tend to give up.
- Lack of comfort. Believe it or not, social media doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If someone isn’t comfortable using social media or if it doesn’t match their personality, it shows. And, they often quit as a result.
A ghost town is a depressing place full of abandoned buildings, broken glass and tumbleweed. Don’t let your blog or profile become one. If you do, perhaps it’s time to consider if no social media presence is better than a ghost town.
Why do you think people abandon their social media efforts? Should they close down their blog or profiles if they quit updating it?
Laura Click is founder and chief innovator at Blue Kite Marketing, a consulting group dedicated to helping small businesses grow. You can learn more about Laura by checking out her blog at www.lauraclick.com.