No doubt, you’ve heard the expression, “Things aren’t always as they seem.”

That’s why it’s so important in careers and personal relationships to engage people – to listen, ask questions and weigh the answers.

A savvy marketing executive reminds us that things aren’t always as they seem in social media, either. That by paying special attention you can better understand social-media users.

“Social media has become a cost-effective and real-time means to engage customers in a two-way conversation, but often, there’s more telling information in what users don’t say on social media, than in the online chatter,” writes Kristen Gramigna in a blog, “Hearing The Social Media Silence.”

Ms. Gramigna is the chief marketing officer for the credit card processing firm, BluePay.

Along with her CMO responsibilities, she serves on the firm’s board of directors.

With all the hype we’ve heard about paying attention to social-media buzz, her recommendation to anticipate what users don’t discuss on social media is most interesting.

Here are edited excerpts of her five insights:

1. The news people don’t share.

Communication scientists have coined the term “spiral of silence” to describe the human behavioral tendency to avoid voicing unpopular opinions on issues like politics or social matters.

Though not sharing controversial political or social views in a workplace may be a simple matter of self-preservation, social media has transformed what “too much information” has historically meant.

Now that online culture includes sharing “selfies” and divulging what one thinks, eats and does, in real time, it stands to reason that the spiral of silence would extinguish, but it appears that opposite is true.

In one study conducted by the Pew Research Center, researchers set out to measure the “spiral of silence” based on user’s viewpoints of the 2013 Edward Snowden security leaks.

Though participants were nearly equally divided in their opinions, 86 percent of study participants were willing to have a face-to-face to conversation about the issue – but less than half (42 percent) would post about it on Facebook or Twitter.

2. The more they use social media, the less likely they’ll take a stand.

It would seem that a frequent social media user would have a greater comfort level with his or her place in the social media world, but Pew’s study results point to the opposite.

It found that the more typical the social media user (for Facebook, that means logging in once a day), the less likely the person is to share a potentially controversial opinion.

3. Perception determines popularity.

Despite what psychographic information may indicate about what prospects and customers are likely to believe, social media users rely on their perception of what their social media community believes when determining opinions that are acceptable to share.

Even in cases where the social media user holds the “popular” viewpoint and/or or has access to a team of supporters who share their minority opinion, they base sharing on what they perceive as socially acceptable.

4. Don’t mistake going “viral” for brand engagement.

Social media can deliver a message to a broad audience thanks to user sharing, but developing provocative content is relevant only to the degree that it delivers on marketing objectives for a given campaign.

If increased brand exposure is indeed the goal, controversial may be the way to go – but social media activity isn’t necessarily a precursor to a predisposition for a brand, or an indicator of enhanced loyalty.

Likewise, don’t expect that social media users will share a campaign if it violates (what they believe is) the collective belief of their audience.

5. People are more likely to speak up when they feel supported.

Break through some of the silence by making users feel they’re part of a popular majority. As Pew’s study found, Facebook users were twice as likely to share their views on social media when they felt their online social community shared their sentiments.

Ms. Gramigna’s conclusion:

Social media marketing is often about incentivizing a relationship with an online community, but what your audience doesn’t say can be more indicative of the right approach to leverage for real results.

By understanding how users think they will be judged on social media, you can create campaigns that appropriately ease user concerns, to ultimately increase engagement.

In other words, learn how to read between the lines. You might even have to change your exercise program — don’t jump to conclusions.

From the Coach’s Corner, here is related information:

Understanding Customers — Social Media Humbles Companies — Marketing is the understanding of your customer for the cost-effective process of selling the right product or service at the right time and at the right price. Inexplicably, Verizon joins the list of big companies failing to understand how poor research and judgment would draw fire from their customers and social media.

Social Media – 5 Quick Tips to Boost Your Christmas Sales — Yes, time’s drawing short if you want to switch strategies to make your cash registers ring. But there are at least five social-media ways to increase sales by the end of the holiday season.

Make Your Blogging, Social Media and PR Work to Attract Fans — To attract fans, businesspeople have discovered blogging, social media and public relations are time consuming and are an ongoing work in progress. It takes huge amounts of time — to plan,  implement innovations and continuously fine-tune — to succeed. Moreover, it might surprise you to learn that in order to lay a solid foundation for success, you must first evaluate your bricks and mortar location.

8 Tips to Optimize Sales with Social Media, But Beware of a Red Flag — How and why social media should be part of your marketing and human-resources recruiting mix. Here are eight tips, but they come with a caveat.   It’s time-consuming, but social media should be part of your marketing and human-resources recruiting mix.

Identity Fraud Escalates in Smartphones, Social Media — Skyrocketing mobile malware threats amid widespread use of BYOD, bring your own devices, were on track for a $1.88 billion services market. That’s according to ABI Research. Cybercriminals are successfully attacking vulnerabilities in individual devices and networks to an ABI report.

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; what happens on Twitter stay on Google forever!”

-Jure Klepic


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.