“Friends,” we have a problem.
Social networking does many things well — it connects folks with similar interests, it give voices to individuals and groups that may seem on the fringe, it reconnects friends and family members the world over, it provides ample shared sources for niche interests, and it can even help introduce you to new circles of people and interests. It’s valuable entertainment.
It’s no surprise, then, that businesses have latched on to social media to try and capitalize on those connections. Facebook, Myspace (do people still use this?), Youtube, Hulu, and Pandora have built in ads that companies can buy. On a whole, we as consumers have learned to ignore many of those ads because of their placement (though, I would argue that Hulu is the only one doing this effectively, but that’s another post entirely). We all knew it would happen, and it did. Hell, even in the games on Facebook companies are advertising — whether it’s to get additional points through surveys, or like FTD, intrusively placing a billboard right in the game of Restaurant City for Valentine’s Day. I have no problem with these tactics. They were to be expected.
People and companies with smaller budgets, however, are treading the dangerous knife-edge of successfully using social media to promote a business and successfully using social media to piss off their clientele and potential customer base. Here are some tips to help you avoid being a Social Media Nuisance:
- Send out “page suggestion” invites to every single member of your Friend or Contact list on Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc. multiple times. If they didn’t add it the first time, chances are it was intentional. Multiple invites makes you look desperate, annoying, and like you don’t know the first thing about actually using social media (and therefore, the customer who does). It also shows that you’re not paying attention to them when they say they aren’t interested, and that’s insulting to another “friend.”
- Get a Twitter account and use it to only vomit links to your web page, or links mentioning you. Social Media is about genuine interaction, and social media users will recognize you for the Spam that you put out.
- Automatically sign someone up for your bulk email newsletter because they gave you a business card! Our in-boxes remain the last bastion of privacy we have, and abusing the trust an individual places in you by giving you their email address erases any potential connection and lands you in the Spam filter.
- Mass invite your contact lists to functions with no regard for their interest. This goes for entertainers and charities specifically. Maybe folks “friended” you because you are from their hometown, or because your cousin’s sister-in-law used to date you. I get spreading your message, but weekly invites turns you into a nuisance.
- Mistake numbers for popularity! Having 9 million fans says nothing except that 9 million people would rather click a “join” button than see that same invite 20 more times.
- Assume you can be effective because you signed up for every social media service you could find. What you say matters. A lot. How you interact matters. A lot. Maintaining a positive reputation matters. A LOT.
- Interact with your connections! Have conversations, answer questions, offer up suggestions on topics NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS! We’re more likely to recommend our friends and people with faces rather than a massive faceless corporation.
- Provide ways to subscribe to your other feeds, web pages, newsletters voluntarily. Chances are if we like you enough to follow you on Twitter or Facebook, we’ll look for you elsewhere.
- Ask your followers and fans to suggest your services to the friends they have who might share their interest. It softens the “hard sell” appearance, and you’re more likely to get genuinely interested followers.
- Connect with individuals who have a track record of helping businesses work with Social media effectively. If you need suggestions, I have quite a few. Do your research. If someone who wants to sell you their services has only numbers of followers on the brain, chances are you’re being had.
- RESEARCH! There are some incredibly smart people talking about using Social Media effectively, and there’s no reason for someone using the Internet to market their wares/group to be unfamiliar with successful strategies online.
I hope this is helpful, and certainly these lists aren’t exhaustive. If you have suggestions, please let me know. I’m always up for some good conversation on these topics!
If you have “friends” or “connections” that need an intervention, send them the link to this page. Together we can help people stop embarrassing themselves and save our blood pressure in the process.