Monday, February 21, 2011

Social Media Missteps

As an aside to my last post about embracing new media, make sure you are using these tools without imposing on your potential clients.

Over the weekend, I received a message from a friend of mine on Twitter that I don't get to see much anymore. She asked how my job was going. I responded with a short message (of course, it's twitter!) about it and the desire to move up within the company. Later on, there's another response in the same message thread. But, it's not from my friend. It's from some woman I've never heard of telling me (us) that she found out about this great job search tool that changed her life and pasted in a link.

I was more confused than irritated at first wondering how this woman was reading our conversation. I checked with my followers, she wasn't one of them. I checked with my friend's followers and people she is following - nothing. So, apparently this woman neither of us know thought it would be a good idea to read our personal conversation and then spam us with a message promoting what's most likely her company. How did I respond? I blocked her from my account and reported her to Twitter management as spam. I'm guessing I'm not the only one she did this to, so she has probably been reported by several other people by now, and may have had her twitter account removed by the site.

Was it worth it to her? I don't think so. She will be learning a hard lesson from her unprofessional approach to social media. It's okay to seek people out to connect with, but you must be cautious not to overstep your boundaries. People not only dislike these intrusions, they resent them. And, there are much better ways to network and build online relationships. But, just like in the real world, it takes time and finesse.

Here are just a few quick tips for social media - Twitter, in particular:

1. Follow as many relevant people to your business/industry/interests as you can.

2. Be interesting. Don't post the same message over and over again. Try to keep it fresh and interesting. Every post doesn't have to be directly related to telling others to buy your product or visit your website. A broad range of posts can display your expertise in your industry, your interest in what others are doing, and a general knowledge of what's going on around you.

3. Follow back. Especially if you're an individual, start following the people that decide to follow you. Everyone is trying to get more followers to share their message. They are showing an interest in you, so show an interest in them. This opens the door to communication much wider.

4. Don't spam. It's okay to send someone a message, or include yourself in a conversation between other users. But, add something to the conversation. If all you ever give is a link to your website, and some generic message about how this product "changed your life" people will get turned off really quickly.

5. Be patient and consistent. Social media marketing is a process. It takes time to develop the relationships you need and you must work to nurture them through consistent usage. Make time to make it a success for you.