Are You Advertising or Engaging?

Why high-pressure sales tactics can backfire on social networks.

Is this how you come accross to your online audience?

We have all seen “those” tweeters – the ones who immediately send you direct message about a new product when you follow then; the ones that post with an overabundance of exclamation points and capital letters on their latest service; the ones who, for a modest fee, can change your life.

There is the Law of Averages after all – if you hit enough people, and someone has to bite, right? So why is this a bad idea?

There are the obvious reasons: the posts are annoying, there is nothing interesting to read, and they sound like an infomercial. These things may true, but there is something larger at the root of this issue that makes this barrage tactic less than desirable.

Users who over-advertise on social networks, regardless of the platform, are in violation of unspoken rules of engagement that have been established by the community. Social media, at its very foundation, is built on the very simple need for human connection and relationships. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have crossed over from basic networking and random interaction into robust and thriving communities. As a result, traditional community values of honesty, respect, and trust, have translated into the virtual world. Conversely, any actions that make you appear dishonest, disrespectful, and untrustworthy, (like posting a constant stream of, “Gain 2,000 followers a day for only pennies!”) will earn you the cold shoulder of your network.

Think about it – would you rather do business with high-pressure Slick Sam and his flailing airdancers outside of the used car dealership or with a friend you have gotten to know and trust over the years?

I’m not saying that you should forego promoting your products and services. Rather, look at how you present your online message to the community – instead of thinking about how to advertise, think about how to better engage.  Provide your “friends” and “followers” with non-sales related content, and give them some insight into who you are. Show a degree of vulnerability. Give your honest opinion. Then when you say, “Hey guys, we just launched Service X, we hope you like it,” your network will be much more receptive to what you have to say. I know I will.


About Sara L. Wood
Sara L. Wood is the Manager of Digital Communications for a national non-profit association. Specializing in social media and digital marketing, she is a regular magazine columnist and serves as her company's resident expert in all things online. When not working for her association, Sara manages social media efforts for local non-profit groups in the Washington, DC metro area. Also a music and sports enthusiast, readers may see rogue posts on Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, golf, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Disclaimer: This is Sara’s personal blog, and all opinions expressed are her own. Any references to her day job are purely anecdotal and are not affiliated with the Association.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: