Saturday, 03 July 2010 10:01

Social media. You're doing it wrong.

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If there is one hard and fast rule for social media engagement, it's this:

Be Genuine.

Social media is not your Grandfather's marketing medium. It's not Mad Men. Social media is the over-the-fence conversation, the pub chat, the coffee & cake catch-up.

Real people hate being marketed at. None of us likes TV advertising, we suffer through it to get free content. We don't look at display ads on websites (it's called 'banner blindness') but we put up with the tokyo-city blinkfest to view the sites we like.

Sure, Facebook runs some paid advertising along the side. It's not intrusive, usually contextual and easily ignored. Some apps do push themselves into my newsfeed, but it's easy enough to block that app. Twitter is, for the most part, advertising free.

Today I witnessed a massive two-fer of social media ineptitude, all in the name of trying to turn users into paid advertisers.

After receiving a direct message on Twitter, I (rather stupidly) clicked on the link included in the message.

The message itself was spam - I don't know the user and their entire 1-day history consists of exactly the same message sent to dozens of Twitter accounts.

A fleeting thought that the message could be some innocent faux pas was quickly dispelled as I looked over the site they directed me to.

As it turns out, their initial contact method makes complete sense in the context of their entire business model.

They want to pay you to allow advertisers to post to your wall.

Social media is about real conversations. You can't insert advertising into a real conversation and expect it to remain natural. I'm sure some people will have no problem pimping out my attention span, but I don't expect it to receive a favourable reaction.

This is marketing at its disingenuous worst, the kind of slimy tactics that have made us loathe and distrust advertisers in general. It breaks the core rule of social media marketing: be genuine.

I can't see this model becoming a success, not for advertisers and certainly not for those renting our their follower's goodwill.

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