One New Message Received:
I would like to be your friend on this great social networking site we're both members of. I don't actually use the site to make real friends, and I'm not an active member of the community, but I still think I'd like to be your friend.
Why? Oh, that's easy. I want to send you communications and updates about my products and services. No, not like e-mail, because we'll be friends and I want to give you a personal message. Well, no, it won't be "personal" since I'll send these announcements to all of my friends, but come on, give friendship a chance!
Spokesperson, Company XYZ"
The biggest mistake that I see companies engaging in these days regarding Social Media is acting like it is just another conduit for sending out SPAM. They rush the bandwagon to be a part of Myspace and Facebook, they setup Twitter accounts to blab incessantly about their own company, they setup a blog that offers no real insight or value, and they submit anything they possibly can to sites like Digg and Technorati - over and over and over, ad infinitum.
I can understand the urge to "get going" with this newfangled social media thing. I can understand that companies want to "reach out" to their base in a meaningful way. The problem is most companies are taking their first step with a "me first" attitude. They don't care about a social community outside of an ROI it will support. They don't get what it means to enter into these groups responsibly, which is the biggest reason they fail.
The first rule, and the most important rule, that all companies need to remember when engaging in Social Marketing is this: Be social.
No one wants to get a Myspace bulletin with a 10% off coupon from you. No one wants to hear about a new special you have going through Twitter. That's called SPAM, and everyone already gets enough of it.
Today's Social Media Homework lesson: Go to your favorite Social Media site and take a look at other companies who have a presence. Count how many you personally would want to visit again. Now count how many are just plain annoying, shameless plugs for a product or service. Now divide those two numbers together and you'll get what I call the "BS Factor".
Next time: What people *do* want to hear about.