Social networks represent a vast pool of potential customers for your business and, understandably, an entire industry, dubbed social media marketing, has sprung up around this fact.
Unlike most traditional forms of advertising, social media marketing typically comes at no cost outside of the time needed to build worthwhile social accounts. Anyone in the world, from small bloggers to huge corporations, has instant access to millions of people just waiting to be turned into consumers. While there are obvious benefits revealed in that statement, the fact that anyone can market to anyone via Facebook, Twitter and friends has an inevitable consequence: universally hated spam.
We all know spam from our email inboxes and we all feel more or less the same way about it; that is, very negatively. Given that fact, it should be important to any social media marketer to be sure that their social media advertising habits stay well on the good side of the spam line.
Take a look at these social media ad types and determine for yourself: are they legitimate marketing methods or simply social media spam?
1. Inappropriate friend and follow requests
Whether you use Facebook or LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+, it is very likely that you are “friends” with at least a few people that you really aren’t friends with at all. While this can be appropriate and useful when networking far-flung colleagues and business professionals, is it generally considered spammy to send friend requests to people that you intend only to market to?
The simple answer is yes. While you may get lucky once or twice, the majority of people that you befriend online simply to promote your website or product will not be interested, if only due to the fact that they are entirely untargeted. Add in the fact that most social networks frown upon aggressive befriending and following and you definitely do not have a recipe for success.
2. Posting your website and product links in your social steam
When working to gain targeted followers on your social media accounts pays dividends and you find yourself with an audience, the time has come to begin marketing efforts for your website. Posting links and promotional material into social streams like a Facebook wall is entirely common – but is it spam?
No. Your Facebook wall, Twitter page and similar social streams are your own and you are free to include whatever posts you see fit so long as they are within the terms of service of the network in question. While perhaps not spam in and of itself, keep in mind that a Facebook wall full of only ads, product links and discount codes for your website certainly has a spammy look to it; consider interspersing your marketing efforts with content that looks like it came from a real, live human.
3. Sending unsolicited messages
With well-built social media accounts commonly being connected to hundreds, or even thousands, of people, the opportunity to get yourself heard via direct messages, tags, mentions and in-stream posts (such as adding content to someone else’s Facebook wall) abound, allowing you to get your promotional material out in a hurry. Are sending unsolicited messages and posting ads on other’s social media streams examples of spam?
Most definitely, unequivocally, yes. Just like the spam emails you likely see in your inbox every day offering products that you don’t need and services that you don’t want, direct social media messages to users not wanting them is sure to result in not only a non-customer but also a potential ban on your account. For every one visitor you receive from such tactics you’ll have rubbed one thousand others the wrong way; unsolicited direct spam is never the basis of a good social media marketing campaign.
All in all, social media marketing presents something of a slippery slope at times, making you walk a fine line between an impressively aggressive social marketer and an out-and-out spammer. For the sake of all of your potential visitors, existing customers and your fellow human beings, resist the urge the go overboard with your tactics. A single targeted lead is better than a million spam messages sent, any day of the week!
Jessy is a social media blogger for Life Insurance Finder, the free online app for life insurance comparison.