I log onto my Facebook account. Another fan page request, this time for a cosmetic product I don’t even use. And even if I did use it, why on Earth would I feel the need to let everyone else on Facebook know that I am a passionate fan of this shampoo?
Many companies have begun infiltrating social media in order to promote themselves, gain new customers and create an online “presence.” Many of these companies aren’t using social media tools to their full potential.
Those in the public relations field know that PR is about building relationships, not selling products. It’s about building an image, not creating immediate revenue. Basically, there is no instant gratification. Similarly, social media is also about building relationships. That is the reason most individuals sign up for Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites: to build or maintain relationships. So companies should look at these tools in the same way.
Contact Media, a company that helps small businesses with marketing strategy, stated in one of its blog posts, “Just because your customers are congregating online doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate or effective to interrupt them with promotional messages. In fact, that’s probably the single most annoying thing you can do.” The post continued, “It’s not about how many fans, followers or friends you can accumulate, it’s about how much value you can add to the conversation.”
In a BusinessWeek article, “Beware Social Media Marketing Myths,” Gene Marks addressed the many misconceptions about social media. He pointed out that most users are teenagers, and that most adults on the site “are merely nostalgic to check out boyfriends and girlfriends from youth to see how fat and bald they’ve become; whatever they’re doing on Facebook, it’s typically not engaging with a small business brand.” A tad dramatic, but his point is clear.
Companies should use social media to build relationships with consumers, not to annoy or inundate them with multiple “invites” or “friend requests.” Social media can be a great PR tool for raising awareness, generating excitement and quickly responding to certain situations. If the customer doesn’t feel that you are trying to sell them something, or that they are just another number or friend, then social media can go a long way.
But please, please stop asking me to be your fan if I keep rejecting you. You’re making me never want to use your product, and I don’t even know what it does.
By Jaclyn White