Friday, October 9, 2009

The Fundamental Rule of Social Media Networking for Business

I'm reflecting on several amusing conversations I had this week with clients and friends regarding social media usage and users. The topics have included:
  • The user whose photos are shockingly personal
  • Another who uses "send an update to fans" to announce every sneeze
  • One whose Facebook and Twitter posts are, well, without TMI, mind-numbingly impersonal
And, finally:
  • The charming one who "friends" people on Facebook, only to hijack their contact list to send promotional announcements.

It may not be pretty, but this chatter simply echoes human nature (and what goes on in every school cafeteria, trade show cocktail party, and family get-together): gossiping.

While this topic is seemingly anything but business-related on the surface, the general subject is actually very relevant to anyone using social media tools for marketing... because, in each of these cases, the user utilizes social media to promote their business. And, as I say (apparently ad nauseam, as seen here, here and here!): networking via social media should be thought of in the same terms as networking the real world. The same rules and etiquette apply:
  • Would you show up to a networking event in a negligee?
  • Would you call everyone in your address book 3 times a day (to say the same thing again and again)?
  • Would you walk up to prospects at a cocktail party rattling off random information from an encyclopedia?
  • Would you lift an associate's address book from their office during a business dinner so you could later cold-call people they know?

Clearly (or I hope): No. Yet so many of us sit in front of a computer and don't realize that our actions on these social media tools are just as much a reflection of ourselves and our businesses as our actions in "real" life.

This is a whole new and evolving way of communicating and everyone is very much learning as they go. But a rule that isn't evolving, and that I constantly remind myself (and clients) when using social media tools for marketing: if you wouldn't do it in a real life business setting, please, don't do it on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or anywhere else.

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