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As a fairly high profile social media personality, I am probably exposed to more of the good and bad that happens in social media than the average business user. I want to share with you today three different things I’ve seen in the past 2 days alone. I’ll tell you what small business owners did, why it was wrong and what they could have done instead.

Case 1: The Skincare Seller’s Private Message on Facebook

Background

In Social Media, I try to encourage people to be happy with who they are. I try to share messages to inspire, motivate and improve confidence. This is what my public persona is about. As part of this, I do not use professional photos which have been retouched. Few of the photos of me online even have me wearing makeup. In recent times, I’ve tried to update the avatars I’ve used on a regular basis since my ‘look’ frequently changes.

I’m 44, have absolutely no issues with my age. Although I have problems like most women about some things, looking old is not one of them. I frequently have people commenting that I look much younger (and the same is true in the ‘real world’ as well).

On Monday I posted a photo to Facebook which was taken in sunlight, without any attempt to conceal age, etc and proudly showed off the wrinkles I have.

The next morning I received this private message from a Facebook “friend”. This is not someone I know. I probably accepted her friend request because we had so many friends in common. She has commented once or twice on my wall but we have had zero interaction otherwise.

I was totally blown away that someone would do this – both on a personal level as well as from a business perspective.

Personally, I didn’t feel offended by it for what she said but I did have a problem with her approach. I know words like that would hurt many people. We had a lot of friends in common and after careful consideration, I posted about this on my Facebook wall.  You can read the comments from people here. A few people told me privately she probably meant no harm by what she did, but I – and many others – did feel it was out of line.

What She Did Wrong

1. Social media is about building relationships with people first and foremost. Although she offered a “sample” first, she went right for the sale without working on the relationship part first.

2. She sent her message on the basis of a single photo I posted – without knowing my age or anything else. I strongly doubt she realizes how old I actually am. (As an aside – a major soap brand asked me to be a “real person” in an ad campaign earlier this year.)

3. She was rude and arrogant in her approach.

4. She had no idea whether or not I was already familiar with her product. (I am – I’ve actually had a severe allergic reaction to it when I tried it once in the past.)

What She Should Have Done

1. Having noticed the photo, used that as a starting point for a conversation – taken the few minutes to read the comments on that thread and comment publicly.

2. Engaged with me a bit more and learned more about me. If a week down the road, after a few friendly interactions, she had messaged me – asked more about me and what I do THEN tell me about what she does and while doing so, offer to send me a free sample – I’d have received it entirely differently.

3. Known who she was dealing with period. Seriously, I get approached almost daily with offers in social media. People have offered me $500-1000 to send out a single tweet. I am contacted by PR people continually to give paid appearances at events, to get free stuff, etc. I’ve crashed servers by sharing links. Heck, I’ve brought one of my own servers down twice in the past few weeks by my own links going viral. People listen to me. Not because I do paid endorsements but because I share from the heart. I’m a pretty powerful asset to have fall in love with your products.

Case 2: The Marriage Coach on Twitter

Background

So a marriage coach follows me on Twitter. I get 100+ followers on an average day. I am in business and believe in following everyone back.  I follow him back.

I get a tweet from him saying “My blog hit 100,000 page views, check it out at <Link> and pls re-tweet this tweet to your followers”

I respond “The way social media works-give before you ask. Get to know people first.”

Does he get it? Nope. His answer: “Thanks I did not know that. Would you consider a free chapter on how to stop fighting with your spouse as adequate”

What He Did Wrong

1. Repeat after me – social media is about building relationships first.

2. So he can see my follower count – over 132,000 followers. He can see from my bio what my businesses are. I have no idea how someone can be so clueless to think a. because I returned a follow, I am interested in marriage coaching and b. that I’d have the time to read a free chapter on a topic he has no reason to think I am interested in.

3. Offering a free chapter of a book in exchange for tweeting a site to 100,000+ people? Really?

What Should He Have Done?

1. The long way – said hi and commented on one of my tweets. Retweeted my content so I’d notice. Engage with me. That might have resulted in me eventually sharing his content – for free – just because I liked him and we were buddies.

2. The short way – introduce himself and ask if I was interested in the topic of marriage THEN offered a free copy of the book. Take the chance that I may like it enough to share it. What would the cost be for him to do this? An ebook – nothing. A printed book – a few bucks plus shipping. Compare this to companies offering me hundreds of dollars for a single tweet.

Case 3: The Overly Friendly Friend

Background

One of the areas my companies deal in is the domain business. We sell several hundred domains each month. We also have a solid training/wholesale division geared to helping those getting started in the industry at Doma.in.

Someone I am friends with on Facebook, who is also in the domain industry, sent a friend request to another friend of mine (someone not in the domain business but who I am working with on other projects). He also sent her a message saying he had seen her commenting on my wall. Let’s call him “Frank” and her “Betty.”

Betty had posted on her wall earlier that day her frustration with trying to buy a domain name that was owned by a domain investor. Frank saw this after his friend request had been approved and then messages her offering her assistance in acquiring the domain.

What He Did Wrong

1. He undermined my credibility with a friend.

2. He made use of my contact to self-promote.

3. He jumped in with business right away with a new contact – and fyi, when he messaged her he mentioned common interests that had nothing to do with business.

What He Should Have Done

1. It’s fine to grow your network, but never jump in with business right away – even if your intention is well-founded. It’s just – well icky.

2. Knowing it was my contact, ideally, he should have come to me and said something like – “Did you see Betty was dealing with a domain situation? If you’re too busy, I’d be happy to help her out.”

3. Being in a limited industry like this – where cultivating relationships is a key part of it – you really shouldn’t step in someone else’s cocktail party unless you are invited or have had prior contact. I’ve worked hard at being “the” go-to person within certain groups regarding domains. You just don’t jump in like this.

Takeaways

Okay, what offends me in some way may not bother others. If I didn’t deal with the volume I do, I’d probably just brush it off. People have different ways of doing business. But I have about 60-90 minutes a day most days to spend on social media. This includes everything I do that is social-media related. I run several companies. I don’t want to spend half of my social media time handling crap like this – even if it is simply deleting messages.

I have sizable followings. I’ve generated a lot of business through social media. I don’t know an exact dollar figure, but I do know it’s probably more than most people who “don’t get it” will earn in their entire lifetime. To know how I do this, all someone has to do is observe and learn. Not just me, but others who are also doing well in social media.

Social media isn’t complicated. It’s all about relationships, sharing, giving and then eventually you get back. It’s not about the hard sales pitch. It’s not about riding on coattails.

I’m not religious at all, but I do like to abide by the concept of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I think this should be the mantra or creed of appropriate use of social media. At least that’s the way I “do” social media.

What are your thoughts?


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