Social media has sparked one of the great paradoxes of the Internet: people want to be seen and to connect with their friends on these networking platforms, but at the same time, they want to limit how much advertisers and businesses can know about their preferences. Just as many people disdain telemarketers and the calls that interrupt dinner, they also don't appreciate when advertisers invade their virtual privacy.
That isn't to say social media marketing isn't without its merits. When handled properly, it can feel organic. Your business isn't stepping on toes – rather, it's part of the conversation. But this can be a fine line, especially if your business is mostly interested in using social media as a lead-generation tool.
So how can you make sure your small business stays in the good graces of the people you're trying to connect with? Here are some social marketing strategies to avoid, lest you alienate your prospects and past customers.
Social “Listening” or Social “Monitoring”?
When companies keep tabs on social media for mentions of their brand, services, or products, it's called "social monitoring." Typically, a brand manager will use social media monitoring software to filter content using keywords that are relevant to the company.
And it's not as rare a behavior as you may think. Netbase, a social analytics company, found that 42 percent of businesses they surveyed considered social listening a priority in 2013. But the consumers they surveyed weren't as wild about the idea of companies eavesdropping on their social media conversations.
The survey found…
- 32 percent of consumers weren't aware that companies monitor social media mentions.
- 51 percent don't want companies to listen when they’re being talked about on social media.
- 43 percent consider social media monitoring to be an invasion of their privacy.
- 64 percent are only interested in companies responding to social media comments when they are directly addressed.
For more information about the study's findings, check out Netbase's infographic "Social Listening: Too Much Big Brother?"
Take Facebook, for example. The social media giant has caught some flack in the past few years for selling its users' data to marketing companies. The market research businesses collect social media data and sell the information to other companies. From there, businesses can design targeted ad campaigns for their products or services based on the users' information.
If you decide to procure harvested social data to better understand your target market, use the information at your own risk. From the consumer's standpoint, they could start feeling too closely monitored if they make an innocent post on Facebook about a trip they might take and suddenly receive marketing emails for travel-ready clothing.
Leaking Personal Data
Some advertisers and marketers obtain consumer information from a leak during an app installation. Here's how a leak works:
- The consumer installs the app.
- Upon acceptance, an "access token" is created.
- That token is passed along to advertisers.
Some Facebook apps, such as FarmVille and Family Tree, have been guilty of these leaks that give advertisers access to personal profile information, such as photos and chat histories. The consumers don't know that their data is being transferred, which can create ill will if they discover your business is using this information. If you develop an app for your small business, you'll want to ensure that you aren't the one leaking your customers' data.
Tips for Improving Your Social Media Marketing
Start by reading our eBook Tweet or Twibel: The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Advertising Injury so you know how to avoid advertising injuries while marketing your business on social media.
And instead of looking at social media as a way to perfect the art of mindreading, think of it the same way you would a business networking event. Mingle, get your information out there, but don't linger too long if others seem uninterested in what you have to say.
Here are some other pointers to keep in mind as you interact with prospects online:
- Don't just listen. Engage with your followers and fans.
- Deliver mutual value with each interaction. For example, use social media for customer service opportunities.
- Never ignore the context of posts. It will make you seem as though you're not interested in having a real conversation.
Before your business does make a potentially costly social media marketing mistake (such as infringing on someone's copyrights or invading their privacy), be sure you have a safety net in place. Small business insurance, such as General Liability Insurance, can step in when you're sued for advertising injuries, sparing your business the price tag of a huge settlement or judgment.