It used to be, my online social media presence almost all but excluded contacts in my IRL true physical geographic location. It wasn't on purpose and I wasn't hiding, I just didn't find many local people online that I had much in common with professionally. Sure, some of my high school classmates found me and I belonged to some local LinkedIn groups.

Then, last year I transitioned to a new job with a significantly more visible presence in the community. One of the things I do on the job is manage social media for the organization and several of its projects on Facebook and Twitter. Since Facebook hasn't bothered to allow for the separation of church and state (your personal account is tied to fan pages you create) one of the side effects of my becoming more virtually "local" is that I have accepted many local businesses as friends or become their fan. I could ignore them but let's be honest, I'm an open networker and really unless you are inordinately weird I'm very open minded and accept your virtual friendship.

This blog feeds into Networked Blogs on Facebook, and the RSS Feed goes to LinkedIn and most every social media account I have and I will tweet the post too. I'm outwardly hoping it will be read and taken for what it is worth by some of my followers who have businesses and have taken marketing into their own hands. This is a sincere effort on my part to tell them and many others who are doing their own social media marketing that they're screwing it up, they don't know what they're doing and they're doing more bad than good...

They're turning me off

I have read many public floggings of companies - outright smack downs. But, that's not my style. So here are two sanitized examples of local companies turning me off completely and what they could do to try to turn me on. I could contact them privately and offer consulting services but I'm also a realist... it is highly unlikely they would go for it because they think they are doing it right.. Consider this pro bono.

Profile #1 - Therapy Practice (I don't know what else to call it)

The Facebook Fan Page posts 3rd party articles on why xxx is the key to health. It does not appear to engage members because there are no comments on the wall - at all and there is no steady growth (even slow) of the fan base. The administrator sends messages to fans about specials, discounts and how our health could be optimized, and sends me @ tweets stating Hi, Im Dr. XXX local xxx I see u have disc problems. I can Help Call me 000-0000. xxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx.com

Wait, what did you say????????

Uhhhh.. You have x-ray eyes doc? You don't know anything about my body and you're are spewing "facts" about me that I don't appreciate at all. This is a huge no no... you publicly stated I have disc problems and you don't know me from Adam. Yet, a prospective employer could see that and think it is true. Maybe an insurance company I am trying to buy a policy from is checking me out. Maybe I wouldn't want the PUBLIC to know I have this supposed disc problem. Are you thinking about how you are potentially impacting me? You would think someone who must be familiar with HIPAA would never think of doing this.. The worst thing is you have not only done this to me you have done it to all of your 23 followers in your 227 spammy tweets. Maybe that's why you have only 23 followers.

My advice for this business is:

  • Make your Facebook activity interactive. Stop pumping out blatant ads and be social.
  • How about commenting on something I post or visiting my blog and letting me know what you think? Let me know you actually pay attention to me and are not just looking to bill my health care insurance.
  • Ask fans if they have questions and post the answers on the fan page.
  • Try posting trivia or history of the discipline. Be a person, put up some pics of your vacation or something a little off topic that shows you are a person with a personality, have a little fun!
  • Remember it's got to be reciprocal. I was nice enough to become your fan so don't say something stupid like "I see you have xxxx problems". I don't think you are psychic and it does not make me want to let you touch me.
  • Do not use Twitter to tweet the same thing to all 27 followers thinking you're being swift by personalizing using my name. I'm smarter than that. I just pulled up your tweets and see you are an assembly line tweeter. There are many successful health care providers who post helpful advice and tips, ask and answer questions and engage their followers with great dialog. They "get" social media and know that engagement through soft selling is the best sales tool. They make friends with their followers and become the name on the tips of their tongues when it comes to their profession.

Profile #2 - Service Provider

One of the owners of this business mans the social media and is pervasively visible on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.. probably other places too. Apart from generating sin fin varieties of never to miss deals you will surely die without, this person posts comments and tweets about arguments and problems with the spouse, disdain for another job and painfully complains about just about everything to the point I don't want to look. Other times there are blissful messages of love and contentment..

My advice for this business is:

  • Please note that I have heard from other locals that you appear unbalanced because of the bipolarish Sybilesque inconsistent personal messages you mix with business. Stop - It's disturbing not only to me but others as well.
  • Do a Google search on yourself and then on your business. Pretend you don't know yourself and read the search results. Look at the personal and professional brands you have created. You have mixed the two so much they are virtually indistinguishable. It doesn't look so good, does it?
  • Think before you post.The worst is when your LinkedIn status messages are utterly unprofessional in your expressions of anger at the world and feelings of being unloved. Ask yourself if you would pay an agency to post the things you post yourself .... or if you would fire them.
  • Do not trash your business partner and spouse as if a criminal and louse and then expect people to become a customer and trust their expensive personal possessions with you guys..
  • Remember that the words personal and personable have much in common.
  • The service you provide is a non-essential one as much as you like to promote it to be as important as the air we breathe. Face it, most people can only afford DIY. You have a niche service and it should be marketed as such.
  • Identify the profile of your customer and then post things that are interesting to that demographic. Be engaging and tactful, witty and charming. Show you have knowledge.
  • In lieu of the blog you don't have, use Facebook notes to write authoritative posts on your area of expertise.
  • Post tips, trivia and advice. It seems to me you would have a lot of seasonal advice and reminders to offer that people would really appreciate.

You can do a good job of social media marketing if you use common sense. Think of successful companies and competitors you admire. Study how they use social medial. Don't copy what they do but emulate the types of messages they deliver and the image they project. After all, they are successful because they are doing things right.

Just for the heck of it, I'm going to watch to see if these guys get the hint...

What are some of the things about social media marketing gone wrong that turn you off?


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