The Fine Line Between Conversation and Being Annoying on Social Media
There are times when it is best to just stop typing on social media – at least for an hour or two. You might have had one of those nose to the grindstone kind of weeks when you haven’t had much social interaction in any form for days. So you arrive home in time to be able to slip onto Facebook and scour what has been happening in the lives of your friends and family. Over the next hour, you frantically type your fingers almost down to nubs. You revel in the complete freedom of expression and love that you are getting in place of the paperwork in your office glaring back at you with nary a word being said.
After an hour you notice that all the people have stopped responding. No one even tosses a pity thumbs up your way. Horror suddenly overtakes you as you recognize you just became that annoying attention-seeking soul you have treated with disdain a time or two in the past. Put quite simply, you are annoying the stuffing out of everyone you know on the site. And in one final desperate moment you wonder if you should make one last statement so you can apologize.
Okay, that scene has been over-dramatized, but most have had the uncomfortable experience of dealing with someone who just doesn’t seem to get the nice hints to back off a bit. It may be a social encounter, or, more and more frequently, it happens with people we know who are working a business on social media. Most social media platforms have long since become marketing vehicles in at least half of the posts showing on your news feed at any given moment and every day of the week.
And because you too have a business that you are working at least some of the time on social media, you never want to be annoying or pestering. But how do you find the fine line between being good and being pushy? It’s kind of like that old legal quote about pornography when the justice said he wasn’t really sure how to define it, but he knew it when he saw it. Defining what would be annoying, pushy, or pestering behavior might be hard since it can depend as much on the person who is behaving a certain way as it has to do with a specific set of actions and responses. But there are some very definite behaviors that are truly off-putting.
That person who only posts sales ads and product information.
There are perfect sites to do that, such as eBay or Amazon, but social media is not the place for such behavior. You should consider posting at least four or five posts that are of a social nature or provide helpful information with no direct tie to anything you are selling. No one is going to forget about your product if you post about it a couple of times a week instead of a couple of times a day. But when you also give them information they can use, you build trust and goodwill instead of a brick wall of resistance.
Promoting your site or product on someone else’s posts.
Unless you have cleared it with them before you post, don’t do it. Instead, take the opportunity to honestly respond to what they are saying in their post. Share your appreciation of what they have done and how they expressed themselves. That will bring you more contacts than jumping in with unwanted links to your site and comments about how your product can fix something for one of the other commenters. Not cool dude!
If the other person is working their product into a post, be polite.
No product bashing just because your product is a different brand trying to accomplish something similar. Either don’t comment at all or take the time to congratulate people on their successes. Those who know you will already know you have something different to offer, and they will appreciate your good behavior. Those who don’t know you may want to get to know you if you behave in a positive way.
Finally, don’t go looking for a fight.
Don’t flame people or call them names simply because you have a different opinion. Yelling and stomping your feet, even when it is only in a written format, is not going to make you look good.
The rules online are not really all that different than they are when you are face to face with others. Show respect, be polite, appreciate what they have accomplished, and leave them wanting to spend time with you again, not dreading the possibility.