Social media - a cautionary tale

By: Mark Bower

Date: 23 January 2012

Social media like and dislike{{}}If you’re a B2B marketer planning to use social media to target prospects, here’s a cautionary tale about how not to do it.

Last week, I was followed on Twitter by someone whose bio said they owned a digital marketing agency and a recruitment consultancy.

As usual I said “Hi” to my new follower (I never use tools that send auto-DMs to each to each new follower – they are so obviously automated and impersonal) and asked what caused them to follow me.

In reply I received an odd response that didn’t answer my question: “@markbower Are you on LinkedIn?”

Curious about where this was leading I replied “Yes, wouldn’t be without it.”

A couple of hours later I received a LinkedIn invite from the self-same person. Rather than ignore the invite I declined explaining that I only accept LinkedIn invites from people I’ve met in person.

The next day I got a spam DM advertising a job opening that was in no way relevant to me. Needless to say I unfollowed and blocked the offending account.

What went wrong

Social media accelerates the “know-like-trust-buy-advocate” cycle of purchasing. That’s one reason social media is so great.

But it only accelerates that cycle — it doesn’t go away entirely!

What this person did wrong was to jump straight from “Hello” to “trust”, without working through the “know” and “like” stages first.

The lesson

Don’t be in too much of a rush to close the deal. Just as you wouldn’t immediately (ever?) ask for the address book of a person you had just been introduced to at a cocktail party, you shouldn’t try to do the same in the virtual world.

Instead, use a social CRM product that will help you get to know your new contacts better. These kind of tools can automatically discover social media profiles for your contacts. It then only takes a couple of seconds to scan your contact’s profiles to find something you can chat to them about. Within minutes you can move through the know and like stages without fear of coming across as spammy.

Mark Bower is co-founder of online social media management company CubeSocial.