10 Ways to Mess Up Royally in Social Media

Now I mean no offense to royalty with the title of this post.  🙂  However there are ways to mess up in a BIG way when using social media for your direct sales business.  Read carefully, and don’t let this be you!

  1. Announce your business to all your friends in your status updates. This goes for “We’re have a sale!” and “Join my team” type posts too.  Your friends on your social networks have not opted in for business pitches from you.  Don’t spam them!  They may not say it outright, but they don’t appreciate it.  Trust me.
  2. Complain publicly about your company. When your company has issues (and they all do, no matter how perfect they are), don’t post it to the company’s Facebook page to complain!  Stuff like that lives a long, long time, way beyond when the issue is resolved.  And that can cause people not to want to do business with you and your company.  Your company has in place the proper channels to let them know what you think without ruining it for everyone.  THINK before you post!
  3. Post once and walk away. You’ve invested all this time in setting up your social media profiles, but then life happens.  But if you want to be successful in social media, you have to treat it like a relationship.  You can’t post once and then expect it to work.  If you don’t post regularly (daily is best), you’re going to miss out on the benefits.
  4. Making social media your business. Social media is NOT your core business as a direct seller.  Rather, it’s one of the many marketing tools in your arsenal, designed to help you reach more people so you can do your core business.  Don’t get so swept up in social media marketing that you forget that you actually need to walk away from your computer in order to make sales and build your team. (Interestingly, some fairly new research has shown that those folks who only build their businesses online do not have teams that are as strong as those who also do face to face.  Social media complements a face to face business, but does not replace it.)  If you’re spending an hour a day or more on social media exclusively, you’re probably spending too much time on it.
  5. Jumping in on every negative post about your company. Yes, I understand that you love your company, and if someone says something bad about it, you want to jump in there and correct the misconceptions.  But that’s not always the best approach.  You see, every time someone comments on a post, it becomes more relevant in the search engine rankings.  So if every consultant in your company jumps in to defend your company, that post could wind up being the first thing prospects see when they type your company’s name into Google!  If you see something negative, and want to respond, check with your company first.  They can let you know whether your response will help or hurt the situation.
  6. Announce every score of every game you play on Facebook. Yes I’m very happy you got an alpaca for your farm on Farmville.  But we really don’t need (or want) to know.  Don’t waste the time of your connections on Facebook by making them wade through your game stuff.  It makes your wall look cluttered and unprofessional, and I hate to break this to you but *gasp* we really don’t care.
  7. Invite every friend you have to your business events.  Repeatedly. This goes along with #1.  If I have not asked for business messages from you, DO NOT SEND ME SPAM.  And yes, Events count as spam if I don’t want them.  (Even worse is when people invite others to events that aren’t even in their part of the country!  This says to people “I’m just inviting everyone.  I’m not actually paying enough attention to see if this is relevant to you.  It’s all about me, not about you.”)
  8. Invite every friend you have to “like” your Page or join your Group.  Repeatedly. You will get a much better response if you strategically target those folks that you invite.  So make sure they have an interest in your product and service based on the relationships you’ve built with them. Only after the relationship is built should you invite them.  And if I haven’t decided to join your Group on raising alpacas the first time, please don’t keep inviting me.  That’s the quickest way I know to get yourself unfriended.
  9. Make product claims. Your friend had a great result with your products.  In fact, she’s SURE it cured her cancer.  So let’s tell the world! Um…no.  This is an approach that can get you in a LOT of trouble (along with your company) because it’s against the law. If there is not a scientific study (not just anecdotal evidence) to back it up, don’t say it in social media.
  10. Get into cat-fights. Remember what your mom told you?  If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.  That’s as true today as when she said it long ago.  Hear me: It makes you look bad when you argue with others online.  It also makes you look bad when you complain about others online.  We don’t like doing business with negative people.  Don’t chase away your customers!  If you need to vent, do it with your real-life friends.  Keep it positive in social media.  No one needs Debby Downer to ruin their day.

So that’s my list of 10 things you should never do in social media as a direct seller.  What would you add?  Can’t wait to read it in the comments below!

11 Responses to 10 Ways to Mess Up Royally in Social Media
  1. Beth Dornan
    May 21, 2010 | 10:22 am

    Great post, Jen — and good advice for any seller using social media to connect with customers.

    • Jennifer Fong
      May 21, 2010 | 12:09 pm

      Thanks Beth!

  2. carlmogridge
    May 19, 2010 | 8:40 pm

    People have to walk before they can run and one of the hardest things to do for any company is to create change. Good article nonetheless, based on what I have learnt I will list out the 5 Principles for online business owners, spokespeople and other external affiliates of a business.

    1: Tell people who you are, do not use misleading or fake social media accounts
    2: Do not engage in online banter or bad arguments
    3: Do not give misleading or false information
    4: Treat others like you’d like to be treated
    5: Use social media to communicate with others, but remember your limitations

  3. Julie
    May 19, 2010 | 6:52 pm

    Great article! It is so nice to get some guidence on the how to’s of social media for those of us who are not so savvy! I would add that if you have customers/contacts that you are trying to get to know better then you may wish to avoid any controversial political/religious postings as well. You may turn off a potential customer with differing views.

  4. Joyce
    May 19, 2010 | 4:29 pm

    GREAT article! I learn something new about social media etiquette every time I read one of your articles.
    The only thing I would add is don’t promote yourself and your business in someone else’s comments!! This just happened to me and I though it was so rude so I deleted the person that did it!

    Thank you for teaching us!!

  5. Jill Shea
    May 19, 2010 | 3:42 pm

    Great article! I agree with Laura too. I’ve seen people go out and just try to friend everyone or ask their friends to send them friends. What’s the point if people start hiding your posts because they don’t really know who you are?
    Build relationships and you’ll build business.

    Love & Success!
    Jill Shea

  6. Rebecca
    May 19, 2010 | 2:34 pm

    I agree with Dawn, don’t put down another company trying to make your company look better.

    Great article!

  7. Laura Livengood Schaub
    May 19, 2010 | 1:10 pm

    Nice post! I would add, do NOT set up personal FB pages for businesses; it is against FB’s TOS and I refuse to ‘friend’ a business entity (esp. if I can’t even tell who the ‘person’ is behind the profile). That’s what FB pages are for.

    Lately I’ve seen a lot of people in my industry (green/gardening) friending everyone they see on other’s friend lists (like, all at once!) and then bombarding with repeated requests to like their pages (#8). If someone with no other connection to me than many mutual friends wants to connect, I appreciate a message of introduction. My friends list was built slowly over time, based largely on real connections, and I would never send a friend request to someone I’ve never met without introducing myself!

  8. Carrie
    May 19, 2010 | 12:01 pm

    this was good even if you dont have a business, a little social media ettiquette reminders…thanks

  9. Melissa Schmalenberger
    May 19, 2010 | 11:26 am

    Love your ideas. I help businesses with their social media presence and these are all good reminders!

  10. Dawn
    May 19, 2010 | 11:16 am

    That’s a very comprehensive list! I might add – don’t compare your company to any other company via social media, but that could already be covered under #9 or #10.


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