More and more today I'm hearing the term: "Social Network Marketing".  Week after week I have more Twitter users that I block for the simple fact that they say they are "Social Network Marketers".  I also continue to hear about seminars being held for people to learn how to "use social networks to win customers and influence people".  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  In my book, any ethical way that you can get sales is a good way, but I've begun to see a trend of major mistakes and wrong assumptions people make when they are trying to market their businesses.  Here are the top 5 social marketing mistakes that I see businesses making:

  1. Assuming that people want to be marketed to.  People are not on social networks so that they can find out about the latest way to "Make $2000 working part-time!".  They are on social networks so that they can connect with other people who they know or would like to know.  When you begin to use a social network only for marketing then the average person can see right through that and simply block any communcation from you.
  2. Not offering any content that is valuable to the customer.  When you do get someone who follows you on Twitter or becomes your fan on Facebook they are endowing you with a bit of trust.  They are saying that it may be worth their time to read your status updates or follow your tweets.  So, offer them something more than just the same links or ad over and over again.  Give them hints or tips that they may appreciate and that will give you more value in their eyes.
  3. Caring more about making a sale than making a connection.  Interact with your customers.  Media Temple (my web host) and Mosso (my former web host) respond to tweets very quickly.  Whenever I have a question I just Tweet it out and they've responded within the hour.  They don't exist on Twitter simply as a sales pitch.  They exist to continue to build good relations with their current and potential customers. 
  4. Follow spam.  Some very slick bridge salesman somewhere is teaching a class that tells people to follow everyone they can on sites like Twitter because then people will follow you back (perhaps you've attended his seminar).  That is, quite frankly, a lie.  Anyone who follows me who also follows 5,000 other people gets an automatic block from me.  They have just discovered a new way to spam, and most regular users can see right through it.
  5. Responding to people who didn't ask for it.  Twitter and Facebook are both brilliant social networks, but they are both very different.  The main thing that separates the two are their privacy standards.  By default, anything I say on Twitter can be seen by anyone.  The opposite is true on Facebook.  The openness of Twitter is great, but it also creates a problem.  Whenever I mention certain keywords phrases like "I need health insurance" someone responds to me offering a "great deal".  How would you like to walk through the mall on a Sunday afternoon and casually mention that you're hungry only to have 5 different fast food workers jump out and start telling you how great their food is?  Treat social network users just like you would in real life.  Don't give them something they didn't ask you for. 

If you can correct these easy mistakes then you are well on your way to succeeding in real "Social Network Marketing".