The Abuse of Social Networking as a Marketing Platform

I just opened up my Multiply account to find over two dozen posts in my inbox from the same account/person, in what looked like his or her attempt to promote every single product in their inventory.

Yes it looked like the posts from this account were all about stuff being sold through multiply, fashion accessories and apparel I believe.

Annoyed, maybe because it’s past 5AM and without a wink of sleep yet, I promptly deleted the account from my contact list.

The rise in popularity of social networks has actually made it easy for individuals to connect with other people, joining online communities has made it easy for the non-techie user to create an online presence and network with other potentially like minded individuals. Networking has always been an inalienable human activity, we are a social specie and we likeĀ  to communicate, to keep in touch, to be a part of a group.. to belong. For this reason communities over the internet are segmented further into smaller groupings maybe according to interests or affiliations, somewhat like marketing psychographics that classify a target market based on lifestyles, behavior or preference. But I digress.

My point being, social networking has also become an advertising medium where one may deliver advertising messages to those who are on their network.

I think people automatically assume that when one accepts an invitation to a network, this is already taken by the inviter as consent from the invited, to allow advertising messages.

While I do believe that social networking is to a certain degree permission marketing, many people abuse this by wanton broadcast of advertising messages that may be received as spamming.

For those who are not familiar, permission marketing is the opposite to traditional, interruption marketing where ad messages are rammed through a recipients throat, permission marketingĀ  is the delivery of advertising to a recipient who gives consent for advertising delivery. If done right, permission marketing is actually very effective because your prospects are more targeted and already might have an interest in what you may offer them later on.

Moving on, when you accept an invite from someone to join their network, it is in a way, saying yes, I am willing to receive your posts, bulletins and updates. Which is why I think to a certain degree it is permission marketing, because you allowed it by accepting.

But, permission marketing is more importantly, about building an ongoing relationship of increasing depth with customers. In the words of marketing guru Seth Godin (creator of the popular social site Squidoo), permission marketing is about “turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers.”

So, you have to establish a rapport first, develop the relationship, and then market. Not blast everybody’s Inbox with advertising messages which may not be relevant or of importance to those on your network.

While some people may simply resolve to ignore all that junk in their Multiply Inbox, today was the last straw and for me, hitting delete was a much better solution. One less spammer on my contact list.

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