If You Want to Impress Your Twitter Followers, Don't Do This
Shortly after publishing my last article, about how my affection for Facebook games has inadvertently helped me network professionally online, I posted a link to the article (as I often do) on Twitter. Among the various "great article" comments that I received for it, I also received one @reply from someone I'd never met - who said "if you use Facebook for business, here's how you can get banned from Facebook." With a link to a blog post by some Internet marketing company that:
- Had no relation whatsoever to what I discussed in the article;
- Was clearly a thinly veiled sales pitch for their services;
- Assumed I was a neophyte who couldn't tell the difference between a Facebook profile and a Facebook page - despite the fact that neither of those things were the actual subject of the article they were responding to.
Normally, I'd just hit the "report for spam" link and send this person on their merry way - and believe me, I did. But the more I think about it, the more I see a need to comment on the problem inherent with situations like this. There are companies like this all over the Internet - who target small business owners with promises of connecting them directly with their target audience and helping them make more money through online sales.
It's these same people who believe that sending blanket tweets in response to random keywords - with no sense of context, and no intent to actually *read* the thing that they're responding to - is an effective marketing tactic. And in the last seven years of working with countless startups and small businesses to help them build their businesses, I've seen many of them fall prey to this shtick - only to realize that they spent a lot of money on something that just doesn't work.
Here's the deal. If you want to make money online, if you really want to "get directly in touch with your target audience," DO IT. Get out there and talk to people online. Sign up for Google alerts and find out who's talking about you - and then get in touch with them to ask them questions and thank them for noticing. Set up a Facebook page and tell people where you'll be so that they can connect with you in person. Most of all, be real, and be interested.