Published on 8th May, 2008 in Online Marketing

STOP Using Facebook!

By: Shama Kabani That’s exactly what I want to say to a lot of people misusing and abusing Facebook right now-just stop! I do a lot of social media marketing for our clients and know many colleagues (Dave Evans, Chris Brogan, and Nancy Marmolejo for example) who do it well. The Marketing Zen Group was also one of the first companies to tout the benefits of social media for marketing…especially marketing using Facebook. Now, I am just mad. I see more and more people on Facebook misusing and abusing the trust of others. Yes, this post is my first official rant on this blog. It’s also my way of trying to educate those who are really MISSING the mark here! This post may not be for those who are easily offended. You may note that it is also not my usual style of writing. However, I feel this MUST be said. 1) Facebook is a RELATIONSHIP Marketing Tool- This is key. I can’t stress it enough. You can use Facebook to create, build, and nurture relationships. DO NOT use it to send “buy my products and services” messages. That’s called spam. Use Facebook to build communities, nurture trust, and find mutually beneficial opportunities. Don’t use it to add random people, pretend that they are friends, and then try to sell them something. Take a look at a friend request I just received: Are you kidding me? You want me to not only add you as a friend but REMEMBER to contact you if I ever need to find a house in DC? (I live in Dallas!) I would MUCH rather this person had said “We have 13 mutual friends. I’d love to see if I can ever be of assistance to you. I noticed you do X type of work.” This would then lead to a conversation about their business. Perhaps we would share multiple conversations, get to know each other’s businesses, and become strong referral sources. I seriously doubt that is going to happen with this individual now. 2) Avoid those Who Promise you Thousands of Dollars Overnight from Facebook.  This isn’t always easy but please do your research. I see people coming out of the woodwork daily to jump on this “hot new Facebook trend”…and then make promises they can’t deliver. (A note to such folks: How can you call yourself social media consultants when you haven’t been on Facebook for more than 2 months AND how can you sleep at night when you are leading people astray and causing them to ruin their brands?) Recently, a group called Internet Marketing University came about. Now, I don’t know the founders so I can’t say whether they really know their stuff or not. I DO however know that I got hundreds of new Facebook “friend requests” from members of the group. All with a personal message along the lines of: ” Hey, as part of my learning process with the Internet Marketing University, I am trying to add as many new friends as I can to my network. Join in!” EXCUSE ME?! What I read: “Hi, the Internet Marketing University is showing me how to spam people but first I have to build my list of people I can spam. So go ahead and give me permission.” I don’t think so. There is another group called “FaceBook Phenomenon: MAKE 5000 FRIENDS IN 30 DAYS!.” An intelligent looking lady has started this group. She has been gaining “friends” by sending this message:

“I cried the other night…My husband says Facebook networking doesn’t work. Please ADD ME AS A FRIEND”

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

3) Facebook is NOT about building your list. Adding friends on Facebook is NOT the equivalent of a building a permission based eZine list. If I add you as a friend, it DOES NOT give you the permission to spam me or send me “buy my product” messages. I am almost considering starting a black-list for people on Facebook who are abusing it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t invite people to subscribe to your blog or join your list through your profile page. I do both and it works because I respect people’s choices-as I believe ANY marketer worth their salt should do.

4) Don’t throw a sheep at me…or send me a kiss…or BUY me! There are some fun application on Facebook, but they aren’t appropriate for every person. The only reason you should send me a virtual kiss is IF you are my significant other or best friend. If you just added me as a friend through a professional connection or for networking reasons, don’t ruin it. Don’t throw sheep at me or poke me. That’s not how adults who are looking to use Facebook to network and help each other play. To that end, I will add that they ARE fun applications that are acceptable. I have received virtual flowers that “grow” on my profile many times from colleagues and friends. That’s a very nice way to make a connection. So, watch your boundaries and keep it professional!

5) I know you mean well, so please learn from the RIGHT experts. I realize that most people making these awful, personal brand killing mistakes on Facebook probably mean well. Most aren’t out scam. Many probably provide quality service and products. However, the mistakes are ruining reputations. Please learn from the right experts. Learn from blogs, books, and people you trust. Use your good sense. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t do it while meeting a person face-to-face, don’t do it online.