Like Me? Follow Me.
Over the weekend I got a friend request on MySpace from an eBay merchant I'd never heard of who sells clothes. The same merchant, alongside the unsolicited friend request, also sent a long message with product listings trying to sell me stuff. I replied to the message saying that before they start sending me sales materials they should look more closely at my profile - if they had they'd have realised I was probably going to ignore it, or report it as spam (which I did) - and asking them to please leave me alone in future.
Instead of an apology, I received a response telling me to "join facebook set your prefances to friends only if you dont like thats what myspace is about promotion."
Now, this is not exactly a way I would recommend that anybody do business, never mind use social media for brand promotion. The email is:
- incredibly rude
- incoherent - it reads like it was written by a 5-year-old
If MySpace isn't for selling stuff, then what is it for?
MySpace is not about promotion. MySpace is about communication, it's about making friends and to a point it's about finding new music. It is not about free email marketing to all and sundry.
For a business to use social networks successfully they have to create relationships and they have to engage in dialogue with people within their network - and they should take the time look for people who are likely to want to become part of their network rather than sending out mass friend requests.
But what's wrong with sending marketing messages?
I deliberately keep my profile accessible because people contact me regarding my personal blog using MySpace from time to time; and, frankly, I'm happy to receive friend requests from people, I just don't always accept them.
Messages are far more of an imposition because a message notification implies that somebody has something to say to me. When that something is only a sales pitch from a business I don't know if I can trust, I'm mainly going to be annoyed at them for wasting my time.
Where did this eBay merchant go so wrong?
Had this particular "businessperson" looked at my profile they would probably have realised that their approach was not going to work - despite being registered on MySpace since early 2005 I only have around 50 friends - almost all people I actually know in the flesh - I have no businesses as friends in my profile.
All the unprofessional, childish second message did was get me really irate at their disregard for me and the community of people who use MySpace. I responded by explaining that MySpace was not about advertising (unless you pay) and that they had to contribute in some way to the community beyond sending garbage to people.
Their shouty response was even worse than the original, telling me, "I WROTE YOU A LETTER ID SAY THAT WAS QUITE POLITE AND U CAN STICK ME ON IGNORE."
Now, their "letter" was not polite and I shouldn't have to stick people on ignore - they should respect the first email which told them they were being inappropriate and asked them to not contact me again. What did the all-uppercase shouting get them? Well, they no longer have a profile on MySpace as the powers that be agreed with me that their behaviour was abusive.
How merchants should use MySpace, in 2 short(ish) sentences
So, be careful when using social media. Befriend people, participate in groups, be helpful and engage with potential customers on their level - don't just try selling to them - and always be polite, even in the face of criticism.