Is Junk Mail, Spam and Hard Selling Hurting Social Media for Business?


Social media is all about being social.  It’s not about hawking products and services or distributing information directly into people’s streams.  We know that social media sites are meant to provide an online venue people to connect, engage, share and much more.  Many have also flocked to social media as a way to connect people and businesses together.  So we now have a paradox.  Social media is supposed to be fun, but now capitalists want to be a part of the action.  There is nothing wrong with capitalism; the American entrepreneurial spirit is what makes our nation and the world economy run.  Without capitalism, there would be no social media to begin with.

According to a Nielsen 2011 social media report, “53 percent of active adult social networkers follow a brand.”  Social media interaction between people and business was inevitable because people identify themselves with brands, and social media is an ideal place for brands and businesses to engage their customers and fans.  This interaction is a good thing, allowing people to find the products and services they like and their friends recommend.  Social media allows individuals to demonstrate brand loyalty and get access to discounts, special offers and prizes.  However, the problem arises when businesses or individuals motivated by sales start pushing unwanted advertising and direct messages to make sales pitches or offers.  Didn’t many of us sign up for social media to get away from spam and unwanted hard selling?

Social media is an opt-in medium, meaning people choose which information, people, brands and content they want to engage with.  In social media, communication or contact with a brand or business must be initiated by the individual.  If you like a product or company on Facebook or LinkedIn, no problem! You can connect, and businesses want you to do this.  However, a line can be – and often is – crossed.  Most people do not want to be contacted by someone trying to sell something on social media…unless they ask.  Social media is a platform where businesses and individuals must market themselves indirectly through interaction.  Social media participation is about giving information and engaging, not selling and soliciting.

Businesses should focus on using social media to provide information, demonstrate expertise and offer a forum for interaction.  By maintaining a positive flow of information and helpful interaction, a business, brand or professional salesperson will accomplish their goal: sales.  Yes, sales!  Sales will eventually come directly or from referrals, but only after a relationship is built.  Building the kind of relationship where individuals get to know, like and trust the individual or business is the goal.  People do business with those they know, like and trust.

What should businesses be aware of when trying to sell or market directly online?  Social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have policies against direct sales pitches.  LinkedIn’s User Agreement has a list of do’s and don’ts, which states that, “the user will not upload, post, email, InMail, transmit or otherwise make available or initiate any content that is unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, “junk mail,” “spam,” “chain letters,” “pyramid schemes,” or any other form of solicitation.”  Failing to follow this policy and the many others can result in having your profile suspended or terminated indefinitely.  Yes, terminated. Think of how much time and money goes into creating a social media site or account.  Do you want to risk losing it all?

Direct sales messages are annoyingly commonplace in social media, as many businesses are drawn into the possibilities and the exposure opportunities that it offers.  Social media sites’ news streams and walls are not intended for direct sales messages. This is an area that should remain uncorrupted by overzealous and scavenging advertising.  Some experts disagree, but I believe in reporting and blocking all inappropriate sales contact made through direct messaging.  If it’s a friend you may wish to tell them that it’s not appropriate, but we all need to fight against this practice.  We don’t want to have our LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter direct message mailboxes fill with unwanted sales spam.

I have been bashing selling on social media, but there are some exceptions.  Not all “sales messages” on social media are inappropriate.  For instance, advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn is, for the most part, unobtrusive and helps to keep most of the services offered free.  These ads are not direct messages and are usually chosen based on their relevance to your likes and interests and content that you post.  Divya Rawat, a content writer with a reputed SEO Company, says that Facebook ads can be customized as per age, location, gender, industry, interests and more. (

Selling is an art and a skill.  Online selling is evolving and, in the business to business arena, selling via social media is difficult when compared to the business to consumer market, where online selling is more ubiquitous and accepted.  Retail brands, including clothing and restaurants, can use social media to advertise extremely effectively.  This is a less intrusive approach, allowing individuals to opt-in.

People need to know that hard sales messages on social media are counter-productive and will turn people away instead of attracting them, which is just the opposite of what social media is intended to do.


This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to or to his blog  He can be reached at or @wjcorbett.


“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” – A Hot Trade Show Helps Businesses Grow

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business people flocked to the Trade Brooklyn event on March 20th, jamming the aisles and packing the seminars and workshops.  In this tough economy, it was refreshing to see the high level of interest in this event.  A packed exhibit floor with over 100 booths and valuable marketing seminars kept the more than 1,300 attendees busy all day.  For this reporter, who has attended so many sparsely attended shows in recent years, it was eye-opening.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough President, kicked off Trade Brooklyn, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce breakfast in the morning by taking the microphone and doing what politicians do best – getting the crowd excited about the event.

The exhibit floor was packed with over diverse exhibitors, ranging from small companies, to banks, insurance firms and even to portable toilets (CallAHead). People interacted, exchanged ideas and business leads.  People stayed all day and walked around talking to the vendors and packed seminars including several Digital Brand Marketing Education sponsored. Lots and lots of good business connections were made and the energy in the room was noticeable.

In addition to exhibits, seminars covered topics important to business leaders such as “How to Franchise Your Business,” “Changes to Social Media that Impact Business Strategy” and “Small Business and the Affordable Health Care Act.” I was personally quite surprised, when in the morning session by Digital Brand Marketing Education, I asked the audience “How many of you are business owners?” About 2/3 of the room raised hands.

With the economy struggling to get back on its feet, it was refreshing to see a popular B2B tradeshow bring together businesses from all over the New York metro area.  It is these kind of event that will again get business growing again.   It’s clear that not only trees grow in Brooklyn, businesses and entrepreneurs do as well.


This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to or to his blog  He can be reached at or @wjcorbett.


Avoid Social Media’s Black Hole: Develop Time-Saving Strategies

Social media can be similar to a black hole, slowly sucking away precious time and energy.  Social media time management is a challenge to almost every small businessperson I work with or find participating in the many social media and personal branding workshops I teach or take part in.  Although social media can have a tremendous impact on a business, it also has the potential to drain time, money and resources from a business, especially a small business, if it is not used efficiently and effectively.  Social media marketing is part of an overall marketing effort and must not consume more resources than it is worth.

The first step in saving time and avoiding the black hole is to develop a social media marketing plan that (1) sets specific short- and long-term goals (they all don’t have to be financial); (2) outlines the strategies that will achieve specific goals; (3) identifies a system for measurement of activities (which can include sales, business leads, likes, retweets, followers, e-mail captures, etc.); and (4) creates a schedule and timeline.

Set a social media time budget and stick to it.  It is essential that businesses balance the amount of time they spend using social media against the measured return on investment (ROI) and return on effort (ROE).  Start with a schedule of what tasks will be done daily, weekly and monthly.  Link social media profiles to aggregators like, Hootsuite and Gremln, which allow users to post to a number of social media profiles simultaneously or to schedule posts for the future.  All aggregators are not the same: test them to see which features works best to save time and reach the right audiences.  The amount of content online is growing, and more people are using multiple social media sites.  Aggregators are likely to grow in popularity as people look for a centralized way to manage their online profiles from a single platform.  However, there is a competing view about social media aggregators from social media expert Miguel Carrasco, who believes that aggregators are problematic because the same post shouldn’t be posted on multiple networks.  I believe aggregators work, but I agree that they should not be used indiscriminately for every post across multiple networks.  Customization of posts for Facebook or LinkedIn audiences is more effective.

Go mobile.  Social media apps can be set up on all smartphones.  This allows for updates and posts to be made efficiently and effectively on the fly.  According to an info graphic from Digital Buzz, over 200-million Facebook users and over 80-million Twitter users use Facebook and Twitter mobile.  If problems with apps arise, post using e-mail., Facebook, Twitter and some third party social media sites offer an e-mail posting option.  I find using e-mail to be effective; it also has spell-check.

Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest… the list goes on and on.  With so many social media sites to consider, it is important to build social media profiles on the sites which will work best and most efficiently to bring messages and brand information to target audiences.  Start with one or two sites, and as knowledge of the site and efficiency of use increases, add others.  Look at assessments and reviews to determine which sites offer the greatest returns, and focus on them.  For more information on how to choose which social media sites to use for business, check out this article on TechFleece.

Social media marketing strategies will be different for every business and individual, but the procedure is the same.  Follow a plan with measurable goals and a sensible schedule.  With social media it is easy to become distracted for hours at a time.  Focus on objectives and stick to a schedule.  Remember, it is not how much time is spent on social media, it is how little time is used to reach goals.


This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to or to his blog  He can be reached at or @wjcorbett.


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