Is it just me or are others finding that they’re getting more and more brazen sales solicitations of various kinds from their new “friends,” “followers,” and “connections” than in the past?
It seems that when I friend or follow or connect with someone I’m far more likely now than in the past to get a direct message or inmail or email thanking me for following and “as a special gift” they offer me a super duper deal on their services or books or whatever.
Often I’ll get an inmail thanking me for the connection and since they know that I’d love to follow their company page on Facebook they’ve taken the liberty to provide the link.
Other times it is an outright blatant solicitation to sell me something without even the guise of a special offer.
And sometimes it’s more subtle with an invitation to get to know one another on the phone—that within 30 seconds becomes a hard-line sales pitch.
It may simply be because more and more sellers are using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media and they’re ignorant of proper social media etiquette.
But it might also be a symptom of something more fundamental–the hazard of using a medium that is inherently unsocial—a computer.
Rude and obnoxious anonymous postings on forums and blogs have long been issues, along with the occasional in your face attempt to sell from a new friend, follower or connection.
I’ve always chalked up the clumsy sales attempt as simply an etiquette error. The rude and obnoxious comments on blogs and forums I’ve assumed was simply a result of having the luxury of being anonymous combined with “talking” to an inanimate computer screen.
But I’m beginning to think that there is a deeper inherent problem with social media than simply learning proper social media etiquette–and that problem is the impersonal nature of the computer itself.
Even though intellectually we know our emails, direct messages and inmails are going to another human, we are interacting with an inanimate object to talk to someone we do not know and whom know little to nothing about.
Our message is then received by someone who is looking at an impersonal screen while reading the words of someone they do not know and many very well have never heard of before.
That is not a humanizing combination. In fact, it makes it easy to dehumanize the other person because in a sense we’re not talking to a person until we get to know them a bit on a personal level.
In addition we may have a tendency to misinterpret the other person’s meaning when they friended or followed us. Maybe they were looking to make a connection not because they were chomping at the bit to buy our stuff.
But when dealing with a faceless person who we do not know and who we only have the barest of connections with it is easy to forget about their side of the equation and go full bore to satisfy our wants and needs.
The direct messages, emails, and inmails we receive from other sellers should teach us a couple of hard and fast lessons:
- Slow down and consider why the other person might be wanting to connect with you—and realize that more than likely it isn’t because they’re dying to buy from you.
- Use the same rules of engagement you’d use if you met the person at a social gathering. People are looking to make connections for all kinds of reasons but no matter the reason, trust and respect must be earned and built and that takes time.
Forget trying to push your wares or your website or your Facebook page as soon as you connect with someone. Don’t screw up your new connection by immediately sending an unwanted, self-serving sales piece. You may be typing to an inanimate computer screen, you may not know much about the person you’re writing to, and you may be anxious to make a sale, but the one thing you can count on is that whomever you’re writing to won’t appreciate being treated like a dollar sign to be rung up on the cash register.