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10 Pitfalls of Social Media – Part 2 of 5

Part two in our continuing saga of some features of social media that frustrate and confuse…


3. Hello friend – have I got a deal for you! Contact lists and personal recommendations are being commercialized and commoditized by social media. Users are being encouraged to “like’ businesses and their products in exchange for winning a prize or gaining a one-off special discount. The “Like” button on Facebook and YouTube and the “+1” button on Google+ have thus become a type of marketing currency, much as server hits were with websites back in the mid 90’s.

Having consumers and customers aggregate their positive opinions of your business via a “like” button is sensible. Asking them to like you in exchange for a special promotional offer is not. This use of liking is a flawed promotional model as it cheapens the very thing the “like” button was meant to promote IE: the weight of a person’s opinion. With people’s stated preferences being co-opted by commercial interests, trust can be eroded between networks of brand users and non-users. This weakens a brand’s status and desirability as a measure of social belonging. (Personally, I have no desire to join or associate with a brand-user community where everyone in that community is a product-spruiker or pyramid network marketer by default. This is why I avoid fan-boys like the plague and refuse to buy Amway.) Lesson number 3: If you want people to really “like” you, then be likeable – don’t pay people to do it, it lacks sincerity.


4. It was “your” life, now its “our” life.  I cannot limit the kinds of companies that access my information with Facebook. There are many companies that I choose not to do business with – let alone give access to my personal information. The only consolation I am offered is that Facebook claims that my information is shared anonymously, but frankly I’d rather it was not shared with certain companies at all. Lesson 4: People judge us by the company we keep, and the way we treat their data. Align your corporate values closely with those of your customers and associate with the same kinds of companies that they do.