A few surefire ways to abuse social media

Social media failureLike so many things in the world when it comes to social media there’s a definite etiquette that has existed and continues to evolve. I myself – an active user and marketer of social media – am very aware of the pitfalls and lines that can but should not be crossed. In the past week I have witnessed several ‘epic fails’ when it comes to what not to do in social media. I attribute most of the mistakes to a general lack of experience and understanding – so the people were well-meaning, just a bit clueless when it came to where that line-not-to-cross exists.

For example, recently a peripheral acquaintance from my local town sent me an invitation to Link In. I have met the person a couple of times over the past fifteen years since our children played some youth sports together some time ago. I knew the spouse more than I knew the person making the invitation but I accepted since I had no reason not to accept. Immediately thereafter my wife received a ‘friend’ invitation from this person on Facebook. Interestingly enough my wife knows this person even less well than do I. We both thought it was a bit strange and my wife did not accept the invitation.

Just yesterday morning I received in my email an e-newsletter promoting this person’s business as if I were a subscriber. The only thing is, I did not subscribe (nor would I) and now I have to go through the process of unsubscribing to something I never wanted to be a part of in the first place. Talk about your #epicfail! I am not ready to throw the person out of my LinkedIn network but am a bit worried that my extensive network could be contacted by this person in some form or another. Let’s just say that one more false move and this person will be tossed out of my network.

What could have been done differently? Not once did I receive a personal message from the person acknowledging that while we do not know each other well at all, they’d like to Link In with me for some other purpose than sharing information and possible contacts. Had it been made clear that there was a desire to use my contact information to include me in business content related to this person’s business I would have said I am happy to Link In but not to include me as a subscriber. Posting updates to the Linked In feed offering me the opportunity to view the content and if interested then subscribe would have been fine and appropriate. I suspect there are others that have been contacted by this person that feel exactly the same way.

Also yesterday I received an email from a Linked In contact (I’ve never actually met or talked to this person but was introduced by a third party that I trust). The email asked me about my Thanksgiving and told me all about a new job and how there was a desire for a personal connection with me to tell me more about their wonderful services. Oh and they hoped me and my family will have happy holidays. One word – EEEW! You have never met me and you are asking me about my holidays and family? We don’t even have a professional relationship beyond a third party introduction and you haven’t just crossed the line – you pole-vaulted over the line! Needless to say I will not be responding and likely never will.

I understand the need today is greater than ever to stand out and that can be done using social media. But the examples above should be fair warning that you can do more damage than you realize in taking the wrong approach.

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Best business practices, Networking, Social Media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A few surefire ways to abuse social media

  1. If one gets intimidated by your post, I can see the reaction would be to pull back from utilizing social media to its fullest. I agree that we should be aware of the line. But if it is not approached, social media success would be like taking the slow boat to China (and I know you love China).

    I have developed a blog and publish twice a week. I use LinkedIn updates, Twitter and LinkedIn Groups to promote all of the posts throughout the week. However, I email my 800+ LinkedIn connections once a week. In this email, my message is to simply add value and thought to their day by presenting the two posts for them to consider reading (my goal is to be a value generator and thought leader). The link I provide on the email sends them to the blog. I sell nothing in this email or my blog and do not even mention my company. This method has been VERY successful in driving page views, comments and tremendous interest. They need not subscribe and receive emails twice a week (when I post). Many folks actually feel they are part of my “subscribers” through LinkedIn and look forward to my messages. Over the past six weeks, I have had two individuals thank me for the updates but asked to be removed from the emails. I have obliged.

    Consider the 90-10 rule. If you add value and do not sell anything 90% of the time, it is appropriate to offer services the remaining 10% of the time.

    There is so much more to reflect upon with regard to etiquette. I would love to hear more of your thoughts. It is a huge issue that needs attention.




    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Dave. What stood out in your comment was ‘If you add value…’ I never have had any issues with someone offering me something that might be of value offered for my consideration. I think your approach to send out an email referring to your post only once per week (I know you post more often) is a good one and that you are respecting people’s wishes to be removed is a practice everyone should follow. I realize that some of these social media fails are borne out of ignorance as inexperienced bloggers and social networkers feel their way around. My intention is to help people be more aware of where the ‘lines’ are drawn.


      • Would love to hear more. What about blogging, what about Twitter, what about more on Facebook? Any other pitfalls you see?


      • markkolier says:

        When it comes to blogging there are multiple strategies and what I would call proper protocols depending on the objective. Neither you nor I use our blogs in an outwardly promotional way which I feel is appropriate. But sometimes blogging can be used to help drive traffic to a particular site or page on a site – in those cases the rules are different since engaging people in a conversation is not the objective. For the moment I’ll pass on offering any thoughts on Twitter or FB protocols – mainly because both platforms are used by people of widely varying ages and as such different age groups use those platforms in different ways. My daughter (19) reminds me that adults (what she really means is old people like parents) don’t use FB the right way – whatever that means.


  2. I hope you are doing well these days! Great post Mark. It makes me think about how I feel that it’s critical that we not lose real world personal connections. Whether in business or personal life, it seems that many people – especially the younger generations, are replacing most human interaction with wall posts/comments or amassing numbers of contacts. Being simply connected (to a relative stranger) on LinkedIn does not a relationship make!

    In other news, here’s a breaking story about another potential pitfall of the use of social media in marketing your company: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/s-e-c-weighs-suit-against-netflix-over-improper-disclosure/


    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for reading and for your comment David – good to hear from you. I completely agree that the Linked In definition of
      connection differs greatly from yours and mind. Saw the story last week – thanks for listing the URL.


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