Like 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.