If you’ve spent any time at all online, you realize that spam comes in all shapes and sizes. You can follow someone on Instagram, not knowing that they’ll follow, then immediately unfollow you. It’s kinda like the early days on Twitter.
There are still articles about how not to network online (such as this one: Entrepreneurs, Beware This Terrible Way of Networking on Social Media) that tell people not to shove their product down someone’s throat the first time they meet them online. You wouldn’t do that offline, so why do it online?
Don’t Exceed the Boundaries of the Relationship
One thing I really like about the “Entrepreneurs, Beware… article is about not asking for something that exceeds the boundaries of your relationship. It’s not realistic and won’t go over well.
Timing is Everything
Some marketers still think it’s a good idea to send direct messages the millisecond someone follows them on Twitter saying “let’s connect on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube!” It’s not terrible to ask this, but the instance you’ve met someone? It’s a matter of timing. Same thing has started happening on Instagram, though not as often.
What Does Work, Then?
If broadcasting messages to follow, follow, follow, don’t work, what does?
So just as in real life, be generous first. Share other people’s content. Comment on their posts. Say something nice, or shut up, as my parents would say. It’s even possible that you’d want to use a little gratitude in your marketing. Here are my posts about Gratitude Marketing and How to Develop Your Gratitude Muscle, in case you missed them.
Small talk goes a long way towards establishing the first steps of trust. All those little conversations that begin with How are you? and How’s the weather? can lead to great things. But they start small.
Act As If
Do you go to the bank before you have a bank account and ask them for money? No. Would you walk up to someone in real life and ask for a favor before you knew them? No. Would you call them by their childhood nickname before really knowing them? Again: No. If you act as if you just met them in real life, you have a much better chance at being cordial and then later marketing to them.
It’s a Long Game
Being known and trusted doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and energy and attention. But if you pretend that the person you’re chatting with online is really right in front of you, maybe you’ll behave a bit differently. I know I would (and do). Here’s a wonderful post about why content marketing is the long game from Copyblogger.
Come Say Hello
I promise you, I’ll say hello back! Thank you.