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Self Promotion in Social Media: To Do or Not To Do?

I'm not a social media expert. Although, in this day and age, who IS? Has social media even been around long enough for a chosen few to have distanced themselves from the peloton and humbly declare themselves "experts"?

I think not.

The point is, EVERYONE these days is using at least some form of social media (except my sister, who contents herself with having virtually no online footprint), be it Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google+, Tumblr, Blogger, YouTube, Wordpress, LinkedIn, Pinterest...the list goes on and on.

Most individuals use these platforms to keep in touch with friends, post pictures, write journal entries (ahem...guilty), learn about what's new, build new relationships or any combination of those. No biggie...but then businesses started getting involved in the online conversation.

Are Businesses Using Social Media Correctly?

Okay, so with social media venues your business can reach out to your potential customers, current clients, industry experts, etc. I've interacted with several businesses via Twitter – whether to inquire about a product, offer up a thanks-for-a-job-well-done or to ask advice – and have been extremely pleased that these businesses had a quick response time, were very helpful and I even got a free product from one of them.

So what's the big deal with businesses using social media? Well, in those instances, the experience was positive and I felt even stronger about the company/product than I did before our behind-the-screen exchanges.

And then I see businesses misusing social media – namely, Twitter – to shamelessly self-plug their products and services.

Over...and over...and over...and over.

When did it become "okay" to blab ceaselessly on about oneself? Isn't the social media-verse all about relationships – finding like-minded souls, connecting with them, building relationships, sharing information, and LISTENING as much as (or less than) you talk?

Evidently some businesses – and, let's be honest, some individuals – think it's a perfectly acceptable practice to yak on and on about themselves without a care in the world for anyone else. Instead of an online conversation, they're rolling out their own red carpet with a long-winded diatribe.

That, my friends, isn't the way to use social media to advance your business. Trust me, no one wants to listen to a braggart. At best, no one will engage with your content and all you'll hear on the other side of your Tweet/post/share is silence; at worst, you'll be un-followed, de-friended, deleted and utterly ignored.

This Isn't My Opinion; It's What Others are Saying

But why listen to me? I'm no expert, as I alluded to at the beginning of this blog post...but I would like to share what other people on the Internet are saying about the very same topic:

There are a myriad of "do this; don't do that" opinions out there when it comes to using social media, but it seems the general consensus regarding business self-promotion is "that's not the point of social media!" I.e., don't do it. 

Should you not do it at all? No, that's not what we're – sorry, THEY'RE – saying. The point is: engage with other users; build relationships; share OTHERS' content; join in conversations (don't launch into manifestos); and then, when/where appropriate, offer up your expertise/content. But, like any other relationships you have, it's need to listen to others as much – or more – than you talk.

Again, no one likes someone who ceaselessly self-promotes. I was reading an article that came through my Twitfeed just this morning about senseless SEO mistakes, and there it was again – the admonition NOT to build a self-centered social media strategy:

I think my favorite quote is "Only sleazy salesmen promote their own stuff without considering others."