One of the "golden rules" of social media marketing is that you need to give value in order to receive it back. It's considered a "best practice". It's what the "gurus" preach. So why isn't it the norm?
I think there are two factors. The first is that like any other form of interruption advertising like radio, television or print, drawing attention to yourself via social media appears to have some effect.
The second of course, has to do with the values of the people doing the interrupting as well as those of the people receiving the message. The person sending their message takes advantage of a tacit level of approval by people who are their "friends" or "connections" to hear from them. The logic is hard to deny. After all, if I am your "friend", then why wouldn't I want to hear about your new product or service?
I don't expect all businesses on Facebook or Linkedin will change their ways, but here are my suggestions on winning over more of your friends or connections.
- Lead with the benefits. Here's a typical post: "All you can eat pasta tonight at the XYZ Diner!". Rephrase to focus on the benefits. "Enjoy a great family meal without cooking. Join us for all you can eat pasta tonight at the XYZ Diner! Now rated at 4.5/5 on restaurantica.ca!" Now add a link to your website or to the review site. It's still an interruption, but it's more subtle and conveys benefit, value and quality while you inform.
- Target messages carefully. You have a fan page or group, right? Well then, perhaps you can avoid blasting your message to everyone you know. Just send it to those who cared enough to like or join. Those people EXPECT business-related communications from you; your regular friends or connections don't.
- Test your approach. Many people get started in social media because it's now the "in" thing to do. Interruption marketing is what people are used to, so it's just perpetuated through social media. Measure your results from your existing campaign, then switch your approach and see if the "giving before receiving" method gives you any better results. If you never try, you'll never know : )
As people become more familiar with social media tools, filtering is going to become more widespread and your message won't get through as easily. It's better to start building value now so people will want to hear what you have to say in future - and they'll let you through while the rest of the social media "noise" gets blocked.