Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

Avoiding Pushy Promotions on Social Networking Sites

Avoiding Pushy PromotionsGoogle's new instant search feature has brought about much criticism due to a belief that it's far too geared towards sales-friendly search terms. While there's certainly no shortage of differences between how Google directs its users and the intended actions of the websites they list, similar complaints are also growing significantly more common on the social media scene.

The feelings of most who oppose the new changes to the search engine giant appear to be in reaction to 'pushiness' – the obvious attempts of websites and online marketers to direct their users down a specific sales path. Facebook's sidebar advertisements are another frequent target for most complainers. Sidebar boxes appear regardless of a user's actions, making it difficult to visit any pages without being prompted to take a certain action, often one that's geared towards a company trying to make a sale.

The prompts have appeared on Facebook for some time now but due to recent privacy concerns they've developed into a much larger issue. The goal of these promotions is to increase user interaction – a task that social networking websites are particularly efficient at. But when these actions aren't user-prompted, it becomes difficult to know which interactions are truly called for by friends, and which are automated purely in an attempt to make a sale.

For social media marketers, the revolt against pushy advertising practices could be a blessing in disguise. Users appear to be growing increasingly distrustful of internet giants such as Facebook and Google, and the amount of trust remaining among the general population appears to be fairly consistent. As privacy concern reports continue to put Facebook in the public eye, internet marketers seem to even be benefiting.

There's a lesson to learn from this 'pushiness revolt'. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites benefit from a lack of hard sales. Users very rarely enjoy being told what to do, and they're particularly reluctant to comply with predefined actions at the request of a computer. While that could sound like a strike against marketers, it's really something that can be used to in their favor.

Avoid hard sales and you'll win the trust of social media audiences, particularly on a platform that sometimes overwhelms with advertisements. If your goal is to build a natural audience on a mainstream social media platform, it could even be worth limiting your commercial output until you have sufficient subscribers for voluntary, action-based social media marketing.

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