On the last day of the Affiliate Summit East, Mike Allen (Shopping-Bargins.com), Jennifer Myers Ward (above & beyond, inc) and Shannon Vogel (The Be-Scene) gave their advice on social media in the session Not Just Another Session on Social Media.

It really was just another session, but as it was one of the only ones focusing on social media, sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. Part of the panel session highlighted top tips on what not to do in the social media space. As it’s rather easy to get it wrong, we’ve included four areas you need to avoid if you want to succeed with your online communities as an extention of our 10 Twitter commandments.

1) Don’t overpromote/ sell

When people use social media on a personal basis, they aren’t in a mindset to be sold to so don’t invade their personal space. Most social media purchase decisions happen in the back of the brain because you’ve planted a seed by just being there in the first place. Direct selling will undo all your social media efforts.

But where can you sell? You have to watch the terms and conditions on each platform. Though it is commonly known that you can’t offer rewards or have competitions on your Facebook page, as platforms change so do the rules. Now that cover photos have been introduced, there are a few things you can’t do:

  • Price or purchase info such as 40% off
  • Contact info such as web addresses, phone numbers, etc
  • References to user interface elements such as like or share
  • Calls to action such as get it now or tell your friends

If you do any of these things, then you can get shut down without any warning.

2) Don’t be lazy

It’s very easy with tools such as ifttt.com as well as cross connection between platforms to automate your posts. 

  • Though it’s tempting, don’t forward tweets to Facebook. Though the panelists suggested that you can send Facebook posts to Twitter, I wouldn’t recommend it. If your fans follow you on multiple social media sites, you want them to get different messages at different points of the day in order to give them what suits the platform and why they are there in the first place.
  • Don’t post a link without explaining why you are posting – otherwise it looks like a virus.
  • Auto replies are not genuine to people that support you more than once i.e. already follow you elsewhere or have purchased from you in the past. If your call to action, things like “also like me here” is one that doesn’t apply to everyone who could start following you. This approach doesn’t make you feel important or connected. Basically, don’t set it and forget it.
  • Don’t invite everyone on your list to Facebook events if they aren’t applicable. It may be 3000 miles away, the event may not be interesting, and if you send it at short notice, it could cost 2000 to get a plane ticket.
  • Don’t set up a page just to grab the URL unless you’re also willing to engage and create and share content. Nothing is worse than your customers heading to empty pages or messaging you in places you aren’t active so they don’t get the response they’re expecting.

3) Don’t act desperate

Begging is not attractive. Personal requests are OK but really if your content is good enough, people will know what to do. How you present yourself in the space translates to how you do your business.

As Shannon Vogel said, if your audience is a woman at home, at night, after the kids go to bed, and she is relaxing, she doesn’t want to see the prescheduled punch in the face “buy from me, buy from me, buy from me.” Your opportunity is to connect and help. Most of all remember to be more interested than interesting.

4) Don’t do it if it doesn’t feel good

If you ever ask yourself, should I post this, does it sounds spammy or sales pitchy, or wonder if it will offend someone, don’t take the risk.

My favorite analogy from the Affiliate Summit East came out of this session: social media engagement is a lot like sex. Tips included:

  • You don’t ask for it right after you say hi
  • You have to work for it if you want more
  • It takes work if it’s going to be any good
  • It’s better to be attentive to the right people rather than not fully present with many
  • Flattery will get you everywhere. “Look at me, look at me,” not so much.

At the end of the day, you have to be human. This is a relationship. Will a one night stand get you somewhere long term? Probably not.