Social networks are in danger of becoming digital sick bags if people don’t stop the cycle of backslapping and mutual appreciation that is currently happening between many small business users.
Of course we want to hear the the good that businesses are doing for their customers, and we want to hear customers’ recommendations, but I’m seeing more and more (and more) self-congratulating and unrestrained swapping of compliments (and @linking) between businesses that we know just wouldn’t be the case in real life.
In fact, real life is exactly the benchmark we should use to curb this type of behaviour – if you wouldn’t say something about a business in real life, don’t say it on your social networks.
Be real, be genuine, give your compliment and move on. Use social media for engagement by all means, but continue your conversation by remembering that all your followers are watching what you say. Leave extended compliments on review sites, and blog about your ‘experience’ if it really is an experience.
Only yesterday, I was asked to endorse someone on LinkedIn who I have never met nor worked with, in return for an equally complimentary endorsement. I refused, but does that mean that this practice goes on and that I can’t really trust recommendations on LinkedIn because they’re just being traded like business commodities?
What’s also happening on Twitter is businesses forming ‘threesomes’ – triangular groups that fill up our streams with overzealus passion for each other’s services or products. That’s fine, once, but over and over, it’s not.
Twitter doesn’t have the privacy of a messaging system (DM doesn’t really cut it) to hide the cheese from the chat, and so these ‘love-ins’ are displayed to the world for all to see. Yugh!
The wonderful idea that started out as ‘Follow Friday’ has just become a breeding ground for this type of thing. One good recommendation and a reason why has turned, in some cases, to just a case of If-I-say-nice-things-I-might-get-their-business.
Fortunately, it’s contained to a few isolated examples, but newcomers learn from what they see, and if this goes unchecked, it will spoil the soup for all.
The trouble is that you can’t hide this stuff. It shows and it sucks. And if you think I’m talking about you, look at it from your customers’ point of view, then ask yourself, is this what you want them to see?