The line in the social media sand – that’s your integrity

Do your followers and FB friends trust you? Or are you handing out candy like a soccer mom on Halloween?

I have long been an integrity-driven social media envoy. I don’t like your fan page just so you can reach 500 friends or because you have a bet with another writer. I won’t tweet your book if I haven’t read it (or if I didn’t like it).

I share blogs that I find helpful, inspiring, and insightful, not because I made a deal with the blogger. I tweet books and blogs I have read, not because someone said, “I’ll tweet your blog if you tweet by book.”

So, do people trust you? Or do they look at your list of tweets and see you promoting 50 books every tweet cycle?

I drew a line in the sand quite some time ago.

Is it time for you to draw a line in the sand?

Don’t be a Social Media Mercenary, by Therese Pope, Zenful Communications

I’m a fan of seasoned marketer and entrepreneur, Seth Godin. I like how he weaves an inspirational message in between the lines of his articles. Seth wrote an interesting article this week that focused on the dangers of “trading favors” when it comes to social media. This paragraph especially caught my eye:

“The problem occurs when the trading of favors become mercenary, when alert individuals start manipulating the system for personal gain. Suddenly, every favor is suspect, measured and not at all generous. Suddenly all the likes and links and blurbs become nothing but currency, not the honest appraisals of people we can trust. It means that bystanders have trouble telling the difference between honest approval and the mere mutual shilling of traded favors.”

He brings up a great point. Social media brings out the “mercenary” in people. Do your followers REALLY like your blog? Are fans just “liking” your page because they want to win an iPad?

For small businesses or anyone who sells a product or service online, take Seth’s words to heart. Before you retweet or like, think about your intention BEFORE you click the button. Social media has turned into a popularity contest…”how many likes do you have?” And do 500 likes on your Facebook page really mean anything at the end of the day?

Before you start begging people to like your Facebook page or follow your blog, think about Seth’s message of trading favors. Social media is about helping other people, and sharing information without asking anything in return. My advice for 2012: don’t be a “mercenary” on your social media networks. Don’t go into social media thinking that people owe you a favor, because they don’t. An aggressive “me-me” approach won’t get you far with your marketing…or your online reputation.

Therese Pope

About Therese Pope, Zenful Communications

Therese Pope is a digital media buzz-icist, copywriter and owner of Zenful Communications, a boutique marketing communications company in northern California. She helps small businesses and book authors create a positive online buzz around their brands. Her specialty areas include: buzz marketing/social media campaigns, content marketing, and online reputation management. She frequently contributes online reputation tips for The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and Carol Roth’s Business Unplugged™ blog.

Check out Therese’s blog http://www.zenfulcommunications.com for more helpful online marketing and publicity information.  Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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See also Wendy Reis’ Like Fests – Real Value or a Shade Dishonest?

Opening photo – Mensatic via PhotoBucket

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30 Comments

Filed under Branding & Platform, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

30 responses to “The line in the social media sand – that’s your integrity

  1. I find this whole media frenzy a mine field that I do not know how to navigate wisely. As a late bloomer, only beginning to write at age 56, and only minimally computer savvy, I find it almost impossible to decide whose advice is sound and how to make it work. We want to ‘be out there’ to have our work recognized and read. But we also need to maintain our integrity. I stumble on, losing sleep and hoping I don’t shoot myself in the foot in the process.

  2. It is easy to become sloppy in our writing, in our work, and then become comfortably ho-hum with the trickle down effect into our daily lives. Well said!

  3. Well said and much needed words. Without integrity, even if you are using social media as a mercenary way, it becomes so devalued as to be essentially worthless. It’s the Weimar Republic of social media and people are left carting wheelbarrows full of “tweets” to exchange for one legitimate book sale or honest critic.
    Thanks, Karen and Therese. Lines in the sand: Yeah!

  4. I’ll admit I asked people to like my FB page in the beginning, so I could grab my name. I had exhausted family members, so I expanded. Rookie mistake, but we live and learn. I tweet or FB about people and books, because I genuinely like them. (This includes participating in those contests to tweet, like, etc.) Just like in my writing, I want my social media me to have a reliable narrator. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. karenselliott

    I simply want my followers and FB friends to believe me when I say, “I read this book and it’s awesome.” I want to be reliable, trustworthy.

  6. YES! – I am often asked to “like” something or to “pass the word around” about a book or service, and the only way I ever do that is if I believe in it, and even then, I do so sparingly.

    I don’t even go around touting my own novels, so why do I want to add to the white noise? I am ever so, an ever more, aware of NOT going around talking about my stuff, unless something is happening – like a new book coming out or I want to show a new cover art, or something specific that I mention and then let go.

    That said, I love supporting other authors/artists/etc – so when I am passionate about someone or something, I will retweet or put it in my update, etc.

    love this post!

  7. ps and going to tweet and fb it, etc 😀

  8. Well put. Too often it seems that friendships in social media become giant Ponzi schemes where we are promised we can all become rich and famous by buying each others books, liking each others pages, recommending each other to x number of friends. Such things are only one step up from chain letter emails telling us to forward the message to 20 friends or great misfortune will befall us. It puts everyone into an awkward situation and basically exploits what should be friendship, turning it into something that can become irritating and ugly.

  9. Refreshing to hear someone address this topic. Have been troubed by this for some time. It is an isue of integrity. The big campaigns introduced me to a lot of bloggers and authors I would not have met. It was overwhelming, but eventually I found a group of bloggers that intrigued me, and those are the people I follow. I read blogs, but don’t always comment due to time. Thank you for showcasingTeresa’s comments. I really like her last comment: “don’t be a “mercenary” on your social media networks.” Karen, thank you for this Important and informative post.

  10. Thank you so much, Karen, for posting my guest article on your blog. I appreciate everyone’s kind feedback and comments.

    @Duncan, I like your reference to “giant Ponzi schemes”. Unfortunately, people have diluted social media and authenticity has become lost in the ‘cyber’ shuffle.

    As writers and authors, I want to encourage you to continue to use social media. It comes down to your personal ethics and your comfort level – and don’t feel pressured to like someone or something because everyone is jumping on the band wagon. I am very selective about who I friend on my Facebook and LinkedIn, because it’s a direct reflection of who I am and my business brand.

    Wishing you all the best of luck in your writing endeavors. If anyone has any specific questions about social media, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Thanks again, Karen.

  11. novelreid

    Great post! Thank you, Therese! Can I get an amen? I’m all fo paying it forward, but not just because someone asked me to. I want to be trusted by my followers and in turn, trust those I follow. I might not have the biggest following on twitter, facebook, or on my blog, but it’s not about the numbers for me. It’s about the quality of my connection with people.

  12. As I clicked “LIKE,” I figured I ought to comment with: “And I really DO “LIKE” it!”
    I might have worded it a bit stronger, suggesting we etch the line in stone, but maybe sand is best. Maybe we need to draw our line in sand, recognizing that it may shift somewhat as the sands of time (and technology) change. Great article!

    • Novelreid, you hit the “social media nail” on the head! It’s not about your quantity but it’s about your quality of followers. Exactly. It IS about the quality of your connections.

      Rosie, I think the shift is slowly happening. I see it in my LinkedIn groups (especially with fellow professionals and peers). People are more aware and aren’t adding just “anyone” to their connections, and are selective about their group participation. I have opted out of groups that just don’t resonate with me, and stick with like-minded and ethical professionals. I think Karen would probably agree with me on that one, since we both share mutual LinkedIn groups. As I mentioned, It’s all about helping and sharing on social media, and those are the people I want to stick with on social media.

  13. karenselliott

    I am glad to see so many favorable comments. Unfortunately, I’m connected with a few people right now, and honestly, I just don’t trust a word when they “like” 50 books in one day. Why should I when I know they haven’t actually read those books? At this point, I know exactly what I’m going to see from certain people on the Twitter page when I open it, and I scroll through certain icons I recognize as mercenaries. I’m cleaning out a few a click at a time. And I agree – it SHOULD be quality of connections, not quantity.

  14. As usual, Karen, you bring us information and insight we don’t find elsewhere, especially with regard to the writing/publishing life. I always look forward to reading what you’ve got on next…..which is why I get your blog delivered to my email inbox.

    • karenselliott

      Thanks, Suzanne! I think “writing” is more than just writing. There is so much to consider, so much to think about, so many decisions to be made.

  15. May I add one more comment? As we speak of integrity, I think it’s a lot about integrity to who we are—and who people know us to be. Some people can sell/promote anything. We know it. We sift through what they are selling/promoting for what is relevant to us, and that’s fine. They are being true to themselves.

    But what if we don’t fall into that category? Are we being true to who we are? Are we being true to who people know us to be? Are we presenting who we really are on social media?

    This whole social media is a learning experience. I, for one, have tried different things, but in the end, sometimes it’s just not “me.” I keep coming back to being true to who I am. If I wouldn’t suggest a book, or a blog, or a video clip to my friend sitting next to me, I’m not going to suggest it to the whole world of Twitter or Facebook. Integrity to who we are. I think that’s important.

    Thanks again for a great post that gave validation to thoughts running through my mind as I sat redefining where I stood on this whole social media issue. I wish you all the best in your continued social media journeys! 🙂

  16. Stay tuned, Rosie. I’m currently working on my book that addresses online marketing and social media from an entirely different perspective. It most definitely comes down to who we are and our authenticity. Rosie, you touch upon an important point when you mention you tried different things that just weren’t you. You GET it! 🙂 There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to social media. It boils down to your comfort level and what works for you — not Joe or Jane Social Media User down the street.

    That’s the point I try to get across to my clients. I work with book authors and writers, and before I even start marketing their book, I ask them: Who are you? How will people resonate with YOU as author/writer? What’s your story? My philosophy is that the person is JUST as important (if not more) than the actual product.

    Suzanne, as writers we need more information to help us become successful (which goes beyond just the craft of writing). I agree – Karen always share great insight and information.

    Wonderful discussion. I appreciate everyone’s comments and feedback and a big thanks to Karen for my “guest spot” on her blog this week.

    • Thanks, Therese. Your book should be good from the looks of this post! Sometimes we just “know” something won’t work for us, but sometimes, in this changing world, we just have to learn by trial and error what fits our distinct personality. I like your approach. 🙂

  17. The issue discussed in this post is exactly why I love you Karen! I had a hunch from the very beginning that ‘integrity’ was your thing and time after time you have proved that right, and re-enforced and supported my resolve to draw a line in the sand too.
    It’s so easy to get side-tracked by the numbers game and begin to feel that’s what you should be chasing, even when in your heart you know it’s not the right way.
    Karen, you help me maintain my line in the sand and give me the confidence to stand my ‘literary’ ground 🙂 Thank you for your integrity, honesty and for being completely genuine 100% of the time.

  18. Great post, Karen and Therese! The nicey part of me wants to be everybody’s friend, but there have been some books I’ve read by friends, and I love the friend to pieces, but I can’t say the same for that particular book. So, I won’t. (However, I won’t trash them on my blog or GoodReads, either. I’ll just ignore the book.) I think whether you’re a grouch who hates everything and everyone, or Miss Sunshine-and-Light who loves everything and everyone, those kinds of all-or-nothing attitudes don’t do anything as far as establishing a genuine connection with people, IMO.

  19. karenselliott

    I’d like to be nice all the time and like everything everybody writes, but that would not be the truth. I work the same way…if I don’t like a book, blog, article, I just don’t mention it.

  20. Karen,
    Great post, and so true. I try to follow or connect with people who have similar interests, just as in real life.

  21. karenselliott

    Connecting with people who have similar interests, yes! Absolutely.

  22. Pingback: Integrity in Social Media « Writing to Marketing

  23. Pingback: Trading favors and your integrity | Karen S. Elliott's Blog

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