by Terry Green
Google’s new instant search feature has attracted steady criticism from some leading social media users. Many believe that it’s too geared towards sales-friendly search terms. While there’s no shortage of differences between the way Google directs its users and the actions of a networking website, similar complaints are growing significantly more common in the social media scene.
For most, it appears to be a reaction against ‘pushiness’ – the willingness of websites and marketers to direct their users down a specific path. Facebook’s sidebar prompts are a frequent target for most complainers. The sidebar boxes appear regardless of a user’s actions, making it difficult to visit any pages without being prompted to complete a task, often one that’s geared toward an advertisement.
While the prompts have appeared on Facebook for some time, recent privacy concerns have caused them to grow into a major issue. The end goal of these promotions is to increase interaction, which is a task that social networking websites are particularly apt at. But when these actions aren’t user-prompted, it becomes difficult to know which interactions are called for by friends, and which are automated.
For social media marketers, the revolt against pushiness could be a blessing in disguise. While users appear to be growing increasingly distrustful of websites such as Facebook and Google, the amount of trust assigned to other users of these websites appears to be fairly consistent. As privacy concern reports continue to put Facebook in the public eye, while it is the marketers that appear to be avoiding worry.
There’s a lesson to take 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 completely predefined actions at the request of a machine. While that could sound like a strike against marketers, it really is something that can be used to your advantage.
Avoid hard sales and you’ll win the trust of social media audiences, particularly on a platform that’s loaded with advertising and incentives. If your goal is to build an organic audience on a mainstream social media platform, it could be worth limiting your commercial intent until you have the amount of followers required for voluntary, action-based social marketing.