Email & Social Media Etiquette (STOP THE JUNK, ALREADY)

I am sure you’ve noticed, as I have, that every person, business and place has a website, email and Social Media page. While I am by no means discounting the need for such marketing tools as Facebook (Breakaway Graphics has one), I have noticed that many people are committing some very serious social no-no’s in an effort to get their business on the top of everyone’s think-list. Let me start by revealing a very important tip about marketing: telling everybody everything about your company or product is NOT an effective form of advertising, knowing and targeting your market is. Although there is much validity to the concept of Brand Awareness, being a constant annoyance to your Facebook fans or every person who’s email address is in your address book achieves Brand Awareness…but not in a good way. Which leads me to our recommendations for proper Email and Social Media Etiquette:

1. Do not hold hostage people’s email addresses. In my line of work, I send hundreds of emails including proofs, proposals and questionnaires every day. Many times, I am sending proofs to advertisers on behalf of the magazines I work for, other times I am sending out a design questionnaire for a prospective client. In either case I am not soliciting the services or products of the email recipient, I am simply doing my job. Yet by virtue of my having sent an email (even just one email), I am now on that recipient’s Email Marketing list. This is the World Wide Web equivalent of the junk mail that arrives in the mailbox outside your house. What to you do with that junk mail? You toss it out without even a glance. For me, the same is true with unsolicited and unwanted ‘junk email’. Email provides us with a certain amount of anonymity, let’s keep it that way. Don’t add anyone and everyone to your e-marketing list, it’s unprofessional.

2. Do not throw feces on a wall to see what sticks. Maybe I’m ‘old school’ but Facebook is for reconnecting with friends and family first and brand awareness second. Facebook has quickly become a welcome addition to small businesses  whose marketing budget is small and has made it to the top of marketing plans, but it should not be used to bombard your ‘friends’ and ‘fans’ with useless information. A Facebook page for your business is now as important as having a website, however people who are in search of your product or service, actively seek out  your website or go to your store front. On Facebook, it’s the other way around and posting ‘updates’ ten times a day can have  an opposite effect than the one you are intending. When I log onto Facebook and see twenty-one posts in a row featuring every house a Real Estate Agent has for sale (this actually happened!), I either ‘dislike’, ‘de-friend’, or ‘hide’ that person. It’s just annoying. Keep your business updates to a maximum of two or three a day, no more or you risk alienating potential customers.

3. Keep it relevant. If you have successfully implemented the above guidelines to your email and Social marketing, it’s time to think about what you’re putting out there and when. Once a customer has realized that you are not sending out updates and emails everyday (and have stopped associating your name with ‘spam’ or ‘junk’), they are more likely to pay attention to the emails and updates you do send. Make sure that the update you’re posting or the email you’re sending is current and relevant. Are you having a 50% off sale this weekend? Great, but don’t send it out on the Monday before. People are busy and will forget about your sale by the end of the day. Email an announcement on Friday morning, then post that announcement throughout the day for your Facebook friends (remember, no more than three times! Maybe in the morning, around lunchtime, and in the evening…TOPS!). Then post it again the day-of but change it up with adding something new like ‘What a turn out! Stop by now before all the good stuff is gone!’. Any more than that and you’re that friend that calls your phone four times in a row without leaving a message, you know the one.

4. Have a purpose and solicit a response. If we break it down to basics, what is the reason for placing an ad, sending out a marketing email or posting on Facebook: what is the response you want? If you find yourself sending out those mass email updates, make sure you have a clear reason for doing so. Is it to get people into your store? To generate more business with a discount? Perhaps it’s to give your customers some relevant news or tips. Whatever the reason, make sure it’s clear and simple. This goes back to guideline #2: no one wants to know every item you carry in inventory or every little service you do. Just pick one or two things to feature and run with it. Remember, less is more.

5. Utilize the science of advertising. All of the above suggestions bring me to what you should do with email marketing and social media. Facebook has a wonderful way to advertise your business on a budget. Their advertising options make it easy to really target your market and get your product right in front of the people who are interested in it. Think of it like this: if you were a pediatric dentist, would you advertise in a photography magazine? Or would it be a better use of advertising dollars to place an ad with a parenting magazine? The same is true for Facebook. Rather than committing social crimes #1 and #2, why not spend a little bit of money and have them place your ad in front of all the right people? As for your mass marketing emails, instead of assuming everyone who sends you an email must want to get your updates, ask them if they are interested or have a sign up sheet in your store front. Please don’t put that person in a position where they will have to spend their time trying to get removed from a list for something they were not interested in in the first place.

I know that we’re just a little design firm in Middle Tennessee and are not likely to change the bad habits of an entire generation. I do believe that I can, at the very least, reach the people reading this blog. With any luck, some people will agree with this post and feel the need to join the movement by re-posting (yes, on Facebook) or linking to this site. Who knows, maybe just one person really can correct the crimes of many…

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