Social Media is a bonanza for those with limited budgets hoping to promote and market themselves or their businesses. Its a great way to network, to discover and learn, and even to scope out the competition.
Too many big Brands use Social Media just because they think they should be there. And there is also a lot of deception with Social Media. Plenty of services to buy fans and followers by the 1000's. Where they get these fans/followers I have no idea. How the client can keep them I am not sure.
I think it is very important to be as honest and transparent as possible. You also need to have great content or bribes. I mean seriously now. Think of what you offer, your reason for being involved in Social Media, and why should someone engage with you. We are all busy. I know Kraft would love for me to spend 30 minutes a day engaging with them about their products. Why should I? I see their stuff once a week in the market. I see ads on TV. Why should I engage with them online or in Social Media. What is in it for me? A free box of Mac and Cheese? I might take that...maybe not.
I am in the Advertising/Media/Technology Industry. There are many people I view as sources of new information and discovery. Others provide great mind candy discussions on philosophy and theory. Some are just plain funny.
But if your not bringing me value why should I follow you on Twitter or fan you on Facebook and have my stream filled with things I don't care to see. I am ok with you existing in Social Media and you will find people who feel your value and good for them. The great thing is you get to choose who your follow, engage with, etc.
But its important to be authentic. If you play a role like some folks do using Brand Fiction* on Twitter, people should know you are that role. If your being paid to send sponsored tweets, those should be plainly stated. And you can't be afraid to have disagreements, or potentially be attacked if your going to play in the sandbox. Its not pleasant but if your going to be a person or a brand that polarizes you must expect this. We all know no one person or business or brand is perfect.
If your only in social media to advertise and not engage you can pay Twitter to sponsor tweets or pay Facebook to insert ads. But you shouldn't be creating accounts and interacting if you want everything one way...your way.
*Brand Fiction is courtesy of Helen Klein Ross aka. @adbroad who plays @bettydraper from Mad Men on Twitter. She can also be found at the Brand Fiction Factory www.brandfictionfactory.com