Lately, the practice of sending group messages or tagging people online has gotten out of control.
Marketers and business owners are increasingly going overboard with sending out one message to a whole group or tagging folks in updates that they might like to see.
But that’s the whole point – updates “they might like to see.”
Before I get into why group messaging and group tagging is a buzz kill, and why it’s killing your brand – I want you to know that I am old school. The way I do business is old school. The way I conduct myself in business relationships is old school. “My word is my bond” old school.
So how I view this practice is old school.
And what I mean by that is simply that RESPECT is a part of every strategy I utilize online and in my personal life. I do not believe in tagging someone or messaging them if they did not personally opt in or it doesn’t directly relate to them. And I think brands should do the same.
There’s several reasons.
1. Lack of personalization.
We are in the midst of the biggest wave of personalized popularity there has ever been online. People want to feel special, to feel unique, and that all the messaging heading their way was tailored to them.
Remember when email marketing incorporated the ability to insert someone’s first name into the header? Like, WOW, right? All of a sudden it looked like your emails were meant for that very specific person when they opened it up.
And they LOVED it. And why shouldn’t they? We all want to feel like our opinion, participation or reference is valuable, and we appreciate it when brands give us that opportunity.
2. It’s disrespectful.
If I asked you whether or not you appreciate telemarketing calls, you’d probably shake your head side-to-side emphatically. Then you’d fill me in on the latest one who called or who had the nerve to call your cellphone.
Why do we dislike telemarketers so much? Because they invade our personal space. They invade our personal time. And their messages are meant for the masses.
It’s the same with sending group messages or tagging groups of people. It’s disrespectful. Thankfully, Facebook now offers the ability to turn it off or untag yourself, but what about on Twitter or Snapchat? There’s nothing you can do and that can become maddening.
It is not a respectful use of someone’s time to send them something simply with the hopes of getting more eyeballs on it or pushing your message in front of people it has nothing to do with.
For example, one of my least favorite ways of group messaging is the dreaded auto DM on Twitter. I don’t read my DM’s for this reason, but every once in a while I’ll see one fly in that says something like “Does your business need social media? We can help!” blah, blah. And I roll my eyes, make a puking gesture, and unfollow sooo fast. I own a social media marketing agency, why would I need their help!?
But most importantly, that message isn’t for me, doesn’t apply to me, and that’s irritating.
Being rude online is something people overlook because they aren’t looking at everyone they interact with in the eyes. But we are highly mistaken to ever treat our online audiences as anything but real.
Online audiences are not just numbers, they are people – real people just like you and I, and it’s time to treat them that way.
3. It makes it hard for the marketing industry.
You know what burns me up the most about these practices are that they ruin it for the rest of us.
Those of us that want to offer a genuine solution to the customer’s problem or need. This inundation of sending out throngs of messages at any and everyone who looks our way only makes it that much harder for the real ones to get through.
When I first got into sales back in 2003/04, something like that – I worked for Cingular. My coworkers were a bunch of hoodlums who liked selling people phones they didn’t need, adding on features they didn’t ask for, and basically doing every unethical thing they could to rack in numbers. I was disgusted and appalled, and didn’t think I could make it in that environment.
But something happened one day. A woman came in who needed help, and I spent time with her finding out what she needed and why. I learned why one device would be better than the other, and which features could make her life easier. I spent too much time with her according to the sales floor standards, but when she walked out I felt amazing because I solved a problem. That was it for me.
She ended up sending me TONS of referral traffic, and I went from being the newbie salesgirl to being the top salesperson among the three area stores.
This is a philosophy I have utilize everyday, and it’s one that serves me and my clients greatly when growing their brand because we don’t take advantage of the relationships built online or the overlook the honor of having a place in their inbox.
Marketing is marketing, and we all have to make money or want to make money for our clients. But we are only making it harder for ourselves in the long run by pushing the wrong angle in the short run.
Growing good things takes time.
4. It’s the lazy way to create engagement.
It baffles me to get a notification on Facebook that someone has tagged me along with 30+ other people to get an answer to a question or to show off their latest blog. I’ve even gotten so irritated that I went to the Facebook parents and told on them.
Folks, this is a lazy practice. Downright lazy.
And maybe you don’t know that – in fact, that’s what I’m guessing.
You probably say another marketer or business person doing the same, and thought, “hey, that’s a great idea.” And in theory, it is! When it’s directed correctly or utilized in the right way, it can be powerful.
But few to none know how to do that. Instead, whenever they do something new – they throw in a bunch of names they think might share it or comment, and it becomes a free for all.
Again, this might work in the SHORT run, but if you’re looking to build genuine relationships, if you want to show your audience they can trust you, if you want to be different – think about from their perspective.
Stop being a marketer or a business owner for a moment – throw that mindset AWAY. Look at it from the perspective of the consumer, of the person receiving the message or tag. Would you appreciate it? Would it add value to your life? Would it be worth your time?
When we focus solely on the dollar bill signs or traffic numbers we forget that our practices might be ones that we wouldn’t appreciate either. And that’s a PRICELESS viewpoint to take into consideration.
5. It doesn’t say much for YOUR brand.
And one of the biggest reasons if not THE biggest is that it reflects poorly on your brand, your integrity, and the credibility of it.
I received a Snapchat message from someone the other night that said “Hey, sorry I don’t get a chance to interact personally very often, but I wanted you to know I appreciate you and thanks for following me.”
Guess what? I’m not following him.
Not only does that make him look like a fool, but it reinforces the reason I unfollowed him to begin with.
If you want to build a trustworthy, genuine, and human brand – make sure to infuse everything you do with integrity. And integrity doesn’t take advantage of it’s online audience or treat them like a big general mass of folks stacked on top of one another.
Yes, it will take longer to grow an audience.
Yes, it will take more time to cultivate.
Yes, you will need to be patient and go the extra mile.
BUT it will all be worth it because the audience you grow will love you, look forward to hearing from you, and sound your marketing message across the Internet-scape whenever you ask becauseeeee they know you only ask when it’s of value.
Do NOT go the easy route and focus on numbers or engagement with caddy practices – have substance, respect, and integrity, and they will fall in love with you.
So now that we’ve discuss why you shouldn’t take advantage of group messaging or tagging, let’s talk about what to do instead because I know you have a brand to grow! I get it.
1. Build brand ambassadors.
Find out who your greatest champions are – they ones who love your brand, and I mean reallyyyy love your brand, and ask them to partner with you.
Their audience size is important, but it’s not everything. What’s most important is that they represent your target audience, the ones you want to bring to your business because it’s highly probable they knows others who are also a part of your target audience.
There’s a podcast I won’t name who used brand ambassadors to grow the brand. When it first started out, the ambassadors weren’t very well known online, and didn’t have big audiences. But they loved the podcast and shared it continually when new episodes came out or when the brand shared snippets of the podcast. Fast forward 8 months, and it’s becoming a well known podcast for the exact audience it wanted to reach.
Why? It chose people who are passionate about it and who fit their demographic. Then they partnered up, and worked together.
2. Tag the right people.
If you want to utilize tagging, make sure they are the right people.
Don’t tag people because you want them to see your latest blog or video or whatever. Tag people who are involved, people who are directly partaking in the content.
And no one else.
3. If you want it shared – ask.
What happened to being straightforward and asking people to share your content, if that’s what you want?
Be honest, be direct, and ask for the share. BUT before you do, make sure they will find value in what you created, and that it will resonate with their audience.
Furthermore, I would suggest saying something like – “If you find this to be valuable , please share, I would love your support as I am growing my brand.”
Be human because you’re asking a human, and if you ask politely and in a straightforward manner, they’re likely to do it with an open heart.
Finally, and this is a HUGE finally – make sure YOU are sharing or engaging with their content. If you aren’t doing your part to interact and support your community then asking will be tough. Or maybe you don’t care and will ask anyway. But the bottom line is that if you are supporting your community then they’ll be happy to support you.
4. Utilize private messaging.
Some folks online want to get feedback on new branding or business ideas or possibly just insights on a question they have.
What’s not cool is tagging a bunch of people to find out who will be looped into the never-ending conversation of that subject and inevitably get irritated with you when you were simply curious and wanted their feedback.
Hey, I’m not dissing you – you really want to know. But think about others before yourself. Take a step back and narrow down those numbers to a golden few who you know can offer solid feedback, and then message them privately.
Why? I can guarantee you’ll get much better feedback this way.
Not only will someone feel special because they know their opinion is valuable to you, but in that emotion – they’ll go the extra mile to please you and give you solid insight.
You’re only shorting yourself by going to quantity versus quality – I promise.
5. Be tactful with group messaging or tagging.
The thing is, group messaging or tagging isn’t bad by nature, but the action of how it’s used can be detrimental to your brand and even to your friendships if it’s not used correctly.
If you’re going to use these practices, make sure you use them in accordance with what I’ve outlined above – to people that are directly involved in the content or who have opted in to be.
Otherwise, segment out your messaging to be personal to the folks receiving it.
I promiseeeee you that taking the extra time to nurture your audience, to grow it in a personal manner, and to cultivate trusting relationships will return you wayyyyy more than marketing to the masses ever could.
Not only because it will give your brand the longevity it needs to sustain, but because you’ll know you are treating your audience – the people who know, love, and trust you – with respect.
Let’s do marketing right, folks.
Disagree? Please share why – I’d love to know.