How To Fail At Social Media Marketing

I was at a real-world social networking do last night and saw a perfect example of what not to do.

I also saw a perfect example of how it should be done.

The interesting thing is that, quite by chance, both these examples came from people in the same industry – they were both head hunters.

So what did they do? 

Firstly, here’s how it should not be done:

I was standing talking to someone when we noticed another appear at our side.

As we turned to include her in the conversation she turned to the person I was talking to and asked for his business card, offering hers at the same time.

Nothing wrong with that, except that it would have been nice if she’d offered to shake hands and introduce herself.

She didn’t understand what business he was in from his card, so she asked. Nothing wrong with that either.

My conversation partner explained very briefly that his company offered Market Research services, and she immediately launched into a laundry list of what she could do for him. It was like turning on a tap.

Then she turned to me and went through the same business card routine.

My card explains what I do, so she didn’t bother to ask me anything.  She just turned on the tap.

As it happens, I have no need for any of the services she offered – as she would have found out if she’d taken the slightest bit of interest in what I actually did.

When she’d finished, she told me that her number was on her card, invited me to call her and left in search of some other victims.  And that was all we ever saw of her.

I will not be calling her.

And here’s how it should be done:

Earlier in the evening I was standing on my own when someone came up, took a look at my name tag and greeted me by name, shaking my hand as he did so. He also clearly gave his name.

I asked what he did and he replied that he was a head hunter and immediately turned the conversation back to me.  What do you do, he asked.

I offered my card (which explains what I do) and he immediately started asking questions. Who were my target customers, what kind of sites do I build, how was my business doing, and so on.

Long story short, we had a very pleasant conversation during which we both found out a bit about each other, our businesses and the challenges we’re both facing.

Now, I don’t need head hunting services but, if I do at some point in the future, it will be the second person I go to. Not the first.

So what’s the lesson for people who are getting into Social Network Marketing on-line?

Read again what the second person did and apply that approach to your on-line Social Networking.

Basically the first person was spamming.  It was all unsolicited commercial information.

The second person, on the other hand, took the trouble to find out a bit about me and my business, and took the trouble to establish a relationship.

That’s the person I’ll do business with in the future.

Martin Malden

Martin Malden
Owner – WealthyDragon

Website owner: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • angiel May 22, 2009 @ 14:54

    I know quite a few people who have greatly reduced the number of “mixers” and other networking events for this very reason. Everyone running around shoving business cards in others faces, instead of engaging each other in thoughtful conversation.

    You’re right, that is truly how NOT to build relationships!

    angiel´s last blog post..How A Bike Rental Shop Drives Customers Away – And You Can Too

    • WealthyDragon May 22, 2009 @ 16:22

      Yep – it was almost like she was on a marathon (or a sprint) to see how many cards she could exchange and then get out of there!

      Bet you she went back to her bosses this morning and told them that she exceeded her target for business cards given and received! 🙂



  • Karin H May 22, 2009 @ 17:27

    Hi Martin

    Say tomorrow you are asked by someone else in your business network (online, off-line) if you know a good head hunter. Which one would you recommend, even if you hadn’t had any real dealings with them?

    Your second example was not only building a relationship with you for the future, he was also building his network of referrals.

    Say tomorrow I’m asked by someone in my network if I knew someone who could teach them more about WordPress – because they know my speciality is Typepad. No surprise where I would direct them to.

    Online – offline networking: building trust, which continues to grow your referral base 😉

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

    Karin H´s last blog post..The Best AWeber Strategies & Tactics for Small Businesses – maximise Permission Marketing!

    • WealthyDragon May 22, 2009 @ 18:03

      Hi Karin,

      Yes – absolutely right! The second one is exactly who I’d recommend to others.

      Anyway – I couldn’t recommend the first one because, without looking at her card, I don’t remember either her name or her company!

      The second one I can remember both. 🙂



  • chill out music May 22, 2009 @ 19:31

    I always took this for granted but thanks for reminding me again!!!

  • atul chatterjee May 30, 2009 @ 17:28

    Salespersons have a sales target. Now there is going to be a calling cards target in a live meet.
    As for not recommending the lady to others that would seem premature e.g. she could possibly be very good at collections. She obviously had the wrong basic ideas and you would be doing her a favor calling her up and educating her on this score.

    • WealthyDragon May 31, 2009 @ 9:33

      Atul, hi,

      It’s true that this lady could have been brilliant at lots of things, but from her behaviour the other night my impression was that her only interest was herself (and her target, if she had one).

      I don’t want to do business with someone who’s only interested in themselves.

      When I’m paying someone a fee I want to be confident they’re working in my interest. Taking the trouble to find out about my business, and learning about the challenges I’m facing, is one of the ways someone can persuade me that they’re genuinely interested in helping solve my problems.



  • Jack Campbell Apr 6, 2010 @ 4:02

    Great analogy for spamming and targeted marketing. I’ve been writing a blog for a short time and reading how to crack into social marketing the right way. I had a coach with my blog that helped jump start things on wordpress. I appreciate your post.

    Jack – Best Deals on Carlsbad Homes

    • Martin Apr 6, 2010 @ 7:01

      Jack, hi,

      You’re welcome 🙂