I read an interesting stat today from Monumentus Media (via Beth Kanter): "asking users to "like" gets 216% higher interaction rate." The stat isn't very surprising. Calls to action work. I was drawn to the 216% increase, but then disconcerted by the idea of asking people to like my stuff. Why is that?
We buy ads-isn't that asking people to like our stuff? When is it okay to promote yourself? Lots of people do it and get away with it. Some do it and are labeled trolls. Where is the balance? Have you found it?
Chris Brogan promotes his products all the time. But it doesn't bother me. He's added so much to my knowledge base with his writing, I let him in. I know what his intentions are, or at least I think I do. He's added value to me-it's okay for him to show me something that may add more value to me, but it happens to have a price tag.
The flooring guy on the local Twitter hashtag in my town is a textbook troll. He adds no value to me. He automates his tweets. All he does is push product. Period. It's annoying. If I am ever in the market for flooring, I won't visit his store. Period.
When is it okay to use social media to promote? Here's a couple thoughts.
- It's okay when you've gained trust. That's a process. How do you know when you've got it? Start by reading Brogan's Trust Agents. If you don't have time to read it, trust you gut. You follow people who push product and it doesn't bother you. Ask yourself, why?
- It's okay if you add more value than you ask for. I've never taken the time, but I bet if you charted the tweets and posts of leaders online like Brogan, Amber Naslund, Jay Baer, Brian Solis, Jason Falls, Jeremiah Owyang, Tom Webster, K.D. Paine, Mari Smith, Michael Stelzner, and more, you'd find they are tweeting and posting more about how we can gain from them rather than what they can get from us. Do the math.
- It's okay if you're famous. Honestly, I just threw this in. I'm not fond of its authenticity, but it's true. Seth Godin can get away with not even being on Twitter because he's a famous guy. We all want to have a piece of some celebrity and I guess we don't really care if we have to pay for it or not. So Brittany Spears can hawk her stuff shamelessly in social media and we'll keep on liking and buying.
I'd really like a piece of that 216% increase, but I don't want to turn people away. When is it okay to self-promote? Please let your take be known in the comments.