I am passionate about social media. Not only because I can use them to connect with my friends, no matter where they are in the world, but also because I can connect to other professionals of my working field. I use Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with what is happening in the marketing and communications industry, start and participate in conversations, ask and answer questions, share my knowledge and learn from others.

But, do all professionals understand the value of social media? Well… not really.

Being on Twitter for some time now, I have come across a few marketing practices which, in my opinion, should be avoided:

  • I have, sometimes, followed people who sent me a private message promoting their blog or website but didn’t follow me back, so I couldn’t reply to them. In these cases, there was no real connection because a conversation was not possible. It’s just one-way marketing, which is certainly not what social media are about.
  • Another similar mistake is starting a conversation just for promotional reasons but not replying when asked to share some knowledge or offer some help. Being helpful can only be beneficial. It shows professionalism and creates good relationships, which can open future opportunities.
  • A really annoying practice is promoting services in every single “tweet”. Customers follow a company or a brand because they are interested in what the company is up to, not because they want to receive advertisements on their feed. This practice can make people “unfollow” and, when this happens, it is difficult to win them back. I have been following Tony Hsieh, CEO of  Zappos.com and one of the most popular Twitter users, and I have never received any purely promotional “tweets” from him.

Social media is all about conversation. It’s really simple to get it right. Just be open, helpful and friendly the same way you would be with your friends. Tony Hsieh is a good example to follow.