SugarCon: Running social media campaigns without being creepy

The last thing you want to do is make customers think you're stalking them. Here are some tips on how NOT to do that.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

NEW YORK -- Social media can be an essential tool to reaching out when consumers today -- but the last thing you want to do is creep them out and scare them away.

Unfortunately, this is a very easy trap to fall into, which can be difficult for many business professionals to understand.

See also: Q&A with SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin

Mathew Sweezey, a B2B marketing evangelist at Pardot, a marketing solutions provider for SMBs, discussed at SugarCon 2013 on Wednesday that while these technologies give you a whole other level of social, marketers and sales people often drift towards "1984-like tracking."

"The current state of affairs is people don't like salespeople," Sweezey declared to the keynote audience, citing a recent Gallup poll citing that salespeople fall just below lawyers when it comes to most liked professions in terms of appreciations.

Implying that isn't a good thing, Sweezey hinted that the "the bar is really, really low" to surprise people.

Sweezey outlined a handful of tools that he argued are critical to successful social marketing at the moment.

Naturally being that this was Sugar's annual conference, CRM was at the top of the list. Some of the other tools that Sweezey highlighted were Google alerts, social aggregators (i.e. HootSuite, TweetDeck), and job change alerts (i.e. LinkedIn Groups), among others.

Sweezey also offered a number of tips about techniques to approach and deploy social campaigns without coming across as creepy. Here are a few:

  • Keep your cards close: "The person you're talking to doesn't need to know you have all that information about them. They didn't put the data out there for you -- they did it for them."
  • Know what deserves an action: "Just because someone tweeted something doesn't mean it deserves a follow-up phone call. That's why people don't trust salespeople." On a related note, Sweezey also suggested that you shouldn't reach out to people on Facebook, which is often considered more of a private network in comparison to LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • These are not talking points: "Just because someone said something on social platforms doesn't mean they're talking points. (Sweezey defined them as "enablement points.") You're telling them that you're stalking them."

Sweezey quipped, "No one likes a stalker. Don't be a stalker."

More coverage from SugarCon 2013 on ZDNet:

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