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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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Stop selling to me on Twitter!


Recently, I seem have had a spate of folks (including some trainers) selling me stuff on twitter. Well, let’s be honest, they probably haven’t realised they are selling me stuff, however, it still feels that way. 

Now, I am not talking here about the blatant spammer, nubile young scantily-clad ladies from the US, and out & out direct sales folks on twitter. I’m talking about the inadvertent sales person. 

So, what classes as a selling tweet? It’s any DM or @mention which is sent directly to me, without any kind of warning or permission, asking me to join a group or facebook page, visit a website, buy a ticket for your event or yours or buy something from you. These are all examples where you are using Twitter to directly PUSH your message onto me. I don’t have the option to not receive these messages, and all the energy is you PUSHING stuff onto me, without giving me the courtesy of opting out or telling you that this is not what I want to receive. Typically actions of this nature tend to damage the relationship, which may or may not have had a chance to develop.

Here are some of the recent examples of people who have ‘sold’ to me on twitter and why it failed my test.

1. Like my Facebook page

This is a classic twitter sell – often used by twitter newbies. The pattern goes like this… You start to follow them, and then you receive normally an automated DM thanking you and asking you to like their Facebook page. Or you could get a nice chatty @mention, which once again asks you to like their Facebook page.

The reason this one fails the test because you are not taking the time to build the relationship. You don’t know how I use Facebook or whether I interact with brands on Facebook. Am I likely to find the fact you have a Facebook page valuable or interesting to me? Unlikely…

If you do want to use Twitter to generate profile for your facebook page, here are some suggestions:

  1. Include your Facebook page on your twitter profile
  2. When I start to follow you, start a dialogue to find out more about me and then ask whether I would be interested in finding out more about my business via Facebook


2. Buy my product

This is the one whether I may have been chatting to you on Twitter for a while (or not at all) and I receive an @mention or a DM from you asking me to visit your website to buy something from it. Typically this action from you will automatically get an unfollow from me and maybe even a report to twitter for spam.

The reasons for this one failing the test is because you would never at a networking event go up to someone, whether you know them or not, and ask them to go onto your website and buy one of your products.
If you do want to use Twitter to raise awareness of your products, then here are some suggestions:

  1. blog about them and tweet links to the blog (not @mentions to your blog post)
  2. tweet pictures of your products with suggestions of how they can be used
  3. talk about what you are doing within your business – e.g. just bought some new stock

3. Read my blog post and please comment

This one really irks me as it puts me in a difficult place. Ultimately, I tend to ignore these requests unless I know you very well. My reason for blacklisting this practice is you are PUSHING your agenda onto me. There is no consideration for my time, my agenda or what I need to do. You wouldn’t go to a networking event and tell me, do read this blog post and please comment. So, why do it on Twitter? (Sometimes, this makes me think actively about ditching a relationship)

I do receive very nice considerate requests from trusted people in my network to RT stuff and comment on their blog posts. Of course I say yes to these requests. Mostly because:

  • these folks have taken the time to build up a relationship with me
  • I have seen over time that they are credible for what they do
  • they ask me politely and very considerately, generally via email or DM
  • they don’t assume I will

Do remember that I am constantly thinking about what my twitter followers are seeing in my tweet stream. Too many tweets outside of my core topic (i.e. RTs for you) will dilute the message and brand I want to portray on twitter.

4. Please attend my free event

This one doesn’t happen that often. However, recently I was taking part in the Guardian’s small business live Q&A chat. I received a tweet from someone I didn’t know saying ‘thank you for your advice’. So, far, so good. Then they asked if I would like to go to their Free Business Expo.

I got slightly huffy at this point and asked them to stop selling to me. Their defence was the event was free, so how could they be selling? The reason why I got annoyed was simple:

  • this was my first tweet with me and already they are trying to get me to go to their event
  • they know nothing about me and my business, if they did know they would know that I have never been to a business expo
  • their event was their agenda and not mine
  • my time (as well as yours) = money so even if the entrance is free, the event is not free for me to attend

If you do want to use twitter to promote your event, then tweet about your event, blog about your event (and tweet links to the blog), add a ‘pls RT’ to tweets about the event.

What inadvertent selling do you hate on twitter or other social networking sites?

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Heather Townsend


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