Tim Priebe

Being overly promotional can backfire

Annoying sales personSometimes you’ll see them on social media—people who just can’t stop talking about their business or product. They’re always pushing their business, products, or services.

It happens a lot. You can probably even think of some time pretty recently that you’ve seen it happen on social media!

A lot of organizations aren’t sure what kind of strategy works for online marketing. So instead of creating a strategy for their online marketing, they treat it like traditional advertising.

They make sure to share their products and services, and talk about their sales and any events they’re putting on. Most of their posts sound like some version of “We’re so awesome!” In other words, they do nothing but share promotional content online!

And because every once in a while someone shows interest, they think it’s a good strategy.

You can get away with some promotional content—and you should post some things that are promotional—but it’s best in moderation. Too much can backfire on you and push people away from your business, instead of creating interest. It can quickly leave a bad impression on your audience.

A client of mine recently had a bad experience with this. She asked for advice about a health concern on Facebook. Most of the people who replied were really helpful, and others expressed their sympathy.

But right in the middle of all that, somebody started going on about the health drinks he sells. How do you think that made my client feel?

She wasn’t thrilled. And because of the way comments work on Facebook, everyone who had already offered advice or concern now saw his new, inappropriately promotional comment. Do you think some of them were turned off by that too?

It can be easy to become too promotional without realizing, though. How can you avoid it?

First, you’ve got to know what’s promotional and what isn’t. Promotional content is anything about you and your organization. Yes, even if it’s informational! If it’s about your organization, it’s promotional.

This can include things like:

  • Email newsletters with details on a sale you’re having
  • Blogs that are case studies about how you helped someone
  • Social media promoting an event you’re putting on
  • A video explaining how a product you offer works

For many, that last one is a bit confusing. It’s just an informational video, right? But if people have to buy a product you sell in order to make use of the video, they’re going to perceive it as promotional marketing.

The second thing to do is to use an appropriate amount of promotion. You don’t have to cut it out completely! I suggest 10% as a rule of thumb. That means that one tenth of a blog can be promotional, or one out every ten blogs. One out of every ten social media updates can be promotional. One tenth of an ebook can be promotional.

That 10% rule of thumb can apply to most of your online marketing. The trick is to apply it consistently.

And don’t forget—having some promotional content is a great thing. People need to know what you sell if they’re going to do business with you! But your social media strategy will be much more effective if you use promotional updates in moderation.

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