Tag, You’re It (whether you want to be or not)

Playing tagA funny thing happened to me last month. It made me do some thinking on what to do – and what NOT to do – when you use social media to promote your business. (The photo is just for fun; I couldn’t resist the kids playing tag at the beach, as it’s cold and snowy here!)

Someone tagged me in a Facebook post, one that contained a video. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that. I get tagged in posts regularly: when I attend an event and someone posts about it on Facebook, they might tag me. Or if I’m in a photo they took, or a video they’ve posted. Or if they are talking about me or my business. All of those are perfectly appropriate reasons to tag someone.

However, the post in which I was tagged had nothing to do with me. It was a cutesy sales video created by someone I met once at a conference. Nowhere in the video did I – or the other forty or so folks who were tagged – appear, nor were any of us mentioned.

And yet we were all tagged.

Why? Because when you tag someone on Facebook with a post or a photo or a video, that post appears in the stream of the person tagged. So essentially what this person did was hijack MY friends and followers to promote THEIR business.

(And then it got really weird, because when I replied to the Facebook post and asked why I’d been tagged, rather than responding privately or even just agreeing to disagree publicly, the original poster edited my comment to remove everything I’d said and replace it with their own comment. And then the private messages started, from the poster and from their social media manager. I figured it was better to just not reply in the hopes that the issue would eventually just die a natural death. Which it did, but it took waaaay longer than it should have.)

Not polite. Not good business practice. And since the tagged post annoyed some of the folks who follow me, it surely annoyed me as well. (The private message flurry that followed was even more annoying, and made me scratch my head. What were you thinking?)

It would have been less irritating had there been real content of real value in the video, but it truly was a sales pitch, a commercial. Which is why some of MY peeps sent me private messages asking me what that was all about and why they were seeing something from this person they’d never heard of.

I promote other people, other companies, products, and services all the time. If you read my ezine or follow my blog you know I post a recommendation as often as I post a straight content post. I firmly believe in getting the word out about the folks I follow and the stuff I use.

But those recommendations are done at MY discretion. Not yours. You don’t get to promote to my list without asking. If you create content I like, I’ll promote it without being asked. If you’re working up a marketing campaign and you want me to promote your upcoming product or service or event, contact me privately and let me decide.

And never, ever, ever edit someone’s comment. If it’s obscene or truly nasty, remove it. But editing away a difference in opinion? Really? That’s SO not a good practice.

When you are in business, not everyone is going to agree with you all the time. When you use social media, not everyone is going to post comments containing sweetness and light, agreeing slavishly with everything you say. If you don’t want comments that disagree with you, don’t post. (The strange thing was, mine wasn’t that negative a comment in the first place! It did question the business practice and explained why, but that was about it.)

I really like social media. And I keep my security settings pretty loose, compared to some folks, because I DO want to see the discussions, warts and all. Now I’m having to question MY practice, because someone chose to tag unwisely.

Don’t do that! Understand how the platform works, and the implications for every way you want to use it, BEFORE going ahead and doing something on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest or wherever else you’re playing online.

OK, rant over. Return to your regularly scheduled programming.