9 effective, yet obnoxious tactics brands use to get social media followers

Do you require people to follow you on Twitter to enter your contest, or like your Facebook page to see your content? You may be driving fans away.

The Internet is full of advice on how to add more people to your social network. You can find tons of articles that tout “How to get more followers on Twitter,” or “Get more people to like your Facebook page.”

Just because these articles demonstrate proven techniques doesn’t necessarily mean you should heed their advice. Not every successful technique to get more followers, fans and subscribers will be right for you. A technique can be effective, but unethical. And if not unethical, it can be outright obnoxious.

I’ve seen many people use these techniques as tricks or roadblocks to visitors trying to get to something else. If you use some of these techniques, people won’t necessarily follow you because they want to, they’ll follow you because they have to.

Do you want to trick people into following you? Do you want to use techniques most people find obnoxious? Is the cost of a damaged brand worth a few more followers?

Ask yourself those questions before you try any of these effective, yet obnoxious social media techniques:

1. Like-gating

Like-gating is when a company puts a cover image over its Facebook page that says, “Like us to see our content.” In order to view anything on the page, every visitor must first pledge allegiance to the site and become a fan. Only then can they see the company’s wonderful Facebook posts.

This is incredibly conceited. We don’t require people to become loyal customers of our business before they walk through the door—that would be rude. This technique works, but it’s obnoxious.

2. Using pop-up windows that ask visitors to sign up for a newsletter

Didn’t we, as a nation of Web users, agree that we hate pop-up windows? We never want to see one again, especially when we first visit a website. I’m sure far more people close that window than give their email address.

Go ahead, check your Web analytics. I bet I’m right.

3. Mass-messaging people to like your Facebook page

This isn’t as easy as it used to be. To message people within Facebook, you must manually select each recipient. But, you can still spam up to 5,000 of your email contacts.

This “spray and pray” method of audience gathering will bring your business some likes, but anger many more people. These people probably had an affinity for you and your business, but their opinion of you just dipped with this crass and careless self-promotion.

4. Sending spam replies on Twitter

Every now and then I get an @reply from someone I don’t know that says, “@dspark you should check this out and follow this user.” When I click through to the person’s profile, I see they sent the same message hundreds of times to different users.

Businesses do this because we are hyper responsive when someone @replies us-we are more responsive than if we received the same information via email.

Yes, the company grabbed my attention, but I wanted to ignore it as well as the site and user it recommended.

5. Requiring people to follow you to enter your contest

When you require people to follow your Twitter handle just to enter your contest, all you prove is that you can capture people who want to win an iPad. Congratulations.

6. Spamming friends to recommend you on LinkedIn

Thankfully I haven’t seen this technique in a long time, but people used to do it daily. Sadly, you still can. LinkedIn allows you to spam up to 200 of your friends to ask for a recommendation. Here’s a better recommendation: Don’t be a schmuck.

7. Using Facebook apps that require you to install the app to see content

One of the wonderful things about social games and apps is they can be costless to acquire new users. Simply using the app requires one to interact with others. For example, one application lets you send a virtual gift to a friend. In order for your friend to see and receive the virtual gift, she must first install the Facebook application.

This seems like a lot of work to see an icon of a birthday cake, but people do it.

I don’t. It’s a pain. The person giving the gift probably doesn’t realize it is being held hostage until you install the app.

8. Using social games that require you to recruit new users to progress

In the iPhone game Tap Zoo there are challenges that require the player to email four friends to “check out this game.”

How annoying. Yes, I know this is how social games work, but that’s why I don’t play them. Just because they work this way and the industry makes billions of dollars off them doesn’t mean I have to like their recruiting tactics.

9. Spam-friending on LinkedIn and Facebook

This technique has grown at a monumental pace. Fortunately, Facebook has the subscribe feature so people can follow others without being friends with them. Still, we’re all subject to impersonal connect requests via LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s amazing that people don’t use this opportunity to send a personal message. Even worse, sometimes the person won’t respond when you reply to the request.

In my experience, 25 percent of the people who friend me on Facebook refuse to respond to personal messages. My friend Josh Weinberg, founder of the Digital Life Consulting Group, receives LinkedIn requests from people he doesn’t know. If someone is in his industry he’ll send back a message saying he’d like to connect on the phone, but he’s sent 20 messages so far and no one has responded.

What obnoxious tactics have you seen?

David Spark is a journalist, producer, speaker and owner of the custom publishing and social media firm Spark Media Solutions. This post first appeared on Spark Minute. (Image via)

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