Let's say you get invited to a dinner party where the only person you know is the person who invited you. Let's say that in your professional life you are very excited about selling a special cream you've developed that cures hemorrhoids. Let's say you decide to introduce yourself to everyone at this dinner party by explaining to them all of the amazing benefits of your hemorrhoid cream, and how they can get a discount on their first purchase....
What do you think the reaction would be? How much cream do you think you would sell at that party? What are the chances you would be welcome back? What are the chances you'd be asked to leave?
Why am I talking about this on a tech blog? Because although the above scenario might not actually happen in real life, it happens all of the time on social networks online. Marketers sign up for an account (which they are usually allowed to do, as the general public is invited to join most of these sites), then their very first post, tweet, or direct message is a sales pitch. They don't even know who they're talking to, or anything about this new network. They usually don't even know how to correctly update their profiles to at least appear like a legitimate user. They don't take time to talk WITH anyone...they just walk in the room, and assume everyone wants to hear about their hemorrhoid cream.
The reaction? People hate them. It's that simple. There are all sorts of mechanisms in place for users to report these marketers as trolls and spammers, often resulting in the marketers being kicked off the site.
While it is possible to use social networking for marketing, it is not advisable to assume these social networks are for free advertising. If you truly do not have the time or resources to learn to social network properly, it is much more effective to purchase advertising space.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.