Four ways to promote your business on social media without spamming your friends

spamDo you have friends who post promotional messages on your social media sites? How do you feel about their actions? A Clise Etiquette Facebook fan asked me how to handle this. She wrote, “It seems that businesses that promote direct marketing (e.g. The Pampered Chef, Rodan & Fields, Jamberry, etc.) within people’s social networks are more popular than ever. My feelings about this range from annoyed to hurt when I find that what I thought was a social call turns out to be a sales call. How can I convey that I value the friendship but don’t welcome the pitch?”

Let me first answer her question. If your friend posts a very occasional business related request or promotional message, let it go. But if she continually spams you (yes, that’s what it is) speak up and say exactly what this woman wrote – “I value your friendship but I’m not interested in your product/service, etc.”

For those of you who have a small business, whether it’s a direct marketing business, a service or a retail product be careful how you promote it on social media. I’ve used this analogy before, but it bears repeating. When you market your business on someone’s social media profile your actions are akin to walking into a cocktail party and screaming to everyone attending to buy your product (sign up for your service, purchase your book, attend your workshop). How would you feel if someone did that at your cocktail party? I’m sure you and your guests wouldn’t like it.

Conversely, when you direct message someone a promotional message – “Hi Susie, I’ve got some great facial products that have been proven to reduce wrinkles. Would you like to schedule a time to meet so I can show them to you?” – you are essentially walking into someone’s house uninvited and forcing the person to listen to your sales pitch. Doing so is usually not appreciated or wanted.

You might be wondering, well then how do I promote my business? The answer is carefully and respectfully. There are many social media sites that work for business. This post is not meant to teach you how to market your business on social media. But, here are some basics.

Think of social media as a well, social interaction. Let’s say you want to spend time with a friend. You would invite her to your house or out to lunch. The focus would be on enjoying each others’ company – simply an opportunity to catch up, not a sales pitch. You wouldn’t do all the talking; instead, you would have a conversation, a dialogue. Nor would you spend the entire interaction talking about your business unless your friend asked about it. And, if your friend treated you to lunch you would say thank you.

Follow these steps to apply this analogy to social media.

  1. Create a Facebook page, which is for businesses. The way it differs from a personal profile is you set it up to showcase your business and people decide if they want to like it or not. They don’t become your friend; instead when folks opt in to like your page they can see your updates.
  2. Create a Twitter profile, LinkedIn and/or YouTube company profile. These sites are less personal, and allow people to follow you rather than you being friends with them.
  3. No matter the site, build relationships with people. Post interesting and helpful tips, articles or personal information about yourself. When connections comment on or retweet your posts thank them or respond to their remarks. Share, comment or retweet your followers’ posts. Help people out. They will be more likely to help you if you assist them first.
  4. Follow the 80/20% rule. 80% of your posts should be informative, helpful, interesting or of a personal nature, only 20% should be promotional.

Next time you’re tempted to post a promotional message on someone’s social media profile think twice. I guarantee you’ll have more success if you follow the steps above.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Jacqueline Fairbrass on September 19, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Delightful explanation and of course, it instantly brought someone to mind. Thank you for sharing how to handle this with grace.

  2. Arden Clise on September 21, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Hi Jacqueline,
    Thank you for commenting. I’m happy to hear the post was helpful.

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