How Not to do a Social Media Promotion

I was excited, then disgusted last night, in fairly short order. I learned that there is something called SocialCam coming from, the video site. SocialCam is a mobile app that lets iPhone and Android users take some video, upload it, tag people in it and share it swiftly with their social pals. Sounds awesome, right?

So I marched over to the little site and put in my email address for “early access” which I liken in my mind to be Beta testing, although I realize that may not be accurate – maybe they have already done Beta and this is a pure marketing play. If this is their beta testing process, it is WAY off base, so I will assume for the sake of argument it is not.

I got this little gem of an email almost immediately:

They can’t wait to get the new app into my hands, IF I pimp the ever-loving crap outta their unproven, unseen warez, is the stark reality of this “offer.”

I don’t like it. I don’t like the approach. I don’t like the marketing philosophy that says this is okay. I don’t like the subtle extortion, I don’t like the encouragement to blast your social networks with this referral link – especially for a SIGHT UNSEEN product. Maybe this thing royally sucks! Maybe it’s hard to use, unstable and unreliable. Your social friends should be able to know you believe in what you’re sharing with them, and your mention of it is either:

  • news you find interesting or compelling or important (or know they will)
  • something that delights you so much you want to share it with others
  • something that offends you so much, you feel compelled to take a stand against it, and are therefore sharing it
  • something you have personal experience with, and you are sharing your honest opinion about
  • something noteworthy that people might be interested in (which I am sure Socialcam is counting on you thinking it is)

But at the end of the day, this is a play for free ole’ marketing, done by you, on behalf of them, for the “carrot” that is POSSIBLE inclusion on this wonderful early access list. Forced or coerced sharing in return for something you consider of value is NOT a good marketing practice. When it comes to social and the ever elusive Holy Grail of “Viral Marketing”, don’t be an ass. Stop thinking users with social network accounts are stupid. We don’t all buy Snookie’s book and sit around waiting to promote your company for free, for nothing.

Be respectful of others, be intelligent, offer something of value, make a good product, have good support and any social media sharing, blog kudos or mentions will happen organically, naturally and deservedly. This should be your #1 “Social Media Best Practice” if you are USING it to market your company, products or services.


  • Tom Jenkins

    Couldn’t agree more, total BS move on their part. Although twitter has become about broadcasting, it at least needs to be genuine.

  • Brody Dorland

    I think I would have tested that idea a bit before launch…with people other than their office staff. Knuckleheads…