Social Media Cliques

Hands up who’s sick of being approached by sales people on Linked-In. It has in-effect become an online database for recruitment consultants. How many people have you not connected with because they were probably going to try and sell you something and who has had to block or report someone for spamming you?

On Twitter I know numerous people that un-follow anyone who auto DM’s (Direct Messages) asking to look at this site or these products. I do it too. I use twitter to keep up-to-date with what’s going on within the digital industry; I follow people who inspire me, whose tweets are interesting and informative. I don’t want to read posts about products I don’t want to purchase or special offers not relevant to me.

Personally I use Facebook as a Social Networking site the key word here is Social, I don’t want to be sold to while I am just having a catch up with a friend or laughing over Saturday nights pictures. I can’t count the amount of times I have ignored requests to join the “I love Mc Donald’s” or “Cokes better than Pepsi” groups.

Because of this I just want to set up my own social network where I won’t be bothered by spam and I can discuss topics me and my followers, connections or friends are interested in. I don’t think I am alone.

Brands will be shut out if consumers keep getting targeted in an aggressive way. There are already a number of ways to block out any unwanted spam, but are people looking for a more permanent solution?

Social Media Cliques. Small exclusive groups formed to converse online without the fear of being sold to and targeted by the “amazing lose a stone in a week diet pills” scams. With the help of sites like Ning we simply start our own Social Network. We can get a group of high end fashionistas or BMW fanatics or dare I say it, Digital Geeks together in one place to discuss common interests, rate and slate latest trends, get advice on companies worth purchasing from and those not. Places to get sound advice without an ulterior motive, where you don’t have to use a spam filter or disconnect with sales folk.

I have no doubt that these secret communities are out there and some maybe so exclusive they are invitation only, how many exist already that you’re missing out on?

Best advice for those companies looking to engage with customers before it’s too late and they disappear into social networks you won’t have access to. Hire a good Social Media Strategist one who understands your target market, who is not going to offend their intelligence with spam but who will engage with them on an interesting and entertaining level. An alternative is to set up your own social network and create captivating content that showcases the brand in a really positive way so people want to be part of it.

  • Written by on 4th February 2010 at 17:06
  • “Fluid Creativity is an award-winning, multi-service digital agency based in Manchester.”
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  • Paul Gordon

    Great post! Strangely enough, I'm working on a side project that will enable the quick creation of always on-topic discussions….

  • Steve Downes

    Good post Michelle – glad you're enjoying Fluid.

    Personally, I think it's a matter of frequency. The odd 'plug' isn't a problem – you watch ITV don't you? But would you if the ad breaks were 15 minutes?

    An equal problem is astroturfing. If channels allow it their credibility will be destroyed. Starting to happen at Tripadvisor.

    Anyway, good luck.


  • 13twelve

    A lot of people still use forums for community stuff – pretty much every model of BMW will have a forum discussion styling/tuning/etc. Forums always feel a bit too old school for me though.

    The one “unknown” online community I know of is for the body mod scene. Its pretty much as fully featured as Facebook/MySpace and is free of advertising and brands.

    Oh and Suicide Girls. Do they count?

    (also, Coke is *not* better than Pepsi)

  • WayneBKnows

    Excellent post Michelle, and valid. Trying to be devils advocate here though, is it not that, the more popular the site becomes, the bigger chance a corporate entity will look to become involved in some way and the corporate pound for advertising becomes to tempting to resist. I guess the real idea is to develop something that advertisers feel is unnecessary to be involved with and the sheer thought or mention of a plug is frowned upon or blocked like a anti-virus blocker…lol

  • Lodge28

    Very nice entry looking forward to more :)

  • Bigwig

    Interesting post. However, I think you overstate the extent to which advertising is intrusive on social networks. The facebook groups you refer to are normally not the work of the brands themselves but facebook users.. The sponsored advertising on facebook is done very subtlety (as opposed to myspace which went hell for leather with ads and then paid for it with declining users), which is part of the reason why the advertising has not been as successful compared to other forms of display advertising. Twitter does not carry advertising at all currently. As for the Linkedin point, this again is the users “abusing” the network for their own financial gain.

    But surely this kind of abuse would infiltrate a private or clique network eventually? A social group full of SEO geeks would eventually be targeted by a recruitment company one way or another. As well as this, the advertising is essential for the network to exist long term. Although Ning is good because of the lack of ads, it's functionality and promotion is way behind that of facebook for example.

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