Social media or narcissism – where’s the line?

The message starts, “Dear Cindy, I’d like to arrange a time to speak with you…..”.  It then goes on to tell me how wonderful the company is at doing xyz and how their core competence is abc.  You get the idea.

I receive at least five such emails or messages via LinkedIn every week.  Not one of them takes the time and effort to research me, research Futurecurve or tell me how their ‘core competence’ matches what I might be interested in.  One person had gone a little further and sent me an attachment to an introductory email where they had actually added my name and the Futurecurve name into their company flyer.  But that was as far as their attempt at providing something of value to me actually went. In every single case I can think of, the message is all about them and nothing about me.  And because I’ve been shown such loving attention, am I going to give them any of my valuable time? Certainly not!

This sort of marketing has always gone on, but I believe the huge growth and ease of use of social media marketing has made this situation worse.  If you think about it, if you were not good at this type of direct approach, direct marketing, telemarketing etc. in ye olde days (last year), now you’ve got 10x more social media channels in which to be not very good either.  So just because you’ve got more and different marketing channels doesn’t make your core value proposition or your messages any better.  If your sales and marketing messages were narcissistic before, then social media channels will just amplify this.  It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s certainly not attractive, so please stop doing it.

There is little excuse for not finding out what my hot buttons might be as you only have to Google someone’s name or company name to find their website, their LinkedIn profile, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and just about every blog post or discussion board where they commented.

I am amazed at how people in business still think this type of one-way communication is OK, that it’s acceptable to only talk about “me, me and marvellous me”.  Is it just laziness or incompetence or just old fashioned narcissism? Is this common place or am I just being overly sensitive to people having done zero research about me and what might interest me before they make contact?  Are other people just more thick-skinned than me and expect everyone these days to just talk about themselves?

There is a fine line to draw between social media interaction on blogs like this, or on LinkedIn discussions where you want people’s feedback but you don’t want them to only feedback to promote themselves. I get annoyed by discussion responses that just say “I wrote about this point in my blog and here’s the link”.  That’s not an interaction, that’s laziness coupled with self-promotion.

Social media works well when it creates a healthy relationship.  It’s a totally unhealthy and one-sided relationship where one party is on narcissistic broadcast.

I’d be really keen to hear what you think. No – honestly I would …as long as you don’t only talk about yourself or only self-promote;-)