Saturday, 15 January 2011

A Lesson learned on Twitter about giving Professional Advice freely

I have read a few blogs and forum posts recently about the benefits of using Twitter, Facebook and Forums to help promote your business.

The general consensus is that you can use all of them to some extent but each in slightly different ways.  I'm not a Social Media Guru so I'm not going to try and advise or educate you in any way.  I am learning more each day about the benefits and if I were to sum it up so far it would be thus:-

The forums are specialist areas for debating, learning and sharing. Sometimes including members who don't want to identify themselves for whatever reason and discussions can become heated, argumentative and controversial.   Those that get themselves into deepest water on forums often don't care as they hide behind a false identity.

Linked-In seems to be more of a directory of 'real' business people to build connections with and I'm yet to explore it further.

Facebook is a great place for gossip, socialising, sharing photos and connecting with anyone in your life from friends and family to business people.  You can try to seperate the business from the more private side of your lives but so far my experience with Facebook is the two become very blurred.

To date my experiences on Twitter have been positive.  I have met many intelligent people who have become friends.  I've connected with high profile, like-minded professionals mostly friendly, supportive and informative.  I've learned who to follow for the best quality information and discussions and continually add to my list of valuable business contacts and like-minded friends.

But this week I made an observation that rang out warning bells.  I watched as a regular 'Twit' who has built a network of professional followers asked for advice about something important to her.  Some of her followers chipped in with the Facebook Style 'love & hugs' sort of advice whilst others gave more practical advice.

The alarming bit for me was when a well known and well thought of Professional Twit with relevant expertise gave some private advice - apparently it was not what the person asking for advice had wanted to hear.  She reacted in a bizarre manner by openly Tweeting that she'd received advice and continued to Tweet arguments against the advice she'd been given by Tweeting/Retweeting negative comments about the advice and Profession in general.  Whilst she didn't actually state who had given her the advice it was fairly obvious to many of us regular Twits who it was.

The issue for me is how quickly Twitter took the 'Facebook' style bully approach towards a professional person who had freely offered advice that this ungrateful Twit would normally have had to pay for.  It also brought in to question for me how far people might take something just to get a few controversial tweets out there to promote themselves - was this an attempt to get attention by being the Protagonist?

Maybe this situation is rare and in the minority but maybe we should all be careful about who we give advice to freely on Social Media. If people come to you and ask about your service maybe they should demonstrate that they are seriously in 'buying mode' before you share your expertise.  The commitment should perhaps be two-way.

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