When social networking becomes social nagging

An old friend of mine is working with—and passionate about—a small nonprofit organization. When she asked me to ‘Like’ the group on Facebook, I happily did so. I am interested in my friends’ passions, and like supporting nonprofits that do good things.

This group proceeded to flood my Facebook newsfeed with between 8-10 postings a day, mostly urging me to vote online for their group (and other partners) in a competition for a grant.  When I opened Facebook on my phone and saw nothing from my real friends but only a stream of voting reminders from this group, I was seriously irritated.

With their persistent and unrelenting calls for action, the group had crossed the line from reminding me to nagging me – the way a parent tells a teenager to clean their room or finish their homework.

No one likes being nagged.

Every time I decided I wasn’t going to vote just then, I saw another update telling me to vote. I felt like a sullen teenager all over again and started resenting the group.  That’s not a good situation for a nonprofit trying to build a donor base.

Feeling just a little guilty at my lack of civic-mindedness, I blocked the groups’ updates from my profile and moved on. But as a marketer, there are lessons to learn that  apply to drip campaigns and loyalty programs.

  • Timing frequency of updates is an art – and different individuals have varying thresholds of irritation. It’s better to err on the side of less frequency than to cross over the ‘nagging’ line and suffer the unsubscribes or ill will of your prospects.
  • Respect your prospects’ time. Offer something of value before hitting them with a strong Call to Action.  With the nonprofit in my example, the sense of feeling good should have been sufficient. But it wasn’t enough to get me through 50 or so posts per week.

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