Social mediaMany companies use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about their companies. Since so many people are on these sites now, it is a very effective way to communicate with customers, and most consumers understand that this is an incredibly important resource for modern businesses.

What’s more, many customers are perfectly happy to be able to interact with a company online. However, there are certain activities that cross the line of acceptable media use and make consumers feel as though they are being stalked by the companies that want their business.



A recent study of about 500 adults found that while more than 90 percent of consumers said that it was useful for businesses to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, around 60 percent noted that they found it irritating when these companies would track them down and ask to be followed or would send out messages about its business on a regular basis. 



According to Golden Gate University psychology professor Kit Yarrow, these results are not so surprising as they might initially seem. Granted, there is a contradiction in place, since customers like to have this information available to them but don’t want it forced on them. In truth, however, this is not a contradiction. Rather, it’s all a matter of personal control for the consumer.



In today’s increasingly uncertain economic climate, people need to feel that they have some control over their circumstances, and they get very jittery when they feel that they are being made to relinquish this control to someone else. When consumers are able to decide when to read about a particular company and can be proactive about getting deals from them, say by clicking a link on their Facebook page, it becomes an enjoyable activity that they are doing by choice. 



When a company shoves all of this down a consumer’s throat, it is no longer fun. Consumers begin to feel that they have no role in this process, and they resent the company instead of gravitating toward it. It’s a strategy that many parents employ as they send their children off to college. They want to stay involved, but they know that if they cling too tightly, there’s a good chance their children will back away because they are feeling smothered. The best idea is to keep the lines of communication open without initiating frequent contact.



When a company creates a profile on a social networking site, it gives people an easy place to find them. All relevant information should be on that site in a place where it can be easily found. As long as it is easy for consumers to find all of the important details about a company, there is no need to constantly remind them of it. What’s more, if they’re not feeling pressured, they will be more likely to share that company page with friends, since their enthusiasm will be genuine and not worn away by pushy sales tactics. It’s a win-win situation.