Image via CrunchBase

It’s all the rage these days to build a company group or fan page on MySpace or Facebook. The Social Networking phenomenon is big, no doubt, and gaining momentum. But companies that “hard sell” their readers or post a brand page without sincerely interacting with their audience have it all wrong, according to a new report from Tom Chapman called Social Network Marketing, Engagement Marketing and Brands. You can go online and download the report here to read all 47 pages.

The report was a two-part study that included an online survey with end users and interviews with “Brand Publishers” using Facebook and MySpace to gather community support for their brands. Here are some points that stood out for me:

  1. The overwhelming majority of Facebook and MySpace participants have not “friended” a brand page or company page. They are looking for true interaction with a real human being.
  2. Facebook users were more likely to encourage their friends to add a brand to their profile page than MySpace users. They were also more likely to follow a brand that a friend was following.
  3. Facebook users were also far more likely to share a branded widget with their friends…. almost twice as likely to do that as MySpace users.
  4. The vast majority of both Facebook and MySpace users would either ignore or be annoyed if a friend was being paid to promote a brand on their profile page.
  5. The great majority of Facebook and MySpace users would be likely to UNfriend a brand that openly sent them promotional media or ads.
  6. Both type of users would be highly unlikely to buy a product or service directly off of the brand’s profile page… and they didn’t like the idea (at all) of having their friends notified of purchases they were making.
  7. On the other hand, most users say they would feel a much greater affinity with brands that spent the time to communicate and interact online with their followers.

So, in summary, social media like MySpace and especially Facebook should be a venue for social participation……not unlike a “real world” network meeting. Network participants don’t carry big neon signs around their necks in social gatherings. They don’t step into a group and immediately start promoting themselves or steer the conversation toward their own interests.

An example of a social network diagram.

Image via Wikipedia

These “real world” networking events work for those that participate considerately and sincerely and show who they are. It works for them over the long haul. And you get out of it what you put into it. Be real, be there and be a friend. Over time…. naturally, people see who you are by how you treat others and they begin to give you their trust. From that naturally garnered trust comes friendship, community, referrals and business. It’s simple, but it requires your effort and sincerity…. both in the real world and online.

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