Are you trying to annoy me?

Most people annoy someone with their behavior. Often, we don’t know our behavior is annoying to others. Yet, some don’t care if their behavior annoys others. One interesting thing about social media is that it gives people the opportunity to be annoying on a very large stage. Whether you are using social media for personal or business communication, annoying your audience will not win you any friends. When using social media for business, a good impression and a strong relationship are important. Therefore, you should ask periodically, is your social media behavior annoying?

Personally, I find people who carry on loud conversations by cell phone in a quiet restaurant very annoying. In fact, I find it annoying when people have loud phone conversations in any crowded place. I don’t want to hear their conversations (especially when they are heavily laced with profanity), and I’m guessing the same is true for everyone else in the room. People find different things annoying. Often, the only way to know we are annoying someone is for somebody to tell us.

Several recent studies have identified some of the social media behaviors that are most annoying to audiences. Their importance lies in the fact that 65 percent of people who are annoyed or irritated by the social media behavior of a business say they would stop using a brand if annoyed. Are you losing customers and prospects because of your social media behavior?

One study (conducted by Vanson Bourne) found that unsolicited social media marketing is the most irritating social media experience for audiences. Although most respondents to the survey said they did not mind social interaction or messages from brands they have already bought and followed online, receiving messages from a business they did not follow would irritate 40 percent of the respondents. In fact, less than half (48%) said they want to receive marketing messages at all.

On the other hand, the same survey found that 68 percent of consumers had researched a product or service recommended by a friend online. Fifteen percent of those people made a purchase based on the recommendation. This indicates that although people do not want to receive marketing messages from businesses, word-of-mouth-recommendation is alive and well.

Another study, conducted by MediaBrix in October 2012, found that people also find content that is nothing more than a disguise for advertising annoying. Some consumers are beginning to push back against this type of content. The study found that 86 percent of consumers surveyed reported encountering video ads disguised as content. What is more, nearly all of them (85%) said disguised ads have changed their opinion of the brand negatively or had no effect.

The content found annoying by respondents to this survey who had encountered it included:

  • Sponsored video ads that appear to be content (86%)
  • Advertorials (66%)
  • Infomercials (61%)
  • Facebook Sponsored Stories (57%)
  • Twitter Promoted Tweets (45%)

The MediaBrox study also found that a large proportion of marketers believe these advertisements are effective.

A third study, conducted by Edelman Berland for Adobe in late October 2012, documented a significant difference of opinion between consumers and marketers about the type of advertising believed effective. This chart summarizes where consumers want to see advertising:

The following chart compares the opinions of marketers and internet users:

The message for businesses from these three studies seems clear – consumers do not want advertising via social media. Advertising to them via social media is irritating. Contacting consumers who have not chosen to follow you on-line is annoying to them. Disguising advertising as content is also irritating. If you are practicing any of these social media behaviors, you are annoying your audience. Stop annoying people. More and more people who are annoyed by businesses are pushing back and harboring bad feelings about them.

Is your social media behavior annoying? If it is, you need to start producing content that is relevant and valuable to your target audience. You also need to focus your content sharing on people who want to hear from you and stop spamming strangers.