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It’s just incredible how much wrong advice is endlessly taken as gospel about how to turn cyberspace into your own personal e-commerce ATM.

Frankly, that paragon of satire, The Onion, nailed this point a few years ago:

Now, there are bright minds out there who know how to make the most of e-commerce opportunities. But how do you know when you’ve found one?

Simple:

Are they offering you knowledge that you can understand and replicate?

This trumps testimonials, where the only ones you should believe are from sources you know personally. Comments from Joe D or Harriet from Peoria just aren’t verifiable. And often, posted praise from the promoter’s marketing buddy is usually just a favor being returned.

As to the promoters’ graphics showing how much money they’re making? Be careful. Photoshop in the hands of artists can be an amazing tool.

And if someone shows you their earnings in what they say is real time, make sure you’re watching in real time. Even then, it’s not that hard for them to actually be pulling up spoof sites that appear to be the real thing.

If you’re going to make it to the Dot Com lifestyle, disregard such shallow shenanigans and avoid common social media pratfalls like these:

No more buying Likes. It was forgivable in 2009 to try to rack up as many Facebook fans as humanly possible, but these days, it’s time to acknowledge how pointless this is.

That’s especially true if a consumer has to Like something in order to take part in a promotion. Sure, you get exposure when a friend of that consumer sees the Like, but the truth is, your target doesn’t necessarily like you.

He or she just wants to try to win something.

Therefore, the exposure that comes from that Like is fraudulent. Just as in real life or screwball comedies, you can’t trick someone into liking you. They’ll always figure it out later.

Customer interaction on Twitter is just that and only that. Your objectives and theirs are almost always different. They’re usually looking for value, period. Nothing wrong with that. You’re looking for a sale. Nothing wrong with that.

Just know you’re giving customer service. The level of your follow-up has virtually no effect on the process if their perception of value is mostly financial. If they’re saying they can get a better deal elsewhere, tell them to take it and wish them well.

Remember, your ultimate currency is time. Spend it wisely.

Twitter help

 You’re not a publisher. Brands are advertisers.

For instance, Coca-Cola has 55million Facebook fans and does a great job providing them with a stream of content. But, if PageLever’s research is to be believed, Coke will be lucky to reach 6% of those fans with its status updates. If it wants to reach the other 94% or so, then it has to pay.

Now I ask you: What sort of publisher has to pay money to another media company to reach its own readers?

If you’re expecting to realize the Dot Com lifestyle, then understand your brand is based upon your authority. That is what substantiates your promotions, not impartiality. You need to be compelling and consistent in getting your message out there across whatever platform your target market frequents.

Here’s the secret to good social media marketing: Make good products and offer good services. Don’t take shortcuts or follow advice that attempts to trick people into Liking your brand. Instead, try to make them actually, you know, like your brand.

How?

Under-promise and over-deliver. Make products and offer services that are really and truly good and that you can personally put your credibility on the line for. Know your business. Understand your target market. And don’t be something you’re not.

That’s not to say you should completely forsake social media marketing communication. Quite the opposite. When you have something interesting to say that can provide value to others, then by all means, use Twitter, Instagram, Tsū, Facebook, or [insert platform here] if that’s where your specific customers can be found. But stop posting cute pictures of puppies to win cheap Likes.

It’s much, much better to make a real friend.

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