Most of the people I know are on some form of social media somewhere. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr, blog networks of all sorts. I love social media. It’s helped me reconnect with friends from years past and keep up with family and friends that live too far away. These online meeting grounds do not charge for their services, and most of them have advertising on sidebars or elsewhere. I know that there is great cost associated with managing such a deep network, so I don’t mind the advertising. Sometimes I even find the advertising interesting.

Of course, as more eyeballs turn to social media for their distractions, more advertisers are looking for ways to “monetize” social media. There are internet marketers, spammers, and scammers galore looking for ways to get your attention and into your mind and wallet.

One of the recent trends in the field of social media marketing is “sponsored sharing.” There are companies out there that are looking to use your newsfeed to get to your friends, and they’re willing to pay you for the privilege.

I would be very careful using such a service. Not only will it negatively affect your audience, it will negatively affect your friendships.

Think of it this way. An advertiser buying space on a sidebar next to your newsfeed on either Twitter or Facebook is akin to an advertiser buying a 30-second spot during your favorite television show. It’s a trade off to your enjoyment and connection, and you allow the interruption.

When you post something in someone’s newsfeed (in other words, when you post a status update) you are visiting them in an intimate space. You are sitting at their home telling them what’s new in your life or what is important to you.

A sponsored link in that space is like being invited to dinner and spontaneously being possessed by a random arbitrary advertiser at someone’s dinner table. It’s the first step towards being asked to leave, and perhaps even being permanently ostracized.

Don’t do the sponsored links.

I don’t mind if you talk about your own products or projects. For example, if you recently launched a new product, I don’t mind hearing about it. But if you’re an affiliate promoting someone else’s product, keep it off my newsfeed. Otherwise you’re a spammer.

Friends don’t spam friends.

If you have a mailing list and you send me a mailing that has nothing more than links to products you found on Clickbank, you’re not telling me anything new. You’re a spammer. Cut it out, or you’re going to get unsubscribes from me.

A Prescription Better Social Sharing

To those companies and advertisers looking to *gag* monetize *gag* social media, I understand your pain. I do. We’re not watching television anymore, as there is not much compelling content that the media is putting out there in an advertisable format. The valuable viewer is turning towards HBO or Netflix to avoid your interruptions. How else do you get the eyeballs of those with disposable income?

I have some ideas.

Do something meaningful. Create something unique and powerful. Create a product that is worth talking about.

Don’t be an internet marketer. Be a content producer. Produce something meaningful. It might not be meaningful to everyone, but it will be meaningful to someone. Talk about your own products.

If you find a product that is meaningful to you, I don’t mind if you talk about it. For example, I found a coffee that I just love here in Mount Shasta. It’s great. Sometimes I rave about it on my news feed. But I am raving about it because it is a part of my current experience.

I rave about things that are important to me. Should I be paid for doing so? Maybe, I don’t know. But I don’t think we should be willfully raving about things just for money. It cheapens the experience of connecting with our friends, our families, and our fellow earthlings.

I also don’t think we as advertisers should be paying for buzz. We shouldn’t be paying for views on our videos; that’s just gaming the system.

Generating “buzz” is about doing something meaningful. Buying buzz cheapens your work. People are waking up to the marketers. They see content for what it is, and they can tell when something is worthwhile and substantive.

What is meaningful?

Meaningful work comes from the heart. It comes from you. It comes from your inspiration. It comes from seeing a problem and solving it in an inspired way.

If you’re not sure how to find what is in your heart or what inspires you, it’s time to reconnect with who you really are.