Are You a “Big Cheese” or a “Big Sleaze” in Your Social Media Network?

By J.R. Calderwood

Business marketing has moved well beyond simple web pages and Google AdSense.  Today, marketing is a conversation like never before.  Conversations for the sake of business building have a more broad-reaching affect when they take place in online forums, blog comment sections, and through social media tools.

While at first social networking sites were developed for fun and personal interaction, business owners and marketers have now caught on to their potential for business growth.  Conversations take place leader and leader, leader to average web surfer, and surfer to surfer.  That is, conversations happen between people that know each other, but just as many happen between who’ve met for the first time online.

People turn to others through social media to find answers for their dilemmas.  For every social media hero, though, there is a villain.  Villains certainly are prevalent across the Internet.  Spammers, trolls, in-your-face marketers, as well as those who post obscene or inappropriate material, keep site holders busy cleaning the slate.

While Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, website forums and other tools are fabulous for business building, they also have the potential to become virtual moshpits for wary participants.  While most participants have entered into discussions or “friended” others in a quest for lively interaction, fun, or information, they also become vulnerable to being slapped silly with product promotions or are invited to endless webinars.

Forum comments, emails or status updates can be easily taken out of context resulting in individuals becoming offended, or feeling left out.  Users have reported they have self-esteem issues when there seem to be no comments or “likes” on their blog or status updates.

Unfortunately, the old rules of honesty in relationships are being blurred.  You might be flattered when a person you knew years ago reaches out to you by sending a friend request, but then you discover they are in a multi-level marketing business and you are little more than their latest prey.

The line of friendship can be easily crossed when one is in a desperate attempt to gain clients or make a quick sale.  If you’re such a person and your motives are found out, your business-building attempts may actually backfire on you.  If you don’t follow proper online etiquette, you may be labelled as a charlatan.

What Will You Be?

How do you want to be perceived in your social networks?  Do you want to be known as the “big cheese” (aka the “go to” person for your specialty), or will you fall into the category of “sleaze”?

The difference between a big cheese and a big sleaze is that the first checks his motives and considers his image before posting anything online.  He takes time to care about others.  Not only is there self-promotion, but there is other-promotion.  There is two-way dialogue.  The big sleaze, on the other hand, driven by dollar signs, risks his reputation by making himself and what he sells the focus.

The Finesse of Communication Marketing

Communication marketing requires finesse.  The public have become very good at smelling a load of marketing “BS” coming their way.  Here are a few tips to help you deflect that kind of problem:

How to become a “big sleaze”:

  • Make all your posts and comments about yourself.
  • Constantly push your products and services.
  • Build your network quickly by asking thousands to connect with you whether you know or care about them or not.  The numbers will make you feel good and make you look important.
  • Gather email addresses off accounts and add them to your newsletter blast without the address holder’s permission.
  • Make it obvious the only reason you have befriended someone is to sell him something.  Humiliate him until he buys.
  • Make it obvious that your motive is make money—lots of it—by  frequently posting comments about  six-figure type stuff and linking to get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Ask your friends to help you without offering them compensation.
  • Tell your connections how much you care, and then ask them to sign up for your hundred-dollar course.
  • Hire someone you don’t know from overseas to represent you and post your comments.
  • Tell others you’ll teach them the secret to earning a seven-figure salary, become a best-selling author, etc. even though you’ve never done it yourself.

If instead, you’d rather become a big cheese, i.e. someone who is respected and valuable, try this:

  • Wait for existing clients and the public to connect with you rather than the other way around.
  • Only use email addresses from participants who give you their permission.
  • Collect fans slowly and solidly.  In time your reward will be a growing list of potential new customers you actually know a bit about.
  • Resist overt promotion.
  • Don’t befriend people just for what you think you can get out of them.
  • Comment on status updates and blogs.
  • Thank and praise others.
  • Promote others.
  • Answer as many emails personally that you can.
  • Give away free information.
  • Keep learning and gain a reputation of being a trusted source.
  • Write compelling material filled with “meat”, and write often.
  • Make your updates informative, funny or inspiring rather than sales-pitchy.
  • Show your audience what’s in it for them and why they should keep following you.

The job of building your online business community is never finished.  Be vibrant, relevant, and humorous.  Show mutual respect and show others you care.  Try to build a respectable platform from the start.  It’s hard to recover a reputation after a slipup.

Creating a web presence and maintaining a high standard of continuity is the meat and potatoes of online communication for marketing today.


  1. Martin_Cooney on August 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Social networking really is all about sharing and sharing the gift of responsibility as well. Sure make a bit of that about yourself but you know how you feel when you listen to someone continue on about themselves all time – you can’t wait to leave.
    Same with social networks – it’s social so use the same rules and you’ll go far.

  2. innovativenurse on August 3, 2012 at 8:06 am

     @Martin_Cooney That’s right. I think about myself at a gathering where people are face to face. If I stood there and talked about myself or my projects all of the time without inquiring or engaging in other peoples’ professional or personal successes then that would come across as pretty self-absorbed. 
    Thanks for stopping by. 

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