I'm all for getting your company's name in front of as many people as possible - after all, isn't that part of the goal of engaging in social media? However, there's one thing I continue to see over and over that really bugs me.
Imagine you're out with a few friends, talking about a restaurant you recently visited. Out of nowhere, someone comes up to your group and says, "You're talking about ABC Restaurant? Let me tell you about my restaurant instead - it's great!" and continues to talk about their restaurant and why you should go there.
You'd be a little creeped out, right? It would feel like an invasion on your personal conversation, and an unwelcome intrusion.
This is how businesses need to see social media - intruding on one's conversation to pitch your own business is a no-no, and likely turns many people off.
I've seen this most times on Facebook - a good example is when I followed the conversation regarding a live chat with GoDaddy and the Honest Toddler. In the middle of the conversation, which revolved around the hilarity of the comment and speculation on what the representative was thinking, someone chimed in about how their business, a competitor to GoDaddy, was better and suggested that people who are customers of GoDaddy leave them and go to this company.
Another place I've seen this happen is on Facebook pages for news sites. The conversation could be surrounding a current news topic, and sure enough, there is always one or two that will try to pitch their business. In this case, it's mostly unrelated to the topic at hand.
Companies who do this may be trying to gain exposure; instead, they are sending the wrong message to people. This is something that I've seen all too often and for whatever reason, has become a pet peeve of mine.
If you want to get your company exposure in social media sites, join conversations that are relevant to your business, and don't "sell" your company. Post from your business page on Facebook, for example, so if people are interested in what you have to say, they can visit your page to learn more about your business.
If you want to get company exposure, use LinkedIn.
Join groups and offer relevant, insightful comments related to your industry so people can get to know the "person" behind the company.
Another way to do this is to monitor news articles and blogs in your industry and comment, using your real name and perhaps a link to your company website.
The two tactics mentioned above will go further in gaining exposure, credibility, and interest than intruding on other people's conversations.