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Feb 28

Spamming: The Dark Side of Social Media

Social media is one of the most powerful ways to engage with your customers and to introduce your product to a large number of people.  Unfortunately, it can also lead you down a dark path into the world of spamming which can undo, very quickly, all the benefits that social media has to offer.  The dividing line between the two is not very distinct and as a result it is very easy to cross over into spamming without actually realizing it.

The word spam actually comes from the luncheon meat that became fodder for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  The British comedy troop often made fun of spam and one particular skit inspired the geeks that name the Internet to call unsolicited emails spam.  The term spam grew beyond emails and now almost covers any unsolicited contact for the purposes of selling a service or product.  With a definition that broad, it is easy to see how there is a blurry dividing line between good social media and spam.

When you first step foot into the social media fray you may have a meager amount of Twitter followers and not a lot of networks in place.  It is very easy to become aggressive in your quest to build up those numbers and for some that does help them grow faster.   However, there is a danger because Twitter does suspend accounts for aggressive following and/or unfollowing as they deem that to be spam related behavior.  If you keep your follows and unfollows scattered throughout the day you will be fine.  Just don’t try to follow or unfollow more than 100 in any given hour.

Facebook is even more unforgiving than Twitter and it is very easy to end up in Facebook Jail where they remove your ability to add friends or join in on Facebook chats.  The first offence is a trip to Facebook Jail for two days.  Your next offence will be for an entire week then two weeks on a third offence.  A fourth offence is often a month or possibly permanent Facebook Jail.  There is no real way to grow fast on Facebook and whenever you can get others to add you instead, you should.  I have no safe guideline for the number of friend requests that Facebook will let you get away with.  Personally I will not request any more than 10–15 a day spread out and that has been successful at keeping me out of Facebook Jail.

Obviously broadcasting your product or service to your followers is not technically spam but if you hit them with constant product pitches, you will lose some of them.  There are better ways to make sales that do not involve pitching your product.  Believe it or not, people are smart and they will figure out what you are selling without a peppering of ads.  What will sell your product is engagement.  If you provide content that creates real and meaningful engagement with your followers, you’ll have a much better chance of selling them your wares.

Getting back to real spam, if you send unsolicited mentions to people pitching your product that is actually spam and if you get reported, it could cause you to receive a suspension from Twitter.  If you want to broadcast your product, you are technically permitted to tweet it to a hashtag.  However, you will not be that effective as it once again comes back to engagement.  The non-spam way to reach people is to reach out to your target audience and make an attempt to engage them.   Content and engagement is the path of the true  social media specialist while spam is the dark side that will lead only to headaches and lots of disrespect from your followers and peers alike.

In closing I will once again ask that you check out the new Social Media Sun website that officially launches February 29th.  There is a link over there on the bottom right that will take you there.  Also feel free to drop down below to the comments as I would love to hear a few spam horror stories.  What annoys you most about spam?

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