One of the worst things about spam, whether traditional email spam or today’s more prevalent social media spam is that it preys on the inexperienced and most vulnerable user. They typically don’t know what they don’t know and therefore are easily taken advantage of by others. New social media users are more likely to click links in spam messages, reinforcing the spam tactics to those that use them. Likewise, malicious scam or virus spam within social media, continues to hit the new user at a much higher frequency.
Unlike email spam, social media spam does not require skill to bypass technological barriers designed to prevent spammers from executing their craft. Thankfully the average person is unlikely to be able to hack unprotected email servers, obtain spam email lists and deploy spam email campaigns that invade the privacy and inboxes of millions of people.
Social media spam is particularly harmful due to the low barrier to entry afforded the spammer, thus requiring near zero technical knowledge or skill to take part in the practice. In fact, the majority of spam on social media appears to be done by new marketers that just don’t yet understand what they are doing.
To those that have not taken the time or invested the resources to learn proper social media marketing, I wanted to share a recent situation and the real and overwhelmingly negative reaction that most people have to spam tactics. The intent is to show you what people on the receiving end of your social media spam (intentional or not) feel about you, and hopefully open your eyes to how damaging your methods are to your brand, reputation and results. We will then detail the 4 kinds of social media spammers.
Recent Spam Example
Last week I received a friend request on LinkedIn from a “Senior Brand Manager” of a U.S. based marketing firm that describes itself as a total online marketing provider for businesses. Upon reviewing their profile and recent activity, I decided to accept the friend request as they appeared to be an online professional that would understand the social media industry of which I am passionately involved.
Within two minutes of my friend request acceptance I received a two page, private inbox message from this individual pitching their myriad of programming and digital marketing services. Frustrated with the self-titled Senior marketer, I replied to them with my feelings about their spam tactics and also posted the following on a few of my social accounts.
“FYI – you’re no marketing professional when you send a 2 page sales pitch inmail on LinkedIn 2 mins after your friend request is accepted”
What People Think Of Spammers
Though my social media post about this situation received a lot of comments, likes and conversation, the thread on Facebook provides a linear timeline of the feelings and emotions that recipients of social media spam feel. The large graphic on the right is a partial screen capture of that conversation that I highly recommend you read. You will get the sense of the damage you can do to your brand and reputation whether or not you realize what you are doing is social media spam or not. (if you’d like to read the actual Facebook post and comments, click here).
The 4 Types Of Social Media Spammers:
1) Newbie: Monkey See, Monkey Do – The most prevalent perpetrators of social media spam are newbies. Made up of new technology startups, marketers, or even new social media tools produced by people who have never successfully done social media marketing at all, the newbie group of spammers have invested little to no time learning social media marketing, they simply watch what other newbies are doing and copy them, thinking this is how it’s done. Though the majority of this group are not evil or intent on using spam tactics, they don’t know what they don’t know and therefore perpetuate what they see others doing.
2) I Don’t Care – Another spammer type is the marketer or individual that just doesn’t care. They are going to spam regardless of the negative feedback they receive or the lack of real results. All they care about is “getting their message out” in the fastest way possible, without regard for others. One of the most annoying spammer types in my opinion.
3) The “Expert” – This group of spammers can be the most harmful. Made up of people who think they know what they are doing and do not, or worse they purposefully use spam to increase their YouTube subscribers, followers or Facebook page likes. They are most damaging to the industry because they appear to newer users to be credible and experienced, or worse they know better and intentionally do it using alter accounts to increase their traffic and perception in the industry. I experienced this first hand with someone I personally know recently. Talk about being disappointed…
4) Just Plain Evil – Lastly are the evil spammers that knowingly and intentionally use spam to spread viruses, promote other accounts or sell purchased followers, fans or likes. I think we all understand this kind of spammer without the need to detail it further.
Examples Of Social Media Spam
Without making a huge list, here is a partial list of the most common tactics that are viewed as spam.
- Automated or manual Twitter direct messages that promote you, your product/service or website.
- Promotional or sales related LinkedIn messages sent to either new connections or those you have not built any relationship.
- Tagging people on Twitter messages that promote you, your product/service or website.
I highly suggest that if you fit into any of the spammer types listed in this post, that you spend some time understanding what social media is and how to do it properly. I recommend that you recognize the negative sentiment you are creating around your brand or reputation and cease all spamming activity that is driving that sentiment. Lastly, you should empathize with the people who are being spammed continually and be part of the change in this industry, instead of part of the problem.
If you are a social, marketing or business professional that understands this issue, I would like to empower you to also be part of the change in the industry. It’s easy to ignore, disconnect or delete accounts made up of the newbie spammers, but instead we should be educating and leading them. I suggest we all do a gentle nudge and maybe even link them to this post so at least they will finally know what they don’t know. From there, the responsibility lies on them.