Category Archives: Spam

The 4 Types Of Social Media Spammers – Which One Are You?

One of the worst things about spam, whether traditional email spam or today’s more prevalent social media spam is that it preys on 4 types of social media spammersthe 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.

The Objective

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

What people think of you when you spam in social mediaThough 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.

 

 

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Filed under Audience, Brand, marketers, Marketing, Social Media, Spam

Relationships Are Built On A Foundation Of Trust

One of the things I think marketers forget about social media is that trust is a key factor in establishing, building and maintaining trust. It is the on AND offline foundation that all relationships are built from, yet so many do not consciously take this into account.

Social media relationships and trustWhat is Trust?

Trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing.

In a word, trust is confidence.

Taking it a bit further, trust is the underlying ability to rely on someone or something. it is a foundational element in all relationships, but THE crucial component in business. Trust is underlying because it is conscious and unconscious. It comes from the thinking consideration, yet is always behind the scenes affecting our gut level processes.

Some Thoughts On Trust:

– It is my firm belief that trust is earned, not expected or demanded.

– Trust comes from doing, not saying what you will do, but showing who you are and what your brand is about through action.

– Doing is the catalyst that either builds or destroys trust with ones following, community and prospects.

Trust In Business and Social Media:

Business relationships can be described as a connection with a person or brand that includes emotional and personal affinity, appreciation and trust. In today’s business world, the lines between personal and business relationships are highly blurred. In social media marketing they no longer exist in the traditional sense, in that business IS personal on many levels. Relationships often drive the connections, communication and willingness to investigate or buy.

Three Stages Of Relationship Trust:

In social media marketing, there are three distinct stages of trust that brands and marketers need to be aware of.

Establishing – Whether a social connection will be established is often governed by first impressions. Similar to the offline world, a bad first impression will result in no further engagement with a brand, person or company representative.

In social media there are numerous components that make or break a first impression and determine whether you are going to be able to establish the beginnings of a relationship. Some of those are:

  • First contact: The first contact you have with a connection sets the stage. If that contact is spam, you have likely killed any possible relationship. What is spam in social media? Anything that tags or direct messages a connection while pitching what you do. There’s nothing worse to kill an opportunity of building a relationship.
  • Bio: Think of your social media profile/bio as your store front. If your windows are dirty, your message unclear or anything looks bad, your prospect won’t bother walking in the door.
  • Stream: Most people in social media check a new connection’s stream to see how they conduct themselves. They look to see if you are spamming or only posting about yourself or if you are engaging, sharing valuable content. What they see in your stream is what they believe they can expect in a relationship with your or your brand on social media. Remember – people are watching!

Building

  • Value: Building relationships is predicated on value. Do you provide selfless, relevant value to your audience? Do you share their content? Do you help them achieve their goals?
  • Grateful: Do you show you’re grateful when your relationships help you? When they share your content, do you thank them? Just as in real-life, showing thankfulness to relationships builds those relationships. Social media is no different.
  • Response: One of the most important ways to build relationships once they are established is to respond. All too often people ignore mentions, questions or conversations. Nothing does more to kill furthering of a relationship is to be “too good” to respond.

Maintaining – Maintaining trust you have earned is a continuation of repeated impressions and the three components of relationship building. It is active and ongoing, constantly being evaluated by others subconsciously. Your conscious choice to engage in relationship building advances the opportunity with the connections you have and dramatically increases them with the relationships you have in process.

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Filed under Audience, Brand, Community, connection, Content, Engagement, Followers, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Spam

The New Twitter Bots Taking Over – What you need to know

Over the last few weeks I have been noticing a new type of Twitter bot that has been rapidly increasing its activity. The newest series of bots do not appear to be the normal malicious virus linking type of old, but something quite different. After tracking what I’ve been seeing for a couple of weeks now, I decided to share what I’ve been seeing and offer some suggestions of how we can combat this added noise together.

Why is this important and how do harmless bots affect you anyway?

First, I think it is important to explain why this should matter to you. In fact having bots that are pushing an incredible amount of useless noise into the social graph (namely Twitter in this case) does affect you and here’s why. Twitter is a linear social network that displays status updates as they are posted by users. Unlike Facebook, which uses an algorithm to determine what posts to display in your newsfeed, Twitter simply displays posts as they are made, then those posts scroll down through the millions of others posts being made by others.

Having bots (virus laden or not) designed to automate posting of useless content, graphics or other posts to the Twittersphere only clutters newsfeeds and adds to the noise, making your posts less likely to be seen and therefore less effective. It is my belief that whether it is a bot like I am discussing today, or any other useless posting automation such as “my most influential followers”, “welcome tweets” or “I’ve added your tweet to my useless RebelMouse page”, all distract from the effectiveness of the Twitter platform.

Secondly, there could possibly be something far more sinister going on here. More on that in my summary below.

What I have found about these new bots:

Twitter Bot ProfileI have noticed a pattern of these new bots. As you can see in the example pic to the right, they all seem to have some very similar traits that are slightly different from what I have noticed over the years. Here are some of what I have noticed:

About the Profiles:

1) They all usually have what appears to be a lifelike name.

2) They all usually have what appears to be a lifelike bio.

3) Most seem to have a USA location.

4) They never have a website link.

5) They all seem to have what appears to be a lifelike human photo that is not sexually charged as with other bots.

6) Many of the accounts show they were created some time ago in 2013

7) They all have virtually no followers and/or follow very few accounts.

About the Posts:

Twitter Bot Tweet1) They often tag people they’re not following in their posts.

2) Their posts are clearly an automated compilation of pseudo retweets or comments on other people’s tweets.

3) They never include the link that was in the original post they are retweeting.

4) They sometimes upload an unrelated graphic for some of their tweets.

5) All of their tweets show they are post from “Mobile Web (M2)”. Meaning that they are using mobile protocols to send the tweets rather than standard web related functions. (THIS is extremely rare with most Twitter virus bots)

6) None of their posts are spam, virus links or contain URL links to various websites.

7) A percentage of their posts are text only and seem to be randomly generated sentences designed to get someone to engage with “What? or Huh?”. Ask what they are talking about or something along those lines.

A Summary and My Theory of what could be going on here:

The volumes of tweets coming from these clearly related bots is quit concerning. Of all of the bot incidents I have witnessed on the Twitter platform, this series is easily the highest quantity and diversity of content, tagging and so on. The sheer volume of the noise they are adding and the fact that many of the account creation dates are older, unlike most bots is making them fly under Twitters normal radar flagging.

But is there something more sinister going on here? I think that might be a possibility…

If some hackers have figured out how to flood Twitter with bot generated posting that can fly underneath Twitters radar better than anything else attempted before, using mobile protocols instead of web, are they simply perfecting their methods for something else? My concern is that these bots are potentially far more dangerous because the unique approaches they have taken, the volume they are able to generate and most importantly that they are more difficult for the average or inexperienced Twitter user to recognize as a bot. These culminate to create a perfect storm for a later virus campaign that could have massive implications to millions of people should my hunch be proven accurate.

So be aware these bots clusters are there, learn to recognize them and watch for changes that include URL links that are designed to execute a future mass virus attack through Twitter.

What can we do about it?

There are things we can and should be doing about this as responsible Twitter users, both to reduce the bot noise on the platform and for the potential security risk that it could potentially represent.

In short, report all Twitter accounts that you see that have these patterns. The more reporting for spam that is done on an account early in their tweeting cycle, the more of a red flag it is to Twitters systems. The longer an account goes without having numerous spam reports, the less likely Twitters security algorithms and teams are to catch it.

Have you noticed the flood of these specific bots on Twitter recently?

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Filed under Content, Social Media, Spam, Twitter

How To: Expand Local Business Social Reach Through Content Creation

Even the smallest brands and individual online marketers need to create relevant content for their target audience. It’s about creating thought leadership in certain topics, staying top of mind with your audience and driving traffic to your site through your blog or other social platforms.

Expanding Social ReachThere are many types of content creation that marketers and small brands can and should be doing. Some of the types of created content are; Blog posts, video, images, graphics, infographics, email newsletters, landing pages, events. Most of these kinds of content creation can be done with limited resources, using smart phones or by outsourcing to experienced small agencies.

Expand Your Social Reach:

One of the important and often overlooked reasons consistent content creation is so important is that it provides the opportunity for local businesses and small marketers to expand their social reach. By consistently creating content that is relevant and valuable to your target audience, you also generate content that other social media users want to share.

At the heart of effective social media marketing is sharing or “curating” relevant content from others. In fact, when done properly, about 80% of what a social media marketer posts should come from sources other than themselves. This means that they need recent, relevant content on a daily basis and a lot of it!

Some How To’s:

  • Be consistent with at least 1-2 blog posts per week. Make it easy by using images and videos you capture in and around your daily work and personal activities as the basis for your posts.
  • Optimize your posts around locality and topics both your audience and content curators are interested in.
  • Share your content with hashtags both your audience and content curators are using and following around your locality and topics.
  • Write for legacy, not always events. In other words, create content that is not event-driven but is timeless and can be posted, read and consumed long-term, not just for a specific date or event.
  • Identify and build relationships with social media accounts that post and share about local content frequently. By developing these relationships, they will likely find and share your content as well.
  • On the day’s you publish your posts, schedule shares on Twitter up to 3-4 times across the day and once on other social platforms.
  • ALWAYS include at least one graphic in your posts.
  • Share the graphic from your blog post on image networks like Instagram and Pinterest with a link to the blog post it came from.
  • Share your legacy content in your social streams repeatedly over time.
  • Start conversations with your target audience when they post something that is connected to one of your recent posts. As the conversation develops you can mention a blog post you did on the topic and share the link. (when appropriate)

Some Never Ever’s:

  • Never tag people/accounts when you share it on social media. We call this spam. Earn relationships that want to share your content.
  • Don’t create content that is only and always about you, your company or what you do. Instead create content around what interests your target audience at a rate of 80% and 20% of your blog posts should be about you, your products, services and specials, etc.

Content creation can be a very effective way for local businesses to drive traffic to their website. It is best done when it adds value to the target audience and is not-self centered. Include outreach campaigns to develop relationships that need your content for their social media strategies and always thank those that mention and share your content.

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Filed under Blog, Content, content creation, Curation, Infographic, Marketing, Relationship, SEO, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Spam, Strategy

The Drastic Difference Between Social Selling And Spam

Social Selling continues to gain popularity as a term and an action within the social media marketing space. Social selling has many definitions, but I like the one by @JulioVisko in a Social Media Today article from 2012 that says “staying connected with your prospects and build a relationship with them that goes beyond a vendor toward a trusted advisor.” The key word here is relationship, not selling, something often misunderstand by online marketers and brands alike.

Correct me if I am wrong, but we are all experiencing an increase in Social Selling VS Spamwhat I consider to be the opposite of social selling, under the guise of the often misunderstood phrase. Many newer social media applications are gaining popularity that purport to “find prospects that need your product/service and automate or suggest responses” that supposedly increase “engagement” and sales. Sounds really good, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

All, if not most of these applications are developed by gear-heads that have incredible programming skills, but little to no social media marketing experience or understanding. What results is the numerous @ mentions we are all experiencing when we tweet a specific word or phrase from brands, marketers and twitter accounts we have had ZERO engagement with. It’s simply a search for and respond with function that fills the social graph with noise, frustration and inappropriate sales messaging that has nothing to do with social.

Recently I had a Skype call with the CEO of one such technology company. The demo and call didn’t go very well as you can imagine, and actually degraded into an argument over what social media marketing actually is. This brilliant programmer’s company has tons of logo’s of major brand customers and news sites “validating” how awesome his technology is, which magnifies the problem even further. The individual argued that it is perfectly fine for brands and marketers to use technology to find “prospects” and @ mention them with a specific offer of their products, even if they have never followed, engaged or connected with the twitter account previously.

Well, I vehemently and respectfully disagree. Where I come from, we call that spam. You know, the unwanted and unrequested direct contact by a person or brand you don’t know, soliciting a product or service you did not want information about. Easily recognized in our email inbox, yet regrettably it is overlooked as acceptable by the inexperienced in social media.

What is social selling and how do you do it properly?

In a word, social selling is relationships. It is derived from connections and conversations within social networks with prospects for your products and services that start and end around building a long-term relationship. It is providing selfless value to your prospect community and earning the opportunity to “pitch” what you do.

Can you target prospects in social selling?

Absolutely you can and SHOULD! Use tools, searches and hashtags to find your target audience or prospects that need what you do, then connect and communicate with them about anything other than what you do. Show interest in them and what they do and most importantly ensure that the content you are sharing is interesting and relevant to THEM, not exclusively pitching what you do.

Social selling and spam are at opposite ends of the spectrum of effective social media marketing.

One is targeted, sustainable and long-term, one is not.

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Filed under App, Brand, Community, Hashtag, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Spam, Twitter

The One Social Media Rule For Business

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a list of rules to follow that were simple and clear on how and what to do for your social media marketing? Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, there are no rules for social media except one; Do Not Spam…

Social Media RulesThat single rule seems to be one of the best kept secrets from newer social media marketers as well as many that believe they are really good.

What can be considered spam?

Tagging or mentioning people in posts that are pitching or linking to your product, service, website or offer that you have not built a relationship with. On Google Plus it can also be tagging or sharing with circles directly that have not asked to be updated on your every post about yourself.

Though Google Plus and Twitter seem to be the platforms that have the highest concentration of spam tendencies, Facebook and Linkedin see their share of inbox spam messages from brand new connections or “friends” that invite you to their every event in Texas, though you live on the East coast, etc.

How can you market and promote without spamming?

A great way to think about social media marketing is that it’s a parallel universe to the real world. Would you go to a business networking event and pitch everyone you shake hands with before you even build a relationship? Of course not. You would first get to know them, etc. So think about it this way… Whatever you would do in the real world, do in your social media marketing. Whatever you wouldn’t do in the real world. don’t do in social media.

Here is a nonexclusive list that should exist within the context of how you approach social business.

1) Earn the right to discuss what you do one on one with your connections.

2) Earn the right to promote to your connections by providing selfless value in your streams and occasionally posting your marketing information in between then non-promotional content and posts. Be sure that the content you post that is not about you, is something your community is interested in.

3) Respond to and converse with your audience. You would never ignore someone in real life that introduced you to all of their business contacts or told someone about an article you told them about. Don’t ignore when it happens in social media. Thank, respond, share their content and get into conversations.

4) Social media works in real-time, so responding in real-time is crucial.

Now that we have burst your bubble about there being no social media marketing rules but one, please don’t be discouraged. Understand the ONE rule that you must follow and use these three guidelines that will help you build a framework for being effective with your social media marketing efforts without being seen as “spamming”.

Are there many other guidelines that one could follow and execute to be more and more effective with social media marketing? Indeed, there are probably tens of thousands of nuances and tips that one can learn and use. However, if you don’t follow this single rule of social media marketing, no amount of learning, tips and guidelines will ever enable you to achieve results.

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Filed under Content, Fanpage, Followers, Google Plus, Marketing, Results, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Spam, Twitter, Uncategorized