It's Gut Check Time

10 Ways To Know If You’re A Social Media Spammer

23
10 Ways To Know If You’re A Social Media Spammer

No one wants to think of themselves as a spammer. Because spamming is what other people do. People who are solely “out for themselves”.  But this list might surprise you. Are you more of a spammer than you thought? Take my quick assessment below.

 

According to many common definitions, spam is any kind of unwanted communication.  We typically think of it as emails, text messages or instant messages. Cold calling can also be considered a form of spamming.

 

But with social media, the door is wide open. It is such an easy way to connect with so many new people.  It’s tempting to speed up the process of attracting and engaging people. Especially when something with such a low commitment (a follow on Twitter, for example) allows the “followed” so many options to communicate openly.

 

So if you are unsure if you are spamming people (intentionally or not), read this list and check your score at the bottom.

 

You are spamming if you:

 

1. Send automated direct messages on Twitter to anyone who follows you. Yuck.

 

2. Visit LinkedIn groups, leave your latest blog post as a discussion and leave – never to return. If you do this, you are a seagull.

 

3. Post photos you haven’t taken (i.e. stock photos) and post them on Instagram as your own.  Or you post photos and then tell me I can find your photo somewhere online (advertisement).

 

4. Buy single shares in people all day long (and start again the next day) on Empire Avenue just to expose your brand or business to people

 

5. Send emails through LinkedIn to all your connections with a “special offer”. Don’t spam your LinkedIn connections. I don’t think I’ve given you that permission by connecting with you. Especially if these communications are all I get.

 

6. Send promotional tweets with seven or eight hash tags (or as many as you can fit). #badform #boring #unwanted #hardontheeyes #etc

 

7. Tag people and businesses on Facebook to make your “marketing message” (vs. an attempt to engage thoughtfully) more interruptive. Instead of this, why not work to develop a strategic content calendar and earn your views?

 

8. Automate a group #ff list (follow friday) on Twitter so that everyone you follow gets a mention once a week.  Next time you get mentioned as part of a list for a #ff, go to that person’s stream and see how many others have received similar treatment.  Feel less special? Be smart about using Twitter.

 

9. Overuse the automation tools available.  Everyone uses some form of automation to help get the word out more efficiently (a Foursquare  or Instagram update that you’d like to share with more people). Automation’s not the issue.  It’s those who use it too much.

 

10. Find the most popular place to be (a big LinkedIn discussion, a blog post by someone important) and drop a link to your important something without contributing a thing of value. If you do this you are a vulture.

 

So now I need you to do one of three things:

 

1. Argue with me – tell me I’m wrong on one or more of these examples.

 

2. Give me another example – your pet peeve issue with people who spam

 

3. Calculate your score – give yourself 1 point for every spammy thing you do:

 

If your score is 8-10, you are a spammer and you scare me. I am going to unfollow you today.

 

If your score is 5-7, you might want to back off and let people find your great content (or personality) for a change

 

If your score is 2-4, you are at some risk of frustrating people but perhaps you are flying under the radar

 

If your score is 0-1, you are doing it right and likely building a more sustainable following

 

Well…how did you do? Share your score (if you dare) in the comments. 🙂

 

Thanks Sean MacEntee for the image via Flickr

Tim Tyrell-Smith focuses on marketing, brand development and business strategy for emerging and established organizations. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim started his marketing career with Nestle USA and has since worked in product management on premium brands including Nestle Quik, Tree Top Apple Juice, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. He was most recently Vice President of Marketing for a private equity owned food company in Southern California. He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Tim Tyrell-Smith – who has written posts on Fix, Build And Drive™.


About the Author

Tim Tyrell-Smith focuses on marketing, brand development and business strategy for emerging and established organizations. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim started his marketing career with Nestle USA and has since worked in product management on premium brands including Nestle Quik, Tree Top Apple Juice, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. He was most recently Vice President of Marketing for a private equity owned food company in Southern California. He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Comments (23):

  1. Tim – In general, the spamming activity on LinkedIn troubles me far more than anything happening via Twitter – though several of the things you listed are quite silly, for sure.

    Unfortunately, some of the most irritating behavior seems to come from the “build your brand” crowd. For some reason, people have been led to believe that the more they post, the more they are positioning themselves as a “subject-matter expert.” UGGHHH! I’m pretty sure many of them are looking foolish in the process of trying to convey “expertise” that isn’t quite there…

    Sadly, the majority of those people should probably revisit the old adages: “a closed mouth gathers no foot” or “better to remain quiet and be thought a fool, than open mouth and remove all doubt” and translate that concept to their keyboard addiction of hearing themselves speak or seeing themselves write.

    Another item I would add to the list is the habit of cross-posting the same content in multiple LI groups simultaneously. The problem is many people share the same industry or community interests and thus are seeing the same crap, I mean wonderful information several times. Usually, it wasn’t worth looking at the first time, so seeing it posted over and over is just plain obnoxious.

    The other issue I see often is when someone seems to feel compelled to “one up” other discussion group participants. Just recently I saw this happen when a person asked a question, another person (clearly misinformed) answered and gave “questionable” advice. I posted an alternate view (directed at the person that asked the question) along with and explanation of that point.

    Next, the original answer provider proceeded to push their own idea as if they had to have the last word. It was rather pathetic, especially since their lack of awareness of the topic was clearly showing a gigantic credibility gap and they actually contradicted their own prior comment in the process.

    In addition, they then moved the conversation away from the original topic, with a “yeah but” kind of diversion to a separate issue. Again, just because someone wants to give the impression of having expertise, doesn’t mean that’s what comes across…

    On Twitter I do see plenty of people re-posting the same content over and over as well. I don’t mind on occasion, re-sharing a prior article, blog or link, but certain people take this to the extreme. I’m guessing they have some automated retweet tool making that happen so it just spews out recycled content on a 24/7 schedule.

    I’m sure I’m guilty of things that aren’t widely appreciated as well, but I’m generally harmless 😉

    ~KB @TalentTalks

  2. Hey Kelly –

    Thanks for all those great examples. I agree re: posting the same article in a ton of groups – I know why they do it but those who are active in the industry will wonder why they are being over-exposed.

    And I like, you have a few vices as well but try to limit any automation to things that help me be more efficient vs. overloading a platform with the “Tim show”. 🙂

  3. Tim:
    Good points, all. Seem so obvious, yet so many do it wrong. Happy to say I got a 0.
    One of my pet peeves is when I follow someone on one platform and immediately get an automated reply to follow them on another platform. (Especially twitter DMs “thanks for the follow, please like my page of facebook for more awesome crap”). How about I get to know you here first and if I like you, I’ll check out your other platforms?
    Mike @mikekmcclure

    • Hey Mike – Yeah, I’m right there with you. It just feels so painfully inauthentic to ask to connect on Facebook at such an early stage of an online relationship. You are right on with that one. Thanks…

  4. I got 1 – ashamed that I’m a seagull. Can you think of another way of sharing your blog posts in LinkedIn groups?

    • Hey Alice – Well, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

      Actually, the problem isn’t sharing the post, it’s your intention in doing so. If the only reason you are sharing is to drive traffic to your blog, you are “using” the group for purely selfish purposes. And if you are sharing to every group in which you are a member, you are compounding the problem. Partly because of what Kelly said above (group members will have to see your post two or three times as they are likely members of other related groups where you have shared your post).

      A a group owner and manager, here’s what I expect:

      – If you post in my group, you’d better come back and see if anyone has liked, commented on or otherwise engaged with your content. If someone has a follow-up question, you better answer it. And you can’t pitch them publicly if your blog is tied to a service of some kind.

      – You should email me as the group owner and ask if I have any rules about discussions and content.

      – That you will be discerning (i.e. if you post 5 days a week on your blog, you won’t try to share all 5 in my group) – my advice is to pick one, two max that you think is very relevant and share those.

      – Come to the group for other reasons than just posting your content – if you do (to answer questions and participate in other discussions – not just yours), you’ll establish more credibility and your posts will get more action.

      Not all group managers care – but I do. And not all group members will help reduce the spam (most are not willing to flag a post for being inappropriate or selfish promo material).

      So pick fewer groups to post in, connect with the group manager and be a part of the community.

      That’s my advice…helpful?

      • Yes, Tim, thanks, that was very helpful.

  5. I have found that the worst spammers that craft a LinkedIn message to connect when in fact it is an ad / invitation to their services. Gotten a bunch of those lately. Or the people who connect then ask for a recommendation. Are you kidding me? As for the point about exporting one’s entire LinkedIn network into a spreadsheet then sending salesy emails – that one was spot-on. What on earth are these people thinking??? I actually called someone I knew on it, and he got ANGRY with me; he felt entitled that because we were connected, he had the right to add me to his promotional email list. That goes against LinkedIn’s terms, I believe. Sigh.

    • Yeah – my process with LinkedIn now is to send a note back to see what they are up to before connecting. If the next message is that sales offer, I’m out! Crazy what people think is OK… unfortunately I think any mature online tool is going to get corrupted. 🙁

  6. Completely agree with all of these things (ESPECIALLY RULE #1!!!!)

    Also, I’d like to add that anyone guilty of #3 (Instagram/Stock Photo) could find you in a serious hole for plagiarism and/or copyright infringement. So not only would one be a spammer, they’d also be committing fraud. Just a thought.

    • Interesting point – hadn’t thought of that re: fraud but this IS the wild west – everybody’s using every thing – theirs or not…

  7. Dear Tim
    I like to think I do not score on your scale at all, however not so sure that is totally true as I do post the same message on a number of none connected places, theses are always my view – which is somewhat unique – to medical postings. Always I feel I am making a contribution. Many of these can be seen on my open Face Book page Peter Smith Talking Cures with the original comment included. Would I be correct under this admission to still score 0.

    Can you add another line? which I feel ought to be number 1. “I am resending this to get market coverage and until I get sufficient followers.” In fairness though I have only seen one person/company do this, I did explain to them but they continued.

    Best wishes

    Peter

    • Hi Peter – I think it is a fairly common practice for there to be a level of repeat on some social networks (e.g. Twitter) due to the fact that so many of our posts are only seen by a precious few. However, you need to be careful that you do not cross the line. If you have an important message or post that you want people to see, you can post it more than once in a day – it is likely that most will only see it once anyway, if at all. I would not add the other line explaining this as I think it is unnecessary.

      It would be fair to say that those of us using social media with a purpose (not just socializing here) will have some “spammy” moments – some by mistake and some because we’re young/innocent (!). In the end I think my score (and the minimum for most in this category) will be a .5). None are perfect. 🙂

  8. Dear Tim

    Many thanks for your response to which I agree with, especially the part about repeating – say daily, something I never do. Although it may appear that way due to the way the various media systems work.

    When one looks at the world of people ill or in pain as an innovator in the understanding and treatment of pain I feel I do have an important message which is so many times suppressed by those who do not have a secure understanding of illness and pain and have either Kudos or Profit to lose.

    If it is acceptable I humbly accept the score of .5 and thank you for your time.

    Best wishes

    Peter

    • .5 it is. And I agree that if you are able to establish yourself as a valuable resource and expert on your subject, people will allow you an extra posting here or there…

  9. Dear Tim

    Thank you kind Sir. Nuff said.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  10. Thanks Tim, glad to meet you on the spamming world.
    How to kill spam with my own hands?

  11. […] number of issues with it. Like many of the “influence” sites, it is played by masters (social media spammers) and requires a lot of time. Oh, and my ability to help people there? Not much opportunity. The […]

  12. […] number of issues with it. Like many of the “influence” sites, it is played by masters (social media spammers) and requires a lot of time. Oh, and my ability to help people there? Not much opportunity. The […]

  13. Oh dear, I have automated ‘thanks for the follow’ messages on my twitter account. Must switch those off today! At least that’s it though, and I’ll use the others as a check list to ensure I don’t stray into spam territory.

    Thanks for the hints.

    • Hi Rebecc – At best auto DMs on Twitter are ignored/not read. At worst, they harm your brand. Best to not use them…

  14. […] view traditional mail as less spammy than most other forms of digital communication. It’s also more convenient because it can […]

%d bloggers like this: