Could I Be a Social Spammer?

A colleague of mine, whose insight I respect, told me the other day that he thought I was spamming my followers. At the very least, he said, I was treating them without dignity and as if they were idiots.

Here’s the backstory:

When I publish blogs postings, such as this one, I like to release them to the social channels I am participating. Namely, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Linkedin. Of course there’s also the RSS feed. Feeds are automatically created when an article or posting is published. That’s one of the many nice things about blogging on WordPress.

In theory, that means there’s five different ways someone could come across my ramblings. Seems like a good strategy, right? After all, I’ve done a lot of research on blogging and social media over the last several years, and just about every opinion (I’ve seen) adheres to the idea that it’s just plain smart to promote yourself in any way possible. And, because I’m in the business, as one might say, I know by staying on top of my audience that there’s little duplication of followers across the different social networks.

However, as my colleague pointed out, what if someone is following my blog though the RSS feed…and they follow me on Twitter? What if they’re also following on Google+?

If that’s the case, they would get my new posting notice three times, and as he asserts, they’re getting spammed. Not only that, he says they’re being treated disrespectfully, as if I think they’re so stupid they won’t realize I’m feeding them the same stuff over different mediums.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

A counter argument I posed with him went like this:

What if on my drive home I hear a BMW ad on the radio? Then, as I’m watching TV that evening I see a BMW ad with a similar message. Later, I’m on my iPad reading news on a site like CNN and encounter another BMW ad. Is BMW spamming me? Or, is that just the nature of modern day marketing?

Wouldn’t the process I go through to promote this blog be the same? Wouldn’t my followers simply ignore something they’ve seen already?

What do you think?

Should a blogger limit or restrict the avenues they use to distribute their blog so they don’t overfeed or spam their audience?

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3 thoughts on “Could I Be a Social Spammer?

  1. I have both personal and professional (i.e. corporate/marketing/business) facades for my social networks. On the personal level, I prefer to remain respectful and treat my followers with intelligence. I’m only looking for people that care, are engaged, teach me something new in return, enrich my life, etc. I would never spam or market to these followers. In other words, this is the very same ethics if I met someone new at a company, party, etc. Otherwise, I would come off arrogant instead of welcoming. On the professional level, I understand that sending the same message across multiple social networks would make sense because you are trying to market your company, brand, etc. I don’t like it because it dehumanizes the company (and in this day and age, this is not what you want) but understand that if that is your game then people following will most likely tune into the social network that they prefer and tune out the rest of the noise that is duplication. With all that said, I would still consider sending the same message across multiple social networks as spam. Same analogy with using radio, TV, etc. It’s almost like a lazy way of marketing because you are doing the work to write the message once and duplicate (spam) it across multiple networks. I would challenge you to think about creating unique messages for each network individually in order to different yourself from competitors. People will take notice and word will spread.

    Think about bands you love that had a strong grassroots following, then became lazy, sold out, and are no longer awesome like they were in the beginning. Stick to your roots, your passions, your ethics, and have a strong moral compass. Yes, it’s harder but anyone doing this by now should know there is no free passes and building trust and loyalty takes time but the payoff is huge.

    Here’s another way to think about it. Who would you rather follow? Someone that posts poignant but thoughtful messages or someone that is only concerned about pimping their company/brand. I definitely know who is going to grab that limited slice of my precious time.

    • Excellent comments….and very thought provoking. You make a lot of sense and I can definitely see where you are coming from. I do think the idea of creating distinct messages for each network is a very good approach. Are you suggesting that you can do that and still promote the same topic? I look forward to having this discussion further.

      • Yes, with a little a creative dynamism, you make for a rich experience on one or many social networks. By treating each network uniquely you can get people to follow and even encourage participation on all social networks that you support. If people are talking about your activities across multiple networks (each with its own flavor of content), you can spin a strong web of links and cross-talk that will be greater than the sum of its parts. …and Google will like you for it. It’s all about spinning a vast and strong spiderweb of information, links, news, content, etc.

        That said, I do think it is important that you have one “official” source/stream of information. For me, that would be your web site. The thing that you own and control completely. Essentially, your RSS feed. Whether you call it “news”, “blog”, doesn’t really matter. People just need to know there is one, official fire hose of information. Remember, while social networks are fun and exciting, none of us really owns the content after it gets posted (roughly speaking). So I would treat these different social outlets as ancillary avenues of information that supplement and enrich but don’t replace your official source of info.

        If you think of it in this manner, then the possibilities for creating a fun and exciting experience for your customers/fans for all or just one social network(s) then you are establishing yourself a powerful entity to pay attention to and take notice of that engages and doesn’t wastes your followers time. …and you’ll earn a good reputation – one that will be self promoting!

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