Let’s stop pretending that spammy messages and tactics are social

Don’t you love it when you join a really great Facebook group? A place where you can meet with other like minded individuals and have a great conversation? A place where you can share ideas and content and hash out issues? A place where you feel safe from some of the less than social tactics bandying about in the “social business” stratosphere? Me too.

And then it happens…BUZZKILL.

“Can someone please like my page? It’s about underwater basketweaving and I need one more like to get my custom URL.”

Commence heavy sighs, disgruntled grumbles and eye rolling. It’s okay. Take your time. You can read the rest of the post when you’re done.

Have you earned the right to ask for a favor?

First and foremost, sweetie, this is the kind of plea you should send out to your friends and family, not a group you “hopefully” joined for credible and on topic discussion and content sharing. Sadly, we know there are plenty less than savvy social media managers that blanket join groups for this exact purpose. With the expectation of building their own numbers, rather than taking part in mutual discussion that benefits the group, above and beyond themselves.

By Paul Martin Lester (Author's own work.) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThere’s no specific group of social media “types” engaging in this kind of behavior? We can’t blame a certain demographic. It’s not just pages with fewer than 25 fans. With Facebook’s recent crackdown on fake accounts, and the launch of sites and apps that ascertain which Twitter followers are real and which are fake, we are seeing a large group of people standing up for “doing and acting right” when it comes to engaging in social business.

Doing and acting right? Yes. Good old right and wrong. The same young lady who posted her need for one more like would, probably, never consider sending out a large spam email. She probably knows that’s not cool and could even get her in trouble with her email provider. But, I’m guessing she isn’t looking at her group post in the same light.

She should.

Textbook. Spam.

What she did was spam a group. She stalked a group of individuals with whom she had no real relationship, no real common ground hoping to gain without giving anything in return. Not cool. I’m hoping she learned something about how simply WRONG this was when her post was quickly and handily deleted by the group’s manager. We can only hope.

Just like someone adding me to their daily eBlast list after I downloaded a “free” whitepaper (don’t do that either), this young woman made a poor choice and engaged in spammy behavior. The kind of behavior that is causing a lot of skepticism and doubt about social business. To engage in this kind of activity and behavior and at the same time call oneself a social media “expert” is anathema to many of us who work hard to build relationships, who give and share without expectations of an immediate “return” or get.

Were I friends with this young woman, I could probably look at her personal profile and see a long list of groups she joined, probably recently, with the same goal in mind. That both saddens and irritates me. Yes, we all look for some return, some ROI in all that we do and build with our social business pursuits. But the misuse of groups, and tweet chats and Facebook like parties with these kinds of mercenary, it’s all about me, attitudes can put a damper on the enthusiasm of even the most effervescent social business practitioner.

Relationships are two-way. Social business is about relationship building. Put the “me” first mentality behind you and get involved in some discussions. The back and forth, give and take will yield you greater results than the sneaky spammy behaviors that are currently being called out.


The original article “STOP IT! Stalking, Spamming & Stealth Activities Disguised as Social Business” by Mallie Hart was published on the Media Barista website
Photo by Paul Martin Lester (Author’s own work.) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Mallie Hart
Social media and social business enthusiast. Long time graphic designer. Avid crusher of books, coffee and tennis balls. Unapologetic music snob. Deeply involved in taking the reins of social business back into the hands of those willing to do it right.
  • http://twitter.com/anitahovey Anita Hovey

    AMEN. “Have you earned the right to ask for a favour?” Just had to have that convo with someone on LinkedIn this week… he thought he deserved an endorsement even though we’d never met, never worked together, never even had a conversation!

  • http://twitter.com/bowden2bowden Randy Bowden

    It’s like those DM’s on twitter that I have become numb too. The more I work in the social space the more I see that just generates noise in my head. It is hard to engage and build a relationship and hopefully exchange with some insight or have a healthy debate because of the rush to game a number. Sad, so many are losing out on what is such a powerful opportunity to cultivate learning conversations.

    • http://twitter.com/cartooninperson Ashley Ashbee

      Sometimes I wonder if people want to be anything BUT noise.

      • http://twitter.com/collectivess Social Solutions

        Some people mistake noise for conversation and connection. Sad, isn’t it?

        • http://twitter.com/cartooninperson Ashley Ashbee

          It’s SO sad. So many missed opportunities.

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

    Social media has given many a sense of self-entitlement. “No one is looking at me, so it is acceptable. I am hidden from view.” The big problem with that behavior is that it dismisses responsibility and respect. Good luck with your credibility afterwards.

    • http://twitter.com/cartooninperson Ashley Ashbee

      Entitlement, yes! Many people don’t even try to EARN a relationship, and certainly not on merit. I think a lot of people think social media is just a shortcut for relationships, when it’s actually the opposite. The rules and reasons behind in person etiquette apply online as well. That’s why it’s called SOCIAL media.

      • http://twitter.com/collectivess Social Solutions

        Cendrine and Ashley, you both hit on key and crucial ideas. It’s work to connect and then even more work to build and maintain a relationship. Shortcuts always come back to bite you in the butt.

        • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

          Absolutely! I agree with both of you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1027872075 Rick Clark

    I’m believing more and more that the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar is right, that we’re foolish to believe we can maintain many more than 150 meaningful relationships. Cognitively, we’re just not built for it. It is from the chaff we’ve created, friending and liking as if there were no limits, that the unwanted intrusions come.

  • http://twitter.com/LTPR LT Public Relations

    Great post. Since the beginning of time, SPAM has never been an effective way of building relationships. Spamming is a lazy way to build relationships. To those who do relationship building for a living know the painstaking time and energy that go into building every relationship. Its better to have these people over your social media, then the intern looking only to increase “likes” and followers.

  • http://twitter.com/collectivess Social Solutions

    Wow, really thrilled with the conversation Jim’s repost of my article has generated.

  • http://twitter.com/SusanWJackson Susan Wenner Jackson

    Love the post and totally agree. Side note: What plugin are you using for your bio/links at the bottom of this post? It’s very slick :)

    • jimdougherty

      The bottom of the post is “Fanciest Author Box” – and I agree about the post – Mallie is awesome!

      • http://twitter.com/SusanWJackson Susan Wenner Jackson

        Thanks, Jim!

      • http://twitter.com/collectivess Social Solutions


    • http://twitter.com/collectivess Social Solutions

      Great plug-in. We use it on our multi-author blog. Quite worth the $10 cost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.rightside John Rightside

    I agree. but very hard to rise above the noise and spam these days. The squeaky wheel (or this case spammy one) is getting noticed. Definitely looking for a better way!