Spam is not necessarily just about the content. You have to also consider the community – by taking into consideration both what you are communicating – it's value, and how.
Recognize the Distinctions of The Channels
Guy Kawasaki is a well-respected influence on the social networks, especially on Twitter. He is known to retweet the same message more than once a day to be sure the content reaches the widest possible audience. Some consider this spamming, a viewpoint he readily acknowledges, while not agreeing with it.
I personally agree with Guy's approach. Obviously, we are all using Twitter at different times of day, and we are doing so intermittently. Even the most popular messages only stay active in the stream for a matter of hours, which means one tweet is not likely to reach parts of the globe that may be asleep.
In contrast, I believe this behavior would be completely unacceptable within Facebook or LinkedIn, because the audience is much smaller, and your posts have a longer shelf life.
Evidently, from the noise I'm noticing on LinkedIn lately not everyone agrees. You have to make your own choices, but just be aware that as social networking continues to mature, there will be increasingly less tolerance for spamming.
Here are three ways to ensure your message is favorably received.
Respect the Volume
If you have thousands of Twitter followers, you know there is a lot of noise on that channel. So, if you want to effectively convey your message, you may need to turn up the volume. A creative way to do this is to tweet the same link with different headlines.
Here's a great post by Tim Ferris that will explain how he does this.
There is clearly much less chatter on Facebook and Linked, which is why I don't understand why anyone would want to automatically feed all of their tweets into these channels. It's too much!
When the overall community volume is lower you have to adapt your messaging accordingly
Respect the Culture
Keep in mind again that spam relates to both content and the community. Thus, what is considered valuable content on Twitter, or even Facebook, may fall flat on LinkedIn. For the most part I believe we expect links on LinkedIn to lead to solid business content.
This is why it is essential that your headlines clearly represent what you are sharing – the nature of content and its value, i.e. how one will benefit from it. This is exactly why the suggestion to – "check this out" makes me cringe. That doesn't respect the time of anyone in any community.
Seriously, all of us have followed dead-end, salesy, or spammy links far too many times. Give us a reason to click on your link.
Respect the Topic
Achieving engagement on the social networks is not easy, which is why you really have to encourage it and feed it when it starts happening. When you put a lot of work in a blog post or find something really useful or cool to share with your community, you have earned the favorable comments that follow.
But it happens – there is occassionally someone that veers off topic, completely driving the energy out of the discussion, and essentially robbing you of what you have earned. Don't be that person. Worse yet, don't be one that tries to steer everyone over to your blog to read your perspective.
I think it's alright to say you blogged about the same topic yesterday. And if one is so inclined, they can swing on over to check it out.
I'm remembering recently having a nice conversation with a small business colleague when another colleague with more authority abruptly cut in and completely changed the subject, essentially giving me notice that her perspective mattered more than mine. Kinda rude, wouldn't you say?
The best way to respect your communities is to simply do what you would do when you are face-to-face – be respectful of everyone on all levels.
Is it possible to miscommunicate or get excited and cut in on a conversation? Sure, we've all done it. That's also why you should never hesitate to use the social networks to apologize for doing so.
I've seen that done, and because it is so rare, it typically earns an even higher level of respect from the community.
How about you? Are you noticing more or less spam on your social networks? What do you consider to be spam? Leave a comment below to share.
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Until tomorrow, Jeff
Photo Credit: Brent