Is Twitter the new face of Spam?

With Twitter being the hottest online space at the moment, marketers are trying to crack the code on getting to twitter users.  Lets face it, Twitter is broke, and in the exact same state email was at in the early days.  Why not  try to exploit it.  We tolerate a flow of junk because its new and cool.  We can easily point to a relevant tweet to justify our obsession.  Spammers see an opportunity too and are mirroring genuine behavior. I see a number of tactics in use.  Don't be offended if you personally use these tactics for your own personal tweeting. Spammers want to look like you.  However, ask yourself if you use these tactics because you are trying to get the most out of the conversation, or are you personally trying to attract followers?  You may be a spammer. 

Follow lots of people.

Sure, you aren't really reading their content, but if you follow them, they might follow you back.  Its easy to find your targets. http://search.twitter.com will return a list.  What makes your brand look better than a gazillion followers?  Some spammers even un-follow if people don't reciprocate the follow (the nerve).  They don't want their follow/following ratio to get out of hand.. they might look like spammers.

Get lots of followers. 

If you are a spammer you need eyeballs reading your stuff and following your links. Do people read everyone they follow? The followed profiles certainly get more attention than the general twitter stream of content , but even the mavens I follow in social media put so much content that is not relevant   to me that I barely notice their good stuff.  If you watch there are gems, but these same people are also offering political  opinion, sports shout-outs, responses to other tweets.  The noise in twitter is numbing.  If they follow you though.. you can send them direct messages. 

Send Direct Messages

Your first chance to send a direct message is the auto-follow message.  "Thanks for following me, I look forward to reading your tweets.. click here to buy my book", or insert your favorite spammy message.

Hi-jack popular Hash Tags

Argh... (you caught me.. I was "grugging" there for a sec)  I hate this one. For good reason, people tag their conversations which allows you to search a "topic", not just a person.  You will see things like #awarenessinc used by our company in our tweets so people can group information about our company or during our webinars.  Actually combine the two  (hash tags and webinars) and you have a Twebinar.  Say it "twebinar, its fun.  Here's what spammers do.  Spammers create an account, watch for trending topics in Twitter, then join the conversation. People will say "hey, who is this guy?",  and read the profile, or even follow blindly like Lemmings running off a cliff .  Sadly it's what you should do if you really want to be part of a conversation, spammers know that.  I click a lot of profiles and see if people are actually writing about the content I want to read on a regular basis, then I follow. 

Post often. 

If people are getting a flooded with tweets, make sure you are in the stream of content.. often.  Its tough, because you have to think of stuff to tweet about. Those doing it manually have learned to just speak random thoughts out loud.  "Wow this hamburger is good", tweeted the social media expert.  Try it in real life.  Walk down the street just blurting out things that pop into your head.  Pretty soon you will realize your side of the street is relatively free of people and the general public are walking on the other side.  For some reason its perfectly acceptable on Twitter.   Yes, I have started to do it on Twitter.  I can argue for or against it, BUT spammers know that.  See the next point.

And lastly my new favorite...

ReTweet posts.

If new content is hard to write, retweet others.  If the this bubble we live in wasn't already the ultimate echo chamber before.. it is now.  The Retweet (see the "RT and @address in front of the tweeted message) has become an Twitter endorsement of your content. I am always flattered when someone thinks my content is so worthwhile they retweet it.  Especially if the content is retweeted by someone in the business.  I do it.  It beats the heck out of a "poke" or "nudge" or whatever you do to get somone's attention.  If I retweet you, assume I am saying "well done".  This morning, my post was retweeted by a Candy manufacturer.  Ummmm, not sure how that could be anything but an "auto-retweet" based on that fact that I used the word "candy" in the content. The content was clearly in the category of me posting random stuff.  No thought leadership there.  I commented that I was eating candy for breakfast, thanks to a package a client sent.   I could be wrong, maybe that company was endorsing that behaviour and thought of me as some dietary thought leader, but watch for it as a tactic.

If the fact that I have called out these tactics as spam tactics offends you.. don't be. I use them, and I like to feel when I do its genuine. Plus, the ultimate test of a spammer... If you are offended.. you are not a spammer ;)


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BY: Doug Mitchell (4/21/2009 5:05 PM)
COMMENT: Hi David...great post. I guess the saving grace w/Twitter is the Unfollow. Above say 300-400 followers isn't basically impossible to manage the volume of conversation w/o using the advanced filters anyway? We have about 3k followers on @operationred and I must say that we're hit daily by "lose weight fast" even though we're geared toward tech/politics. My gmail spam filter misses only about 1 of 5k emails at this stage so I feel spam free there. When I get twitspammed, I unfollow and I'm whole again. Hope all is well.

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BY: Kevin Boon (4/23/2009 10:08 AM)
COMMENT: Hello David, Thanks for the post and some good comments. Twitter certainly has a spam component but the whole concept itself is unmanageable for any individual. When you think about it even 1000 followers makes real relationships unmanagable. However what keeps us coming back? It's the opportunity to make those few connections that are real. Twitter, email are simply being overloaded by the amount of information coming at us is the problem we face today. I recently wrote an article on sales 2.0 where I talked about how selling has changed and I noticed from 2000-2005 a significant rise in email spam (reducing the ability for sales people to connect). Since 2005 the amount of options customers have has increased 100 fold and marketers and sellers are all scrambling to figure how to keep their brand and message at the forefront. As broken as Twitter is you might also say the way we access technology is broken. What is required is new ways of thinking how we can effectively use Twitter and other technologies. Enjoy your day. Kevin

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Is Twitter the new face of Spam?

With Twitter being the hottest online space at the moment, marketers are trying to crack the code on getting to twitter users. Lets face it, Twitter...
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