We all know we don't want to get spam. Whether in our email inbox, through social media messages, or even the unsolicited flyers we get in the mail. It takes time to sort through, and draws our attention away from the things we really want to do.
Some people know they are spamming. They just don't care.
It makes enough money to be profitable and they are willing to push through all the negative responses (and maybe some bad karma if you believe in that sort of thing). However, what I have realized over time is that most people who are spammers don't realize it. They are following bad advice from someone about how to build relationships and market themselves. Maybe you even spammed someone today. Don't think so? Are you sure?
What prompted this post was an example of exactly that. Take a look:
A little background. This is someone that friend requested me on Facebook a while back. We have a mutual friend that I know well, and her account looked like a real person, so I accepted the request even though I didn't know her personally. Because you never know what kind of connections you will make I tend to be fairly liberal in accepting requests. (It is important to note though that she didn't send an introduction message or anything like that, so I just as easily could have refused the request.)
Since then, she has not contacted me, commented on any of my posts, liked any of my posts, or in any other way built a relationship with me. Out of the blue today she sent the above message. I tried to explain that the type of message she sent wasn't very effective and could be considered spam (in the nicest way possible). She got upset, told me I didn't know what I was talking about, that she was just sharing her business, and finally that she would pray for me.
Other than the fact that she missed a golden opportunity to get some free advice and help from an expert in social media marketing, she also ensured that I will definitely never work with her, and I unfollowed her as well.
The upside for you is that while she didn't want to hear any helpful advice, this made me realize a lot of people are in her boat, so I am sharing the advice with you instead! Enjoy!
Know Who You are Talking To
Granted, I don't share a ton about my business on my personal Facebook page, but a quick Google search would have revealed a whole bunch of things (such as this website).
These are just a few examples. What they all have in common is that they are trying to force people to pay attention to you. It is annoying, it is rude, and it is spam. It is also not very effective, especially long term.
What is effective? Taking the time to build actual personal relationships. Give value so that people come to you rather than having to chase them down. If you feel like you are constantly pressuring, begging, or pursuing people, you are doing it wrong.
Please note that I am not suggesting you don't follow up, or that you don't have to reach out to people. Do an inner check - does it feel like you are starting a conversation with a friend, or does it feel like you have to put on a mask? Put yourself in the other person's shoes - how would you feel if someone approached you the same way? Which brings us to the next key...
Give THem A Way to Opt Out
Even in personal communication, such as social media, you can still do the same thing. Saying something along the lines of "feel free to let me know if this is not a good fit for you, no hard feelings" or "if now is not a good time that is totally okay" or "if not, I would still love to stay connected" all work great.
Studies have shown that giving people an easy way to say "no" that doesn't make them feel bad actually makes them more likely to say yes!
Perception Is Reality
Whether or not what you are doing technically meets the definition of spam doesn't really matter from a practical standpoint. The person you are trying to reach out to is offended and upset. It is a truism that what you feed grows. If you feed negativity in your business it will grow. Whenever someone tells you they have felt violated, the correct response is to apologize. You don't even have to apologize for the action (though you should if you were in the wrong), but you should care about their feelings. A simple "Thank you for the email, let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you" or "Thanks for getting back to me, I have made a note that this is not a good fit for you right now" can go a long way. Arguing with someone about how they feel is a lose-lose every time.
What's Your Story?
What's your best crazy spam story? A creepy stalker? A random marriage proposal? A pushy sales person? Share your story in the comments - I am sure everyone else will appreciate the examples, and it might make you feel better to vent. :-)