Are you a social media spammer?

Spam is 99% evil. That doesn’t mean that the person spamming is, though.

Sometimes a business person is just trying to get the word out about their brand or product, and in their enthusiasm, may cross the line into spam-land.

Today I asked the Twittersphere for examples of spammy behaviour, and the answers to “what is spam” were pretty varied.

Things widely agreed upon as dodgy:

  • Posting your page’s link to another page’s wall without asking, especially if that page has very little to do with yours.
  • Auto-DM upon follow.
  • Using a trending hashtag unrelated to your business to sell your product or raise awareness of your business.
  • Making a YouTube clip thumbnail/title look like it’s something it is not to sell your product, and using unrelated tags
  • Tagging your blog using someone else’s name, or another established business as to affect SEO.
  • Tag yourself/share/comment/like to win on Facebook (Facebook considers this spam and could delete your page).


Could be spammy – borderline practices:

  • Posting a reasonable comment to another brand’s Facebook wall, but as your brand rather than as you.
  • Using a trending hashtag to comment as your brand, rather than as you when it’s a personal opinion (this one is pretty widely debated).
  • Using a trending hashtag to pimp your somewhat-related business.
  • Posts that say “Share this if…” or “like this if…”
  • RT to win competitions on Twitter.
  • Linking one social media account to another and then never looking at it.
  • Only ever talking about your business. “businesses spend too much time within social talking about themselves, they need to think about asking and listening,” tweets @AdamCrouchley.
  • RTing all your Follow Fridays or compliments.
  • “Event promoters tagging people in event flyers loaded as photos,” tweets @nikkitheknitter
  • “When businesses tweet business stuff on weekends when our heads are not in business mode, although not spam it’s inappropriate,” tweets @chandalier.


So what can you do to get your business in front of people without being a dick?

  • This is first, because it’s the most important. MAKE COMPELLING CONTENT. Make content your fans and followers want to share off their own back. Read your Facebook insights. Think like a fan. What is going to work for them?
  • Give positive online experiences to build loyalty.
  • Buy some targeted ads on Facebook. They are so quick and cheap – I booked some the other day for 7c CPM – that there’s no excuse.
  • Promote a Facebook post to friends of fans. $20 can go a long way for a small business.
  • Get your social accounts on your website so I can follow you with a click of a button.
  • Ask to partner with brands that compliment yours, so you can add value to their Facebook community, and vice versa, in a kosher way.

So that’s a non-exhaustive list of a few things brands can do to get word-of-mouth happening without the spam factor.

We can all agree that spam is evil. It won’t do your business too many favours by annoying the very people you’re trying to convert. So double-check your post and ask yourself: Is this spam?

Tweeting from a bubble

Celeb Boutique use "Aurora" to promote themselves

We have all heard about the terrible shooting in Aurora, and know what a difficult time those affected are having. Naturally Aurora, shooting, and Batman became top trending topics on Twitter, and most of the online community was talking about what had happened.

Then online retailer Celeb Boutique made a terrible call – to use #Aurora to talk about their dress of the same name.

Celeb Boutique use "Aurora" to promote themselves

After a barrage of replies, the tweet was deleted, and Celeb Boutique published a four-tweet apology, claiming their social media team were not aware of what was really going on.

“We are incredibly sorry for our tweet about Aurora – Our PR is NOT US based and had not checked the reason for the trend, at that time our social media was totally UNAWARE of the situation and simply thought it was another trending topic,” they said. “We have removed the very insensitive tweet and will of course take more care in future to look into what we say in our tweets. Again we do apologise for any offense caused this was not intentional & will not occur again. Our most sincere apologies for both the tweet and situation.”

The response to Celeb Boutique’s apology was frosty at best. Many tweeters didn’t buy the non-US excuse, and called for the PR company to be fired. Others wished the company would go bankrupt, and still others called the company all manner of bad names.

Tweeting from a bubble has happened in New Zealand before. During the night of the Pike River disaster, one very famous designer auto-tweeted links to a huge sale she was kicking off, while the rest of Twitter was talking about Pike. The updates stood out like a sore thumb.

The feedback the team behind the account received was not pleasant, to say the least.

This is not a good thing to do, people. In fact, I tell people I work with that if they set up auto-tweeting – which I don’t recommend but know sometimes you’ve got to – the second they hear anything of national significance kicking off, they must turn off all non-human comms.

The lessons here are: Don’t live in a bubble, and don’t hijack a hashtag. Read the environment before you tweet, and if for some reason you’ve given the community the middle finger, apologise fast and be honest about why it happened.

Stop trying to be fancy on Social Media

I have a message for marketers, social media managers, advertising whiz-kids and anyone else who thinks social media needs to be flashy: Quiet in the cheap seats. There’s a rant coming, and it’s got your name on it.

I see a trend hitting New Zealand Facebook pages (although it’s not limited to that medium alone): Big, fancypants apps and huge ad spends that your target audience doesn’t actually care about. Multiple posts pushing to said app or competition or marketing ploy. LIKE or SHARE this post to spam all your friends in the hope that maybe, just maybe you’ll win something.

You know what research shows your audience does care about? Special offers and rewards. Insider intel. Having fun with your brand. Staying on-topic. Not being spammed. So why are you trying to convert people with songs-and-dances that are so off-brand that you know you’re not getting genuine fans?

(via ExactTarget)

But the long term goals are being ignored, and probably because someone’s KPIs are measured by how many ‘likes’ a page gets during the campaign.


*by children, I mean customers. You know, those people who actually fork over their money to use the brands services?

Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop the gimmicks. People will unlike/hide your page as soon as they see they aren’t getting any real value, or because they only liked to win something, and then it’s so much harder to get them back again.

If you want a strong, long-term social strategy, don’t wage it all in a hook. But if you only want good-looking but virtually meaningless stats to sit on a spreadsheet that no one truly understands, go for gold.

5 major mistakes brands make on Facebook

Facebook pages. So easy, anyone could do it, right?

Yes. But here’s the rub: There’s actually best practise for pages, and it seems like a lot of people don’t think about them. It’s as if the humans behind the business stop thinking like a Facebook user, and start thinking like a broadcaster.

Here’s five common mistakes people make on brand’s Facebook (and Twitter) pages.

They don’t write like a human

It’s okay for a brand to call someone “mate” online. It’s fine to start a post by saying “hey guys”. It builds rapport, reminds users that they’re talking to a human, not just a brand. It gives people the warm fuzzies, and does not look out of place in a social forum.

There’s a special place in my heart for brands who insist their name must be in capitals, all the time. On the internettywebs, that’s shouting. I get the branding thing – you know I do – but I once lost a disagreement with a client whose name was long, in capitals, and had a trademark on the end. They insisted the post contain their brand. Twice. And wouldn’t listen to reason. So I posted the status, and users called the brand out.

Because the WRITTEN FOR HUMANS®™ post didn’t look WRITTEN FOR HUMANS®™ at all.

Which ties into my next point:

They think in broadcast, not conversation

On behalf of the People of the Internet: Please stop telling us what to think. Help us experience your product or service for ourselves.

Page managers sometimes don’t seem to be aware that the internet is an amazing place where you can experience things not available to traditional broadcast. Ignoring the interactive part of social media just leaves you with media.

Which is fine, except then you’re missing 80% of the point of being on social media.

I know it can be difficult to get your head around, and thinking up interactive posts can be hard. It also feels a bit risky to step outside the “broadcast” box – it means things can (and will) go wrong.

It’s still worth it.

They repeat posts that didn’t work the first time

Again… Broadcast mentality. Repetition is fine in traditional outlets, but it’s a different story on social. If your audience didn’t engage with the post first time around, why would you keep hitting them over the head with it?

Adjust. Learn. Grow. And remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always have what you’ve always had.

They delete negative feedback

I know why this happens. It freaks brand people out to see something slamming the brand on the official page, so they get delete-happy. We can all think of examples of this…

Yes, a few unhappy punters can ruin the experience for others. Yes, you have to take feedback in context. But there are other ways of dealing with unhappy users, rather than deleting their message. You wouldn’t hang the phone up on them, right? So why delete their post?

How is this for a suggestion: Actually listen to the feedback.

Yeah, I went there. Stop being shit. And if you can’t stop it, minimise it. Adapt. Adjust. Revise. It’s like someone saying “I don’t like chocolate ice cream” and the brand saying “LAHLAHLAH, I can’t hear you!” and then doing a post about how great chocolate ice cream is.

Your fans offer you a gift when they give you honest feedback. Don’t slam the door in their face.

They measure themselves with the wrong yardstick

What’s actually important to your social media strategy? What’s your end goal? Do you want hits to your site? Brand awareness? Sell lots of product? Get your message out?

Long story short: It’s not all about follower or fan numbers.


What do you think are some of the main mistakes brands make on Facebook and other social media outlets?

NZ Facebook stats: December 2011

NZ Facebook stats

If there’s one thing that’s marked about New Zealand’s online activity, is the sheer dominance of Facebook over other platforms.

Facebook’s estimated New Zealand reach today was “2,100,220 people who live in New Zealand”, according to Facebook. The data also reveals over 54% of users returned daily – that’s at least 1,134,118 daily users of Facebook.

That’s a lot of people.

And they’re not just logging on – they’re participating. The data shows there are 15 million Kiwi wall posts made per month, 85 million comments a month left around the site, and 192,000 check-ins a month.

Here’s the data, courtesy of Facebook:

New Zealand Facebook data

Sharing trends

Mashable recently posted a block infographic released by Clearspring based on AddThis data, but I found it hard to read as it was so big and oddly spaced. I’ve recut the graphic slightly, but the data is all there. No infringement inteded!

Here’s some sharing trends from the last five years of data collected by AddThis:

When good stats go bad

I was faced with an interesting situation this afternoon: I had found a blog post where some work I had overseen was critiqued with a point of view that didn’t align with the goals we had, and made the project look bad. The project was, in reality, a big success.

It’s an easy mistake to make. Heck, I’ve made it. We judge work based on the standards we have for it. We think we know the desired outcomes, and we make assumptions based on that.

But it is a dangerous path, making a case study from external stats, especially when you don’t know what the point of the endeavour was.

The figures are, I imagine, faultless. There’s no arguing the number of times words have appeared in a feed, or the number of status updates on a single platform. But that yardstick didn’t match the one we were using.

When reading a case study, one of the most important questions you can ask of it is: Was it written by or with the help of someone who was a part of the project? Can the writer tell me the point of the project? Do they know the measurements to decide “success” in this instance?

A one-size-fits-all approach is tempting, but not always the right move when it comes to social strategy. Getting ‘heaps of mentions’ on Twitter, or ‘1,000 views on YouTube’ is not always the goal of the exercise. Something that looks great on the outside may not be achieving any of the objectives, or tell the whole of the story.

A Facebook page with 100,000 fans may look good on paper – but how many of those fans click the links, interact with the brand, or buy the product? How much did you spend in ads to get those fans? A Twitter account with 50,000 followers seems legendary – but are those followers in an active relationship with the account holder? Are they even real accounts? Is it the old follow-followback trick?

One of the issues with social media in New Zealand is that there are so few case studies released, fewer still with in-depth strategic commentary, that any data is picked apart until it loses meaning. But a fundamental mistake in reading too much into data is thinking the intention of the project manager was to achieve “A”, and then failing them for not doing so, ignoring that they may well have been aiming for “B” all along.

I learned a valuable lesson about my own assumptions today.

The next time you’re reading an analysis of a project, read it critically, asking yourself if the author really has the authority to offer the context required. If you don’t, you could miss out on some real insights.

Seems basic, right?

Facebook marketing: A best practice guide

Facebook have released a best practice guide to Facebook marketing. It’s in-depth and useful, but also involved, so I thought I’d summerise for you.

Here’s the key points.

Facebook say there are five guiding principles to great social marketing:

  1. Build a strategy that is first and foremost social, and integrated into broader marketing and business objectives
  2. Create an authentic brand voice by being straightforward and consistent.
  3. Make it interactive – always engage in two-way conversations and create content that people will be excited to pass along.
  4. Nurture relationships. Stay in touch, reward loyalty and keep content easy to consume. Think long-term.
  5. Get feedback in real time and use reporting tools to learn about your fans.

They then expand upon these areas – I’ve left my thoughts under their points.

Foster product development and innovation

“Facebook allows you to learn about your audience… For this reason, Facebook can be used to generate new product ideas and innovation.”

Know your audience, and allow the conversaion to be led by them – albeit in keeping with your guidelines. I’ve found doing this gives your fans page ownership and the freedom to make some interesting and insightful suggestions!

Generate Awareness

“Once you have created a Facebook page, it is time to generate awareness.”

In a nutshell, Facebook want you to buy their ads. They are cheap, effective, and can be highly targeted. It’s a shame they don’t let you book in $NZD or access non-standard ad types without an agency, but it’s still a cost-effective way to build your brand.

Don’t forget to put links to your Facebook page throughout your website – turn your visitors into subscribers with a click of a button.

Drive preference and differentiation

“On Facebook, people discover your brand through trusted referrals from their friends.”

This is one of the big positives social media has over traditional – personal endorsement much more public, and users are much more likely to engage with brands their friends have recommended. Keep sharability in mind when writing status updates.

Facebook have got a lot of social plug-ins you can use to socialise your website and brand. Use them where appropriate.

Increase traffic and sales

“A combination of word of mouth and your ability to deepen engagement with your customers at the point of purchase is incredibly powerful at driving traffic and sales.”

Facebook recommend putting like buttons on products, and integrating post-purchase sharing to consumer’s walls. The same could be said for like buttons on articles if you’re a blogger. Facebook also recommends buying Facebook ads to push directly to the point of sale.

Build loyalty and deepen relationships

“Because of the information people share about themselves on Facebook, you can create highly custom and personalized experiences to drive engagement and loyalty.”

Ask questions, listen to the answers, and be responsive. Thank people. Provide exclusive information for Facebook fans. If you’re a multi-national, target updates to users in various countries. I hope that feature will soon extend to cities, but in the meanwhile, try to not alienate users by overwhelming them with information that they can’t act upon.

Amplify recommendation and word of mouth

“Everything you do on Facebook is viral. People expect to discover things on Facebook through their friends.”

Encourage people to like your page – and your status updates. Put the like button on your website. Have fresh, sharable content on your Facebook page. Make everything clickable, shareable, hyperlinked and tidy (check how your links appear in Facebook when put into the URL feature… Is it clean or does it need editing?)

Gain Insights

“Insights can help improve your business by helping you stay aligned with the people you serve.”

Insights: Where would you be without them? Probably shouting into a dark room. Use Facebook ad campaign reports. Use Facebook insights – both on your page and for web. Read your Facebook wall… And when I say “read” I mean “read between the lines.” Sometimes what people don’t say says more than what they do.

Finally, use these tools:

Guide to Facebook ads:
Guide to running competitions on Facebook:
Social plugins for your site:
Facebook insights: