I was passing through a Facebook page recently and a particular post caught my attention ‘This page is not your billboard’.  I wondered what had sparked this comment.  It wasn’t too long before I found out.  I started finding people posting the Spiderworking.com Facebook wall, short comments like ‘hello from your latest fan’ and a link to their page.  Some people were bolder posting what amounted to an advert for themselves on the page.

I have encouraged people to post on my wall in the past and many businesses do, sharing information, asking questions etc. and it is the lifeblood of a page to have these important engagements. However the short ‘hello look at my page’ post can most definitely be counted as spam .

On another occasion I noticed a page I liked had started posting ‘adverts’ or in this case links to their blog posts to many high profile Irish pages.

I don’t really blame the people who create these wall posts, there are unwritten rules of social media etiquette and they can be hard to navigate.   In this specific example it is also a waste of time.  Content posted on a pages wall by anyone other than the admins does not get shared to the newsfeed of the people who ‘Like’ that page.  The only people you will reach with your post are those visiting the page (a small fraction of the people who Like the page) and the Admin so all you achieve at the end of the day is a few disgruntled admins.

Are you unsure if you’re spamming?  If so here’s my quick guide:

What is spam?

The Google dictionary defines spam as “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients” For the purpose of this blog post I’d widen that to unsolicited self promotional content posted on the Internet in a space not fit for that purpose.  This could be a Facebook wall post, a comment on a blog, a discussion in a Linkedin group or a Twitter direct message.  As a rule of thumb something that just promotes you with out adding value has the potential to be considered spam.

How do I know if I’m spamming?

I guess the key to knowing if a post is spam or not is asking yourself if you are adding value and is it relevant?  Is your post purely promotional or are you asking a question or sharing information that the page owners will find useful?

If you’re leaving a comment on a blog is it well thought out?  If you’re including a link is it relevant to the article?

If you’re posting a discussion to a Linkedin group is it it relevant, will it provoke interaction from others?

If you are sending a DM on Twitter is it personal or is it automated? Are you simply asking them to Like a page or read your blog?

Don’t panic!

If you’re guilty of any of these behaviours don’t panic, you can stop now, you can even delete posts you’ve made on others walls and go forward knowing that you’ve seen the error of your ways.  Start providing value to pages and your community and your spamming days will soon be forgotten.

Are you tired of spam?  Have you been spammed in any more creative ways that I’ve missed?  I’d love to hear your comments below.

This has been a really interesting discussion. We started in July with the second round in August.  Finally we have a comprehensive list of the dos and don’ts according to all of our social media communities.  A big thank you to all of you who took the time to contribute.

A big surprise for me was how strongly people felt about some issues.  And I have to bow to popular demand and point out that the list below is simply a list of guidelines.  There are exceptions to every rule and some people find even the highest rated don’ts work for them.  However I would exercise caution, whatever your strategy it is important to measure the results clearly and consistently.  Is social media really working for you and if not how can you adjust your behavior for better results?

I have also resisted adding my opinion to the survey so far as I wanted to see what others thought but now that the results are in I’d like to add my vote to ‘Do be polite, considerate and respectful’.  I see this frequently abandoned in the heat of the moment and I think it is important to remember that everything we say on the Internet reflects on our business.  Being controversial works but there is a fine line between controversy and rudeness, a line that I strive not to overstep.  Having said this, again there are exceptions to the rule, controversy and rudeness, if it suits your business could be a big draw.

The Full List as suggested by our online communities:

  • Do give benefit to your community
  • Do be different
  • Do be funny
  • Do be interesting and relevant
  • Do be polite, considerate and respectful
  • Do be sociable
  • Do build a strong network
  • Do comment on blogs
  • Do complete your Linkedin profile
  • Do converse and reply when someone attempts to engage you
  • Do create your own App for Facebook or Smartphone
  • Do get involved in discussions
  • Do have an open and public Facebook page so those not on Facebook can access it
  • Do personalise Linkedin invites
  • Do post useful resources
  • Don’t insult people
  • Don’t apply ‘Old Media’ strategies to social media
  • Don’t be a creepy lurker
  • Don’t be repetitive
  • Don’t broadcast, engage
  • Don’t have personal conversations on Twitter (do it privately)
  • Don’t invite people who will get no benefit from it to fan your Facebook page
  • Don’t join Linkedin groups and not engage
  • Don’t just collect followers and likes, make them relevant
  • Don’t link your Twitter account to your Linkedin profile fully
  • Don’t only follow celebs
  • Don’t post inane tweets / posts
  • Don’t pretend you know about social media when you don’t
  • Don’t protect tweets
  • Don’t schedule tweets
  • Don’t sell, sell, sell!
  • Don’t spam Linkedin groups, only post relevant content
  • Don’t swear
  • Don’t think that Facebook is just B2C
  • Don’t post a big bunch of Tweets in a row
  • Don’t update Facebook personal and business accounts concurrently with the same info
  • Don’t use push over pull
  • Don’t write rules, suggest guidelines
  • Don’t post too often or talk too much

The Top 10:

  1. Don’t sell, sell, sell!
  2. Don’t link your Twitter account to your Linkedin profile fully
  3. Don’t have personal conversations on Twitter (do it privately)
  4. Don’t post too often or talk too much
  5. Don’t post inane tweets / posts
  6. Do post useful resources
  7. Don’t write rules, suggest guidelines
  8. Don’t invite people who will get no benefit from it to fan your Facebook page
  9. Don’t be repetitive
  10. Don’t apply ‘Old Media’ strategies to social media

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We’ve been inundated with your suggestions for the Rules of Social Media since we asked for your help here last month.

We’ve managed to narrow our intial list down to 39 suggestions with 7 of these recurring 3 or more times (see the charts above).  We noticed that people seemed to be particularly concerned about Linkedin with issues such as ‘Linking your Twitter account to your Linkedin profile’ ‘Engage in groups that you join’ and ‘Don’t spam Linkedin groups’ all being metioned.  The top gripe however was people only pushing out sales messages through social media.

We’d like to narrow down this list a little further so are looking for your help again.  Vote in our poll by clicking here and  let us know which things really work for you or really bug you.