Facebook Spam – The Human Face Behind The Menace

Raising The Bar

Spamming seems to becoming a hot topic again. Not the type of Spam you get in your inbox asking you to buy Viagra or letters from an African Lawyer who wants you to share the inheritance of a milionare client. What I want to talk about today concerns ordinary well meaning people who though ignorance or lack of awareness end up becoming perpetrators of this social menace and end up damaging their reputation at the same time

I Don’t Like Spam

[youtube]http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE[/youtube] Most people don’t like to eat Spam all the time so make sure this isn’t what you are serving to all your friends.

Do You Want To Make The Right Impression?

Part of this blog post was written in the summer but I thought I would re-edit it and include some recent conversations and share it with a whole new audience. My latest book, The Facebook Strategies Guide addresses these sames issues and from my own observation. 95% of the people using Facebook for Business are needlessly making themselves look like spammers.

Attention Grabbers

If a complete stranger came and knocked on your front door and demanded that you go with them to look at their new car or dragged you out of your house and forced you to go inside their new shop, don’t you think you might get a bit upset. Why is it then that so many people act that way on Facebook

Why Should I Give You My Attention?

How many times have you had someone send you a friend request on Facebook and then straight away before you’ve had time to take a second breath they have asked you for something, demanding your attention, whether its to check out their group, look at their website, join their MLM program or Get Rich Quick scheme. What these people maybe fail to realize is their approach is getting them entirely the opposite results than they might expect. The reason being is they fail to see the message they are sending from the other side or think a little bit about who they are sending to. Without having this view you assume that the whole world will naturally be interested in everything you are doing and you demand that they give you attention.

Relationships First – Deals Second

Trying to sell yourself or your products without first taking the time to build some sort of relationship is not going to be the most effective strategy in today’s web 2.0 world. In a world where word of mouth is the new marketing force to reckon with. Adopting this aproach is effectively shooting yourself in the foot.

Serve Others First And You Will Be Rewarded

When you friend someone don’t ask them for something straight away, take the time to send a personal message and ask what you can do to help them. If you want to get your self really noticed then you are going to have to learn to give before you receive. This will instantly set you apart from everyone else and will show that you are actually interested in them and not just in serving yourself or your business. Serving others is one of the highest virtues you can adopt and is one of the quickest ways to have your own needs met as well. People will always remember you in a positive light and that is what can influence them to open your emails, listen to your sales messages and buy your products or services in the future. Attention is one of the most valuable commodities that all businesses are competing for.

Don’t Be Too Aggressive

Once you have their attention and you have started a conversation you can decide if you want to mention what It is you are promoting. If you are too aggressive in your marketing or sales approach you can turn people off very quickly. It’s easy to spot people who are not genuine so be very careful here and make sure you do this in a skillful way, a casual mention of what you have to offer can be much more powerful than the direct approach. People hate being sold to but they do like to buy. If you position yourself in the right way, you can be the person they choose to go to when they are ready.

Consider Starting Your Own Group

If you want to get a targeted group of people all in one place then consider forming your own group, you can invite all your friends and in this way, only the people who are interested will be subjected to your marketing messages and they have the option of leaving the group at any time. Selling directly to new friends via their profile, instant messenger or wall is one of the quickest ways to start losing friends and as spam becomes more widespread more people are becoming less tolerant of unsolicited messages in their inbox. I join a lot of groups to see what they have to offer, one thing I have noticed is the difference between how some of the group leaders treat their members.

The Trusted Friend

Some Facebook groups send me a continual stream of messages promoting this product or that service, I have to admit that I tend to ignore most of them, Its like I almost don’t see or hear anything of what they are communicating, I filter it out and it just goes in the noise and distraction file. There are however a few group leaders who have adopted a different strategy, they keep sending me useful information and good links to things I am interested in, and they have a totally different way of communicating. It’s not that they never try and sell me something its just they do it in a different way so I don’t mind because I have placed them in a different file,that of the trusted friend. If you are networking, planning on using Facebook to promote your business or you would like to start your own Facebook group in the future,I think there is an important lesson to learn here. Becoming the trusted friend gives you great power and influence. It is a position that is  earned through service and through consistency and congruency in your message.

A Real Life Example And Lesson

Tim Somers one of the members of our Social Traffic group talks about his own experiences in his recent blog post

“I’ve been in the promotional product business for 19 yrs. and networking has been one of the keys to the success I’ve had. Being fairly new to the whole Social Networking gig I had been crossing the spam line and did not realize it at all.

Seems I was putting the “cart before the horse” if you will, jamming me and what I do down the throats of everyone and anyone I’d connected with online via Facebook, LinkedIn as various other networks.

I guess I was really excited about all the people I’d been connecting with and lost focus on all the successful networking I’d accomplished over the years at local chamber events, BNI meetings and such. Where I listened, and didn’t really give to much information on me or my company – and focused on building a relationship first and letting the natural transition of getting business and referrals grow an flourish with time.

I didn’t know I was borderline spamming online because know one was honest with me, I kept doing it until someone finally brought it to my attention…and I “got it”.

It was Simon Ford that put me on the straight and narrow. His words of wisdom could have been taken the wrong way, but the message he sent me was crystal clear and I took it to heart and have and will be working on becoming a better Social Networker for sure.”

Simon Ford’s Message To Tim


Please take this message as feedback, not criticism…

There are over 500 million pages indexed in Google for the word cards, each page means nothing to me. Why do you think your pages are any different? Is it because we are members of the same Facebook group?

When I need a solution for cards, I will turn to my network of people that I like and trust to find it.

Likewise, I listen to people who I like and trust. Only they could ever convince me I may need a {offenders key word} solution, when I didn’t otherwise know it…I could only ever consider doing business with someone I really liked and trusted..

That said, if the desired outcome of you introducing yourself to me was to have me buy from you, do business with you, or in fact collaborate with you on any level, from where I sit, as your target, your strategy is counter productive.

I will never listen to anyone who tells me they are interested in building a relationship with me followed by shoving a self serving link in my face. The approach instills distrust in fact, making it even harder for you to become someone I like or trust beyond such an introduction.

This is not social networking, It’s spamming Tim.

To think that the caliber of people who have all congregated in our social traffic group see your approach other way is miss-guided.

I have done you a favor and deleted your wall post off the group wall and from my personal feed so not that many people have seen them. This provides you another opportunity to introduce yourself with a mind set of being “Interested”, not “interesting”.

I am confident if you make the most of the opportunity you will be enlightened by the results. I would love to hear about your journey of discovery when you have arrived…

That’s when I can see us building a genuine relationship that will deliver your desired outcome and a hell of a lot more.

I look forward to that day.

With respect, Simon Ford

Education Is The Only Viable Long Term Solution.

As an individual you have a responsibility to your wider network to educate all its members. If you see  a person doing something that is damaging their reputation take the time to let them know. Do it in a way that encourages them to change without being too critical, give people the benefit of the doubt, especially those who are new to Social Media and are only just getting started, you can point them to relevant notes and blog posts and show them by example how you would like to be treated as a friend and business contact.

Be Respectful

It’s clear from most discussions that talk about Spam that each person has their own personal definition. You might be the type who gets outraged and angry when someone abuses your trust. Publicly humiliating someone who transgresses your social code might feel good momentarily, but it’s not the best long term solution. Instead of creating an enemy why not do what Simon did an tell them how you feel.  Treat them in a respectful way even if you feel like you are the one who is the victim. This kind of pro-active approach will win you loyal friends and the respect of all those who you communicate with.

Want To Learn More

For those who would like to learn more about using Facebook  in the right way you can check out  my new book The Facebook Strategies Guide. It’s a valuable resource packed full of information that will take your social networking to a whole new level http://www.thefacebookguide.com I hope you have enjoyed this post, If it’s been of some value to you please share it with your network, send it to your Tweeps on Twitter or press the share button on Facebook. you can also follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/iandavidchapman


  1. GREAT article on how NOT to use Facebook.

    If you do just ONE thing right on FB, be a valuable human being. Works wonders! = )

  2. Robert Grant says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people many of them even top internet marketers who don’t understand the difference between marketing to a list of people who asked to be given a sales pitch versus a community of people who came to facebook to socialize and network NOT HAVE SOMEONE SALES PITCH ALL OVER THEM !!!

    Ian out of all my clients (some of them the best in the world in marketing) you and simon ford seem to be the only 2 people i have encountered that really understand social media… i think thats because you have both worked so much with groups and communities of people offline, so its second nature to you.

  3. Hi Ian,

    Guilty as charged.

    Never occured to me, much of what you described.



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