An Author Platform Built on SPAM is Doomed to Fall
Recently I put my foot down with the link spam on #MyWANA, because without love there is no community. Thing is, #MyWANA is my hash tag so my rules. A lot of the WANAs cheered and promptly began helping me smite the spammers on our beloved hash tag.
Some might think I am being a tad harsh, but I had actually blogged a couple of times earlier, gently asking those who liked to rely on automation to please refrain from using #MyWANA and use #WANAblogs, because no one expects community on #WANAblogs. On #WANAblogs, folks expect a list of links and resources, but #MyWANA has been reserved for community. It was to be the author water cooler. I didn’t mind a link or two from those actively engaging on #MyWANA, but any automation or link spam was not welcome.
Yet those greedy spammers continued.
One person in particular just makes me shake my head. I won’t mention any names because 1) anyone who has been paying attention to #MyWANA knows exactly who I am talking about and 2) I am just classy like that :D.
Anyway, this individual was notorious for spamming #MyWANA and all other 25 hash tags she could cram into a single tweet. Supposedly her goal was to help writers, yet she was apparently too important to talk to any of us or engage with us. She used #MyWANA as her personal non-stop infomercial.
Her behavior was so bad that the WANAs sent me direct messages, very upset that this woman would not quit spamming #MyWANA, so I told them to warn her then report her. I even tweeted this woman and nicely asked her to please stop spamming #MyWANA.
Here is the real gem.
This woman was reported by so many people that Twitter suspended her account. So what does she do? She creates a NEW account, which she again automates for people to follow her at her NEW identity…and uses #MyWANA.
Seriously? Lady, what is wrong with you?
Author Platforms Founded on SPAM are Useless
Take a good look at the picture below. Is this what you are building your author platform on? Does it look appealing? Does it look stable? Does it look like something you would want to eat? If not, then why would we feed this to others?
Marketing has Changed in the Digital Age
In the old days, marketing was static and fixed because the marketer had no way of really creating a dialogue with consumers. The goal was to blast a message out to as many “eyes” as possible, and even though the ROI (return on investment) was never all that great (about 1-5%), there really was no other way to get traction for a product.
If our service or product wasn’t on TV, radio, in a magazine or a phone book, then it was effectively invisible. Direct mailings were common, but no company expected the person receiving the mailing to then photocopy the mailing and pass it on to friends and family.
Marketing in the Digital Age is different. We tolerated the non-stop ads years ago because, frankly, we weren’t expecting a conversation. Most of us hadn’t been on the Internet and the notion of “social media” was relegated to the realms of science fiction. Face it, in the 90s, none of us expected to be chatting real-time for free with people all over the globe. Mass marketing didn’t bother us as much because we had no basis for comparison.
These days? We are tired of ads, sick of spam and we loathe people who continue to shove this crap down our throats. We know it is possible to talk to us and to care about us and when you don’t? At best we ignore you, and at worst we report you (then blog about your @$$clown behavior).
Link spam is lazy marketing!
SPAMM= Selfish People Adore Mass Marketing
What I find really fascinating is that this woman who link-spammed #MyWANA wanted us to be on Twitter. She wanted US to be present so that we could drop everything and serve her agenda. But her? Oh, she was too busy and important to participate, whereas we had nothing better to do.
The shocking part was that this woman was sent numerous messages to please stop spamming, and yet, strangely…she never got them? THIS is the problem with automation. Some people have their “tools” set up so effectively that they don’t even have to be bothered talking to the communities they spam. Take, take, take and too important to give.
Oh, but we are giving. We give for FREE! FREE! Download our stuff NOW! Cheap advice and FREE! stuff.
Yeah, um. No.
Free really doesn’t impress us that much these days. People who are willing to talk share, and give first? Those folks get our attention because they earned it. See, social media is SOCIAL. It is like a big water cooler. After 4:30, it is like a big Happy Hour and by 7:00 a cocktail party. By midnight? We are your weird friends who won’t go home and who sleep on your couch and eat all your food.
Who in their right mind would show up at a company water cooler, Happy Hour, or a cocktail party with a credit card machine and a fistful of flyers? What if I just showed up to some bar and set up a table and started selling books? Consulting? Author coaching? How long would it take for me to be escorted outside?
Yet, this is what people are doing on Twitter every day and they are ruining Twitter. If everyone automates, then people get tired of looking at a non-stop infomercial so they go play on Pinterest or hack up monsters on XBox. The only way Twitter can help us build a platform is if people are tuned in and paying attention.
Solid Author Platforms are Built on Community not SPAM
Relationships are solid. Relationships will outlast fads. Relationships will help our platform remain stable even if Twitter collapses and Facebook implodes. Yes, relationships take time and effort, but we should not expect from others what we, ourselves, are unwilling to give. It isn’t right and people will (rightfully) resent us.
I know this is hard. It is hard to find the time to do everything, but here is the deal about love and kindness…a little goes a long way. We will remember the person who congratulated us on word count or who complimented pictures of our kids. We will have warm fuzzy feelings for the person who asks about our day. Make an effort to get on social media and just engage five times a day. Our goal is not to blast out marketing messages. Our goal is to forge friendships one post at a time.
So the next time some social media “expert” touts all the wonders and advantages of pre-programmed tweets or form letters, I want you to ask what you want your author brand to rest on…
Few people willingly eat SPAM. Spam in a can is a ham-like substance, and SPAM on social media is a human-ish substance. It is a poor substitute for the real thing. Can we take it in small doses (mixed with macaroni & cheese/good conversation)? Sure. But we can’t feast on it and expect long-term health.
If we are using automation and pumping out link-spam, then every tweet erodes our platform and taints our name. Do this long enough and just the sight of our name makes people angry, just like the woman who continues to cluelessly spam #MyWANA. She is oblivious to the depth she has poisoned her brand. When people see her name, they see red. Not exactly the best way to sell books and services.
I believe we need to all work together to clean up social media. When we see people who continue to fill the place with automation, we owe it to the social site to report them, especially when they abuse hash tags. Twitter is a lovely playground but we need to crack down on litter bugs (SPAM bots/link-spammers).
A huge shout-out to my rock star assistant Chad Carver who took all these
lovely rather nauseating pictures of salty gelatinous meat stuff.
So what do you guys think? Am I being too harsh? Have you grown weary of the non-stop infomercial? What would you recommend we do to make social media more social? What tips would you like to add?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.