Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: spammers

Is THIS what’s holding up your author brand?

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?

Ooh! YUMMY! Don’t you want a BIG bite?

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.

Does your platform look like this? (WANAs in SoCal)
Or this? (WANAs in NYC)
Does an author platform get awesome-er than this? (WANAs in Anaheim, CA)
This is what a WANA platform looks like and YES, we have a Bouncy House (WANAs in Costa Mesa, CA)

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…

This? (WANAs in Soho)
Or THIS????

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 novelor 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.

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to drink heavily.

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dr. Twuth, here to anwer all your questions, problems and concerns about social media. Since social media (done properly) involves interacting with other humans, it is just a good plan to have an advice column handy to help navigate the emotional waters of keeping thousands of friends happy and speaking to us.

My alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need….

Dear Dr. Twuth,

I found a Direct Message from “MomCat_Reviews” and the message says she “Uses TrueTwit validation service. To validate, click here,” and then there’s a link to click on. Well, I already know those kinds of links are usually from a hacker and have a virus. So I tried to send MomCat_Reviews a DM asking if she sent that Tweet and telling her I think her account might have been hacked. When I tried to send the tweet, I got a message saying, “Recipient Not Following You.” I thought someone had to be a follower to send a DM. Is that correct? And since the tweet won’t go through, I suspect a hacker sent this, and I wonder how they were able to send a DM. Do you have any advice for us about Twitter hackers?

Thanks, Dr. Twuth.
Hoping For Better Tweet Days

Dear Hoping,

You are a good tweep looking out for your peep this way. Humans have to stick together to keep the machines in their place. Your letter actually has a number of points that need addressing. First of all, validation services. DON’T USE THEM. For normal people who are only befriending a handful of peeps they know, this might be okay. But, those of us who are on social media to build a large platform need to remove as many barriers as possible to others trying to follow us.

When it comes to Twitter, it takes ONE click to remove and report a bot or offensive person. So this whole need for a validation service is kind of lazy. It isn’t like we have to get an order from a judge to remove someone. Just CLICK. We can all do this.

Validation services make people who are trying to follow us click on a link and go through steps just to follow our tweets. I can’t speak for everyone, but as for myself? I ignore anyone who makes me jump through hoops. I have real family to make me jump through hoops for approval. I figure I have enough high-maintenance relationships in life without volunteering for more.

Validation services not only make others trudge through cumbersome extra steps, but they also make them leave Twitter. This can open our followers up to hackers and phishers. Giving our Twitter followers a digital social disease is not exactly a way to make long-lasting friendships, if ya dig.

If any of you get weird tweets or DMs (direct messages) with a link to click, this is often the work of a hacker. DO NOT CLICK FISHY (PHISHY) LINKS…PERIOD. If someone sends you a tweet or DM that they saw a picture of you or a video, THIS IS A HACKER. Even if someone sends you a link via DM that looks legit, I recommend you do a little confirmation before clicking. Send this person a DM or even a tweet confirming the person actually sent you a link. It takes a half a minute and saves a lot of heartache.

And, yes, the person must be following you in order for you to send them a DM.

If you cannot DM the person and warn them they might have been phished, just send a polite tweet. Hey, I am getting odd DMs from you. You might need to change your password. If this person gets irritated or defensive, then the worst thing they can do is unfollow you. Not that this is a bad thing. High-maintenance people are almost as annoying on-line as in person, so just unfollow and move on. Avoiding toxic peeps will keep your hair from falling out in clumps. Prevention is key.

As far as what we can do to avoid bots…

Be careful what you tweet about. If you talk about s_ex AT ALL, the bots will pick up certain key words and light on you like fruit flies on an overripe banana. Same when we talk about any kind of medicines or high-tech gadgetry. If anything you mention is something spammers love to fill your e-mail with– offers for se-x, p0rn, hydroc0d0ne, peeeeenis enlarge-ment–first of all, there are better things to talk about on-line.

But, say you just came home from the hospital and want to tell your tweeps you are alive from being hit by an ice cream truck. If you tweet, Hey, I am fine. All I need is rest and oxycodone…the bots will get you.

So, we have to either not talk about these things on social media (Twitter especially) OR we can camouflage our key words. Earlier in the year when I bought a Ma_c com-puter, I always used spaces and hyphens to fool the word search technology that spammers loooove. Humans will understand what a M-ac co-mputer, an Ip0d and an XB-0x are…bots will not. This is the defense.

Ah, but the best defense is a good offense. When anyone tweets you just a link, click on their profile. If this looks like a spammer, block and report on the spot. Better yet, block and report then retweet and add @Katy456789 is a nasty spam bot. Everyone please block and report her. If Twitter gets 20 people blocking and reporting a profile, they will terminate @Katy456789 with extreme prejudice. No muss, no fuss.

You guys know I am all about teamwork. If we all go on the offensive with a Zero Tolerance Spam Policy, these bottom feeders will scurry off elsewhere. With enough collective vigilance, we could drive the spam bots to the brink of extinction, and wouldn’t that be lovely?

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!