{selling your thing} i just invented the word spam-ish. find out what i mean...


if you have a facebook page for your biz you may have noticed a new spot on your wall for ‘spam’. i just spent a few minutes reading through all of the posts facebook decided were spam, and moving them back to the wall. the new automatic spam filter isn’t perfect, but it did get me thinking about spam.

from Wikipedia:

Spamis the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is email spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media.

from the freedictionary.com 

Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.

from spamabuse.net 

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it.

some spam is obvious (the nonsense comments that end up on my blog from fake Louis Vitton and the emails on ways to increase my penis size come to mind) but i am guessing if you are reading this blog you are a one woman operation with a very little business and NOT partaking in this obvious definition of spam.

what i would like to suggest is that you look at the way you are promoting your biz via social media sites such as facebook and twitter, blogging and even sending emails or personal messages. i have seen actions and read comments by people who have had experiences that can be construed as spam-ish. and the thing is, if it is turning people off, is it really worth it?

(btw spam-ish is my new word. you might not be sending those penis enlarging emails but your posts still have that hint of spamminess about them. not true spam maybe, but spam-ish nonetheless.)

blog comments

so you visit a great blog or read a fantastic blog post, and decide to leave a comment (which we bloggers LOVE byt the way!)

  1. thanks for the great post! i sell widgets and i really like your point about xyz. it is totally going to help my biz. 
  2. i am having a sale on my widgets. 50% off. come check it out.

you probably wouldn’t dream of leaving comment 2 -  it is pretty spam-ish - so i am going to assume you have the whole commenting on blogs thing down pat. but the same rule applies to facebook.

facebook page wall posts

yes, facebook is a great place to find fans and network. most of the time if you like someone’s page and leave a friendly comment they will follow you back. but sometimes the types of posts you leave on a page can feel spam-ish.

  1. hi my name is karen and i sell widgets @widgets’R’us. i love your page, thanks for sharing such useful stuff!
  2. hi my name is karen. i have a super duper sale on widgets this month. tell your friends.

comment 1 will probably get you a ‘like’ back. comment 2 will likely be deleted. most biz owners don’t want you using their page to sell your thing.

tagging on facebook

a lot of people are now using the tagging function (add an @ before you type the name of a page) as a way to post on another page’s wall or give a shout out. a true shout out is a welcome thing for a page (i adore getting a shout out), but sometimes tagging can be spam-ish.

  1. widgets’R’us would like to give a shout out to some awesome local pages – we love your stuff! tag @bizA @bizB @biz C
  2. widgets’R’us is having a super duper sale – 50% off everything! tag @bizA @bizB @bizC

comment 1 is a lovely shout out and will probably get your biz a shout out right back someday. comment 2 is kinda spam-ish, no? you are trying to sell your thing and just tagging my page randomly. delete.

besides, it is counter-intuitive: the only people who will see comment 2 are probably the owner of the page and a few people who happen to stop by when it is showing on the wall. but if the page owner likes your shout out and gives you one back, that shows up in the news stream of all of their likers. wouldn’t that be so much better for promoting your biz?

match your post to the purpose of the page

i have a biz ‘tips & help’ page. my fans are looking for tips & help. they are not looking to buy widgets, at least not on this particular page.  try to add a post that matches the purpose of the page you are visiting.

  1. hi there, i love your page! i have a biz called widgets’R’us and i found this awesome site which tells you how to make your own welcome page. thought folks here might like to check it out.
  2. hi there, i love your page! i am having a sale on my widgets, 50% off for today only. check it out. better yet, let me show you how you can make billions selling widgets.

i love a post that is a tip or a question or advice or a resource! i would probably give you a shout out to show my appreciation for your participation. i might even remember your awesomeness and buy something from you. but if you only ever post to tell us all about your super duper sale, that doesn’t really match the purpose of my page. kinda spam-ish.

there are lots of pages whose purpose IS to promote your page. they want you to add a post about your super duper sale. go find those pages for those types of posts! try:  Promoting Australian Small BusinessPromote My Fan PageThe Mummy Tree Mall - Promote Your Products HereWahm Connect , Australian Fanpage ShoutoutsWAHM Canada It's Your Shout... 

frequency of sales pitches

if every post you send out on twitter, facebook, email etc. is an attempt to get people to buy something from you, that starts to feel a bit spam-ish after awhile.

  1. promote your widgets. ask a question. comment on a post. share a useful link. share a funny anecdote. help another biz owner. give a shout out. comment on a photo. say thanks to someone helpful. tell someone you love their thing.
  2. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets. promote your widgets.

see what i mean? option 2 is annoying. i have mentioned this before, so i won’t go on about it again, but you should read this post: stop selling your thing. i explain why it gets tiresome and give you ideas for other types of posts you can make.  good rule of thumb – for every one post to sell your thing make 10 posts of the other variety.

social media is ultimately about connecting with people. selling your thing might be a result of those connections (that’s what we hope for, anyhow) but people can’t connect with a sales pitch if that is all you ever do.

be real. be present. be personal.

people want connections. they want to feel like they are valued clients/potential customers. so write posts and send messages that are personal and that you have taken the time to write yourself.

  1. hi karen. thanks for following me. i see you have your own biz and like to drink beer, me too! fun to meet you here.
  2. hi karen. thanks for following me. i sell widgets. check my page and get 50% off!

comment 2 is spam-ish, especially if it is sent as an automatic direct message on twitter. yes, it is nice to say thanks for following me, but take the time to type it out yourself and actually see who i am. impersonal, autoresponder types stuff feels a lot like traditional auto-generated spam, so best to not lean towards that type of action.


because you are a diligent biz owner, you may have managed to collect every email address of every person who ever bought or admired your widgets. do you...

  1. send an email to your customer when you think she has run out of widgets to see if she would like to order more
  2. send an email to your entire address book every time you have a 50% off sale.

even if people gave you their email address willingly, option 2 is still spam-ish. for all of your biz news, updates, sale information, special offers etc. that you want to share with customers take the time to set up a proper email list which people can opt in for, which also means they can unsubscribe if they no longer wish to get your emails. i set up my email lists with mailchimp (which i find to be way easier and more convenient than keeping track of email addresses and opt ins and unsubscribes myself.)

think before you post

so that is my run down of biz behaviour that i find to be kind of spam-ish and some alternative things you can do instead. take a look back at those definitions of spam and ask yourself this:

is your message...

  • unsolicited
  • indiscriminate
  • repetitive
  • impersonal

if so, then it is probably a spam-ish sort of message.

try instead to...

  • have an opt in
  • match the purpose of the site you are posting on
  • mix it up with different types of posts
  • connect with people

isn't it worth it if it means your posts actually get read, shared, tagged and enjoyed instead of DELETED?

what do you think? am i being too harsh here? do you find these sorts of posts to be spam-ish as well or do you welcome them? have you had someone call your post spam? were you offended or could you see their point? do you have other types of spam-ish behaviour that you could add to this post? please leave a comment, i would love to hear from you!