Let’s talk about spam. No, not this spam. Unsolicited communication.
Social media is a safe place for users to express themselves and participate in online community activities. Or, it was until marketers started trying to market to us more obviously. Now, I’m faced with a problem, as I love social media and am a very active user, but I am also a marketer. Social media can be an amazing tool if used correctly. However, there is the issue of spam.
Since people can say and do pretty much anything they want online without much intervention, it’s very easy for people to spam and scam you. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has received weird promotional messages or emails from people claiming to be offering me money with no catch at all…
I understand the appeal of surveying twitter users who clearly have an interest in the survey topic, however as Cheong, Aleti, Turner, and Ruskin found, it may not be as perfect as they initially thought. As an avid social media user myself, I’ve received my fair share of messages who may or may not be legitimate, either trying to advertise to me or get me to take part in a survey. I tend to just ignore these, as unless I know the person or know that it is not a scam, there’s no assurance of safety of information. In their study, Cheong et al. provided details so that users could check that they were legitimate, however this isn’t necessarily effective as you can say anything on the internet. I could say I’m a professional psychiatrist and people may not necessarily know better, but it’d be a complete lie.
I believe the key issue in this study was that people use Twitter to have a laugh, and nobody really takes it seriously. There was just a misunderstanding about what users are on Twitter for.
Tolentino discusses how to recognise and prevent spam. I don’t know about you guys but whenever I tag a certain number of people (9 or 10) on Facebook, a bunch of images pop up to get me to prove i’m not just spamming. Twitter also has tweet lock when you’ve tweeted too much, suspicious links, or the same thing over and over. Mackey provides some really great tips for marketers to avoid spamming users.
It’s become increasingly clear that social media is about community, and if marketers push their way into these communities inorganically, it can go seriously wrong. Quite frankly, most users find this method of contact intrusive, as they have no say of whether or not they receive these messages, as Rao and Reiley discuss. Read their article here for further insight into spam.