It is that time of year again… when the social media market heart gets all aflutter and decides to follow me so that I can be blessed with reading their content. Yes, they may be a financial company targeting Americans living in the USA who need help with their 401K but that doesn’t stop them following people who don’t follow them. Yes, it is the season where heterosexual marriage counselors in the USA start following gays and lesbians living abroad. Their follow is indiscriminate because they aren’t interested in reading about gays and lesbians in Australia or Australians who don’t have to worry about American 401ks. Yes, it is spam follow season… where the whole world is indiscriminately marketed at.
If you can’t tell, I really loathe this season. I hate those e-mails from Twitter: Hi! Irrelevant company with 10,000,000 is following you! Congrats! This is just a crappy business practice than can have a negative impact on ROI and piss off casual users who aren’t looking to be indiscriminately marketed at.
Most of the time, I don’t follow people back. (I’m currently getting about 1 to 3 follows a day from Bieber fans who like to Tweet about getting 10,000 followers fast. Most have 100 followers. I just ignore them.) Sometimes, I like to @ reply thanking for the follow and asking why they followed me. Sometimes, I DM them. If I’m cranky or I think this is a business or social media guru who should know better, I like to add them to my spammer list.
Which brings us to today’s specialness… I got an e-mail from Justin Dalton at answersocean.com. (I don’t know his Twitter handle or his company’s handle. It was never mentioned.) He wanted off my spam list. I e-mailed him back the following response:
If you were put on my spammer list, it was likely because of the following scenarios:
1) Followed me where I could not determine why I was followed (what are our shared interests? what shared geography did we have? what shared friends do we have?)
2) Followed me and did not interact with me to explain the above,
3) Posted using a method like API or Twitterfeed where it appeared likely that there was not a person behind the wheel and the tweets were automated,
4) Followed me and had 1,000+ followers where it appeared unlikely that you would ever read my content or interact with me as the chances of you seeing my content were infinitesimal,
5) Your follow looked like an attempt to improve your follow count total while not offering any value to the people you were following.
The act of unfollowing me is largely irrelevant as the initial follow behavior appeared spam like.
I’d be happy to remove you from my spammer list but I’d first have to hear about your current follow practices. How do you select who you follow? What sort of value do you give to the people that you follow?
He sent back the following reply:
First thing first:
1) If you were being followed automatically, you wouldn’t have been engaged in this mail conversation.
2) It’s true that we had auto-followed people but that was just to test the system, and we have subsequently un-followed people since then.
3) It’s good that you are trying to be a ‘Twitter mentor’ or ‘Twitter agent’ but you are not what you are pretending. You are on twitter to ‘market your blog’, increase ‘reader count’ or to ‘get more traffic to your blog’ because you ‘think’ you are providing value through your blog. That’s what millions of companies/peoples doing on twitter.
4) Our initial request to you was polite but you didn’t reply back to us in that way and seemed ‘arrogant’ in the way you made us reply back to get us removed from your list.
5) We are neither twitting automatically nor spamming. We are here to provide value as well.
Finally, the act of un-following you is not ‘largely irrelevant’ as following seemed to ‘offend’ you and you were crazy to waste your time to take actions against us, so if you wish to remove us from the list, it would be nice and we would be thankful to you otherwise this is our last mail to you regardless of your further actions.
It’s special. The ‘scare’ quotes and the calling me a liar. This sort of thing is not how you sell your company. I also have no idea, based on this e-mail, what his company is or what they do. I don’t even know what the Twitter handle in question is. Ooops.
Take aways from this:
1) Be selective in who you follow. There are people like me who don’t want contact from random strangers where they can’t make clear connections as to why they were followed.
2) Don’t call people liars. Your experiences are not universal and people use social media for a variety of reasons. They won’t all be universal.
Edited to add: I had e-mailed an offer back to answersocean.com and offered to promote them if they could tell me what their company could do for me. I got a nice one line generic bit that implied my blog was really well done. There was no indication that they had even read my blog at http://ozziesport.com/ . They didn’t comment on the topic of Australian sport. This is massive fail. Don’t use generic terms that indicate you didn’t read it. They also said it looked very professional. I use free Word Press themes. I didn’t design the site. It is another generic comment that says they didn’t read it.
answersocean.com never did tell me what their site can do for me. I gave them a fair amount of material to work with to cater a personal response. I included where I lived and my interests, both personal and professional. I’ve still no idea what answersocean.com can do for me that Yahoo!Answers can do for me.
If a potential customer asks you what your product can do for them, the emphasis should be on them. Personalize your sales message. If you can’t personalize, you can’t target an audience to get those key influencers that can help you grow and people won’t use you. Also, they’ll write you off as spammers or totally clueless. (That’s answersocean.com: Sending out indiscriminate follows and not being able to connect with their customers.)