Posts Tagged 'spam'

Bad PR: Coming to a Twitter feed near you

Another day, another Twitter application springs up. And while Tweet Manager looks useful, it’s also a somewhat dangerous, especially if used by PR agencies or companies  who know nothing about the web and social media. Or, worse still, think they know about social media.

On one hand, Tweet Manager is useful for the prolific Twitterers to manage their accounts. You can auto-post a Tweet at a pre-set time, set up an autoreply (useful for holidays) and manage multiple accounts.

The latter is especially useful for people who handle several brands or feeds across Twitter – or want to perhaps split their personal and professional Tweeting, while the pre-set Tweeting could be very useful in certain circumstances.

But it’s some of the other services that are, as Steven Davies, who first flagged this up, just asking for it. Namely mass messaging.

This feature enables you to send a message to up to 1,000 users at any one time. Again, there are times when it could possibly be useful (a major announcement perhaps) but it’s essentially the Twitter equivalent of sending out a mass mail press release, and probably much more annoying.

Then there’s auto-follow, where the application will follow anybody who Tweets a specific word.

This is already a pet irritation of mine – I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve followed me (probably after a TweetBeep alert) on the basis that I’ve Tweeted a keyword.

Example in point. Not so long ago I Tweeted that I’d had so many emails in a day, my BlackBerry’s vibrate function had caused the device to throw itself off the table. Almost immediately somebody who offered ‘BlackBerry solutions and training’ started following me. Thanks for that.

So, put them all together and it’s now easier than ever for PR people to start spamming Twitter and giving the rest of us a bad name.

Imagine the pitch – a PR agencies pitches to a brand, with no real knowledge or experience of social media. They tell the brand they can set up an account on the hot new site that the whole media is talking about: Twitter.

Not only that, they can also make sure that they track everybody who talks about their product and then hit them all with targeted info (read: mass message).

Brand goes away convinced they’ve cracked the internet. PR then spams the hell out of people who just happen to have mentioned the word, regardless of it they have any interest in the brand or not. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Just *being* on Twitter is not social media. Autoposting and not engaging is not a social media strategy. They’re fine for news feeds (which in themselves are quite a useful thing to have on Twitter) but not for a genuine Web 2.0 strategy. And mass messaging definitely isn’t a social media strategy.

The sad thing is, there’ll probably be a few PR people and.or brands who genuinely think that they’ve now cracked Web 2.0 because they’re posting stuff on Twitter. And then there’ll be those who know they’re not but will do it anyway.

Ok, this isn’t a Demya-type service – and I’ve no doubt that Tweet Manager was built with the best intentions in mind (and they ask users to use the service responsibly), and it does have some useful features. But we’ve already got enough problems working out how to fix email and PR. Let’s not have to do the same with Twitter.

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Demya – a spam tin with a different label is still spam

Spam comments, as any regular blogger and forum user will tell you, are a right royal pain in the arse. While it’s a way of life on teh interweb, it doesn’t make them any less irritating to delete, especially if you get hit by a plethora of spam comments, which is what happened to Lewis yesterday.

He started off by Tweeting that he’d been hit by an unusually large amount of spam. He Tweeted his further investigations, and uncovered the source – a company called Demya who, for the princely sum of £75, promise to publish 100,000 forum posts promote website, products and service. They stopped short of offering to love you long time.

And how do they promise to do this? By going out into communities, engaging with bloggers and forums, or even just alerting relevant people to the product? No, they’ve gone for a much more simpler option:

“We use special software to automatically register on forums worldwide and post promotional messages.

Your message will appear to be a normal post on forums. Different usernames are generated by our software so that each forum registration and post appears to be unique. You can ‘rotate’ pre-written messages and publish multiple promotional posts.

This is the most advanced level of penetrating online established communities.  We can target communities based on your campaigns keywords.”

They’re not overly picky about which clients they take on either:

“Do you Promote Gambling, Dating or Viagra Campaigns?
Yes, we don’t care what the website, product or service is that we are promoting. ”

But, get this, their services are completely and unequivocally NOT SPAM. Ok?

“Legality
We do not “spam” forums or emails. We use an automated system that registers on hundreds of thousands of forums for legit accounts and posts your custom messages automatically. “

Funny that. I could have sworn that sending out an automated system posting hundreds of messages out on random forums and blogs without any thought for the content is, well, spam.

You can take a tin of spam, put a label on it and call it ham. But it’ll still be spam inside. The same goes for the online version. No matter how many times you say “hey, this isn’t spam” doesn’t change the product in front of you. Spam. Or, as Helen Lawrence rather nicely lists it:

“There are a zillion things wrong with this.

  1. It’s spam. Spam, spam, spam, spam. Forums are not the place for marketing messages.
  2. Contrary to their site’s claims, this kind of activity will actually push you down lower in search rankings.
  3. Even if forums were the place to send out marketing messages how the hell are you supposed to monitor 10,000 possible conversations (most of which will be ‘fuck off’) and gain any insight from it? Just attack and leave, what kind of relationship is that? Don’t go into a forum if you’re not being honest and you don’t have anything to offer other than a promotional message.
  4. It’s spam.
  5. It’s spam.
  6. It’s spam
  7. Its’ spam

Oh, I’m so angry. How does this kind of rubbish still exist? Why do people still think that forum spamming offers any kind of result other than just pissing people off?”

The sad thing is there are probably a few brands or businesses who’ve decided to get a web presence and think this is a surefire way to get attention for their product on the web. Well, yes, it will. But only if you want to appear in Google rankings having people yell “Spam” and much worse next to your name.

Frankly, I’d have no sympathy if any company goes down this route and finds it backfiring on them. If you’re that stupid about your approach to online PR and marketing, then you probably deserve bad Google karma.

I try not to swear often on this blog (a policy that’s not anywhere near as successful in real life). I always feel that, unless you’re particularly good with your profanity, swearing kind of undermines your argument.

But when even Helen, whose blog is a lovely, friendly, excitable happy place that often comes with recipes for bacon brownies and lusting after McFly, feels compelled to describe them as spammy cunts, I think I’ll make an exception. So Demya, I’d just like to say that you’re an absolute bunch of spamming cunts and I’d quite like you to take your service, shove it up your arse, and fuck off while you’re doing it. Kthnxbai.


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