You hear me talk about spam a lot on this blog, and how you should avoid it for your direct sales or network marketing business. Yet I sometimes get questions about what actually constitutes “spam.” I do actually extend the concept of spam beyond the legal definition as it relates to your business. So here’s some clarification.
Let’s start with the legal definition of spam:
- Wikipedia defines spam as “the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.” This means that you send messages about your business to groups of people without their permission (thus the “unsolicited” part.)
- In recent times, many governments have passed legislation prohibiting spam emails. When people who send these messages are caught, there are legal repercussions. There’s a very good, clear overview of the US CAN-SPAM requirements here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003#The_mechanics_of_CAN-SPAM
So that’s all well and good. You won’t send bulk emails to people who haven’t given permission. Done, right?
Just because this particular method of sending unsolicited business messages is prohibited under law, it doesn’t mean that other forms of sending these messages is OK. There’s a reason these laws were created. People don’t want this type of message. And sending them anyway does nothing positive for your business.
When you think about spam as it relates to your business, here are some other ways you could be spamming your contacts:
- Sending out business messages via a general status update to all your friends through a profile. This can take the form of “join my team” and “buy my stuff” posts: product highlights, telling people why they should join your company, sending out a general bid for people to host a party, etc. It’s essential that you save this type of message for an “opt-in” area, such as an opt-in newsletter or a Facebook Page that someone needs to “Like.”
- Sending private messages about your business through your social networks to people you don’t know. These might be people you’ve found on a friend’s social networking profile, or seen in a public online forum. It’s not appropriate to send messages about your business to people you don’t know, period. First, it is much more likely to annoy people than do your business any good. But it also makes the industry as a whole look bad. “Oh, there’s another one of those MLM pitches. I hate that kind of company. They’re always sending things like that.” We don’t want people to say that. Don’t be the cause of it.
- Posting your business or link in public places, such as someone else’s Facebook Page or blog comments without permission. If it’s someone else’s space, don’t self-promote! It’s bad manners. Someone else has worked very hard to build a following there. If you try to hijack that audience, you make yourself look bad, and also alienate the person who owns the space. If you want to promote to an audience, build your own!
The main thing to keep in mind is that all this spamming is ineffective. I hear it time and time again…”I used to do that stuff and it never worked.” There is no shortcut to building the relationships in social media that actually lead to business. If you think it’s going to be quick, think again. It doesn’t work that way.
What spamming behavior by direct sellers drives you crazy? What would you add to my list? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.
image credit: pandemia