5 Ways to Avoid Social Media Spam Traps and Still Market Effectively

Would the real Don Cenobio Sauzaplease stand up? Oh, sorry, he can’t. He’s been dead for 100 years. But that doesn’t prevent him from tweeting. Sauza was even a Twitter celebrity for a while, says Paul Ardoin, global programs director at Belcamp, Md.-based computer and network security product and service provider SafeNet.

“Sauza Tequila tweeted as @DonCenobiofor a couple of years,” Ardoin says of the company’s now invite-only Twitter account. And the thing is, people seemed to like that persona, much like they engaged with the Old Spice Guy or Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World, he says.

But social networks have been stepping up their anti-spam policies—with Google+ not accepting dead celebrity spokespeople, for instance. (The fledgling social network is attempting to have only real people join, with real companies coming next.) Google and Facebook also don’t include pages with live updates from the dead Tequila maker. But they and Twitter did not return requests to explain how marketers can comply with these anti-spam policies. Facebook’s press representative simply provided links to resources.

“Two of the most common social media networks, Facebook and Twitter, have stringent anti-spam policies and anti-spam systems that the networks claim work effectively in the background,” Ardoin says. “Facebook’s CTO even reported that platform spam was cut by 95 percent in 2010. These anti-spam systems are designed to target suspicious activities; for instance, sending the same message to many people not in one’s friend list, or having the vast majority of friend requests ignored.”

Says Dave Scott, CEO of Seattle-based list marketing services provider Marketfish: “Social media companies are looking toward tools like Captcha to ensure that there is a person/brand behind every ad that’s being placed.”

Some proactive measures businesses can take to effectively market while avoiding running afoul of the spam regulations are provided by Ardoin, Scott and:

  • Ian Baer, chief strategy officer at Costa Mesa, Calif.-based marketing agency Rauxa;
  • Dennis Dayman, chief privacy and deliverability officer at Vienna, Va.-based marketing automation software and service provider Eloqua;
  • Jeff MacGurn vice president for earned media at San Diego, Calif.-based search marketing firm Covario;
  • Shawn McNamara, chief operating officer at Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based marketing software and service provider DigDev Direct; and
  • Craig Spiezle, executive director and founder of Bellevue, Wash.-based trade organization Online Trust Alliance (OTA).

1. Branch out. McNamara says: “I would not advocate completely abandoning social media initiatives. I would, however, say that the current restrictive environment seems to make substantial direct marketing efforts difficult, if not impossible, on today’s social networks. Permission-based email from lists the marketers have collected themselves or targeted opt-in third party lists, I believe, are … more effective options.”

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
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