Some case studies about spam - Cendrine Marrouat Photography

Have you ever wondered what happens when businesses and entrepreneurs use spam to convey their messages? Let me tell you a story...

Years ago, I was in a writers' forum and we were discussing the impact of the new Facebook "like/sharing" application in terms of traffic to blogs and news sites. One of the members (let us call him David) left the following comment:

Facebook is good in some ways, if you know how to target its use well. I for one, have found a very useful system on Facebook that shall remain a secret for now, because once everyone else figures it out it won't work any more. Anyone who has a little bit of savvy and some good intuition about Facebook and how it works is probably already doing what I am. But if I told everyone what that system was, it would yet again make us look spammy if everyone did it. Plus my system only works for certain topics as well.

The comment really puzzled me. A secret formula that, once revealed, would make you look spammy? "Go investigate," screamed my inquisitive mind.

I Googled David and was directly led to his Facebook Fan Page. What I saw did not surprise me at all. The secret formula was spam taken to the highest level. After sharing the links to his articles on his Page, David visited a countless number of random Fan Pages -- among which world-renowned brands' -- and posted there, while repeatedly asking fans to share his articles with others. And the topic did not even matter. He just spread his content everywhere...

While his articles where written in good English, they lacked some spice and good keywords.

I asked a few friends (writers and non-writers) to visit his Fan Page and blog and then send me some honest feedback. Their answers were scathing. For example:

- "I am very disappointed and somewhat amazed that someone is bullying readers to share the content when all it takes is to produce original work, reporting and a kicker. Surely that is not too much to ask."

- "I could not even read the articles. The Fan Page did it for me. I will not 'like' it and should report it as spam. And don't count on me to recommend it!"

Through his actions, David lost fans. And if he does not change his approach soon, he will probably regret boasting about his secret formula...

You cannot force others to "like" you. You must give them the chance to trust you first. A respectful and professional attitude will do wonders. So, ask people permission before sharing tons of links on their profiles/pages. If you do not, chances are that they will never forget it. And they also will be more than happy to tell others about you. Can you guess the end of the story? 

Two more case studies to ponder...


Being contacted by entrepreneurs and businesses is part of the daily grind of having an online presence. Most of the time, those e-mails get deleted without being read. For those who wonder why, this article is for you.

As a professional, you must understand your customers' reactions. The first step to craft an effective message is to put yourself in their shoes. And nothing is better than to use case studies.

Case Study #1


Imagine receiving the following e-mail in your Inbox.

"Good evening,
I invite you to discover my news agency on the Internet.
Visit: [link]
Enjoy!
Kindest regards,
XXXXXXX"

The sender may be courteous and go straight to the point, the cons outweigh the rest.

  • No context provided: What is a news agency? Some readers may have never heard of that phrase. Be more specific. Give a definition, explain what you do, and why you think you can help the recipients of your e-mail. Why do they need your services? Without context, people will not bother clicking on the link.

  • Impersonal message: It often happens with mass e-mailing. It is essential to interact with readers and potential customers. In the aforementioned message, no question such as "How are you?" or "What is new with you?" is asked; the tone is not really friendly either. People need to know that you care. If you do not feel like sending a personalized message to them, at least write something nice that does not say: "Please, buy!" It may not have been your intention but your message comes across that way.

  • No introduction: Even if the readers of your message know you, it is important that you (re-)introduce yourself. Why? Because you are obviously doing business, not e-mailing friends. And unless a person has agreed to be sent such messages, you are just spamming their Inbox.

  • No invitation to submit feedback or questions: What are recipients supposed to do?

  • What does the entrepreneur want from potential customers? To simply "enjoy" the website?

    Case Study #2


    Imagine asking the following question on LinkedIn: "What is the best and most effective way to promote an event?" Usually, respondents give very useful answers. So, you want to make sure that you show your gratitude by sending them a private "thank you" message.

    Now, imagine receiving the following:

  • "Do me a favor, and give me a 'best answer' choice on my answer, if it helps you? The 'best answer' thing helps me... Sorry to ask, but, I need these things now."

  • While the sender is very honest, the major con is actually begging. They are not asking you a question, they are expecting you to vote for them. And truly, they may be "sorry to ask" and "need these things now," but you do not know them yet. LinkedIn is a professional network.

  • "Finally, something that will get your event more attention is having more recommendations on your own profile. If you of a mind to do so, we can even trade recommendations: you write your, email it to me, I post and I would do vice-versa. Some feel this is not "honest," and this is not untrue; it does, however, simply affect search engines and results, attraction to your profile, and thus, is something akin to "SEO" for LinkedIn... Think about it?"

  • A stranger asking you to swap recommendations on LinkedIn? How can you recommend someone that you do not know? The sender is being pushy. Their recommending you may well affect the LinkedIn search engine ranking and attract more visitors to your profile. Yet, this is not an honest approach. LinkedIn is a place for professionals; you want to be recognized by your peers for your honesty and hard work.

    It is up to you to choose if you want to pursue the business relationship further. Overall, despite a true willingness to help, the sender chose the wrong approach.

    Conclusion


    Communication is key. To be taken seriously by customers, entrepreneurs must educate themselves on effective ways to present their messages. So, it is essential to do research and build solid relationships. It is the only way to be successful in the long run.

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