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  • How To Spam Friends and Irritate People

    Posted on February 7th, 2012 Andy Parkes 6 comments

    If you write anything on the Internet that you want people to read there are now lots of different ways for people to find out you have new content.

    When I first started blogging there were generally three practical options.

    1) Subscribe to the RSS feed (if it had one) and keep a regular eye on your news reader

    2) Subscribe to the sites mailing list (if it had one!) and you’d get an email whenever something new was added.

    3) Visit the website regularly – which if we’re honest it’s not very practical if there are lots of sites you frequent!

    As a writer you didn’t have to do much for any of these to work as the first two options could be handled by your blogging software and the third one has nothing to do with you.

    The web is much more crowded place now so getting yourself heard needs a bit more work. Fortunately if you want to let people know about your new content you can harness the power of social media.

    The great thing about this is that if you write content that’s of interest to your audience they’ll use social media to promote your content for you via likes, shares and retweets which in turn drives more traffic to your site.

    You can start the process off by creating accounts on social media networks so your audience can subscribe to you. Each time you create new content you can push notifications out through these accounts and links to your new content will appear in front of your readers eyes on their timelines and follow lists. You can even automate this process so you don’t have to lift a finger!

    However, it’s not quite that simple as everyone has different habits on social networks.

    As an example.

    Mr Anderson is very selective about who he follows and keeps that list quite small to ensure that he can keep up with everything that’s posted. This allows him to read every single thing that comes his way. If we use Twitter as an example he may only follow 100 people at a maximum.

    Mr Smith, however follows EVERYBODY. This could be anything between 500-5000  different people which means anything that appears in his timeline generally flies from view within a couple of seconds. Getting Mr Smith to read something of YOURS is usually down to timing and luck.

    From a writers perspective Mr Anderson is great as you know if you post something once he’s going to see it and if he really likes it he’ll retweet and share with his followers.

    That doesn’t mean Mr Smith isn’t important too but if you post something once you’ve got to get the timing spot on.

    You also have to take Mr Smiths reading habits into account. He may only check his account a couple of times a day. Before he starts work and during lunch for example.

    So the solution is to post about your new content several times and ensure you do it at certain times of the day when you think the people you want to get in front of will read it. If you post enough times Mr Smith may eventually pick it up. It’s highly likely he’ll still miss it which means he could be missing out on some information that’s important to him. Conversely the writer is missing out readers purely because of bad timing and luck. 

    But what about poor Mr Anderson?

    If he only follows a smaller amount of people he’s going to see the same content from you posted again and again. You’re now “spamming his timeline” and if you do it enough you may irritate him to the point that it’s not long before he’s clicking the “unfollow” button.

    I am in a position where the number of people who read my content doesn’t directly cost me business but if I was trying to generate an income from my site or if it was a key part of a wider marketing strategy it’s something I’d be very worried about!

    So what to do?

    No idea if I’m honest.

    At the moment I cater mostly to Mr Smith. If I’ve written something I’ll share it several times but I’m very conscious of how many times I do this and how much time I leave before re-posting.

    I also know that even after doing all that work getting Mr Smith to catch your notification is still hit and miss. On a couple of occasions I’ve had a conversation with someone around a topic I’ve recently blogged about but they’ve missed in their social media timelines.

    If you write online content I’d love to hear your thoughts on this?

    Conversely, if you read a lot of online content I’d like to hear your thoughts too. Does it irritate you when you get your timeline spammed? Do you understand it’s part of how people get their message out or is that not enough something you’d considered?

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    Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. He is also Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013 and coordinates AMITPRO which is a peer group for IT Professionals in the Midlands area. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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    6 Responses to “How To Spam Friends and Irritate People”

    1. I fall into the Mr Anderson group.
      There are people who I follow and would love to get their information, but they just do too much of it, so I end up unfollowing and putting them into a group for occasional viewing.

      Those on the list though, I whizz through when I have the time, looking back on many hours of data to see if something catches my eye. That’s why you may see that I get more active at periods then quieten off. I squeeze as much as I can in those 5 minutes spare to spread the word and collaborate where I can.

      I’ve tried being a Mr Smith and it just doesn’t work.

    2. Cheers Matt

      That makes sense – what qualifies as “too much”?
      Is it someone who posts lots of different things frequently or someone who is re-posting the same stuff for maximum coverage?

      Agree Mr Smith can’t really work long term – there are lots of them though!

    3. Too much does not depend on the quantity of the same post or separate posts, its just based on the quantity.
      If I have information from one person that I think I would like to gain knowledge from, they are potentially taking away the information that I have already chosen to receive from other people.
      If all you see is a constant feed of well meaning information from the one person, then unfortunately they get culled from the list. The time to absorb what information gets put in front of you can be very precious, and by limiting yourself to one indulgent stream of information you leave yourself open to missing those other nuggets.

    4. I suspect that most creators of content do so at least for their own edification as much as to give something to the community. And I applaud them for that and I see nothing wrong or negative in it. In fact quite the opposite – its a perfect win/win.

      The corollary to this is that creators should no more worry about how it is consumed than consumers should feel able to demand more, different, better content or have legitimate concerns over its delivery.

      If they like your content they’ll find a way to read it. If they don’t, they won’t.

      It’s only an issue if the creator’s ego demands numbers (readers, followers, hits etc.) in which case they probably don’t care if they’re spamming peoples’ timelines and annoying the community.

      I love the fact that our community has so many people who give freely of their time, expertise, knowledge and support. I genuinely admire those like you and Matt who are exemplars as far as I am concerned. My advice – try not to add to your hectic agenda by worrying how your giving might … ever so, ever so slightly … Impact on a getter..

      The mighty Karl Palachuk says it all – Relax, Focus, Succeed.

    5. I run a website and face similar issues. My stance on the matter is I’d much rather have happy, loyal readers like Mr Anderson than have to resort to spam to get Mr Smith’s attention. By reposting the same thing several times I risk annoying Mr Anderson, for me that’s striclty a no go area!

      If I write a new article it gets posted once to my sites twitter feed. The site may get 8-10 new articles a day, so I do get quite a lot of posts as each article goes live. This helps with timing, as any one of those posts may hit Mr Smith. But at the same time, each one is a new article for Mr Anderson to see.

      I also offer a mailing list, which is scheduled to go out just after 5pm. The idea there being that it will be the first thing people see when they get to work the next day. Hopefully resulting in them reading my content with their morning coffee!

      To address Vaughan’s point about it being edification and it not mattering if people read it or not. That’s fine when you do it for a hobby, however, when you are trying to attract advertisers all they care about are visitor numbers! So for me, I want to attract as many people to the site as I can, and in some ways don’t particularly care if they read it or not (though I’d prefer it if they did).

      I’m interested about Mozilla’s new idea for opt-in push notifications for websites. So my browser will pop up a little notification if a site I’ve subscribed to posts a new article. A bit like RSS but in real time.

      Personally, I just use RSS feeds and sort them. I’ve used that method for years, no other system is as efficient. I don’t miss anything that way and I can choose when I want to read more.

    6. I follow a very small number of people and still didn’t know about this blog post until today.

      So I am not catered for you in your readership profiling!

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