For those of us who use social media as part of our marketing efforts, one of our goals is to sell our products or services! Of course, we also want to build relationships, increase awareness, build a following and so on, but let’s face it, none of those things actually pay the bills. They help, but we also need to actually tell people about what our product or service is and hopefully they’ll either make a purchase and/or tell their friends to.

There’s a fine line – often a very fine line – between promoting and spamming. While many people may think what you’re posting is fine, others may think it’s spam. It’s like the old saying about art: one person’s art is another person’s porn.

More importantly, you may think what you’re posting is fine, but people who read your posts may think they’re spam. That’s where the problem comes in. All it takes is a handful of people reporting your messages as spam to potentially have your accounts – personal or business – limited or even banned.

I manage several social media sites for other entities and unfortunately, spam is an ongoing issue. It’s important to remember that if it’s your Page, Group, etc., you make the rules! I always advise having a statement somewhere that says something along the lines of:

We reserve the right to delete any post containing inappropriate or offensive material or language. Spamming is not allowed and if you post information that is considered spam, your post(s) will be deleted and you may be banned.

That way, if you do have a spammer, you can remove their posts and refer them to the rules.

On one of the sites I manage, we had a person who posted frequently – often daily – about her business. Her posts were only about what she sold. She never contributed to the group in any other way. Additionally, her posts were often in ALL CAPS.

Several members reported her for spamming and as the group manager, I was asked to contact her. The clearly-stated purpose of the group is to network with other businesses in our area. I was polite, pointing out the group rules. As the group is for a business organization like a Chamber, with monthly meetings, I invited her to attend – as my guest – so she could meet the other members and find out more about the organization.

She wasn’t happy.

Her reply was pretty snarky, with lots of ALL CAPS, and, as she doesn’t live anywhere near the group, she had no interest in attending. She also thanked the Facebook creator for accepting and allowing millions of groups to form (huh?). However, most importantly, she said that her posts weren’t spam.

Therein was the problem. She didn’t think her posts were spam, but the other group members did. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

So, how do you tread that fine line? My rule-of-thumb is that at least 80% of your posts and comments on ANY social media site should be informational and non-product/service related. Only 10% of your posts should be about your product or service, but you also need to not be “in your face” with your message.

Obviously, if someone has asked for information and you can answer the question with information about your business, it’s OK to do so. Just don’t go overboard! And remember, it’s really bad form to post your product or service information when it’s not asked for!

I’d love to get your thoughts on this. If you use social media sites for business, what do you do with spammers? What about on your personal pages? Comment below!

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