Are You Spam?

Spam. Everyone hates it, but few marketers are truly prepared for the changing definition of what constitutes “spam” to most people they are trying to reach. Hotmail’s push to eliminate greymail has brought the new definition of spam front and center, however; marketers would do well to pay attention to the conversations taking shape around the issue.

Spam can now be defined as “anything you don’t want to see”.

That puts even legitimate incoming items or messages as well as updates and emails from friends, family and trusted sources in the hot seat. If someone subscribes to your newsletter and you exceed the number of messages they consider appropriate for their day-to-day level of available attention, you are now spam – even though they asked for your newsletter.

Games and apps like Spotify on Facebook? Spam to most people, even if they play the game or listen to music. Games on G+ sending out notices? Also spam. Pictures of your adorable children? To some folks that’s spam also. Someone sending a tweet to the wrong handle because they are too lazy to log in to the computer and check that it’s their actual friend? Spam. Language being used that the other person finds offensive on social networks? Spam. Different politics or religions than the recipient you are sending messages for your cause? Spam. Those videos your company wants to go viral or those votes you need to get into SXSW? Spam, spam, spam.

So how does a marketer circumvent this new definition of spam and the universal desire to get away from traditional spam of the Nigerian prince type and greymail as well? Since a person’s definition of spam is entirely subjective and personal now, thats going to be trickier and trickier as time goes on. Here are a few tips:

Be Relevant

Make sure you are being relevant to the medium or network on which you are sharing. Not all messages are appropriate for all platforms. Each network has a culture and expectations – familiarize yourself with them and keep to the etiquette of the network or email group you are sharing with.

Be Timely

Track your open ratio on your email newletter. Track your stats on social shares. Pay attention to when and where people do read your message. Then adjust your shares for optimum interactions. Once you’ve figured out when folks want to hear from you – leave it alone. Don’t overshare. Resist the urge to share the same thing repeatedly – doing that will only get you marked as spam as you become more annoying.

Be Interesting

No amount of timeliness can counteract a boring message that doesn’t resonate with whoever receives it. Do your homework and find a way to tell your story and involve people with what you are sharing – don’t just use these outlets as your bullhorn.

Be Optional

Offer Clear Ways To Opt Out. This one speaks for itself. People won’t have to click that spam button if your unsubscribe method is clear and up front and simple to use. Make it easy for folks to get their time back. They’ll find you on one of your other channels where they think your message is more appropriate if you do so.

Marketers, what are some of the techniques you are using to avoid becoming everyone’s least favorite lunch meat?

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