Guest Posts, Social Media Measurement, Social Media Tools

Social Networking Spam – 5 Rules for Marketers

Josh Mackey is General Manager at PeekAnalytics, a Social Audience Measurement Platform. (More importantly, a family man and sport loving Aussie who loves life).

There has been a lot of talk recently about social networking spam – inactive and bogus accounts on social platforms. While I agree inactive and spam accounts can raise unwanted questions for platforms, these claims should not discourage marketers away from the platforms themselves. Instead of admitting that this “social thing” is not as easy as all that, some are pointing fingers at the platforms, saying SPAM! SPAM! Bad ROI…Spam! Bad CTR…Spam!

The rhetoric above might make for a great headline, but for me it’s lazy sensationalism. Anyone who claims that Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook do not have robust ecosystems, full of amazing insights and opportunities for brands as well as individuals alike, is simply delusional.  That said, marketers who face pushback on social networking spam issues need to be prepared to respond head on.

The advice below comes from insights that I have gleaned from being neck deep in social audience measurement product development for the past year and a half.

Rule #1 – Don’t mix the water with the wine.

Instead of focusing on the spam or inactive accounts, marketers should just accept there is some “spam” mixed in with the “bacon” on every platform, channel or network. It’s about finding tools, best in class techniques and smart marketers that will allow you to get to the bacon, “smell” the bacon, get to know the bacon, and in the end, get the bacon to buy your product and then tell their friends to also buy your product. Mmm bacon!

Don’t skew your analysis with incomplete data. You are better off dealing with a quality subset of audience data to analyze rather than a much larger mess of incomplete and questionable data. Set yourself up with a “minimum cutoff” point that excludes accounts out that don’t have a certain amount of information you require to form a complete analysis. A Twitter account with nothing more than an @name, sharing dating site links every hour on the hour, provides little usable data and obviously stinks of spam. Analyze your audience with a tool that allows you to filter out incomplete and junk accounts.

Rule #2 – Seek out real people.

Social Networking Spam - 5 Rules for Marketers

Social Networking Spam – You Are What You Tweet

Go out of your way to engage with people who are transparent about their identity (I personally think Google+ has this right). Someone who unites their online and offline identity is much more likely to not only engage with people they have met offline (e.g. building stronger relationships), but will also generate a more trusted and larger network online than people using only fake identities and/or usernames. In very few cases do I trust a person or content when that is hiding behind a fake name with no digital footprint or identity. Unfortunately, many marketers have been duped and lured into buying followers from sketchy sites. Trust me: this is not the way to social media success and will only create a false economy by skewing your ROI metrics to unattainable levels.

Rule #3 – Engage with others as you would like to be engaged with.

Remember that a quality audience will always trump quantity. There are many theories that all you need on social media is “100 true fans” to get a message started. The definition of a true fan can be debated, but in reality, for the viral effect to happen, all you need is good content and a few raving fans who have trusted networks of their own for a message to go far and wide. Therefore, focus on building a community of people who will support you as you support them.

Rule #4 – Be humble and honest with yourself!

Take a realistic view of your audience. If you have 10,000 followers, don’t use 10,000 in your click through percentage calculations. Understand that some accounts are inactive, some are social networking spam, very few people sit on Twitter all day waiting for you to tweet. Use tools that try and measure the true size of your audience at any one time and tweet during hours that your audience is potentially awake, engaged, etc

Rule #5 – Remember and respect the meek! For the meek shall…also buy your products.

Every fan matters! 40% of active users don’t tweet! Find a tool that can measure your entire social audience and don’t just focus on the active (talking) audience. You have customers who have chosen to follow you (which may be the only action you see from them on Twitter) but they still have the ability to purchase your products after they read about a sale at the local store from your tweets!


Who doesn’t remember naysayers who claimed: “spam will kill email,” “IM is killing email,” “Social will kill email,” etc? Guess what: Just like the humble text message, email is fine; the value that it delivers for users and marketers remains because it is a powerful and imminently affordable communication platform. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ all have spam issues, no different than every other valuable communication platform that ever existed. Each platform is currently taking unique and aggressive steps to ensure the average user experience is not marred by spam. Social networking spam filters are still in the relatively early days, but big progress is being made.

The value is there; you just need to know where to look and how to create value and a reason for consumers to care about your brand. Get over the “spam” siren call and focus on finding the bacon! If you can’t or refuse to, please feel free to build a platform that is user friendly, has millions of users and is spam free…we will all come join your platform and make you super rich! It will be awesome. Really.

Facebook Comments


  1. Pay_Per_Visit says

    So true! Thanks for posting this Josh! I definitely agree that too many blame the platform instead of being realistic that SPAM happens everywhere. I, too, get overwhelmed, especially with LinkedIn groups when I’m bombarded with meaningless articles or blasts advertising some unrelated item, webinar or business page. But here are definitely “hidden gems” which make it all worthwhile!

    • says

       @Pay_Per_Visit I think I’m most irked by Linkedin spam, because I always feel like as a B2B place, it should be beyond that. Nope. Although some of it is triggered BY Linkedin. One of my least favorite email notifications is the “did you remember you were asked to connect with this guy?” via Linkedin. Lame.

    • joshmackey says

       @Pay_Per_Visit Thanks PPV! I have definitely had less spam on LinkedIn but its there for sure. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  2. says

    Josh, I really like your “there’s spam mixed in with the bacon” analogy! No matter how much we bitch and moan about spammers, they’re not going to go away. In fact, they only seem to be evolving! We have to be ones who adapt, and it does get easier with time and patience. :)

  3. nateriggs says

    Really dig the post, Josh.  Rule #4 sounds similar to what Klout does with the idea of True Reach. While it’s not a perfect metric, it does tend to lean towards a users reasonable expectations of how many people in their network are actually paying attention.  It can actually quite humbling… 😉

    • says

       @nateriggs No kidding. It’s a bubble-burster, but way better than the all-too-common belief that Twitter followers equals reach and/or impressions. 

    • joshmackey says

       @nateriggs Thanks man! I agree, kudos to Klout for putting a metric on paper and making us all think about it. To be fair to Klout and “True Reach” its not a simple thing once you start looking at all the variables. Its why at PeekAnalytics we are focused on “who” you are reaching rather than just how many.

  4. says

    Jay we loved interviewing Josh on both the radio show and holding a virtual panel with him on social metrics.  Gotta give Peek Analytics kudos for giving us great solution.

    • joshmackey says

       @prosperitygal and I loved being on them Michele! Looking forward to connecting on more projects soon!

  5. says

    I like this article. I especially like #2 and #3. I interact easiest, as I think most people do, with those we perceive to be “real” and perhaps even like-minded to ourselves.

  6. says

    I like this article. I especially like #2 and #3. I usually only interact with people I perceive to be “real”. I agree with Pay_Per_Visit above in that too many people blame the platform. Very good point.

  7. says

    I’ve never really heard anyone discredit online marketing as a whole simply because of spam, but being honest about it is the best way; with yourself, but also with potential clients. There is a disproportionate amount of automated spamming accounts on Twitter, but Facebook does a really good job of routing fake accounts if you compare it to earlier social networks. LinkedIn is just a big target, and as they get bigger they will have to institute some type of anti-spam measure or we’ll get overwhelmed.
    I try to explain to people that even a social network or online community with 1 million users is still a huge opportunity (if they’re active). So even if 99 percent of Active Twitter users are bots, it would still be worthwhile as long as you could reach the users that were not. It takes a little work, but you can get results back with 90% targeted leads (all real people) using Twitter search if you’re smart about it. Just an example, that anyone who reads Convince and Convert can relate to, spammers aren’t savvy enough to spam the Hashtag #blogchat every sunday yet (although they may be now lol).

  8. says

    In all of these rules the rule #3 should be the one to be considered particularly when it comes to after sales.  No responding to complaints and queries of your clients can definitely harm your social image particularly on Facebook and Twitter where most of the companies have their own business accounts there. 

  9. garious1 says

    I love the last rule on the list and it reminded me of someone advising that ‘everyone is a customer… so treat them with respect’.. and I think that there’s too much data right now ( do they call it big data this time? ) that there is a business opportunity to be found in curating these data, to help in your business’ predictive analytics model.. Just a thought.

  10. baggzyue says

    @EzyBlogger yeah and some people send a tad to many updates
    slow the #spam rest an eye save a mind
    you’ll get there (;oÞ~~

  11. says

    You made some good insights here Josh! No matter what we do, spammers will always be there. Following us in every activity we’ll make. But it’s our responsibility on how to handle and get rid of them and I know all buyers/consumers are very clever enough to identify what was a real and fake one. With all those contents pertaining on them. ? It’s impossible that you’ll gonna go the wrong way. Right?
    I do agree with the rule #4. It’s like just a give and take relationship.

  12. DenneshoMasteroninan says

    What great information about preventing <a href=””>social network</a> spams. I definitely hate those spammers who hacks my account and post a censored video that tags a lot of my friends..Thanks for this, now I know how to avoid this one.

  13. Rudee says

    I like your analogy of do not mix water with wine. I view Social Networking Spam just like I do those annoying calls from telemarketers. They are not going away. You need to adjust and accept that they are not going away. Actually email spam hasn’t gotten better than it used to be. There are more programs to catch spam emails.


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