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Warm Spam: The Worst Social Media Recipe, Ever.

Delicious warm SpamBack in the old days of the Internet/Email, it was a happy place (we’ll call this time period B.S. “Before Spam”). In the BS years the Internet was pure information and email was a way to communicate useful information and conversation. Every time an email came in, it was like a little butterfly of excitement flew into your computer, knowing it was containing an ingredient of awesome. Then something changed. Email started getting UnAwesome.

Cold-callers, Cold-knockers (those that went door-to-door) and Car-smackers (placing flyers on your windshield) realizing that their methods of sales assault worked less and less, had found a place that they no longer even had to lift a finger to push their useless wares on the public. “Now we can email our crap!” and proceeded to group-high five (which is now evolved to awkward fist-bumping).

The holders of the inboxes started to get angry and classified anything they didn’t ask for as Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE), or SPAM for short? Laws were passed, ISP’s set up block lists and the word was spread “People don’t like spam. Stop it.”

If you are accused of being a spammer, it’s the biggest shame there is in business.

Now there is a bigger problem. Warm-Spam. Social Spam. Friendly Unsolicited Commercial Contact (FUCC). It’s the practice of spamming your social media contacts and it needs to stop.

Think about it, someone finally accepts you as a contact on LinkedIn, follows you on Twitter, friends you on Facebook and apparently that is yiddish for “SELL SELL SELL!!” to some.

It’s actually worse than old-school spam. With a faceless spammer, we can delete/block and think evil thoughts about them, but with social spam, you sometimes know the person in real life, so removing/blocking them can cause more awkwardness then seeing Uncle Louis at Christmas dinner after he poked you on Facebook.

Some common Warm Spam techniques:

1. Real Event invites – Inviting your entire friend list to an event, regardless of geographic/demographic make-up. (more on this practice in a previous post)

2. Fake Event Invites – An event made for a non-event. It could be your “website launch party” or “Vote for me because my self-esteem is based on artificial online popularity campaigns”. It’s not even the issue of the “event” itself, but the relentless inviting and messaging people who haven’t “RSVP’d” for an event that doesn’t exist that make people stabby.

3. LinkedIn Emails that show everyone’s email address. Nothing like you emailing everyone about your upcoming paralegal training seminar through LinkedIn, which exposed our private email addresses to each other! Yes, this just happened.

4. Tagging – Mostly on Facebook, but now creeping into Google+, it’s the practice of tagging someone in a pic/post for the sole purpose to make them read it and have it appear on their timeline.

5. Auto-DM – Tweeting someone about your Facebook fanpage as soon as they follow you on Twitter is like shaking someone’s hand at a networking event and then asking if they want to go to another event down the street.

6. Publicly Shaming – Asking someone to support a cause publicly by adding their Twitter name is like asking me to support your charity at an event with other people standing around. Ask privately or post a general support message. Don’t shame people.

7. Fan page requests – Inviting people to “fan” your business by sending a request hurts my brain. Add it to your blog, put it in the signature in your email, but going out and picking people to be fans is just awkward.

8. Farms Run By Mafia Ville – I know you want more coins/land/bullets are whatever they’re offering you to invite “your friends” to play a game of Farmville/MafiaWars/TheSims but stop it. While you’re tending to your farm, we talk about you behind your virtual back. (Thanks to Amanda Wood for the reminder on this one!)

Relax your pitchforks, “real” business people, I’m not saying never sell. I’m not even suggesting social media is a sacred ground, never to be sold on. It’s the method. Your wall on Facebook is yours, do as you please. You want to tweet about your upcoming teleclass? Knock yourself out. You lease that space. However, as soon as you add my @UnMarketing to the tweet or tag someone on a page, well, now you’ve FUCC’ed it. Especially if that action also generates an email to that person, now you’ve spammed their email with the notification. Double FUCC’ed.

Your wall, your profile is your real-estate. Post as many promos as you want. But you soon realize that nobody is sharing/liking/clicking/retweeting them. Now, a logical person would realize “Hey, maybe people aren’t engaging with my ads because they don’t really like ads in a social setting.” But sadly, most react “People aren’t clicking because they missed it!! I’ll just post this on their page too!!”

Nobody has joined a social media site to get sold to, but people do actually buy from people they know, like and trust, things that are created by being social with others. See that equation. Be nice, be helpful and don’t FUCC people, and social media can be the greatest thing in the world.

Have you had a friend send constant Warm-Spam? What did you do? Leave a comment below!


  • Lisa Radke

    Easy to understand article on social media etiquette and why you shouldn’t FUCC your friends…

  • Carra Riley

    This post pretty much says it all!  Teaching people to be social is a hard task when they are all about bottom line… the motive has to change or it’s just “spam.” in a social setting.  Great message.

  • How about authors that ask you for a blurb through a mass email?

  • Pam Ross

    Auto DM may be my least favourite. I recently got an auto DM from someone whom I engage with often on twitter but twitter gremlins had made me unfollow. I followed him again and within seconds got an auto DM saying how nice it was to meet me and that I should join his FB page. Perhaps the twitter gremlins knew something I didn’t.

  • Cleo

    i don’t know what else to say but thank you! this is valuable information. as both a consumer and a new business owner i am pleased to see it shared.

  • So I guess I’m late to the party…just saw this article Scott.  Once again, you bring it without excuses and with great clarity.  I love that you say what others are thinking but won’t.  Thanks for doing the dirty work for all of us.
    Hope to run into you live and smiling in person again soon 🙂

  • So I guess I’m late to the party…just saw this article Scott.  Once again, you bring it without excuses and with great clarity.  I love that you say what others are thinking but won’t.  Thanks for doing the dirty work for all of us.
    Hope to run into you again soon to soak up your words of wisdom and wit live and in person 🙂

  • Freaking awesome – I think you got all my pet peeves – I especially hate Auto-DM’s. Thanks.

  • Great stuff Scott. No one joins social media to get sold.

  • LaTonyaJohnson

    Scott…. I’m going to have to meet you in person.. We could probably be the best of friends, because the, “FUCC’ed,” statement had me on the floor laughing.

    Way to go Bro.  That was too funny!

  • Doctorquadlander

    …most react “People aren’t clicking because they missed it!! I’ll just post this on their page too!!” hahaha… too funny & too true, Scott.

  • You are right, I am fed up with game invites from my friends (real friends) in facebook. Every day I can see huge amount of messages like my friend  “X” earned 100 gold coin etc   from GAME.

  • Sometimes there are signs and portents in the spam which make it worth reading. Like a dodgy newspaper it gives me something to chuck away but first consider.  I might see something that reminds me of a job, links me out to another topic I had forgotten to catch up on. So keep the SPAM coming please! 

  • Great article. I need to check myself before I wreck myself sometimes.

  • Michelle M

    My favorite warm spam case came when I received a message about “an exciting job opening with career advancement opportunities” from a company that fired my husband a few years earlier because he had the audacity to ask that his compensation reflect his performance and the additional revenue he brought to the company.  We both work in the same field, and at one time worked for this same company, and have a fairly uncommon last name.  Not sure if they simply weren’t paying attention or they honestly thought either of us would come crawling back to a company that treated him like garbage despite his great productivity but either way I can see why the company has closed half it’s offices.

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  • What’s starting to bug me is the cutesy/cool diminutives used by a lot of “women’s topic” bloggers trying to be warm in their newsletters. Example: “Hello sweetpea, are you ready to be a badass?” This week, I’ve been called sweet love, gorgeous one, beauteous soul, etc. by women I’ve don’t know from Adam (sorry, Eve).

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  • Sarah Roberts

    Great post. I think a lot of people look at social media as a way to yield a “positive ROI” or else they consider it a waste of time/effort. They feel like they’re failing if they don’t make sales from it directly…immediately! So Un-true! :0 Thanks for sharing!

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