Archive for the ‘Spam’ Tag

Don’t Follow Blindly

Don’t follow blindly has always been good advice even before Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools. And it’s even more important these days where following or friending without a strategy can become a marketing nightmare.

I first became aware of the potential problems when I innocently used the word “p*rn” in a tweet on Twitter. I forget the actual message but it had nothing to do with the sex industry. Within seconds I receive several emails announcing new followers. So I clicked on the link to check out their profiles and was surprised to see that they were fictitious accounts set up for escort services. They are rather easy to identify as they feature provocative profile pictures, have a high number of folks they follow with almost no one following them, and have only one or two tweets they have sent out. The tweet will have a short URL that leads to their website promoting their services. Lately Twitter has been very active in flushing these folks out and I frequently land on a page announcing that the account has been suspended, “nothing to see here, mosey on.” If the account is still active I will actively block them.

Obviously these folks are using search software to automatically follow folks based on keywords. Not all of them are in sketchy industries. I have a friend that was tweeting about how much she and her family were watching the “NatGeo” channel. Almost instantly she received a message that National Geographic was now following her. I haven’t researched these tools yet but I suspect there may be ways to employ them for marketing legal services. I also suspect there may be ethical reasons why attorneys and firms shouldn’t use them as well!

So the first rule is to never follow blindly, always check out the account before you follow someone new. I know many folks are into trying to ratchet up their follow and following counts but you don’t have to play that social networking game. Remember your goal is to use these tools to brand yourself and drive your business development activities, not to win a “high score.”

Second, evaluate the contact to see if he or she is relevant to your goals. Check out their profile and open the link to their website. Most folks provide the link as part of their profile. You can easily tell if they are a spammer or even a direct marketer using Twitter to promote their products or services. Don’t forget that you may have interests outside of business and chose to follow folks not related to the legal industry. I follow several accounts related to science and space, camping and Scouting. Just remember that anyone can see a list of who you are following, and that includes and escort services you may have robotically followed back. (This accentuates the blending of what’s business and what’s personal in social networking).

So why bother be so selective? At worse, your account may become the target of spam attacks. I know of one account where the owner routinely followed everyone that followed him. He did this as a social networking courtesy, “Ill follow you if you follow me.” His account is now flooded with direct message spam, thousands of messages. Remember that people cannot direct message you unless you follow them. It’s really no different that email spammers. Their goal is to gather your account ID so they can flood you with messages about their “offerings.” This poor guy has been working with Twitter to try to stop the torrent of unwanted messages but I fear he’s fighting a losing battle. His only recourse will likely be to abandon his account and start all over with a new one.

Having to erase your account is a marketing disaster. If you have been tweeting for a while you have built up a decent following of folks interested in your tweets. You lose all of them with a new account. Most of them you have no other way of contacting them other than through Twitter. Are you tracking your key contacts twitter ID and other social networking accounts? You may want to start so you can rebuild your following if you have start over. Another problem of starting over is that you lose your original ID. You have spent a lot of time branding that account. It’s how many folks on the net know you. Worse yet, it may even be your company brand and now you have to walk away from that account ID as it becomes unusable.

Twitter and social networking is still rather new but it’s growing up quickly. This is evident by how quickly the spammers have infiltrated its service. It’s a shame that we cannot just innocently tweet away on the internet anymore. But that’s the nature of the beast these days and we all must learn how to protect ourselves and our online identities. So make sure you practice safe computing with Twitter and don’t follow blindly.