Larry Brauner

What is Spam?

Wikipedia defines spam as “the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages”.

While most people think of spam as junk e-mail, Wikipedia points out that the term applies equally to the abuse of other electronic media:

  • Instant messaging
  • Usenet newsgroups
  • Search engines - This includes creating spam websites, keyword stuffing and social media abuse.
  • Blogs - Besides the computer generated spam a blog receives every day, there are people who believe that a blog’s comment space is some kind of billboard. The same people like to advertise on social networking sites in their and other people’s comment spaces.
  • Wikis - Wikipedia itself is a target of spam content.
  • Online classified ads
  • Mobile phone messaging
  • Internet forums - This is a first cousin of blog and social networking comment spam.
  • Fax transmissions

Spam is Offline Too

It is easy to extend the definition to include non-electronic media and communication:

  • Three foot rule - Anybody unfortunate enough to be standing next to the spammer gets an earful.
  • Car windows - This includes flyers on the windshield and sizzle cards between the rubber and the glass of the driver’s window.
  • Telemarketing and automated dialers - They really sound pretty much the same. It’s hard to tell which is real.
  • Rest room graffiti - Okay, maybe I am taking this a bit too far. However, I couldn’t resist. I’m sure by now you get the general idea.

Spam is Bad Business

Spam is anti-social, alienating and unprofitable, unless as Diane Hochman says, you’re going to do it right and set up an offshore server to blast spam messages to millions of inboxes.

Spam is highly inefficient and ineffective. Nearly everyone is turned off by spam or chooses to ignore it. Some forms of spam are illegal in many jurisdictions.

Forty-four years later, spam is a perfect example of Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message”. The spammer’s methodology becomes the focus of attention rather than the message’s intended content.

Why Do People Spam?

Spammers mistakenly believe that spam is marketing. Spam seems like a good simple marketing shortcut.

Spammers are taught to play the numbers game. Somebody out there is going to fall for it. When spammers fail, they rarely consider that their spam “strategy” was flawed.

The Law of Attraction

Learning to market correctly takes time and effort, but it’s worth the investment. You will attract success. Spam only attracts failure.

Read my articles on online social networking, blogging and personal branding, and come join me to learn more at My Private Classroom.

Real marketing and personal branding shall prevail.

Please share your spam stories. Post a comment. But please, no you know what.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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22 Responses to “How Do You Like Your SPAM?”

  1. Jason Spurlock on September 22nd, 2008 11:54 am

    Keep preachin’ on, Larry. Great post. I tried having this discussion with a ‘friend’ on Facebook yesterday. I’ll spare you the details, but spam is something that I really, really hate and I let him know it quick. Why would, or should I ever do business with someone that tries to form a relationship with me that way?

    Last week, I posted an entry to my blog titled, “Don’t start the revolution without me” describing the same “reverse pitching” and otherwise spam crap ad nauseum.

    Give ‘er a read.

    Jason Spurlock

  2. Becky on September 22nd, 2008 11:54 am

    Unbelievable… take a look at this!!!!!

    Just kidding. I am a firm believer in showing people YOU. Showing people what you are about, building rapport, HELPING PEOPLE, building “relationships”.

    There is nothing more irritating than logging onto one of your sites and seeing you have comments, then scrolling and seeing all kind of ads people have spewed all over the place… if you do not know anything about me, how do you know it will be good for me, work for me, or help me??? Not only is it annoying, but a COMPLETE turn off.

    Larry, yet another good post with great information. I look forward to more :)

    Make today GREAT!

  3. Tim Southernwood on September 22nd, 2008 11:56 am

    Hi Larry,

    How do I like my spam? As much as I like my green eggs I guess ;-)

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Spam sucks.

    In fact I’d also include to your list blog comments that are little more than spam. “hey - loved your blog” is a useless comment, adds nothing to the discussion and is usually just a thinly disguised attempt to place a link.

    With online communities it’s difficult to call it spam because unless there are strict rules in place, you’ve generally agreed to receive comments and messages from other community members, so it’s “anything goes” at times.

    Having been rather careless with my email profiles over the years, I am victim to a deluge of spam and marketing messages on a daily basis. I literally have 23,666 UNREAD messages sitting in my G-mail account at this moment. no 23,668. 23,669
    And so it goes.

    I had to purchase a program to help me prescreen my Home ISP mail accounts (of which I have 10 registered) and this has helped somewhat. The point there is that the real spammers don’t see that I’ve taken the message. This program acts as a buffer..and will even learn from my actions what I consider spam and will bounce them as if the address no longer exists. It also draws from a database from other users to identify spam mail senders. This helps a lot, let me tell you.

    I have several other free online email accounts that I rarely ever touch and that continually amass more mail than I could ever hope to read in my lifetime, and most of it I wouldn’t anyway, so it just sits there “falling” off the edge of my space limitations, or anything over 30 days old just disappears. (yay)

    Short version. Spam takes up an inordinate amount of my time, and that means a cost to my business in lost productivity.
    What bothers me the most is that the spammers never seem to be penalized outside of North America, so they continue to operate with no regard to the laws against spam. Stronger international laws to cover this would be one way that might help to eliminate spam.

    Great article ;-)

  4. Lenai Stewart on September 22nd, 2008 12:14 pm

    When You Spam You Become Spam “I AM”

    Do You like Green Eggs and Ham?

    When You become a Student of Marketing You Learn How to prepare people for The Sale…

    Best Wishes Everyone

    Thank You Larry For Posting This
    You Rock!

  5. Denise on September 22nd, 2008 12:20 pm

    Thanks for this much needed post Larry,

    You have a great audio about the difference between advertising and marketing. Listening to it should be a prerequisite to anyone starting a business online or offline.

    What do you think it’s going to take to drive this message home?? Now that doing business online in some fashion is the norm, should this be taught in Business 101? Should we have tighter SPAM laws? Do we all need to stop and educate those that are spamming because they don’t know any better?

    I’m so tired of being added as a “friend” only to have their next contact spamming me with something I have no need or interest in. Now when it happens, I take them out of my contacts immediately.

    Perhaps we all need to start replying with a standard, professionally worded educational email on the difference between marketing and spamming. THEN we can “un-friend” them…. ;)

  6. Larry Brauner on September 22nd, 2008 12:30 pm

    In my experience Denise some spammers are open to changing while others are not.

    One needs to be ready.

    My advice is save your energy and lead by example.

    As Mike Litman says, “Preach to the choir.”

    We’re looking for people who get it.

  7. Mari Torres on September 22nd, 2008 2:20 pm

    Hey Larry,

    You have done it again, speaking my mind. I wish everyone would read this.

    There are so many people learning the wrong techniques. I just joined Direct Matches again, and I am blown away by the amount of spam I get. Not one person made a genuine comment.

    It seems to me that the best way to promote your business and stand out from the crowd is to NOT SPAM!

    I don’t even like it in a can.

    Mari “The Network Marketing Rebel”

  8. Christine on September 22nd, 2008 3:35 pm

    Thanks, Larry, for the article…. I don’t think spammers get it and some don’t care… I was reading an article on social networking etiquette and finding spam responses… I was surprised that the content against spam was responded with spam… Unbelieveable!! I’m trying to ignore them hoping that they will just go away!!

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your articles!

  9. Misty Scoular on September 22nd, 2008 3:58 pm

    Do not like spam!

  10. Ainsworth on September 22nd, 2008 4:04 pm

    Thanks Larry for this information. I hate SPAM as much as I hate bad breath. It never fails.

    Even though we are friends, that does not mean you have to email me fifty times a month, about the same idea you just told me yesterday.

    Thanks again for the information and keep on doing what you are doing.

    You have a great week.

  11. Dan Jensen on September 22nd, 2008 4:45 pm

    So here’s how I think about SPAM…

    I’m a pimple faced teenage boy at my first high school dance, and I walk across the room to one of the most popular young ladies in the whole school, (whom I have never met, nor have I ever spoken to her), and I ask her,


    I’m thinking that 99.9% of the time, her answer to me is going to be a resounding, “NO!”, and I’m thinking that even worse than her answer, I will likely be persona non grata for the ENTIRE FOUR YEARS OF MY HIGH SCHOOL adventure!

    Don’t walk across the room and ask me if I want to buy your stuff!

    Instead, walk across the room and find a gracious way to meet me and learn a bit about me and what’s important to me, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll find a way to connect as time grows along…

    Thanks for the vent opp, Larry.


  12. Debbie Morgan on September 22nd, 2008 8:03 pm

    Hi Larry!

    Great post.

    I too have befriended people on social networking sites who in their next communication hit me with their ad.

    It’s easy to get angry but I prefer to treat them kindly and begin a dialogue. I try to get to know them and get them to know me.

    It’s time consuming, but that’s the nature of social marketing, and you never know when a spammer could become a customer.


  13. Linda P. Morton on September 22nd, 2008 9:17 pm

    Hi Larry,

    Spam is a problem, but what one person considers fine, another considers spam. Sometimes, it’s “Anything I send to you is fine. Anything remotely promotional that you send to me is spam.”

    That’s the way takers think. To be successful in business, you have to find a balance between taking and giving. If you give too much, people may like you, but you don’t make any money. If you take too much, you’re a spammer.

  14. Jaunesk on September 23rd, 2008 12:10 am

    Hi Larry,

    Reading your post reminded me of the weekly magazine I used to subscribe to. Every now and then they would send you an e-mail asking you to participate in some of form of contest. You need to buy something to get the entry form. If you didn’t buy anything, you had to enter with a pre-postage envelope. Even after I canceled my subscription, they still e-mailed me sometimes. Is this considered spamming?

    I believe that living in today’s world, we can’t avoid spammer. Anyone who has a credit card or has ever stayed in a hotel or has entered a supermarket contest must know that their personal information has being compromised. You receive calls from out of nowhere offering you free inn stays, free gifts, free everything…

    We need to ask ourselves whether we inadvertently gave permission to being spammed.

    At the same time, I ask myself, am I inadvertently spamming others?

  15. TeasasTips on September 23rd, 2008 7:32 am

    Hey Larry,

    I believe many network marketers misunderstand a concept known as “Reverse Marketing”. This is where you respond to a friend electronically with a sales message…but you don’t do this “Reverse Marketing” until you get to know the person.

    What Internet marketing has done for some people is to encourage the ‘gotta have it now’ syndrome. There is no waiting in line on the Internet, it is all fast, so their marketing tactics mirror the same things.

  16. Michael Cruse on September 24th, 2008 12:50 pm

    It is sad, but Spam works. People click on spam more times then you think. I agree with you in that it is purely a number game. The reality is that it is fraught with fraud and you risk much by responding to a spam message. I still do not get why so many people click on these messages. If they stopped, spammer would stop.

    I do understand the spammers, insofar as the numbers, if 0.25% of 1 million messages click in the ad, you have 2,500 visitors. If you convert 0.5% of those you have 12 sales. I am not advocating spam, as I believe it destroys your brand and hurts you long term. Short sightedness drives that industry.

    What I find perplexing is the digital graffiti that I find on so many blogs. Look at the next 10-20 blogs you visit. How many are covered with ads? I feel this is just another form of spam.

  17. Hilary on September 26th, 2008 6:35 am

    You know, you’re preaching to the choir here. I can’t imagine spammers reading quality marketing blogs such as this and changing their ways.

    Spam used to bug the heck out of me, but I realize it’s a result of getting one’s “brand” out there on the WWW and it’s a pesky little clean-up routine that one must do on a daily basis … just like washing dishes.

    I have spam filter on my personal e-mail account, but not on my business. My personal account’s filter does such a good job that it sometimes flags e-mail I would like to have, but I often don’t have the time to scan the subject lines and senders of 75 pieces of mail, so I’ll auto-click and delete.

    I don’t want to take any chances with my business e-mail so I check every subject line and sender.

    I’m new to your blog and I see some subject titles I need to read. Thank you for your efforts here!

  18. sasidesign on September 27th, 2008 4:18 am

    Thanks Larry for this information.

    Great article

    And thanks for sharing.

  19. Hyla Weimann on September 29th, 2008 1:27 pm

    Hi Larry,

    I so agree with you. So often new “friends” in social networks lead with an advert instead of the relationship.

    A couple of days ago I had the same experience in Skype - a new contact sent me an advert, and when I diplomatically explained to him that it is very seldom a successful way to build contacts, he quite politely informed me that he is an internet marketer just like me, and he sees no harm in sending his opportunity for people to look at.

    When I receive anything like that I refuse to even look at the link because as far as I am concerned people like that are not interested in building mutual relationships - only out to get what they can.

    Thanks for a great post.

  20. dan on October 5th, 2008 3:34 pm

    The problem is that most businesses are dishonest. They sell their subscription lists to other companies and so on… the chain never ends.

    Use an email system that filters out spam.

  21. Shaw on January 5th, 2009 1:26 pm

    I like my spam with eggs rice and ketchup! LOL, anyway, you are right about all points…one thing too, you didn’t mention about how much of a waste of resources spam creates. I was reading another blog today, and they talked about how spam attacks on the blog actually got the server shut down from bandwidth pull.

    Spammers and black hatters make things more difficult for all! Shaw

  22. Angela on January 5th, 2009 8:50 pm

    When I set up my first email accountm I was so naive about how spammers worked. I received an email from a spammer who claimed to be a teacher in charge of a class project. She was seeking to get an email from every state in the Union for her class project. I should have known better than to reply. It was from an AOL account. Now I know better, it should have been from a .edu account to be legitimate. Within a week my inbox was flooded with loan consolidation and free cell phone offers, you name it, I was getting an email about it. I had to stop using the account.

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