There is a brutal four-letter word out there that nobody likes to be accused of. The sort of word that can cripple confidence and force one to rethink entire marketing strategies. It’s a silent word, a word often whispered about in small groups before somebody finally finds the balls to hit you with the accusation. Of course, I’m talking about spam.
But what is spam, really?
I’ve seen many definitions of the word banded about. Is spam the regular posting of updates? Is it relentless sales-talk and link sharing? Is every link-share spam, for that matter?
According to the Twitterverse, it’s all of these and none of these.
The Twitter Spam Witch-Hunt
Straight up, I’d just like to clear my conscience and say I’ve never been directly accused of spam, whether that be Twitter spam or any other form. I like to think that I share a variety of types of updates that cover myself in that respect. If you want some advice on doing the same, then this and this article should point you in the right direction.
However, I’m almost certain that 90% of you good, law-abiding writers (myself included) have had that paranoid fear of spamming at least once in your Twitter careers. The fear that the spam police are going to ignore all of your updates and pull you up for that one link you share, tarnishing your reputation forever. Sound familiar?
It is a witch-hunt at times. This is probably due to the fact that actual spam, which I personally define as doing nothing but blowing your own trumpet every hour, is so widespread that an eyebrow is bound to rise at any link or promo shared.
But how do you prove you aren’t a spammer?
The best way to avoid being accused of Twitter spam? Well, firstly, don’t blow your own trumpet all the time. Balance your tweets with shares from other sources, and interact with followers and friends. Debbie Ohi has a pretty comprehensive guide out there stuffed with Twitter tips, so check it out if you’re stuck for ideas.
Secondly, the main way to deal with the Twitter spam police is to put a middle finger up at them. Look – in writing, or in any endeavour for that matter, you can’t always please everybody. If somebody sees your one link and decides to brand you with the ‘spammer’ title on the basis of that, then they probably aren’t worth having as a follower anyway.
A way to work out whether you are spamming or not is simple – ask yourself if you’d like to be on the receiving end of your updates. If you ask people to ‘like’ your Facebook page and buy your book constantly, then you’re more likely going to piss people off than attract them. However, if you’re eclectic in your content, useful in your shares, and helpful/social, you know you’re on the right track.
It makes sense, really. How would you like it if a friend of yours constantly tweeted asking you to follow them on Goodreads? If they shared links every five minutes? You’d either get irritated and unfollow, or get irritated and blank out everything that friend shares. Both outcomes are pretty terrible from a writer-entrepreneurial perspective.
If you’re ticking all the right boxes, then screw what other people think. Leave the Twitter spam police to think up new definitions of spam whilst the rest of your followers enjoy your engaging and helpful content.
What We Saw – Free Chapters!
Over the next four Fridays, I will be sharing the opening four chapters of What We Saw in the buildup to the novel’s launch. However, if you sign up to the mailing list, you will receive all four chapters in PDF form as soon as the first chapter goes live to blog readers on Friday.
Another word – thanks so much to the 5,000+ people who grabbed a free copy of Something in the Cellar last weekend. The giveaway was a great success, boosted by coverage on some of the major book sharing websites. I’ll be writing a post on maximising your KDP success next Wednesday.
What is your definition of ‘Twitter spam’? Do you ever unfollow people on Twitter? If so, why?
Image courtesy of Vince_Lamb via Flickr
I first joined Twitter as a way to meet other indie writers and, yes, promote myself a little. But I’ve been appalled at some of the people I’ve followed who do nothing but tweet links to their books every five minutes. Most I have unfollowed, and you have to wonder how they manage to keep as many followers as they do. That said, I try keep my tweets a mixture of personal messages and an occasional retweet of something worthwhile. I think I’ve only tweeted about my work two or three times.
Can’t wait to start reading What We Saw!
I totally agree, Will. As I always say, promotion is fine as long as its balanced with other things. Some days I’m not feeling particularly social, so I’ll mainly forward links.
And thank you. I can’t wait for you to start reading it!
I’ve been cautious about spam since I started this journey. I think part of the issue is that people have different definitions for (and attitudes) toward spam. Nobody really likes it, of course, but one man’s spam is another man’s dinner, to craft an appalling metaphor.
I’ve noticed in particular that when I start to lose followers, it’s after I’ve tweeted about my books. I don’t believe I’m spamming (I try to keep it to one promotional tweet a day, max), but some people who maybe haven’t followed me long enough to know my twitter habits might be turned off by it. I think it’s more luck than anything; if someone happens to follow me and the first thing they see me tweet is a promo, yeah, that could be a turn off.
I agree, James, especially with the spam analogy. I also try to keep to one to two promotional tweets per day, so I guess it’s just unfortunate if people base everything on that, eh?
The main spam avoidance rule would probably just be to stay wise and don’t worry about it too much. Not everybody can be pleased through one tactic, or there’d be loads of books sharing the ‘secret formula’. Oh wait – there already are, but you get my point.