When I work with people new to social media, they envision thoughtful and probing comments as to the products and services they offer.
They create a video or audio product or post a new article on their blog. They sit back and wait for the public to have their say. Their biggest concern is criticism.
What they don’t expect is spam, especially in government computers. As to e-mail, what they get is 90 percent spam.
The comments on their website are also 90 to 95 percent spam.
The legitimate comments remaining can range from insightful to downright juvenile.
The typical questions I get are, “why the hell are we doing this just to get an invasion of crap? We went through all this trouble to engage the public and this is what we get?”
As to the “why do social media question;” it’s a powerful way to get your message out and have influence and to accomplish operational goals.
Spam and sophomoric comments are the price of conducting business.
Please understand that everyone, including government agencies, national organizations and local blogs have to deal with endless amounts of spam-related e-mail and comments.
As to why spammers exist; they send you comments on your site that may look legitimate (love your blog—what a great post) but have a link to another website in their signature or in the message. Some are blatant (messages for porn or drugs of all kinds).
If you approve their message on your site (some are very complementary) and the link is printed, search engines like Google interpret this as a link back to their site; the more links a site has the more inquiries a search engine sends them and the more money they make.
As to the e-mails; it just proves what W.C. Fields said; there’s a sucker born every minute. They do it because there’s someone out there naive enough to answer them.
What to do about it?
First, accept that it’s part of doing business. I simply hit the “delete all” button in my spam inbox on my sites; I don’t worry about it. It takes about five seconds.
As to e-mail, it takes about 20 seconds to check all the crappy looking messages and delete them.
It takes me less than a minute a day per site to deal with spam.
As to preventing spam, there are spam filters for every web and e-mail service. Use them. Talk to the support team at work or the people who provide your bandwidth. It won’t catch them all, but it will stop most.
Use a captcha device (Google it-go to Wikipedia) that forces someone to type something into a box before they send a message (note that spammers are using people in other countries to do just that).
But the bottom-line seems to be disappointment on the part of content creators; they didn’t go through all this hard work just to be the recipient of endless communications about erectile dysfunction. I understand how they feel.
But there is a price for doing business in the social media world. Spam is one of them.
Laugh about it when you get to 50,000 page hits every month and all your goals are met.
Sometimes you have to kiss some frogs before you find your prince or princess.