cut social media spamWhy is it businesses spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on new media, new marketing, websites, social media training yet they stay stuck in their old ways? Are they ignorant? Do they need educated? Or are they simply too lazy to take the time they need to take to engage in a meaningful way? Are they simply not willing to invest the time to build real relationships?

This post is going to be short but to the point. Early warning that this message is opinionated. I am in a hurry and not going to word smith to make every one happy. Not the objective of this post or really any that I write.

I am disappointed in what I am seeing business leaders I know both local and nationally engage in social media. They are spending money on new websites, training for staff, custom social media platforms, social media training, consultants and the list goes on. However, they are unwilling to use the new skills they are taught. They are still spamming email lists. They are still sending messages that are about them, not their audience. Yes, the message may be in 140 characters and point to a Facebook Fan Page. However, it is no different than the spam of yesterday.

I am seeing tweets that are all about “me, me me”! They are not educating, inspiring or engaging audiences. It's disappointing as they know they should be. They've taken the training. They have listened to the webinars. They know they are spamming their database of hammered names. However, they refuse to give up old ways. They are choosing to remain stuck. Choosing to stay in the old. Choosing to not move forward with the rest of the world that is inspiring, connecting and achieving results.

Social media is not a spam platform. Yes, it can be used as such. However, you will have exponentially better results if you put more than 30 seconds thought into your message. Get to know your audiences and engage them in a meaningful conversation. Provide them information that can help their business, their career, their life. Take the time to care about them as human beings!

If you want me to join your webinar don't send me a note on LinkedIn with a link telling me to click and then call you? Seriously!? I received one of these today.

If you want votes for your contest do not send me an email message only when you want me to vote for you. Don't send me an email only when you want me buy something from you.

Instead, send me an email once in awhile to tell me what you do. Tell me what you're up to. Tell me how you are making the life of someone else better. What have you done for your community? What can you do for me? How can I engage in what you are doing? How can I help you help the community?

Invite me into your community. Nurture the relationship with me. Don't assume just because I signed up for your email subscription that I am your automatic friend that wants to be your voting puppet. Instead nurture me to engage and grow with you. Chances are if you do this, I will visit and “like” your Facebook Fan Page. I will probably follow you on Twitter. I will check out your YouTube videos. I will begin to engage with you and your brand. And guess what… when you then ask me to vote for you in your contest…. I'll probably be the first one there. Why? Because you have inspired me, connected with me!

10 Tips To Get Unstuck From Old Ways:

1. Stop Spamming! Make a commitment to stop spamming your email list today. Dare to be spam free. Take a walk thru your last 25-50 email subject titles. Are any of the subjects about something other than you? If they're not, change it fast.

2. Communicate with stakeholders. If it is management who is forcing you into this bad behavior then have the guts to communicate your concern with them. Do not be their puppet. Your personal brand is on the line. Make the hard decisions. Employers are looking at online profiles of you and the companies you work for when hiring. Do your research and educate yourself so that you feel comfortable initiating the needed conversations and facilitating the decisions that need to happen for change in your organization.

3. Research best practices in your industry or niche. Find other organizations like you who are doing things right. Do a search on google for “social media best practices” and add your niche, industry to the end of the search phrase. You'll be amazed how many people are not still stuck in yesterday's spam mentality. Use these case studies to learn and build your plan for how you will become spam free. Watch and listen to how they are engaging with audiences. Sign up for their email newsletters. Follow them on Twitter. Become their fans on Facebook. Reach out to them authentically. Explore partnerships for how you could possibly work together.

4. Analyze your results. If you have recently implemented a Facebook Fan Page or other social media platform do a quick analysis on your results. Is your investment in social media getting you closer to your business goals and objectives? If it's not, why not? Did you ever set goals and objectives? If you didn't, no better time than now! If your numbers are daunting get real with why. Is it because although you have the new platforms you are still engaging the old way?

5. Is your community driving action? You may have 100-150 people who are mostly friends and family on your business or personal Fan Page. Is your community driving action? Are the people who have “liked” your Fan Page engaging? Are they voting in your contests? Are they commenting on your wall? Are they engaging with you on other platforms? Or is your community filled with the “courtesy LIKES” of people who liked your page because they like you? The social currency of social media is action. If your audiences are not taking action then you are missing out on the return.

6. Analyze your engagement strategies. Who is your audience? What are your objectives for each audience? How are you engaging with your audiences? What information are you providing them? Do they like the information? Are they responding to it? Are you building real relationships? Are the relationships profitable? Are the relationships helping you meet your business goals and objectives? Or is it a relationship built on spam and all for nothin'?

7. Integrate social media into the DNA of your business. Those who follow me know I always recommend this. It's not rocket science. Social media is not a bandaid to slap on to a spam plan. Integrate social media into the DNA of your business. Integrate it with your plans, communications tactics. Leverage it to achieve your goals. Leverage it to inspire and connect with your audience!

8. Be authentic and offer them something of value. If you are spamming you may be authentic. However, authentic spam doesn't make it good. Social media should be leveraged to help you connect with your audiences in an authentic and meaningful way! Relationships will not be build on spam. Use the tactics above and the millions of others on my blog to engage with your audience. Inspire them to connect and join your community. Earn their “like”. Earn their connection and friendship. Focus on bringing your audiences joy in both business and life.

9. Respect your audiences? Are you talking down, to or with your audiences? Don't assume they don't know your industry. Don't assume they can't see past your spamming, old, stuck ways. Know that the majority of them probably are more educated on social media and communications than you are. Just because you have a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter account does not make you a social media expert.

10. Separate the tools from the people and strategy. The most important thing to learn with social media is that the people should come before the tools. Of course we must understand the tools. However, mastering the tools is not a means to an end. It is one piece of a puzzle you must put together. Start with your audience and their needs. Develop a plan for how you will engage with your audiences based upon your business goals and objectives. Integrate the plan into the DNA of who you are, who your business is and what you do for your clients. Use the tools as a way to achieve your objectives and connect, not as a way to spam and blast noise all day.

Take the time to learn social media and use it in a way that is going to help you and your business. Taking advantage of a platform and your audiences in a way that it is not intended or designed is only going to backfire. Use common sense.  If you wouldn't engage with someone in real life the way you are engaging with them online, then don't do it.  Not that hard folks!

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? Are you guilty of spamming? Are you receiving more spam as more businesses come online and are leveraging social media? Are you part of the noise or the joy that makes people smile?