Twitter Spam Doesn’t Work

SIERRA MADRE, CA - MAY 29:  Seventieth anniver...I’ve never really understood the mindset behind spamming. I get why it works, but it still boggles my mind that people do it. Especially in new forums like Twitter.

There’s a big difference between media like email, where spammers can push their messages out to millions of people and let sheer numbers do their work, and Twitter, where you need people to opt-in to your posts and where they can answer back.

Still, we’re still seeing people try to use old-school spam tactics to ‘game’ Twitter. This weekend I saw one of the more low-level attempts so far – someone who created a Twitter account just for the purpose of taking advantage of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to drive traffic to his site (a big tip of the hat to via Jennifer Leggio, aka mediaphyter).

New user @seanzyville took advantage of the #mumbai hashtag to spam messages promoting a CRM demo from Web Solutions.

Seanzyville spams Twitter

Not surprisingly, the Twitter community didn’t take too kindly to someone using the Mumbai tragedy to spam them:

As the last message notes, the spammer clearly got cold feet shortly thereafter and has now deleted the offending updates.

Lessons learned?

To take something positive away from this episode, there are a few clear lessons that I hope “seanzyville” has learned from this:

  1. Twitter is two-way – People will react negatively, publicly, if you try to spam conversational media like Twitter.
  2. You’re findable online – For example, I now know seanzyville’s email address, his Flickr account and YouTube account (which I won’t link to – NSFW).
  3. Your online brand is fragile – just as it takes a long time to build trust and just a few seconds to destroy it, your online reputation can be ruined quickly. Seanzyville’s name is now severely damaged online.

What other lessons would you suggest?

(Image credit: Spam image from Getty Images, first Twitter image by Jennifer Leggio)

  • Never underestimate the intelligence of your (supposed) target audience. This Twitter “user” found out the hard way that news online travels faster than spammy and immoral ads – hopefully it may start sending out messages to like-minded individuals.

    Thanks for posting this, Dave, I wasn’t even aware this had been going on.

  • For the record – seanzyville is now down to 0 followers!

  • And, of course, if the YouTube channel is truly NSFW you can report him to YouTube. I’ve kilt a few spammer’s precious accounts that way.

    Mind you, this Alltop spam is really bugging me. I’m getting identical tweets from multiple people, and it turns out some don’t even know Alltop is doing that. Kawasaki’s usually classier than that.

  • Behavior like that is the reason why people think marketing is evil. I’m amazed that people would try to use something like Twitter for this type of spammy marketing without first trying to understand it and then tying it to Mumbai is just plain inexcusable.
    I would add to your lessons learned – ‘Nobody Wants to do Business With Idiots’.
    April

  • As with any business or ad campaign decision, it takes just one lapse in judgment to leave a bad impression upon the masses. In this case it happened at the speed of the Internet and at the expense of his own brand.

    If he was promoting his employer, he might suddenly find himself unemployed today. Something else to think about…..

    Moral to the story: Think things through. Bounce it off a trusted confidant. Lastly, sleep on it. If you wake up still feeling iffy, then dump the idea 😉

  • What a ridiculous stunt! He probably thought, “Hey this is Twitter; there’s nothing to lose.” He clearly doesn’t understand Twitter…

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