Monday, May 18, 2009

Will SPAM derail Social Media?

Is it just me or is there a lot more spamming and phishing going on out there in social media-land lately?

It seems like I'm getting a least a couple spammy messages in Facebook every day now, whether it be via inbox or wall post. And I've already long since given up checking my MySpace account after it got flooded with solicitations from porn stars. Now, the Nigerian princes seem to have migrated to Twitter. Over the past couple weeks, I've been followed by a good 25-30 bots.

When I first broke into the online media biz in 2000, email was the toast of the town. Acquisition email was getting a good 25-50% of our clients' internet advertising budgets and delivering strong response rates. We all know how that story ended. As the channel got cluttered with spam, open and click-rates deteriorated, as did email marketing budgets in turn.

I'm wondering if Social Media is headed for the same outcome. Will people begin to tune out the communications they receive from anyone they don't directly know (including, of course, advertisers) as the platforms become inundated with spammers?

Now, of course, Social Media has gained nowhere near the traction that email marketing did in the late 90's. Facebook, MySpace, et. al. would be thrilled to have 25-50% of marketers' budgets. So their fall may not be as precipitous, if it can be called a fall at all.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I'm sure the social networks are going to great lengths to keep their channels spam-free but where there's a will, there's a way. And those Nigerians seem to have a lot of will. In fact, one just offered to cut me in on his if I just give him my bank account number.

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