Leave the spam in the can, thank you

spam can tile by maxman

I know this subject has come up a time or two around the blogosphere but I still continue to see small businesses spamming their products all over the place. My biggest pet peeve in social networking is seeing a timeline of nothing but “new items listed” and “my item is perfect for”. Most of the time, I just don’t follow and that keeps my timeline filled with genuine people who want to reach out and connect. After all, isn’t that the whole point of SOCIAL media…to be social? Since we are talking about ethics for the month of March, I thought I would add a little post about the ethics of spamming…or how to get your products seen without spamming. You get the point! 😉

You should want to connect with your potential customers on a more personal level before you try and sell them something. Just think of Twitter like real life for a second. You have someone walk up to you on the street with a friendly smile and they say hello…you wouldn’t immediately scream at them to look at your latest Etsy listing would you? Pretty silly right?

You have to take the opportunity to get to know people. Some experts will tell you not to post silly things like the place you went to lunch or that your kid just cut off her bangs while you were in the bathroom trying to have 3 minutes of quiet. I have a different view of this. I think social networks are made for this type of thing. When you enjoy your lunch and tweet about the great restaurant, that helps them! When you tweet about your daughter, someone else may have gone through the same thing and can relate with a tip on how to hide the new doo. If you post these type of every day life things, posting about new projects and products no longer seems spammy.

Don’t be scared! I know it can be a little intimidating to put yourself out there but by doing so and connecting with others, it will make you a stronger person. Besides, you may be the person who knows how to hide the scary, kid “I cut it myself” hair!

Another way to build relationships is to join tweet ups or groups that let you connect with other small business owners that share the same issues as you. Oh my! has a tweet up every Thursday at 1:00 pm EST (#OMHG) which is fantastic! Once you start to establish a relationship with people then you may feel more comfortable telling them about your latest product in daily conversation. In fact, it will probably come up without you even realizing it!

The whole point is to use social networks to build relationships and connect. Then when it’s time to promote your business, more people will be listening!


  1. Brilliant post Lisa! I am so with you on the building relationships rather than trying to sell all the time.

    I often see tutorials on how to use twitter to promote a small business – telling people to schedule their promotional tweets, or make sure 1 in every 10 tweets is a shop listing. It makes me sad, and seems completely the opposite of social networking. Because by scheduling or adhering to rules you’re not really networking. And that’s the whole fun. I love getting to know people via twitter, and I share business stuff but as you say, just as part of everyday conversation.

    P.S. We haven’t had the child who’s cut her own hair, but we have had the one who drew all over herself with permanent black marker.

  2. Lupin says:

    This is definitely something worth chatting about – I’m forever being followed by people on Twitter and checking out their Tweets to find endless links to their products and shops, it’s such a turn-off.

    I have to admit that a lot of my online shopping happens because I follow makers / artists, they happen to tweet about their new product and it’s just too nice to resist… but I wouldn’t be following them in the first place if all they did was spam me with product links all the time!

  3. Joy says:

    Brilliant! This was a lesson learned from me when I first started the twitterverse. I had to really step back and think about what people would see if they checked out my timeline and I did not want posts just about my shop… Now, I mostly tweet about food and pictures – which also may not be a good thing. 😉

    Though, I do love me some actual spam in a can…

  4. Adriana says:

    I’m so glad you said that including little tidbits about your personal life is A-OK. I know that inundating your followers with every detail of your day becomes too much. But, at the same time, I personally love to see tweets from people that allow me feel like I’m getting a peak of their real life. All professionalism and no silliness makes for a dull twitter account 🙂

  5. Geri says:

    Great post, Lisa – I’m fairly new to the whole social networking (a raging shybie), and have found that joining groups like #omhg and interacting with folks on sites such as Twitter has become SOOOO helpful to me in terms of breaking out of my shell.

    In fact, I recently realized that I had actually FORGOT to promote my business at all – I was so busy meeting a flurry of new people and connecting with them!

    I completely agree that a lovely balance between promoting (after all, we’re all here to make SOME money ;-)) and interacting with folks is the best solution.

    BTW, your analogy of meeting someone on the street and screaming at them about your latest Etsy listing had me nearly spewing my coffee all over my keyboard.

  6. Bethany says:

    You’ve given me a lot to think about, because I think I’ve been spammy without meaning to be. So far I’ve used my Facebook page and blog to focus on new listings, as you said, along with when my knitted wire is featured in collections or treasuries, and asking for feedback on new ideas.

    But what about if you’re not funny? Some people can take mundane, ordinary stuff in life and make them something special. The only time I’m funny is when it’s accidental! I’m not sure how to make “My possibly autistic son had a meltdown because I sat in the wrong seat on the couch” interesting or funny to my audience.

    Thanks once again for a great post, though! I will work really hard to fit some silliness in amongst the knitting. 🙂

    • Jessika says:

      Hi Bethany! You don’t have to worry about being funny or clever if that isn’t your thing! You can offer tips & tutorials on knitting, ask questions about what your followers like/are interested in, share posts/ideas that inspire you, or even just shout out your happiness that the sun is shining (or occasionally some grumpiness if its pouring buckets). You can share a little insight into your life as a mama to a child with extra needs or build connections with others who might have shared experiences. Above all the most important thing is to be yourself and talk in your own voice-which is hard if you are just promoting your latest listing:) There are lots of resources here on OMHG if you browse or search through our Selling Online http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/category/what-we-know/selling-online/ + Marketing & PR categories http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/category/what-we-know/marketing-pr/ best of luck to you & your business!

  7. Bethany says:

    Thank you for the links, and for this site. I’ve been subscribed for awhile but usually I just read your posts on my phone and it’s a pain to comment from that, but you have already been such a help to me. 🙂

    Ok, so maybe I”m not quite as spammy as I thought, since I do all of those things that you mentioned – tutorials, asking questions, and grumpiness lol. But there’s always room for improvement.

    Question – do you have a preferred timing for how often an artist posts a new listing vs everything else? When do listings get annoying?

    Hmmm I guess that might be a good question for my audience, huh?

  8. This is just wonderful advice and I can’t emphasize it enough! I like seeing a twitter friend, well be a human! I don’t mind once in awhile talking about business but I also like to relate with others that maybe can spark a relationship/converstation with something they said.

  9. lee says:

    Guilty! I just created a facebook page a few weeks ago and I do think the few posts I have made are about new products I put in my shop! I will read up on the links jessika provided. thank you!

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