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BOTS: The New 4-Letter Word in Social Media Management
GrowgyDec 9, 2014 5:30:00 AM10 min read

BOTS: The New 4-Letter Word in Social Media Management

10 Reasons Why LinkedIn Bots Anger Us

Just when I thought we were safe, I receive a direct message via LinkedIn that went something like this:


I've really enjoyed your contributions on the XYZ Group forum. I would like to introduce myself..."

Not only did they leave out my first name, something that's visible to anybody who visits my profile, but they talked about contributions that never happened. And that's when it hit me - Spam bots have invaded social media!

So, what happened here? My haven for spam-free networking has become saturated by artificial intelligence, that's what.

It just slays me to see this type destructive behavior, and it needs to stop! So, for therapeutic reasons and to warn those who are on the verge of pulling the trigger one of the most annoying cold-calling tactics invading our lives, I am giving you the Top 10 Reasons why the 'bots need to go:


First, let's define "spam bot" in context with LinkedIn.

It's a program that crawls the LinkedIn group forums for keywords, job titles, and other signals that you may want to buy their product or service, and automatically sends you direct messages based on that information. They always try to personalize it, but typically fail in their first sentences, which consist of broad opening statements, loose reasoning for calling in the first place (ie "I noticed we both like Seinfield!"), and overly aggressive sales pitches.

Now, before I go into the list, I want to put all cards on the table: I'm a former b2b sales guy and have spent most of my career doing the stuff that I often complain about (many of my lovely LinkedIn contacts will attest to this). I have seen millions of dollars worth of successes and failures, and worked in some incredibly challenging environments.

One day I ventured out on my own to start a marketing agency, piloting it as a social media consultant. That's when I started seeing all of the untapped potential in social media and many of the other digital marketing mediums. Today, after about three trillion reinventions and tweaks and adjustments, we have evolved and are happily married to the inbound marketing methodology.

So, I come to you as a cold-caller, warm-caller, inside/outside sales guy, email marketer, social media consultant, inbound marketing consultant, professional services consultant, public relations, investor relations, business owner, and target to MANY sales calls, emails, and ads. Many of you can probably relate, so I hope this resonates..

10. Social media is about being social - BOTS are NOT!

That means going back and forth, sharing dialogue, and interacting with somebody else. When I was messaged by the previouisly-mentioned spam bot it was by a gentleman fronting as a "Social Media Consultant." Yet, he had absolutely zero contact with me personally, and as soon as I read "Dear," without my name ever mentioned, he was done. As the owner of a former social media consulting firm, I know how much work goes into deploying a true social media campaign, and this just reeked of laziness and a whole slew of four-letter words I dare not mention today.

9 - Joining the ranks of an already dense landscape

In its infancy I used LI to keep track of the network I developed through calls and conferences. It wasn't long before I figured out how to leverage past successes to gain rank when moving from one job to another and prospecting new clients by showcasing my public recommendations. This was especially effective when I was coming off as too pushy, because I had proof that I had good cause to be pushy and that my past clients were glad I was.

Of course, this was a decade ago, and things have sure changed...

Today, many are downright abusing LinkedIn by direct messaging folks immediately after connecting or posting something on a group page, and they're not doing their due diligence.

And, just as it seems to be happening in the world of broadcast advertising, the less we listen, the more saturated the market becomes, and the shoutier those types feel they need to get.

The volume knob isn't working anymore. Let's play a different tune.

8 - It's also an ugly landscape

By now I hope you can see what I see... a world of marketers screaming and shouting messages for their clients and employers, all claiming to have THE magic beans... finding every corner, crevice, crack, and cranny to shove their physical AND digital advertising into, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to stop it.

The question remains: do you want to be apart of that ugliness?

Digital marketing comes in many forms, and there are plenty of people claiming success with those tactics, but facts are facts, and inbound marketing lowers customer acquisition costs considerably.

I know that the pretty sales tactics require hard work and proof that you are who you say you are and will deliver as promised. But if you are and you do, then now is not the time to be lazy. USE that reputation to your advantage! It's what you've been working for!

LinkedIn is STILL awesome if you're building a quality profile by earning a solid reputation as your career progresses.

7 - LinkedIn can't stand the spam-bots either

It just so happens that LinkedIn wants your experience to be enjoyable. If it's not, we'll find somewhere else to take our business. Just like Google cares about the quality of your website for search engine optimization purposes, LinkedIn cares about creating a forum that is enjoyable and free of annoyances. It's how they'll remain the powerhouse in social media for business.

Go to their help forum and just type in the word "spam" to see how much they loathe this type of behavior.

Why is this important? Because they are working day and night AND enlisting members to uproot this behavior and cut you out of the circle permanently if you violate their policies too many times.

6 - It drowns out quality discussion

When I enter a group forum and see nothing but comment-less posts broadcasting products and services, I usually don't come back except to remove myself after receiving one too many emails highlighting those spammers.

It's like going to a club and trying to talk over the music.

If you happen to be delivering a message I need for my business through these means, it simply has very little chance of getting through, which is unfortunate for both of us. Spambots, the club is for dancing, not for pitching. If you want to schmooze me, then fine... but you have to put in the work...Cutting corners is not the way to win my heart!

5 - We're getting too smart for it

I remember the first time I was approached by the exclusive who's who list, and thinking how cool it was to be considered for something so honorable. It was in 2001 - I had just graduated from college, and I had my whole life in front of me. I did think it was a little strange that somebody like me could climb world's social ranks so quickly and without my involvement, but the idea was still new enough (and I was still naive enough) that I fell for it.

Ironically, I chose NOT to send them my hundred bucks because I felt that if they REALLY believed I was as special as they were claiming, my name would get published anyway.

It never did... because they never thought I was special. They never thought anything about me at all, actually. I was just a speck of dust on a giant list of other specks. Just like these spam bots... They don't know us, and because of that, we're picking up on their mistakes very quickly. Do you think you can direct message me but not address me by name? How dare you! Any salesperson should know the importance of getting somebody's name right. It's one of the most important things. - Seriously.

Too bad for the BOTS, they're not real people, because they would have caught this one.

4 - It will ruin your employees' reputations

Who would willingly put their name in front of a spam bot anyway? Well, that's the thing... some of these employees probably don't even realize it's being done, and many of the others are fake. I actually worked for a company once that hijacked my account under false pretenses, and long after I left I was still apparently posting ads for them. What if I were working for a competitor or had started my own competing business? Yeah, that would have been a mess.

The thing is that when you sign up for this, you don't get to hide behind the anonymity of the corporation.

It's your face, your name, and your work history put in front of words published by somebody else... A "marketer" or "social media consultant" doesn't have to face the client or pick up the phone, so it isn't their loss if the campaign irks more that it persuades.

I personally block people who spam me... every. single. time. So, if you loaned your livelihood to your employer like I did, you may have unknowingly spammed your followers and lost business in the process.

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3 - It's ruining your business' reputation

I talk a lot about alignment and how important it is not to swim in the same waters as those who are scamming the public. You always have to weigh the value of YOUR way of doing against the risk of being mis-categorized. You also need to differentiate yourself from them any way you can.

You may have the best product or service out there, and your spambot MAY hit the mark with some people, but you're starting your relationship off on the wrong foot, and those who expose you are going to be very vocal about their disdain for your sales and marketing tactics.

Your business partners and prospects will start asking questions like, "if they're willing to cut corners and take such a low approach to their marketing, why wouldn't they do the same with their deliverable?

It's a very valid question, don't you think? It's the same thing when businesses earn a bad reputation on for poor treatment of their employees. I've known about HUGE deals folding because somebody in the decision-making process connected that with how they must treat their clients. If you're acting shady in one regard, what's to stop you from that kind of behavior anywhere else? 

2 - It's breaking LinkedIn

LinkedIn used to be about sharing ideas and networking for business purposes. The little red number over the messages icon used to actually incite some excitement within me. Today, at least 75% of the time it's spam, so it really does nothing to move the needle anymore. Sadly, I've come close to overlooking valuable opportunities that were buried in the junk mail, so that's a HUGE miss.

1 - It's making the rest of us look bad

... Not because it's so effective and people are just so thrilled about the results that they can't imagine a world without it...No, It's making us look bad by association. Online advertising and digital marketing lumps us all together.

I'll have none of that, thank you very much.

Please, remove the bots - Support a world where fundamentals and values prevail, because we ALL win that way.

I use a ton of social media management tools, including those used for scheduling posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I can even justify the use of automated email drip campaigns... At the bird's eye view, this puts us in an unfavorable light, because other "email marketers" and "social media consultants" are doing it without being invited, and they're GUESSING (badly) about what their prospects need.

But guess what? If you're invited and you show respect in your communications, even when using automated functions, like drip campaigns, you will rise above the riff-raff.

Come on, Dave... pull the plug on your spam-bot project before it pulls the plug on you.



I tell it how it is. And I take Growth Strategy very seriously. If you're looking for somebody to placate your horrible ideas, let me introduce you to somebody at one of our competitors.