I lately suffered a cruel reminder that social media is meant for people, not bots. If you live under a rock and don't know what a bot is, it's a program that automatically does something online, like post to someone's Facebook wall.
Spam is always spam, and never welcome. But there's something worse than just plain spam. If you are going to automatically post ads on someone's wall, say because they "liked" your company page, there are times that it's really not appropriate to do so. For example, if someone just announced that their mother died, their wall is inundated with sympathy posts, and your bot posts an ad for your funeral parlor, legal services, party rentals, or consignment shop. This looks grossly like ambulance-chasing, profiting off of someone's death, and taking uncouth advantage of the fact that their wall is receiving a high number of visits right then. Spamming someone's wall with your ad at this time in their life could end up doing way more damage to your company's reputation than at another time, when it would just be a mere annoyance (or perhaps the person would be glad to get 15% off). Highly unwise tactic, from a social media strategy point of view (and a common sense point of view).
And that's what I saw the other day. Someone's bot posted an inappropriate ad at an inappropriate time. Stupidly, I opened up my big mouth and told the spammer off, because I was outraged at this classless, hurtful behavior that I felt was an insult to my friend. And here's where it gets weird.
The spammer contacted me with his own outraged excuse. His story? "I had nothing to do with that post... I have no control over those posts...My company software sends the ads out when it sends them out, it's out of my control".
Really? You set some bot in motion and say whatever it does is "not your fault", and your excuse is, you "can't control it"? Why are you even posting ads to people's walls with your bot in the first place? Who told you this was a good idea? Are you actually paying them?
The problem with robots is just that. They're robots. They're not people, and they can't tell when it's a really, really bad idea to do their little robot thing. Which is why you should never use them to make posts for you in social media. Social is called social for a reason. It's for people. The more people assign posting tasks to bots and then say their interaction with their facebook friends is "out of their control", the more social media will be ruined for everyone for ever.
If you want to tell people about what you've got going on at your business, post to your own wall, not theirs. If you're posting to their wall, look around you first. The atmosphere there determines the nature of your comment. You yell across the ballfield; you whisper in the library. For all you beginner social medai marketers out there - it's a conversation you're joining. Act like a human.