Confessions of a Reformed Twitter Spammer

Thank God for spam filters!


I wholeheartedly believe in working to attract highly targeted visitors to your website and not building traffic for the sake of building traffic. In early 2008 I heard of this crazy website called Twitter. I am sure you had the same type of thoughts I did when I first checked it out. Our thoughts were similar, I'm sure: why would I waste my time on a site like this? Why would anyone care if I got coffee in the morning?


I had no intention of returning to the site since I couldn’t get a grasp of why anyone would care what I was doing at any given second of the day.


I continued living my life, and anytime I heard someone mention Twitter I kinda chuckled and thought to myself, “Boy they need to get a life!”


One day, a few short months later, I was getting my car serviced and was sitting in the waiting room at the dealership. I looked up at the TV and saw CNN on the screen. After listening for a few seconds, I began to lose interest and began looking around the room for an interesting magazine to read...and then it happened!


I heard the CNN commentator telling the audience how they could send in their “tweets.” Then he began to read some of them. Huh? I never in a million years would have thought media would embrace such a silly technology! This event must have triggered my reticular activating system, because once I left the dealership it was as if the flood gates were open and everyone was “tweeting” this and “tweeting” that and referring to each other as “tweeple” and how they are part of the “twitter-sphere.”


How weird! And how very intriguing.


I decided since I was part of the Internet marketing world I should set up an account and begin to familiarize myself with this social network. The more popular it became, the more interested I was. The more I read about it, the more excited I was. Although I was becoming obsessed with Twitter and its potential, I still couldn’t get my head around it. I did however, realize I could use Twitter to create a substantial amount of entry points to my various Web projects. This was extremely attractive.


The term “knowing enough to be dangerous” was exactly where I was. I began sending out “tweets” with links to articles I had written and noticed whenever I did, I received visitors to my blog. It was awesome!

I quickly built up my followers and the people I was following to several hundred people. I had a difficult time seeing through all the noise since I could “tweet” something and within a minute or two that tweet would disappear and many other tweets would come in the news feed on top of them. It was frustrating, but I knew I could figure it out. Then it came to me.


I could get my message in front of people over and over if I just kept saying it. That must be the key. I began obsessivly posting over and over and watched my blog views rise every single day. I must be on to something and I was amazed there weren’t more people following this incredible formula. This went on for a few weeks, and I didn’t think much about my strategy until I received an email from a good friend of mine, Jacob Vanderzee. Jacob and I had a couple previous conversations regarding breaking through the noise of Twitter. We discussed how the people we’d like to get our message in front of are already following thousands of other “tweeple,” and if we had a tough time staying on top of the constant flow of new messages, how would they see our stuff?


His email started by answering the question many of us still have today: what is Twitter?


Twitter is a combination of instant messaging, email and blogging. Each of these technologies has certain rules of etiquette and reasons for their existence. The strange thing about Twitter is that it can be used the same way as IM, email and blogging. The only rule is that it must be communicated in less than 140 characters. Each of these mediums have all put mechanisms in place to make sure people didn’t take advantage of the ability to get a message in front of people. That’s how spam filters came into existence. These same mechanisms have been put in place for website search engine optimization as well. Filters were created to stop the incessent interruptions caused by obsessive spammers, too. 


Man, these spammers are a real piece of work. That’s when Jacob asked me the question that made me wake up. He said, “Look at your Twitter profile page and ask yourself this question: would you recommend a client have their website or blog look like your Twitter profile looks?”


OMG! I had become a low-life spammer!


The first part of getting better is admitting you have a problem. I have since eliminated all my duplicate posts and my profile page now contains only what I hope my followers will consider valuable, worthwhile content, not just a bunch of repeated, interruption-based marketing messages.


Victims of my repeated spammy messages, I apologize. I promise from this point forward I’ll only “tweet” one time, and I'll make sure it is valuable information that will make you want to consume it.


Since I am now a reformed spammer, who will never enter that dark world again, I promise to spend time in the coming days discussing some great ways to use Twitter without violating spam etiquette rules. If you’ve fallen victim to spamming on Twitter or any other medium I’d love for you to share your story. We promise to support you on your road to recovery. :)


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