The one important value marketers need to remember at all times

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by Jonathan Gebauer (@jogebauer)

One of the most common social media tips is:

“Never spam. Don’t send advertising messages, don’t send sales emails, …”

If you ask me, this is bad advice. Here is why:

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Marketing always consisted and will always consist in a large part of what we today like to call spam. Getting messages out to people that would get their attention to products and generate a buying interest.

Think of TV commercials: They are spam. A good commercial might generate your interest and make you feel something, but it is still spam. We have accepted this form of marketing because it allows us to consume content that we want in between the commercial breaks.

The same thing holds true for social media and online marketing. People will accept your marketing messages if you succeed in delivering valuable content in between.

Let’s translate this into actionable advice and have a look at Twitter: The most common form of spam on Twitter and one of the most criticised features of the platform are automatic direct messages to new followers. They are spam.


I use them all the time, and I don’t find that they hurt me. Here is why:

I run good content through my Twitter account all the time. I also send a direct message with an invite to exploreB2B to each new follower. I even send another automatic tweet mentioning each new follower. That is also spam.

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But the ratio between good content from my Twitter account and the spam that I send to followers remains in good standing – the amount of spam that I send does not outweigh the amount of good content I send out. It is acceptable for my followers to get contacted twice.

The same holds true for any form of marketing: We won’t stop using Google, just because the first three results that are shown to us are advertisements (=spam). And we won’t stop reading our favorite blogger because he needs to eat and pay rent and, therefore, has some affiliate links on his blog.

I’m originally a mathematician, so let’s analyze this:

Media channel M sends out the The one important value marketers need to remember at all times...amount of content C which is of average value V for person P. He dilutes his content with a certain amount of spam – S. The spam has an average annoyance of A.

The overall value OV of the channel M for person P could, therefore, be defined as:

OV=(C*V) – (A*S)

Does this make sense? (Before any hardcore mathematician comes around: Yes this is not a scientific model.)

The point here is that there is a specific point, where a media channel becomes unacceptable for anyone. A point where the media channel becomes an annoyance rather than a content distribution channel.

As a marketer, it is often your job to find the point of your media channel, where you are sending out a reasonable amount of spam while keeping the content likeable: Keeping OV above the point where the media channel is still a media channel and does not drop below the line where it becomes crap.

If you are well above that point, and the line is not in sight yet – yes, you are allowed to send out spam!

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