While I am not overly surprised that spammers have found that Google Plus (indeed any social network) is an awesome place to sell or otherwise try to engage people with their get rich quick, enlarge your anatomy or other scams, it would seem that most people are getting smart to this and will block people who engage in spammy behavior. There is a profit motive to spam because of the sheer volume of scams running and the gullibility of people.
Social media spam though is something far different, with regular e-mail based spam you get a return rate of a very tiny 0.00000008% response rate and get a $3,500,000 set of profit making sales (based on research from people studying botnet behavior and the economics of spam). The idea of social media spam though is a lot smaller, you are working with hundreds of people unless you somehow manage to attract a larger audience than most. Most social sites restrict you to a set hard limit of people you engage with, like Facebook’s infamous 5000 people set hard limit.
The spammer that hit me on Google Plus this morning isn’t in my circles, but I am in theirs. They have a max of 230 people that they are following right now that will see the message. Based on e-mail spam numbers is 0.0000184 of a person, that is if all 230 don’t block the spammer today. The economics are not there. Even with a hard limit of 5000, 0.004 of a person is the expected response rate. Given the negative attitude towards this process within people’s social circles, the economics of social media spam really are not there. You literally need the ability to gain a presence if you want to make sales that only e-mail can deliver.
There are some SEO benefits though, but I have the feeling the more the person is blocked, those SEO link backs overall lose their benefit and might actually be a detriment later on depending on how many people have blocked the person spamming a social system. Google especially is going to be able to figure out who has been blocked, and I would lay odds that if not already in place, there is a planning idea to use the social data from blocked people to raise and lower page rank and a sites standing in Google search results. The temptation to do this might be too much for Google’s internal checks and balances to change. After all, something like Google Plus gives them a deep look at data in consumer social behavior, the sites we share, and the reputation of the user. That is a huge temptation to put into practice in rearranging the search returns from people using Google Search.
Without the economics of large masses of people or the ability to spam large numbers of people, and the negative consequences of social media spam, I am surprised that people are even doing this. Feel free to block them, but as new systems come on line, along with the early adopters, comes the early adopters for spam, drugs, pills, thrills and chills.
- Why Spam Commenters Are Better At Marketing Than You (hubspot.com)
- Google+ Wins When Spammers Win (searchenginewatch.com)
- Social media – and the fine line betweeen SPAM and Promotion (marketingsimplyonline.com)
- Facebook’s spam program catches activists (sfgate.com)
- New spammer tactics – compromised accounts now favored (commtouch.com)
(Cross-posted @ Techwag)