The new breed of the enlightened professional understands that a single revenue stream may not be enough to cope with the proliferation of needs and wants taking place in the dynamic world.
Expenses which may have not been predicted a decade ago now rank high in some households’ priority lists. These include things like internet subscriptions, Netflix payments among other things.
Young professionals have started monetising their hobbies such as baking, photography and garment design to supplement their earnings.
While some of them are considerably good, there is a tool largely employed in good faith but ends up pushing their potential customers away. As part of the tech savvy demographic the do-it-yourself entrepreneurs use social media to promote their businesses.
In the quest of the elusive buy-in some resort to aggressive methods to get their brand visible and sometimes it goes beyond the line to become spamming. Spamming is sending unsolicited information usually of a commercial nature to a large number of internet users.
It may be targeted to a person’s private space on the internet without prior engagement and usually without the person’s consent. On Facebook, it is usually the excessive tagging that puts off the target market. Users may not be flattered to have their accounts tagged in narratives that do not concern them.
The mistake most entrepreneurs make is trying to ride on opinion leaders’ reach on Facebook. This may prove disastrous if the said thought leader decides to give a reverse endorsement.
Tagging works well for organic engagement but it needs prior engagement to ensure that it is accepted and above board. Facebook has responded to concerns from users on reckless tagging and spam, there is a security review option where a user can configure their account to ensure that every post that goes public with their a person’s name tagged would have undergone approval.
It seems other social sites are yet to update the function, Twitter and Instagram still allow people to make unwarranted tags.
This may increase visibility of the brand but visibility without engagement does not translate to positive demand of the product or service on offer which are sales.
But does spamming help emerging businesses?
Internationally acclaimed business strategy guru Doug Staneart is of the opinion that it does more damage than good.
In an article titled Why Spamming and Cold Calling Does Not Work he said: “Cold calls, email spam, blast faxes, pop-up windows, forced subscribers and the like just don’t work in this digital age.
“If you are so good at what you do, why are you spamming?
“Why are you cold calling?
“Why are you trying to force people to subscribe to your newsletter?
“The truth is that cold calling and spamming people shows desperation, not success.”
Small businesses stand to benefit if they are swift on the internet and plug a niche left by big organisations. “The internet is the great equaliser for small businesses. Big businesses have websites, but their bureaucracy forces them to move very slowly in implementing new technology and captivating on new opportunities.
“However, nimble small businesses can capitalise on these opportunities immediately. It is very easy to get to the top of a Google search result. It is very difficult, however, to stay there.
“What is common knowledge to you is uncommon to most people. Remember that your expertise and knowledge is extremely valuable to people who are searching on Google for answers as in the previous example.
“So if you can help them answer the question — and really help them in the process — they are more likely to share with you their contact information. “Once they do, you now know two things about them. “First, you know that they have (or had) a specific problem that you can help them solve.
“Second, you know that they already know who you are and trust has started to develop from them that you are an expert in your industry,” the article reads.
Besides the negative undertones associated online spamming, the act also comes with legal repercussions.
The Zimbabwean Government is crafting the Cybercrime and Cyber security Bill which will criminalise acts like spamming.
Part (iv) section 18 of the draft cyber Cybercrime and Cyber security Bill suggests that spamming will be criminalised as soon as the Bill sails.
It reads: “Any person who intentionally and without lawful excuse — (a) initiates the transmission of multiple electronic mail messages from or through a computer system; or
(b) Uses a protected computer system to relay or retransmit multiple electronic mail messages, with the intent to deceive or mislead recipients or any electronic mail or internet service provider as to the origin of such messages, or
(c) Materially falsifies header information in multiple electronic mail messages and initiates the transmission of such messages; shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Provided that it shall not be an offence under this section if the transmission of multiple electronic mail messages is done within a customer or business relationships.
So, that message to promote the latest merchandise could soon be criminal and there is need to tread carefully on the cyberspace to avoid persecution as well as client annoyance.
As local businesses will obviously try to find cheap and quick ways to reach out to their prospective buyers, a cardinal rule should be made to avoid spamming as it does more damage than good.
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