New Whiz Bang Social Media Sites…same old SPAM!!!

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Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Its been a year now since I started the OpenWine Consortium and during that time I’ve spent many many hours thinking about social media, whats good, whats bad, and how can OWC be great. I’ve learned more then I ever imagined and OWC has grown to 3000 people making all sorts of connections, business transactions, business expansion, and even helped to launch a fledgling magazine.

Among the many lessons I’ve learned though, one thing is making me focus OWC and make it even better – SPAM. As a part of trying to make OWC better, I study other sites and social media to understand what makes them particularly effective communications tools. One thing keeps coming back over and over again – MOST of these sites really are driven to create revenue for the owner and almost every one without exception sees the only path to revenue as advertising.

I am the member of dozens of these sites and almost without exception new social media sites are being used as a place to capture your email and send you advertisements.

I started OWC with the mission of creating value for the wine industry by opening new avenues of business and networking using these new tools. I created an “ideas marketplace” where smart people in the wine industry can connect and create new things (profitable or otherwise) or make their existing things better. I plan on forging partnerships that continue to add and deliver more value and push the envelope for the community.

The interesting thing with focusing the site (granted, OWC is more of a virtual trade association than a business and I don’t rely on it for my livelihood so that makes a difference) is that by understanding that a social/business networking site creates value without creating huge “hits” or “uniques” is what seems to make OWC special. I’ve talked to owners of other big sites – social and business – and what I get back more often then not are a series of “hits” and “uniques” and “members at all costs” talks.

It seems to me that people are creating social networks not to further benefit a business or community, but all to often targeting a community that may be inclined to connected in order to drive “hits” and “uniques”. The inevitable byproduct of which are traffic generating techniques, which to the untrained ear sounds cool but to the uncreative site owner it turns a potentially interesting community into a fancy mailing list that gets persistent SPAM.

I guess I’m just a little sick of sites that say “its really good to connect here because of XYZ” when in reality they want your “hits” and will use tactics that border on incessant spamming to get them.

Put up a site with a purpose that creates value for the community and you’ll make your money one way or the other. There are no short cuts in life, and that includes in social media.

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Author: Joel Vincent

Growth Hacker and wine lover

24 thoughts on “New Whiz Bang Social Media Sites…same old SPAM!!!”

  1. to have a site grow to that size in 12 months is quite an achievement – but the thing I find with social media is that the concept is not new, just the medium is. The true added value of social media platforms is the far better flow of ideas and knowledge, all resulting from the meeting of different people sharing information. It’s the four building blocks of my working model PICK. But at the end of the day, the best advertising has always been and will always be word of mouth, now called viral marketing.
    Keep up the good work on OWC

    Franck

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  2. I’m with you on this for sure, Joel. I’ve found the beauty of the OWC is in its collaborative nature. I’ve “met” some of the key wine industry people I had hoped to align with and learn from there. Those relationships have benefited both my personal brand and their causes or goals.

    For example, Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS blog and I met there and I’m now a contributor to his blog for the Finger Lakes region.

    I really like that OWC is not spam-oriented or advertising- driven but rather a place that truly has the best interests of its members at heart. This is a wonderful thing that you have done for the wine industry, Joel. Thank you so much.

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  3. Joel THANK YOUfor OWC. I don’t spend as much time there as I should, but I have gain from being involved. I have met face to face with several folks from the site and that alone has made it worth it. I have also gain information from the site and other members that have helped my business. The help was not in revenue but with working with different distributors of products like glass, corks etc.

    I’ve also had the pleasure to have lunch with you and that lead me to the WBC08 and I hope many more!

    Keep up the great work!

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  4. Joel OWC provides a great networking venue and the altruistic aspect makes it a more pure effort. Thanks for your efforts and offering there. Also thank you for your Wine Bloggers Conference efforts – that venue gave us the motivation to experiment with small winery social media -admittedly not the SPAM and more members at all costs model.

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  5. It is an unfair comparison, as you point out, since you don’t depend on OWC for your income. Building a property that is dependent on advertising is an extremely difficult prospect. Sure, the OWC is a great resource, but I suspect if you needed to monetize it as a business it would not survive. Not that I condone the spam, mind you, but once someone accepts investor money there is tremendous pressure to make things work financially.

    Check out Steve’s last blog post – PLCB gets bubbly

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  6. @Steve Totally agree. I don’t think that there would be very many (if any) that survive as a standalone business. And the conundrum is that the SPAM sucks so monetize differently or don’t try to have a standalone site if you don’t have another avenue of business (and must rely on the SPAM).

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  8. Yeah I'd much prefer to find sites that don't run a thousand Adworks boxes or work with every single affiliate program out there

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  12. Spam is beyond a problem for everyone right now. Especially if you end up on one of the automated lists for Xrunner which is a computer posting program, it will attempt to leave 50+ complete spam comments per day. I hope Disqus has helped to alleviate the problem for you on some level, personally I'm using Comment Luv in combination with Askimet on my blog with varying degrees of success.

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