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Great definition of Spam

October 2, 2009

This is one of the most elegant descriptions of SPAM I’ve ever read:

“Because communication or conversation is a reciprocal process, it is not surprising that many of the needs and goals of the speaker and listener are complementary. This is well illustrated by one of the most basic goals of communication, to ensure that the act of communication is “justified.” For the speaker, this means, among other things, that his or her message should be worthy of the listener’s attention; for the listener, it means that the interaction must in some way be worthwhile. To satisfy this basic goal, it is necessary that certain preconditions be met. The message should be understandable (i.e., not assume too much knowledge on the part of the listener), and yet not be laden with too many needless details (i.e., not assume too little knowledge on the part of the listener).”

I read it in this blog post. And the post quotes this book

I posted a comment there, and am posting here to. It’s a great blog post, and a great quote. Because I’ve always thought that SPAM was a communication that was irrelevant. Some of them are actually annoying (mail and e-mail), and some are just ignored (billboards, TV, radio) and cont considered SPAM.

But they are most-likely irrelevant and more, they don’t communicate that the information is justified.

So now to social media (and digital as a whole).

Marketing pre-social media didn’t need to be justified to the target market because it was purchased. We all agreed that ads where the cost of content — we received content in return for watching/reading/listening to ads. We don’t pay for that radio show because it’s ad supported (although the best radio these days is free and then listener supported).

But now, we can’t buy our way in to social media. There isn’t really a mechanism to do it. Banner ads might be interesting, so might ads based on status updates in Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, but that’s down the road a little.

At this point, the only way to ensure that the communication is justified is to listen first, and plan. Think about the last line of the boded quote above:

For the speaker, this means, among other things, that his or her message should be worthy of the listener’s attention; for the listener, it means that the interaction must in some way be worthwhile.”

Understanding what’s worthwhile starts with listening. And giving up control. Because when you listen and adapt, you’re no longer in total control of the message.

And control is at the forefront of the mass mediums. We control the message and where/when the message will be received. But that’s no longer the case with digital. Now, the messages are zipping around Twitter feeds, Facebook news feeds and blogs in a dizzying manner.

Anyway, all this was because I found a great new blog.

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