I hate spam. Of course, who doesn’t? But I really hate spam. Nothing will send me over the edge faster than receiving an unsolicited message telling me how excited they are to sell me something. Especially when it ends by telling me that I can just reply to get off their list.
Excuse me, but how am I even on your list?
Well, according to the email I received at 3:30 in the morning, he got my email address from my Instagram account. He’s the third such person to have taken an interest in how I plan to grow my audience on Instagram this week. And he can’t wait to explain just how he can help me do that. And the email I got two days ago? That was from someone who had found my email address on a support forum asking for help straightening out my newsletter signup forms. And both of them ended their mails by letting me know that if I am not interested in their services, I can simply reply to these emails — the emails I didn’t ask for — and I will be removed me from their lists promptly.

I’m pretty sure neither one of them liked the email I sent in reply.

Hi Friend! Would you like to read this spammy email about my spammy services and spam spam?

Hi Friend! Would you like to read this spammy email about my spammy services and spam spam?

Now, you might be thinking “But Clara, isn’t that illegal?” And surprisingly no, it’s not illegal. According to the Can-Spam Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003) businesses have to remove people from their lists promptly, but there is no regulation about how a person can be placed on that list.
You read that right: there is no regulation governing how a business can add someone’s email address to their list. That means stalking my Instagram profile and adding me to some list, then sending me the spammy, unwanted email is perfectly legal. Ew.
Now, here’s my opinion on this. I’ve said before that social media relationships work best when they are modeled after in-person relationships. So… if you owned a brick and mortar store, would you yank a passerby off the street, sit them down and force them to watch an infomercial and then tell them “oh, well, if you don’t want to be here, there’s the door.”
I hope not. Thankfully, even though that’s not illegal to do either, I haven’t heard of a case where that’s happened.
Now, in the interest of turning this into a useful post and not just rant about one person’s inconsiderate-spammy-late-night-intrusion-into-my-inbox…

People. There is a better way.

It boils down to this, if you wouldn’t want a friend to do something like this to you, then don’t do it to other people. It’s kind of like the Golden rule, only in don’ts. Don’t send unwanted email. Don’t scrape email addresses off social media profiles to spam them. Not one person in the history of the Internet has placed an email address on their Instagram profile and thought “I really hope someone uses this to email me and offer me their services!!” Not ever. I promise.
Additionally, waiting for people to opt-in to that list, rather than adding them and assuming they will simply and happily opt-out if they don’t want it, will help guarantee your mails will be opened and read. Yes, the growth will be slower, but the higher engagement rate is worth it. And isn’t that the main goal? In this day and age when everyone receives dozens and dozens of emails every single day, you’re much more likely at being noticed if they know your email is coming, and if it’s a welcome addition to their inbox.
It’s all wrapped up nice into one pretty little word:
Respect. Respect your followers, your customers, your friends, and your potential customers, and they will want to do business with you when the time comes.