Are the models set up by social commerce sites to encourage social selling actually rewarding users for crossing a line from "social seller" into "pyscho spammer"? Have you ever been inundated by unsolicited messages or emails urging you to join an online marketplace or to buy/share/tweet/like a merchants' goods?
I personally have encountered a Yardsellr "affiliate" who used our merchant directory's messaging system to send unsolicited email to EveryPlaceISell.com merchants, entitled, "Have you tried Selling on Yardsellr? It's Free to List and Sell!!" Yardsellr, which was founded in 2010 by former eBay employee Danny Leffel, apparently rewards users for referrals
through a program called "Photons."
Despite contacting Yardsellr about the affiliate spammer in August, and getting assurances that they would "reach out to her and ask her not to do that," I discovered today that merchants on another online marketplace recently began receiving similar unsolicited messages from the same Yardsellr affiliate.
The email these merchants received asked, "I noticed your Store on [Marketplace Name Withheld] (Great Items, BTW) so I have to ask...Why don't I see you Selling on Yardsellr too?" A quick Google search of the spammer's affiliate code showed that they had been pretty busy on Facebook too.
While marketplaces can't control all the behavior of their users, they can certainly look at the incentives they set up to make sure they don't reward bad behavior. As soon as they get a complaint of a member abusing the system, they should eject that affiliate immediately, it should not be, "three strikes you're out," or some other number of chances to break the rules again.
Daniel Leffel of Yardsellr responded to our inquiries today via email, "I'm a little surprised that a single user violating the rules of our program is cause for you to write an article. I thought we've been nothing but responsive to your concerns but I'm willing to accept any feedback about our interactions that you'd like to give."
There are some lessons here for marketplaces, social networking site and for merchants.
1) If you do any promotions on behalf of yourself, other sellers, or an online marketplace, don't ever do anything that could be construed as Spam.
2) If you as a merchant use an affiliate program to pay others to promote your website or products, make sure you vet them carefully and take all reports of abuse seriously.
There's a law against SPAM
with costly consequences for offenders - make sure you don't unwittingly break the law!
Plus, it just pisses people off.
About the Author
David Steiner is President of Steiner Associates LLC, publisher of EcommerceBytes.