It doesn’t matter if it’s on Facebook or Twitter. If there’s a platform where private or direct messages are allowed, this happens. As an author, you accept a new friend request. Immediately you get a long message from someone with a zillion links to their book, their blog, their website, inviting you to grab a copy for review or to buy a their book without so much as a “hello, how are you doing?” You’ve been hit by the Message Bandit.

When I began working with coaches as a virtual assistant back in the early 2010’s, this kind of marketing was taught as a way to “introduce yourself” to the people you were connecting with on social media. The problem is, much like a used sales car person, the introduction comes off feeling contrived and sales-y. You don’t learn anything about the person as a writer or even their work. It’s a “wham, bam, not even a thank you mam,” kind of drive by sales pitch. And it leaves an icky taste in your mouth.

The truth is that social media is meant to be just that-social. My personal Twitter account has grown exponentially because I’ve participated in chats, answered questions, and boosted other authors’ posts. I’ve been a good social member of the writing community. Now, when someone sees my book (and no, I still don’t put them in messages), they’ll think not just about what I write, but also about who I am. And that, I hope, does more good for my sales and my networking.

No one ever wants to get hit by the message bandit. For most of us, it’s an immediate unfriend/unfollow. Much like I say an author shouldn’t treat their newsletter readers like their own personal ATM, well they shouldn’t treat those they connect with on social media like that either, because social media is so much more than just making sales.