Spam or legitimate promotion?

As I’m scanning public library websites and looking at Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, I’m finding a growing number of occurrences of a message.

The same message, on each page. I’ve seen it already half a dozen times this morning, and probably at least two dozen over the past few days. Currently, I’m seeing it in Wisconsin libraries, but that’s because those are the libraries I’m looking at–there is nothing in the message specific to Wisconsin, as far as I can tell.


Without quoting the message directly, it’s a pitch for a new book, posted by the author; the book is related to the Human Genome Project, supposedly in plain language, and published by Xlibris (a PoD house that charges several hundred to several thousand dollars in advance, making it a vanity press by my standards).

The message is identical on every Facebook wall. It’s either attached as a comment on some library post (none of which have anything to do with the HGP) or offered as a standalone comment, presumably on pages where that’s easy to do.

I’m doing this post for two reasons–and will link to it in a message on Publib and Web4lib for both reasons:

  1. If you’re an administrator for a public library Facebook page and you see this message and wonder what it’s all about: You’re not alone. It’s popping up all over the place. It’s not specific to your library, although I suppose it’s indirectly arguing that you should buy the book. If you choose to treat it as spam and delete it, you’re probably making a sensible choice. (By the way, for libraries whose Facebook pages are largely inactive: Do you check them once in a while to delete the make-big-money-at-home spam that pops up on such pages?)
  2. A tiny little part of me wonders whether what this author is doing could be considered legitimate self-promotion? That tiny little part notes that I’ll have a book–from Information Today, Inc., definitely not self-published–out early in 2012 that is directly relevant to every public library and its relations with its community. Should I be posting a notice about that book to every public library Facebook page? Even more interesting: The reason I’m looking at all these Facebook pages is the other book I’m working on, which should be out later in 2012 from ALA Editions–and I suppose you could make the case that it would be directly relevant for me to post something on each and every public library Facebook page (that I’m aware of) about the book. After all, the Facebook pages are the major basis for the study, and the book will allow libraries to see how their Facebook page compares to their peers.

Don’t worry: I have no intention of doing either one. It strikes me as inappropriate and maybe a little unsavory. But I’ve always been a terrible self-promoter, and maybe I’m wrong here. What do you think?

3 Responses to “Spam or legitimate promotion?”

  1. walt, this strikes me as self promotion, rather than spam. i liken it to the letters and preview copies of books i recieve at my desk a few times a month from hopeful authors who want me to order their book. (and the scientologists. they LOVE sending me free books). i know the line is thin, since spam-related activity on blogs and webpages looks very similar. however, i really think the above guy is on the side of promotion, due to the intent. honestly, i think he’s a bit of smarty-smart. even if the library doesn’t order the book, their customers will see the link and follow it and maybe buy it.

    on a second note, you can delete anything from your facebook page that does not go along with what you want your page to represent. i delete things all the time from mine!

  2. walt says:

    OK, there’s one vote for self-promotion (and presumably appropriate self-promotion). So should I go out and comment on all 1,300+ library Facebook pages (there will be hundreds more by the time I’m done) when the book(s) are available?

    One difference: The comment is wholly unrelated to the Facebook update it’s commenting on–not normally considered a good thing. And it’s not (just) reaching a librarian, it’s reaching everybody who Likes the library’s Facebook page.

    I’m aware that librarians can delete things from their Facebook pages. That’s one reason for this post. (Oh, and it’s not a “guy”–it’s a woman.)

  3. Oh, it’s spam. It’s blatted out en masse and bears no relation to the topic at hand on the threads where it appears. Definaitely spam. If it shows up on my page I will delete it.