Are You Guilty of Spray and Pray Social Media?

Lately, I’ve been bombarded with invites to connect on LinkedIn — many of which, come from people I don’t know.

As growing numbers of people and businesses seeing more value in LinkedIn, people seem to be pouring more time into the social network.

But, here’s the problem. Many people are using a “spray and pray” approach that does little to grow your network. In other words, they are casting a wide net and connecting to anyone with a pulse.

However, all this does is give you a Rolodex of names instead of valued connections that can help you grow your business.

And, it doesn’t just happen with LinkedIn. Sadly, it happens across all of the social networks.

The Spray and Pray Social Media Way

In the absence of a real social media strategy, people and businesses fire messages blindly and continuously in hopes of hitting their target. This rarely works, yet many businesses engage in this spray and pray social media approach.

Not sure what I mean? Here’s what spray and pray social media looks like:

  • Focused on numbers, not relationships. Oftentimes, companies connect with anyone and everyone to help grow their social media audience. Maybe that means connecting with everyone around you on LinkedIn (regardless of whether you know the person or want to know them) or perhaps it means buying Twitter followers or Facebook likes.
  • Sharing everywhere. Many feel the pressure to be on every social network, so they share content on every possible social network in hopes that it hits the mark.
  • One-way broadcasting. Many businesses are so focused on getting their information out that they constantly promoting their business without ever listening, engaging and responding to their audience.
  • Quantity over quality. Whether it’s blogging or social media sharing, people often think that more equals better. So, they focus on holding on to the trigger and continuously sharing tons of content.

Logically, we know that the spray and pray approach doesn’t work for just about anything. Yet, it continues to be rampant in social media.


People don’t want to take the time to do the work. They just want to jump into the tactics instead of taking the time to build a strategy.

But, I assure you, skipping the foundational work will lead to a lot of wasted time and money with little results to show for it.

A better social media approach

Spending just a little bit of time focusing your efforts could go a long way toward helping your social media efforts be more effecetive. Here’s how you do that:

  • Find your audience. No, you don’t have to be on every social network. Find out which networks your audience uses and go there. Survey your customers, look at industry research, review Google Analytics or use tools like Rapportive and MailChimp to learn more about your audience and discover where they spend time. Your efforts will be far more focused and effective this way.
  • Build real relationships. Sure, numbers are good. But, relationships are better. Take the time to get to know the people you’re connecting with on social networks. I challenge you to strike up a conversation with 3-5 people every day. Ask a question and get to know the person. Not only will this help you build more valuable connections, it will help give you some insight into your target audience.
  • Share relevant and valuable content. If you take the time to find and understand your audience, you should be able to easily share content that people want to read. Yes, some of that content can and should be yours, but don’t forget to share other information too.

It’s time to quit the spammy behavior and stop the spray and pray social media marketing.

Instead, build a strategy around behaving like a person or business that people will want to get to know. After all, acting like a human goes a long, long way.

Are you guilty of “spray and pray” social media? Or, have you seen others who are guilty of this?

Image credit: Conor Keller

Share This Post

Picture of Laura Click

Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

9 replies on “Are You Guilty of Spray and Pray Social Media?”


Fantastic article on something I have been observing on LinkedIn as well. Thank you for sharing better methods.


It should be LinkedIn’s mission as well. If everyone is connecting with each other’s account, just for the sake of increasing the number of connections, LinkedIn’s brand will surely suffer.

Moreover, I am not for sure what the spray and pray objective is…It’s not like the old-fashioned link farms where the tactic increased SEO. What does a person gain by having 500+ connections? When I see that kind of number, I frown, because it doesn’t feel like genuine networking (unless you are a well-known industry leader).

before I accept anyone’s linkedin invitation, I always ask “how might we know each other”? if they can’t deliver a response, they’re not allowed in my network. it devalues the experience when quantity is valued over quality. i take pride in my connections, and spray and pray is often not the way to go. thanks for bringing attention to this important issue, Laura!

You and me both, Jessica! It’s amazing to me how many people don’t respond. If you can’t tell me either A) how we know each other or B) why you would like to connect, why should I open my network up to you?! It’s baffling to me, yet so many people do this. There other way takes more time, but is FAR more beneficial!

Inasmuch as this article was likely generated by your experience with too many LinkedIn invitations, I just *knew* when I got to the “buying Twitter followers” where the link was going to lead (sigh).

In defense of Twitter follower counts, let me simply add (and I’m sorry if this sounds redundant, but there are always new readers), that it is possible to have many twitter followers and ALSO…

* focus on a single social medium where your audience hangs out

* build real relationships
* listen and respond
* share relevant and valuable content

I strive to do all 4 to the best of my ability. It is possible to have the best of both worlds. They aren’t mutually exclusive– that’s the Forman Doctrine and the reason I felt it necessary to write the article.

Social media has become the new TV ad (and those random LinkedIn invitations junk mail) where impressions matter more than interactions.

What a rallying cry this is for reclaiming the true power of the social web. I want to be a part of this movement where people inject humanity into the online world (that’s my personal mission). I’m convinced it really is the best way to stand out online.

Thanks for writing this, Laura.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We thought you might like these