How to Opt Social Media Users into Your Mailing List

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Shame on you if you’re seriously looking for my advice on this matter.

I am a social media user who , as fellow LinkedIn author Viveka Von Rosen would say, is a “promiscuous networker.” I virtually meet and connect with a lot of other people in the world.  It is a virtual connection to establish potential that I have been talking about ever since I published my first Windmill Networking book in September of 2009.  Over the years, with the advent of open networking platforms like Twitter and Google Plus, many of us are much more promiscuous online than we used to be. We connect on LinkedIn, become Facebook friends, or perhaps follow each on Twitter and then you notice an email address somewhere on one of my social media profiles or website.

And then some of you opt me in to your mailing list.

It’s as if, I connect with you on social media, and all you see me as is an email address, a conversion stat.

I cannot tell you how many times in my day I need to both unsubscribe as well as report for spam the various newsletters that I am illegally opted in to. It is a waste of time and probably has a negative effect on our global economy, as well as my business and livelihood, that can be calculated.

As a business owner, I get it. You want to leverage what assets you have to “get the word out about your company.”

And there are many in social media, including myself, who are able to build up mailing lists that people have actually opted in to.

How did we do it?

I never opted my own LinkedIn connections into my mailing list, even though Internet marketers say I’m stupid not to.

What’s the secret sauce?  It’s called offering something of value to others.

Similar to how you download a PDF hidden by a contact form on a corporate website and then get an email (or call) from the salesperson the next day, you offer something of value to those that have an interest in what you do. Whether it’s a webinar, ebook, whitepaper, or similar content it doesn’t matter: When you offer something of value to others,  you get both relevant people as well as those who value your content to naturally opt-in to your list.  The result is also naturally higher open rates, better click through rate, and fewer people who report your email as spam. At the end of the day, it’s plain old better for your business.

So, you have two choices: Continue in your inefficient ways which are only angering people, or choose to give to get.

Just please don’t opt me in to your mailing lists anymore.

What are you waiting for?  If you feel like I do, give me a resounding “Yes!” in the comments and let’s let everyone know how sick and tired we are of being opted in to mailing lists left and right! Thanks!

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
Twitter Rolls Out A News Tab Experiment For App Users via @marketingland - 2 hours ago
Neal Schaffer


  1. says

    It’s becoming the law in Canada, the need to get “opt-in” for mailing lists. And just because you are in a different country, don’t assume Canadian authorities won’t come after you.

    I attended this #torontob2b meetup presentation last summer (and asked questions!); happily, the video is available online.

    In this post, we are sharing Sweeney Williams from Eloqua‘s presentation, “New Anti-Spam Law Approved in Canada: All You Need To Know”

  2. says

    Neal, as a fellow promiscuous networker on LinkedIn, I share your frustration with the number of spammers who assume I want to get their irrelevant emails. Really unprofessional! Thanks for writing this.

  3. says

    Neal you have a resounding YES YES YES from me on this one. Inundated with SPAM is actually an understatement. I haven’t tallied up the amount of time I waste, but I put aside at least a half day every two weeks to unsubscribe, retrain junk filters & clear out the deluge of unnecessary mail. Then there is the daily time of trying to decipher the good from the bad. And multiply this on the different platforms. YES you have my vote of confidence. Definitely!

  4. says

    Well said, Neal. From an email marketing standpoint, it’s taboo. Why would anyone even want a bunch of disengaged people on their list? Opting them in without their permission is a waste of time and money (though not much — which is why people don’t think much of doing it), and it just makes the person who did it without permission look kinds sleazy. There are better ways to attract and give real value to interested email subscribers. In fact, I wrote a book about it — Find Your Ideal Clients: The Secret To Irresistible Free Opt In Offers…on Amazon.

  5. says

    Neal, a distressing trend I’m seeing is people opting me in even though we have no connection. Using a company called Social123, which will append an email address to a Twitter handle, I am being added to mailing lists simply because I follow and am followed by someone’s competitors, for instance. (I’ve had sales or marketing folks at multiple companies tell me how I ended up on their list).

    There is one relatively well known individual that I believe is using Social123 or a similar platform to add people to a mailing list who just share their content on Twitter!

    Judy referenced the new laws in Canada, I hope they will make a difference. Unfortunately, CAN-SPAM in the US has simply put a few rules in place for how you can spam legally.

    (FYI: the email address Social123 has for me is one I don’t give out and largely don’t use, which has made it relatively easy to spot companies using it or a similar service).

    • says

      Hey Eric – thanks for chiming in and for sharing the information about Social123. I have actually demoed their technology to see what it is all about, and it is one in a number of email address appending services that take public profiles and information and map email addresses, among other information to them. These platforms are completely legal. The issue is in how those use them, and I see using them as being no different than “buying” an email list. For instance, just because I follow you on Twitter doesn’t mean I opted in to anything more than seeing your tweets in my newsfeed on Twitter, right?

      All we can do is to continue to report spam to both the email service provider as well as through Google in hopes that these complaints have an indirect affect on these spammers. I am hoping that this blog post – and associated comments – provides much needed “education” for those thinking that a social media connection is a green light to market to someone.

      Thanks again Eric!

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