Bloomberg recently posted an article discussing the down side to marketing via Twitter. In the article a Twitter user of 2-months expresses her frustration with companies contacting her based on what she tweets. As with any social media tool that grows in popularity, marketers and brands set up shop hoping to reach their consumers in their natural environment. After a while the community becomes so flooded with poorly targeted and irrelevant marketing messages that users either flee the community all together, or the site begins putting stern regulations into place. In the case of Twitter, I think it’s important to highlight the difference between marketing and spam, which is something the mentioned article doesn’t do a great job of distinguishing. There is no doubt that Twitter spam (“twam”) has been an issue in recent months. Flooding consumers with messages unrelated to their needs or interests, mass auto following, hacking into accounts, etc. is a practice no reputable marketing agency should ever support. On the other hand, joining conversations where your service or brand is welcome or relevant is something I think we all agree can be an effective tactic.
The Twitter user highlighted in the Bloomberg article is upset that Home Depot contacted her after she told her followers that she was going to buy some paint at either Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Ace Hardware. The brand responded with a quick note wishing her luck and asking her if she needed any help. Maybe I’m having a hard time separating “Christy the consumer” from “Christy the marketer” – but what’s the big deal? I think the consumer should feel empowered by this. They are now being heard and have influence on how these brands operate. It was her perfect opportunity to respond and say ‘what can you do for me?’ As long as a line isn’t crossed into spamming territory (i.e. Home Depot “tweeting” or direct messaging her daily about hardware specials, sending her info on grand openings at store’s out of state, sending her countless customer surveys), I think customers should be excited by this new found authority and embrace it with open arms – or retreat to a deep dark cave with no Wi-Fi.
Bottom line – marketing can quickly turn into spam based on a single, poorly placed message, while spam on the other hand can never turn into marketing.