DigiEx

digital, agencies, life, and other stuff

Twitter in business – walking the line between following and stalking.

Posted by Lee on July 9, 2009

GaryTaxaliFun-thumb-300x362-5338

Let’s face it; anyone worth their salt in the marketing communications industry (agency side) will monitor the social media activity generated by, or around their clients or business prospects.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We do it all the time for our clients as it can help to provide a ‘finger on the pulse’ view of what people are saying about them, and an opportunity to sort out any customer service issues, real or perceived.
However, this afternoon I witnessed a something quite strange, and it made me a little uncomfortable.

An agency was trying to get attention of  @prospect via twitter.
Various members of said agency had got onto twitter and sent a series of tweets to a potential new business prospect in the telco category.
The tweets amounted to a tweet-by-tweet sales pitch handed on from one @agencyperson to the next, all sent to the @prospect in a continuous burst.

So why did the agency use this approach? Good question.
I guess they thought it was original.
I guess they thought that it would demonstrate that they knew how to use twitter, and it would impress @prospect.
Maybe it was just cheaper than picking up the phone?
It wasn’t exactly confidential as anyone monitoring @prospect’s twitter account could watch the approach unfold.
It also meant that @prospect could look at the agency tweeps profiles and see how ‘twitteractive’ @agency really are.
Would an approach such as this really impress @prospect?
I don’t know – it may be flattering I guess, however it could just as easily be viewed as a bit creepy and borderline.

A smart tactic?  Maybe. Clever? Personally, I don’t think so.
I acknowledge that these tweets weren’t direct messages, and some might feel that it just constitutes another form of public advertising.  However as most businesses set their their company name  as a search feed to monitor and respond to customer issues, it was inevitable that the @agency tweets were going to clog up @prospect’s feed.  If this approach had been used to target a specific consumer, what are the potential privacy implications?
How would a potential business client feel about receiving a ‘concentrated blast’ of emails or phone calls from various members of a hopeful sales company? Probably pissed off and a bit violated – and we know that no reputable business would sanction their employees using such behaviour.
I guess what makes me uncomfortable in this digital era, is that it’s such a fine line between targeted marketing communications tactics, and ‘stalking / spamming’ a prospect.
When are we crossing that line?

Note: the picure in this blog entry is entitled ‘Fun’ by the brilliant illustrator / artist, Gary Taxali.

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