Marketing|Demand Creation Blog: Thoughts on strategy, lead optimization, social media and the digital space

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twitter to Business Users: You are now on Double Secret Probation

Surveillance Cameras image by Quevaal-Wikimedia CommmonsAs far as business use I have always seen and used Twitter as an information gathering tool with an allowance for just a smidge of promotion. I am deeply appreciative of the valuable links and insight posted by those I follow and try to return the same in kind. I've also endured plenty of Twitter spam, as a whole probably no worse than the amount of email spam I get. I do appreciate Twitter's desire to reduce spam.

But their Terms of Service revised on October 12 brings into question the long-term value of the service for legitimate business use (if the TOS stays as it is), ironically as Twitter claims to have an eye on offering premium corporate services. Here's a snip:

  1. If you have followed a large amount of users in a short amount of time;
  2. If you have followed and unfollowed people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn);
  3. If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;
  4. If you have a small number of followers compared to the amount of people you are following;
  5. If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates;
  6. If a large number of people are blocking you;
    The number of spam complaints that have been filed against you;
  7. If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account
  8. If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #
  9. If you post multiple unrelated updates to a trending or popular topic
  10. If you send large numbers of duplicate @replies
  11. If you send large numbers of unsolicited @replies in an attempt to spam a service or link
  12. If you repost other user’s content without attribution.
  13. If you have attempted to "sell" followers, particularly through tactics considered aggressive following or follower churn.
I think the real problem here, particularly for business, is with numbers 5 and 7.  

"If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates"
I actually WANT businesses and Twitter users I follow to provide links. Aside from it being pretty much impossible to provide perspective in 140 characters, I think contributing links to tweets promotes the ideal of sharing and adds value to the service that keeps me coming back. Without them, Twitter is sure to return to the kind of vapid, navel-staring that initially hurt its credibility for business (and to some would say this is still the case. I don't know - I don't follow navel-watchers). Maybe they mean you can't post a tweet that consists ONLY of a link. If they do, the TOS should be more clear about it. As it stands, the wording is too vague.  

"If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account"
I don't spend 24/7 on Twitter scanning updates so it's easy to miss tweets that I might want to see but was not online at the time to catch. As both a sender and recipient of business tweets it's helpful to have some tweets rebroadcast once in a while. Provided it's not daily, I'm all for it. Maybe once a month or every two weeks. And if Twitter is able to spot these Tweets and punish people for posting them, why can't they give users an toggle to selectively block or allow them. Why the Draconian approach? Let the people decide!

It also makes sense to be able to post some of the same content across accounts. Many people and corporations manage multiple Twitter accounts and while it would be simpler if each was compartmentalized from the other, the truth is there are times when it makes sense to post the same tweet to multiple or all of your accounts if there is some overlap in the kind of tweets the followers of each account like to see. We should not be punished for trying to tailor content to fit our audiences. I've heard it rumored that so far only tweet text that is EXACTLY the same as recently tweeted text is being blocked and that duplicate links are so far unaffected, but haven't tested this myself.

There is the bright spot in Twitter rolling out the "Report as spam" button and I've read there are humans behind the review process to avoid abuse by someone with an axe to grind. I just wish the terms of use were a little more specific in all areas. As it stands, it feels a lot like being on double secret probation!


"Rumors Abound as Tweet Scheduling Services are Targeted by Twitter" (Jesse Stay)


"Twitter Starts to Talk Up Corporate Account Plan"

"Twitter Confirms Paid Pro Accounts On The Way" (Silicon Alley Insider)

"Surveillance Cameras" image by Quevaal. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License.
Technorati Tags: , , , ,
Joseph Mann Friday, October 16, 2009 Permalink | 0 comments |

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Sideswiped by Sidewiki

Colossal Octopus attacking a shipReading through posts to the Web 2.0 Marketing Group I belong to on LinkedIn recently, a question came up about the implications of Google's Sidewiki for pharmaceutical/medical device brands. In an industry as heavily regulated as pharma, I can understand just how nervous this is going to make the lawyers (once it's on their radar)

While dipping its toes tentatively into the social media waters more and more, by and large the industry sees all sorts of beasts and monsters lurking in it's uncharted depths. Rightly so — implying acceptance of off-label uses of drugs or medical devices could mean legal headaches and fines the size of a Kraken.

As a social media user, I like the concept of Sidewiki and see significant value it can add to web sites. At the same time, with the current toolset (none) available to companies/brands/site owners, this is incredibly scary — anybody with a mean-spirited agenda can post a comment that pops right out next to any page on your web site. This is not some dark corner of Cafe Pharma message boards or a third-party rating site. For the majority of people who don't know any better, it looks like it's part of your site, endorsed by you.

Here's my comment (and recommendation) about the situation posted to the Web 2.0 Marketing Group:

"Working in pharma/healthcare I know what you mean about regulatory concerns. I'm sure many of my clients will be nervous about this once it's on their radar. Until (and if) Google gives some measure of control or comment moderation to the site owners, my suggestion is for companies to pre-emptively post the first Sidewiki entry to their sites making clear their policies about off-label use and perhaps including links to the appropriate site terms of use policy. As the site owner, a comment can be set to always appear at the top of the listings."

Although I posted regarding pharma regulatory concerns specifically, there's no reason why any company in any industry can't be the first to set some expectations or policy outlines for those who view Sidewiki comments on their site. It might not be as good as comment moderation, but for those in highly regulated industries it might put a little more control back in the company's hands (and make the lawyers less nervous!)

For more about this topic as it relates to the pharma industry, John Mack has posted quite a bit on his Pharma Marketing Blog about it. And a related post by Magnus Nillson "Google Sidewiki-Power to the People" provides a little more background about Sidewiki.

Magnus Nillson. "Google Sidewiki-Power to the People." Sep 25, 2009.
John Mack. "3rd Party Dissemination of Altered Rx Drug Information on Social Media Sites. Survey says.."
John Mack. "Google's Wacky Wiki is Whack! Pharma Should Demand Ability to Block It!"
Public Domain Image "Colossal octopus" by Pierre Denys de Montfort. 1810. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Joseph Mann Tuesday, October 06, 2009 Permalink | 0 comments |