Remember when people used to talk about “saving the Earth?” It always struck me that this was a dumb idea. The planet will be just fine once we’ve squandered its resources in ways that bring about the collapse of human civilization, thankyouverymuch.
Now people talk about “sustainability,” which is a very different idea. Sustainability is about whether our behavior can serve our own interests over the long haul. It’s really about protecting our own asses, and the pivot by environmentalists from betting on our capacity for enlightenment to betting on our instinct for self-preservation is part of the reason things have started to turn Green all over America.
Sustainability in Social Marketing
The concept of sustainability is a useful one with respect to social marketing as well. This struck me reading an excellent post by Sarah Perez in ReadWriteWeb this morning, about how marketers have begun to use Twitter in spam grey zones that don’t serve the interests of the community. From the piece:
What’s actually more concerning than spam, however, is the new trend we’ll call “tweet to win.” Legitimate companies have begun using Twitter to promote a message – essentially an advertisement about their business’ offerings. To cajole twitizens into “spamming” their followers in this way, they’re offering prizes or the chance to win prizes in return. (Full disclosure: this author did this once and still regrets it).
This situation hasn’t gotten out of hand just yet, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it does. Because really, how many of you could resist yourselves if all of a sudden a company started giving away free Macbook Pros? Oh, apparently not too many of you because you’ve already spammed up trending topics today with #moonfruit. What’s Moonfruit? Why, it’s a company that’s giving away a free Macbook Pro every day for 10 days. Is this a brilliant social media promotion (as Adam Ostrow of Mashable claims) or just a new, inventive way to junk up the twitterstream with advertisements? We think it’s closer to the latter.
This kind of marketing is akin to the “Add 1,000 Followers Overnight” style of Twitter participation, which I think is pointless if not evil. Adding followers who don’t really care what you have to say seems about as useful as embedding unwanted 30-second interruptions in wide-screen video, and we all know how that model’s doing.
My point is this: If you’re going to begin to market on Twitter – and you should – consider “sustainability” when choosing tactics. An approach rooted in building relationships, adding value, and contributing to the conversation does serve the broader interests of the Twitterverse, but more importantly it will serve the interests of your own brand over the long haul.
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- Dave Fleet (Twitter Follower-Building Services – Gain Numbers, Lose Respect?)
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- A Special Summer of Social Good Thank You (mashable.com)
- The Twitter Lists (nylady.edublogs.org)