Paying for attention

August 25, 2009 | 10:02

Tags: #advertising #spam

Companies: #twitter

This unsolicited email dropped in my inbox the other day. I get thrown on quite a few PR lists without my prior consent, that's just the way it is, but reading into it a bit more I wonder: does social networking really matter?

We've starred out the names because we don't want to give this rotten spammer publicity - essentially, he runs a service that purports to allow people to buy Twitter followers.

Contact: Leon XXXXXX


Twitter has recently moved to shut down web promotions company, by claiming the advertising agency is “spamming”.

According to XXXXXX CEO Leon XXXXXX, Twitter recently sent accusations via a brand-management organisation that XXXXXX are using Twitter for spam purposes. Despite this, XXXXXX say the claims are false.

“The definition of spam is using electronic messaging to send unsolicited communication and as we don’t use Twitter for this, the claims are false.” Said XXXXXX.

XXXXXX believe the claims are due to a service the company sells which allows clients to purchase packages of followers to increase their viewership on the site.

“The people at Twitter who are sending these claims are just flailing around trying to look for any excuse they can, though it’s going to take much more than this if they want us to pack up shop.” Said XXXXXX. “We’re not going away that easily.”

Despite the fact that this guy clearly doesn't understand that Twitter can do what the hell it wants with its free service he's abusing for personal gain (does he pay them a penny? I think not), it makes me wonder if anyone believes the claim that more followers = more money.

How does this service guarantee followers? Bots? Without creating genuine interest in a product I find it extremely hard to believe that people will willingly follow a Twitter account they haven't a specific and focused interest in.

If anything, sites such as Twitter, which facilitate easy communication and sharing of information will help people to be more informed and be less tolerant of spam and tone deaf corporate messaging.

If companies want followers on Twitter, they're not going to be get that by simply having a Twitter account that blasts out boring press releases. They'e going to need to really engage with their customers and with the wider Twitter community.

The real way for companies to get traffic on Twitter (or anywhere else on the Internet, for that matter) will be when they're open, inclusive, and honest and engage in a real dialogue with people. The sooner companies learn this the better we'll all be.
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