Blatant Sales Pitches via Twitter – Cool or Not so Kosher?

A co-worker tipped me off to a very, very lame use of Twitter for marketing…essentially a software vendor with zero followers blasting out short hyperbolic messages with a tinyURL back to their site.

Uninformative, and even more noise in the ever growing cacophony of the Twitterverse.

But – aren’t we all, in some way, marketing via Twitter? Even if we’re selling ourselves, trying to make people care about whatever we might be up to at this very second, to more thinly-veiled (and as I note above not so thinly-veiled) corporate hacks – the simple truth is that we’re all in it for promotion. (Some, of course is just more shameless than others.)

So, where’s the limit? Am I right to chide this brazen and blatant sales pitch Twitter persona?

I think so, and here’s why…

In this great big social media experiment, there is this unspoken notion of give and take. If I’m a person or a persona repping a brand – I am either retweeting a cool link, putting out an idea, or asking a question. In other words, adding to a larger overarching conversation. In return, the brand (either personal or corporate) gains visibility and hopefully sales somewhere along the line.

The blatant, boring Twitter voices that add nothing to the conversation are probably doing more harm than good for their brands. The people in the Twitterverse (and the rest of this 2.0 ersatz world) are too smart for that kind of crap…they see right through it.

My advice to those blasting out junk is to take a step back, see how the conversation is progressing, and look to make meaningful input.

3 thoughts on “Blatant Sales Pitches via Twitter – Cool or Not so Kosher?

  1. I believe the system is self-regulating. You mentioned he doesn’t have any followers (except your co-worker). It mirrors the person who runs around an in-person networking event handing out business cards to everyone in the room. Blatant promoting is expensive, time consuming and ineffective.
    I obtain value from Twitter when I use it for Micro-PR, especially when I use it to announce where I am and what’s going on. Last week I organized a blood drive for a victim of a car accident. I used Twitter to tell folks both bloodmobiles were full but there was no waiting. It prompted a TV news crew to cover our event and increased visiblity, and most importantly, donations. To make Twitter work, consider focusing on the needs of those you are connecting with, instead of yourself.

  2. Martin, whether I am Tweeting, blogging, commenting in my personal or professional persona, I try to be transparent and certainly provide access to my associations and interest. I also, as I recently Tweeted, try to follow some basic F2F social etiquette in my WEB 2.0 social networking. As I was reading your article this morning, I happened to notice a Tweet from Build_A_Tribe that elevated my interest and concerns re marketing in the SMN world. Would love to see your followers interpretations and comments on these FTC guidelines: Build_A_TribeSEOmoz | Is Social Media Marketing Illegal?

  3. Kudos on the blog post and posing this question. This is a necessary debate considering that web 2.0 is radically changing traditional marketing principles. As owners of the social web, we grow apoplectic when traditional advertising/marketing campaigns find us in our social media sanctuaries.
    The issue isn’t whether traditional marketing is good or bad, efficient or inefficient. It is about placement. There is a social contact that we all have agreed to. When I watch television I expect to be bombarded with commercials (most of which don’t even apply to me) that take away my life, 30 seconds at a time. Does this bother me? Absolutely not! I understand that these marketing campaigns are a required if I want to continue to watch LOST for free every Wednesday night. I get a free show; they indoctrinate me. I’ve accepted this as a fair trade.
    However, advertising and marketing campaigns on Twitter are completely different. No conglomerate controls or dictates the exchange. We do. Now we decide what campaigns we subject ourselves to or even if we want to subject ourselves to a campaign. We expect to see only what we want to see. The moment a “Tweep” begins to take more than he/she gives we are tempted to smite them with righteous indignation by hitting the unfollow button. This is our world. Play by our rules.
    Scott Monty (@scottmonty), head of social media at Ford, has this figured out better than anybody else I know. Twitter is an extremely powerful business engine, but you can’t use traditional marketing tactics. On his website ( he discusses how Twitter isn’t a place to campaign, but a place to commit. Find people in your space and commit to a transparent dialogue that is mutually beneficial. We can accept the social contract and market ourselves. Everybody can win.


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