Selling You On Social Networking

I signed up for a Twitter account in November 07.  It took me  a year to figure out what to do with it —which is post links to things I find interesting and to make the occasional wiseass remark.

That may sound like a waste of time, but compared to the “I just woke up/I’m now eating breakfast/I took a shower” crap that some people put on Twitter, my feed reads like the Wall Street Journal.

But you know what? It’s not the people who have nothing to say that don’t belong on Twitter, it’s the people who have something to sell.

Marketers have latched onto social networking the way those leeches in African Queen latched on to Humphrey Bogart. The difference is that Humphrey Bogart could get rid of his leeches.  For an example, let’s turn to America’s least trusted business: car dealers. They’re are all over Twitter and Facebook like a cheap suit, which is ironic isn’t it? They use it as a place to “connect with their customers” and “build their brand” and other marketing catch-phrase talk.

So here’s my question: do you really want to follow a car dealer’s Twitter feed or become a fan of them on Facebook? So they can pitch you on buying a car? All the time?

At its best Twitter provides useful information.  A news story, an interesting web site, a curious thought. Facebook? It’s a bridge that spans the space and time of friendship.

If you want to sell cars, go buy an ad.

8 thoughts on “Selling You On Social Networking

  1. I have been trying to figure out if Twitter is anything beyond a limited communication tool. I don’t believe it has a whole lot of value in marketing, people see right through it when use in that way.

  2. Right —and a lot of people are using it to sell.

    However, if a marketer uses it to communicate legitimately interesting information, such as links about related news content or industry trends, it will have value. The moment they ask you to buy something, all credibility goes out the window.

  3. You’re right; the flip side, though, is that nothing compels anyone to follow/friend these shameless sales people. I reserve Facebook for people who are my actual friends (my rules of thumb are 1) would I recognize you if I saw you on the street? and 2) do I genuinely have an iota of interest in how you turned out?).

    Twitter, though, is much more open. I use it as a news feed and a way to see some interesting links that I may not have come across otherwise. What’s so great about it is that I can see links from Web sites that I like, but since I don’t have time to surf the Web all day, they would otherwise slip by unnoticed.

    I do agree, though, that the advertising is too pervasive and really annoying.

    I think I will tweet the link to your post…

  4. Twitter is broadcast IM (or SMS) on an opt-in basis, with no social penalty for opting out. Nobody suffers involuntary Twitter spam. There’s no way for car dealers to pollute the general Twitter space, cuz there isn’t one. They can only pollute your Twitter channel, and only by your invitation.

    If you want to sell cars, tweet away. The Serial Car Buyers’ Lonely Hearts Club will thank you for it. People are funny.

    But there’s no such thing as Twitter spam. You’ve asked for any spam you get, so it’s not spam. Don’t see how there’s any confusion about this.


  5. That’s true, Lou. If people want to follow a car dealer who am I to suggest they shouldn’t?

    However, I think some marketers will find that they’ve wasted their energy when people either don’t follow them or it doesn’t produce results. What we’ll see is sort of a Twitter natural selection that weeds out those who I arrogantly referred to as people “who don’t belong there.”

  6. > That’s true, Lou. If people want to follow a car
    > dealer who am I to suggest they shouldn’t?

    You’re the reasonable sort of guy who knows that if we all agreed never to take another telemarketing call, telemarketing would vanish overnight. It hasn’t. Evidently, somebody’s not keeping the pact.

    Think of it this way: following a salesman on Twitter is like watching the Home Shopping Network. People do it. Go figure.


  7. Heh. The day after my comment above, this guy starts following me on Twitter:

    Dunno why, since I don’t freakin’ tweet. Could be that people (not me) feel obliged to follow folks who follow them, so it’s a back-handed request to be followed. Or maybe he wants to make me a great deal on a Ford — as if that were possible.

    Anyhow, an enterprising sort. Can’t knock that.


  8. That’s a riot. For those who can’t stand the idea of actually looking at Metro Ford’s Twitter feed, here are a few samples:

    Hope everyone has a great weekend… Why not cruise around in a mustang all weekend!

    and this:

    There’s nothing like some great pre-owned specials.. Especially on a Friday!!

    I could put up with that sh*t for about two seconds.

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