Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scoble: Twitter Needs Spam

In a piece in Fast Company, Robert Scoble says that Twitter is great, but wishes that it could be a source of spam:

Sales and marketing are lagging in seeing the potential here. When I used all these services to tell the world that my wife and I were expecting a child in September, I anticipated hearing from the world's largest consumer-products companies begging me to try their latest diapers, food, car seats, and financial instruments. What came back? Nothing. Where was Procter & Gamble? Given what it and other companies spend acquiring new customers, there's an untapped gold mine in Twitter and Facebook because we're volunteering so much information about what we're doing right now, whether it's working on a project or eating a chicken-salad sandwich. Learning how to tap it correctly--both to sell to me directly and in seeing major trends in the millions of daily public posts--will be the next major challenge for these companies.

I had to read that one twice. Scoble is complaining that when he used Twitter to share information about his personal life, Proctor & Gamble and its peers weren't lurking in the background to spam him with offers for relevant products.

What's really funny is that he then goes on to talk about how things like Twitter will become crucial business communications tools. Because really, nothing drives adoption of a tool like having it used to bombard you with unsolicited sales pitches. I'm sure that lots of Twitter users are looking at their tweets and sighing disconsolately, wishing that someone would try to sell them a new cola.

Welcome to the dangers of losing the ability to think critically about technology, something all too common among the Web 2.0 gurus. Ironically, it's something that Twitter encourages; I suspect that trying to copmress all those thoughts into 140-character burps has an effect on the through process itself. At its best, it might make people be concise; but follow some of these Twitter feeds and you find that it's more likely to stunt thinking.

Especially when it comes to Twitter itself, which is a mildly entertaining distraction that undoubtedly has some social networking uses. But if you are interested in the potential of things like this, pray that the marketing folks at P&G aren't reading this stuff, or we'll see the onset of Twitter spam that will kill whatever potential is there in its infancy.

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