Twitterhawk – Is social media losing relevance and authenticy?
I recently learned about twitterhawk, a service that lets you “auto-tweet” based on certain characteristics.
How it Works
In check out their site (I haven’t used it yet) in their words:
“We’ll find people talking NOW about your topic, even in a given location, and send an @reply from you”.
They have some pretty cool targeting including tweets that contain only positive or negative sentiment and your keyword (I have no idea how they determine sentiment).
Let’s say you just opened a new coffee store in Queens and wanted to let people know about it. As part of your advertising efforts, you could setup TwitterHawk to search for things like “coffee near:Queens within:8mi” (of course you could simply search world wide if you are global).
We would then periodically (at a frequency determined by you) find twitter posts that mentioned coffee by users that are actually located within 8mi of Queens, and send them one of your pre-defined replies from you such as
‘@cracksh0t Have you seen our new Coffee Shop in Queens?’ or
‘@loxly What is your favourite blend? We’ve just opened a new store in Manhattan and would love to know what you think’
Problem 1 – Lack of Relevance
Initially, I thought this was kind of cool (in my marketing hat). I can automate some of the social media responses that I would typically send out. Seems cool. The issue is that you have no way of determining the real context of the tweet that you are replying to. Using the example above, what if I just tweeted “My doctor told me I have to stop drinking coffee” or “My boss has the worst coffee-breath. Gross.” or worse “Friend just died while drinking coffee”.
In all of these cases the responses above would be irrelevant and possibly offensive. Maybe they are extreme but are you willing to risk it?
Problem 2 – Lack of Authenticity
Automating messages creates inauthentic communications, which degrades the community and experience on twitter for all of us. For example there are a number of services that automatically send a Direct Message when someone new follows you – things like “Krista, you are awesome, thanks for following me, check out my blog” or “Thanks for the follow, lets stay connected”.
In my mind, these are clearly spam. No question. The problem is that I can’t tell between genuine messages (ie. people who really want to know how I found them or have a legitimate and real reason for directing me to their blog) vs. those who automatically send this.
It degrades the authenticity of the medium for everyone. I now ignore all of the Direct Messages that I get shortly after following someone.
At the same time Twitterhawk messages seem to be clearly identified (via twitterhawk at the end)… Does that resolve this problem?
Problem 3: Is it SPAM?
Twitterhawk has a posted policy on SPAM, explaining how their service is not spam.
“With that said, we acknowledge that notifying someone of relevant information or services based on their tweet content may in fact add value to their twitter experience. We view this in the same way that Google Adwords provides non intrusive offers to users based on the keywords they told Google about – but without this being forced upon them or annoying them.”
I don’t think that this is the same as Google Adwords, which are not mixed with legitimate personal messages, and are clearly marked as ads. Also, it is forced upon me and annoying.
The folks at twitterhawk do seem to care about the twitter community and have reduced the frequency with which their service will tweet for you (from once per hour to once every 6 hours). They seem open to feedback and are adjusting the policy as they learn, which is great.
They also have a policy to report spam. I’m curious to know how you would differentiate a non-spam vs. a spam use of this service….
According to Wikipedia:
“Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages.”
I suppose that you could debate whether or not it is indiscriminate and/or bulk.
Twitterhawk should let users opt-out so that they will not receive any twitterhawk messages and can control the relevance and authenticity of their conversations.
I think that the concept is powerful, automating social media. Make it more efficient for marketers to talk at people.
Personally I wouldn’t risk my brand reputation with an auto-response. Maybe I’m over cautious?
Here is what some people on twitter are saying….
What do you think?
· jwpalmer Not sure how I feel about this. I mean, it’s less powerful than facebook’s targeting, but still enabling another form of spam
· bettyhakes i agree w/you re: twitterhawk… did u find out cost (if any)? i like using tweetdeck – I can control reply, more targeted
· vaportrails very powerful, but it almost seems to abuse the use of twitter. I honestly don’t post here to be advertised to… i can see how it would be nice for some people to find out about new places and services, though
· life_enthusiast I just took a look at that today too. It would have to be really well placed to be genuine….Not sure if that’s achievable.