When I started to take an interest in social media a couple of years ago, the concern most often voiced was that marketeers would get their grubby hands on it and spoil it for everyone else. I never really felt that would happen because of the permission based nature of the thing. You only see the updates of people or brands that you have chosen to follow. For me that was an important distinction between social media and all traditional media up until that point.
What I hadn’t banked on was the pervasive nature of underhand marketing tactics. There have been a few things recently which have annoyed me. I already ranted briefly about marketing types making recommendations based on nothing but loyalty to their own clients. This time my hackles have been raised by The Mashable Awards.
I have nothing against the awards in principle, or awards in general.
What gets my goat is the requirement that any vote in the awards is automatically retweeted or posted to your Facebook account. It can’t be turned off. So if you want to vote for a few things then you are actively spamming your own followers on behalf of Mashable.
It’s most annoying because Mashable are the ubiquitous social media follow. Everyone with any interest in the arena is reading what they say and this begins to look like an acceptable approach to viral marketing.
It’s insidious. Any vote I might make on the site is purely an endorsement for that brand, it is in no way an implicit endorsement of Mashable, yet if I vote I am promoting their content without consultation. The status updates that it generates are junk mail and should be treated as such.
It may not seem like a big deal. If we are all following Mashable anyway then we do kind of endorse them right? Maybe, but that’s not the problem.
Rather, if other hooked up organisations begin to adopt the same approach, our Facebook feeds or Twitter streams will quickly fill up with this crap.
Just as we do with spam we will learn to ignore it and software will be developed to automatically remove it from our lives.
Our carefully selected, permission based social media networks will cease to be of value and we will move on to something else.
Marketeers who use social media. Don’t take a leaf out of Mashable’s book. If you truly value your customers and have respect for whatever they CHOOSE to say using social media channels, trust them to work out whether they want to tell the world that they have just clicked on your call to action.