How Not To Use Twitter: Case Study With the Anti Robo Call People

These days, everyone has stars in their eyes about “social networking” and feel a need to jump on every new thing out there to do their thing online. Today I’m going to give you an example of how NOT to use Twitter, the micro-blogging service that many people enjoy.
Over at The N Judah Chronicles, I have been using Twitter to supplement blog posts, especially since now I can’t always update the site during the day when I’d like, and have to put it off until the evening or the early morning. Plus, I’ve been testing out Twitter as a way to create an online community about MUNI and the funny things we all see around town. Many other local bloggers and I “follow” each others micro-posts, and it’s a nice little diversion while I’m stuck on the N and can find something to do with my iPhone.
Anyway, today, Brittney Gilbert at alerted her Twitter followers that one of the CBS5 reporters was now on Twitter and I decided to “follow” his Twitter posts. I think it is cool when journalists use Twitter as a way to talk to their readers/viewers and use it to get alternative points of view.
Anyway, I noticed he’d been talking about a story on cell phone robo calls and I posted a response, indicating that I used to sell robocalls and offered my expertise in said subject, such as it is. Cool.
Then, out of the blue, I get a direct message from someone who a) I don’t follow and b) I don’t know and c) obviously didn’t read what I’d Twittered. All I got was this random posting from the guy who runs some website devoted to killing poltical robo calls.
Basically what he did was look for anyone using the word “robocall” in Twitter, and then sent out this anonymous blast Tweet to me. He didn’t bother to read my comment, he didn’t know what I was talking about, and basically spammed my Twitter feed for his own site. Ironically, by doing so, he was as annoying as those robocalls he claims to be against!
The moral to the story? Communicating on Twitter isn’t a top down, message blasting service. Twitter is an ongoing conversation of sorts, and your best bet is to find ways to interact with Twitter users that is context-sensitive. Blasting out crap like this guy does not only is ineffective – it got me to post something online saying so!
PS: As for the concept itself – while I did sell robocalls in the past as a cheap way for low budget campaigns to reach voters when they otherwise could not, I no longer do so because I don’t know that it’s particularly effective from a communications point of view. There’s better low-cost ways for campaigns to communicate that weren’t available when robocalls were in fashion just a few years ago.
That said, I don’t like the idea of banning political speech, no matter how annoying, based on technology. This road-to-Hell paving crew kind of stuff sounds great, but always ends badly. Plus, the “holier than thou” aspect of it all is annoying.
And in an added level of irony, I’m sure the Google Ads over here are advertising…robocalls. YMMV.

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