An associate recently posted a question onto her Google+ wall about how marketers are using social networking. I wrote up a long winded response--for a social network--and decided to share it here too.

First, the question:

Seen on a mailing list recently:

"It's been really discouraging to see how quickly social media has taken its place next to SEM, email marketing, and all the rest as just another broadcast channel with a revenue goal and ROI attached to it."

Do you agree or disagree?

I generally agree, but sometimes it depends on the company.

Here are a bunch of random--and true--examples:

If I speak to VirginMobile on twitter; it is always canned/stock answers. Such as when I asked if they'll get any Windows Phones; the response was something like "we don't have any announcements regarding future phones". It was very formal.

I've liked "Jakes Wayback Burgers" on Facebook because it is my favorite "fast food" burger place in my town. If they respond to interaction at all--which is rare--it usually only positive interaction. For example when I asked Wayback Burger why they were giving away an iPad 2 in a promotion instead of the "latest and greatest model" that was ignored. But, I have them respond to other queries such as "What time does X store open". Very fact based and no personality.

On Twitter, I complained about MX Energy salesman showing up at my door. Seriously, I am sick of these people. I actually posted a sign on my front door that says "no soliciting, especially from MX Energy" They ring my bell less but that sign has not curbed it completely. I didn't even know MX Energy had a twitter account until they followed me. They were was no response to my complaint, no attempt to communicate me, no apologies for the constant interruptions. In fact, I'd say MX Energy is the company I hate most in the world--although Wandisco is trying really hard for that top spot.

Since I brought up Wandisco; let me talk about them. They just bought SmartSVN from the company that owned it. I love SmartSVN and it is the best SVN client I've used. So, I've been a happy customer for many years. I did not receive promotional mailings from the SmartSVN folks--until Wandisco bought them. Now I get emails all the time. I have unsubscribed from their mailing lists using the Unsub" link in their emails. Yet, I Still get emails. I have emailed them back, complaining, but got no response. I have flamed them on Twitter and that did get a response. I have to admit that response was human and personable and swore to me that the issue was a mistake on their part and promised to get the issue fixed.

Fine, mistakes happen. But, when you tell me it is fixed; I want it to be fixed. I'm still getting emails from them; despite multiple times of being promised it would be fixed. After the my last twitter tirade; I got a personal apology emailed to me, promising that this time it was really fixed. I'm impressed they followed up. But, five days later I got another round of promo emails from them. Obviously the issue is not fixed. The point has almost become laughable now. I imagine them as a big corporate company with lots of bureaucratic overhead and no one knows what anyone else is doing. The person who is managing their twitter account (and/or emailing me) is probably promising things they can't deliver on--such as getting my email removed from every copy of their list.

Moving away from Wandisco..

If you take a look at "known" bands such as Toad the Wet Sprocket or Soul Asylum; all the communication is one way. When Dan Murphy left Soul Asylum there were weeks of speculation on their message boards before the band finally responded with a Twitter sized response.

When Wadjet Eye Games (my favorite Indy Adventure Game Publisher) posted on Facebook that they were looking to do auditions for voice overs for their next game; they did not respond to the 3-5 people who asked for more details. If they weren't going to respond; why did they post an announcement on Facebook?

When Lake Compounce--a local amusement park--asked what people liked best about their season pass; I responded with some snark about how the Halloween attractions were an extra charge. That comment was quickly deleted. Instead they could have apologized for the inconvenience.

On the flip side of things; not all companies [or bands] are bad.

The GeekDesk twitter account is amazingly personal. Pretty much any tweet I make regarding my GeekDesk is responded to directly. when I casually mentioned that the desk was making weird clicking sounds when going up and down they offered to open a ticket for me via twitter. That is not the first time they've done something similar for me. Clearly someone there gets it. I cannot recommend GeekDesk enough. It is the best desk I ever owned.

When I tweeted a "recording" of a recent Bowling for Soup show the lead singer responded from his personal twitter account to thank me for sharing. And then he followed my twitter account details to my blog and used it to email me to ask if he could re-purpose the recording. How cool is that?

So, that's my brain dump. Some good; some bad. My perception is that there is more one-way interaction than communication. It's a shame because social networking for companies had a lot of promise.