Oh dear, I’m either a pervert or I’m getting on my high horse here – possibly both. What we’re talking about is Social Media and the whole question of consent.
Why? Because there are sharks out there and it’s worth looking at our own standards to make sure we’re not becoming like them.
I have just deleted someone I was following on Twitter because they re-tweeted a link to a company offering to sell followers. I personally don’t think you should buy followers but it’s worth thinking through why.
You could say, “Well, it’s disgusting isn’t it? It’s a betrayal of everything that social media stands for. They’re charlatans.”
But that wouldn’t get you very far.
We need to ask, why. Is it so hideous that a new business thinks social media offers lots of opportunities. Don’t we think that too?
What is wrong with giving yourself a head start by purchasing the names of people who have an interest in your product area. Don’t respected retailers already swap and sell e-mail lists amongst themselves?
These are all valid points.
I happen to think that social media only really works well when we remember the social bit. E-mail sales letters come into your in-box instead of your letter box but that doesn’t make either of them social.
But Social media can be tricky because it blurs the line between a sales relationship - in which in the worst case, the punter is the mark and can be bought by the dozen - and a social relationship - where the individuals are friends, colleagues and networking acquaintances.
If a mate of mine revealed that we became friends only after she had bought my name from a company selling friends I would be a bit miffed, but then people use dating services and that is the buying and selling of potential friendships.
The difference is whether or not it is consensual.
I admit that this is a tricky relationship to get right and Men with Pens were discussing it over on their blog a short while ago. You like to think of your blogging community as friends, people have built up a rapport with you over many months and years, but actually you are still hoping that at some point they will buy.
This could seem like a terribly cynical way of viewing life but we are talking about consensual marketing which is a far healthier state of affairs than non consensual, which is spam.
A blogger will nurture a community for many reasons, but one of them will be that if ever their reader needs a to hire a copywriter, builder, plumber, or whatever, it is you they will hire and not the other fella.
So what I’m saying, is that buying my name from a Twitter wholesaler and then spamming me with sales messages, is disrespectful.
Now that is far too much from me. What do you think – it is not as easy to work through these issues as you’d imagine is it?