Tip: When you wait five years to reply to a tweet, you’re doing it wrong.
Yesterday, a tweet addressed to me using Twitter’s @Reply feature appeared in my timeline on the Twitter app on my Mac:
Thanks for my interest? What interest? I’d been using GotPrint.com for several years, but didn’t recall ever using Twitter to express my interest in the company.
Fortunately, the Twitter app (and Twitter.com, for that matter) makes it easy to see the original or “parent” tweet an @Reply is in response to. When I checked, I found the following Tweet:
Note the date on that tweet: December 10, 2007. Now note the date on this post: July 6, 2013. I tweeted about the company — not even using its Twitter name — five and a half years ago.
And they replied yesterday with a canned, spammy response.
Annoyed at being spammed, I responded:
Apparently, the folks at GotPrint.com think I’m an idiot. Their response a short while later offered an unlikely and lame excuse:
Follow up? Five and half years later?
It’s far more likely that GotPrint.com got its hands on a Twitter bot that ran through all the old tweets that mentioned the company by name and generated spam like the message I got. While most people would likely ignore the message — because, let’s face it, most people don’t actually read the tweets on their timeline — I didn’t.
And then I blogged about it here.
Why is this a social networking failure? Mostly because GotPrint.com — or the individual/organization it hired to handle its social networking — misses the point of social networking: engagement.
Social networking isn’t about gathering followers and spamming them with product info. Social networking is about making your company available for a dialog with your customers and potential customers. A timely dialog. (I complained about this in another blog post years ago, but I can’t seem to find the post to link to it. Sorry!)
The companies that use social networking effectively respond promptly and appropriately to social network mentions of their companies, especially when those mentions tag the company by its Twitter (or Facebook or other social network) name. They provide additional information when requested. They link to helpful documentation to solve specific problems. They provide customer service information when its needed.
They don’t generate automated responses using bots based on key words or phrases. They don’t come up with lame excuses when they’re caught doing something stupid (like responding to a 5-1/2 year old tweet). And they certainly don’t attack other social networking users who might have something negative to say about them (as Amy’s Baking Company so famously did earlier this year).
Twitter has been around for more than seven years now. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks have also been around for quite some time. I find it incredible that organizations are still struggling to make social networking part of their customer service and marketing efforts. It’s pretty simple; why can’t they figure it out?
As for GotPrint.com, well, I’ll likely continue using them for my print marketing needs — which, admittedly is limited these days. But it isn’t because of the tweet I received from them yesterday. It’s because their price and quality meets my needs. If anything, yesterday’s tweet is a black mark against them — the only black mark so far.
And no, I won’t follow them on Twitter. In fact, if I hear from them again, I’ll likely report them for spam.