Originally, I thought it was an anomaly, but now it's happened on more than a few occasions.
The first instance, I was invited through a trusted peer to join a new online social network that was targeting the business crowd. Following my theory of "owning" your online presence, I do like to sign up for everything. I also do some quick tests to see if this is of interest to me and/or if this is of use to Twist Image clients.
Approximately two days after signing up, I received a phone call in my office from a "customer service rep" on behalf of this new online social network to see if I had any issues logging on, or if I had any questions about the network.
On the one hand, I was feeling a little, "yeah, I know how online social networks work," but, regardless, why not just track my usage over a little bit of time before jumping on me right away to see how I'm doing? (by phoning me?). On the other hand, if you're a complete native to online social networking, do those calls engender people to try out the network or make them more loyal? Either way, I was not impressed. I'm getting telemarketing calls now because I signed up to an online social network.
It just doesn't seem right.
Then, I got an email from another company that has an online social networking tool I signed up for. There's not just a domain here, but a Facebook widget that I added on to my Facebook profile. This company opted for a scripted email to gauge my interests, likes and dislikes with their product. Worse, you can see the two spots where they "tried" to personalize it (didn't work).
Full disclosure: I did not read through the terms and conditions of my service agreement with either of these online social networks (so odds are there is, probably, some language in there reflecting that I am giving them permission to contact me), but does that make it right?
If I start getting customer service related telemarketers and emails that are supposed to look personal but are stock about these online social networks and their widgets, I'm going to turn sour on them fast. While, as Marketers, we know that these tactics provide a certain level of ROI and retention, I'm thinking - that for the more Web savvy - hitting a user with email or a phone call to see what their online experience has been with your wares is deadly poor.
One of the salient points I demonstrated in my presentation, Burn The Ships, has to do with New Media's challenge of creating proper advertising and marketing messages for this new interactive channel, and not to simply take the traditional tactics and dump them into the interactive space (which has been what we've done - and are doing). Getting a phone call from a telemarketer really turned my fresh brand experience with this online social network in a very bad direction.
Big Marketing lesson: know your audience and know how they would like to be communicated to. More importantly, be aware of whom they are and the language/channel you're using to reach them.
As an aside, I opted not to mention these two companies by name.