Our recent Twitter competition caused quite an uproar. So much in fact, that it made me think that we might’ve made a mistake. After taking time to reflect, I believe the competition was a bad idea. And here’s why.
The concept was simple enough. We’d give people an incentive to tweet a link like this:
“Please retweet this to help me go to http://bit.ly/10Sgh
or http://bit.ly/4w7t (Rules: https://blog.teamtreehouse.com/uncategorized/win-a-free-pass-to-any-carsonified-event/”
If they were re-tweeted 20 times, then they would enter a draw to win a free seat to any Carsonified event of their choice.
We started getting comments from some of you, accusing us of “spamming” Twitter. I really had a tough time understanding where you were coming from. Twitter is an opt-in platform. If you don’t like what you read then stop following that person. Where’s the harm?
The harm isn’t in the one or two tweets that you might receive, the harm is that this kind of marketing strategy could snowball into something that could potentially ruin Twitter. And we don’t want that.
What if Virgin came along and said “If you tweet a link to VirginAtlantic.com, and you get re-tweeted 20 times, you might win a holiday to Hawaii” or if Apple said the same thing, but for a chance to win a shiny new MacBook? I would do it and you probably would as well. Chance to win a free MacBook? Sign me up!
If that happened, Twitter would quickly be filled with meaningless marketing messages and it would become impossible to discern the signal from the noise. Since you can’t filter out certain messages from the people you follow then your only choice is to stop following them, which defeats the whole purpose of Twitter. The experience would be ruined.
Twitter is different
What’s interesting about the negative reaction to our re-tweet competition is that the competition is almost exactly the same as our Golden Ticket competition. The only difference is that we asked people to blog about the Golden Ticket, instead of Tweet about it.
I think there are two reasons why some of you felt spammed by the re-tweet competition:
1. Twitter is perceived as a very personal and non-commercial communication channel. We expect people to be a bit spammy on their blogs – but not on Twitter.
2. Since you are limited to 140 characters, there is no room to explain why you’re re-tweeting something. The entire tweet is taken up with the re-tweet marketing message, with no context or personality. On a blog, you have unlimited space to explain why you’re blogging about something.
As I’ve said, I now think the competition was a bad idea. I take full responsibility for it and I’m sorry. I’ve learned we need to wield our Twitter ‘power’ carefully and protect the Twitter experience.
In order to be fair to the people who’ve already entered the competition, we will let the competition finish. However, we won’t be asking people to do anything like this in the future.