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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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An Example of Failing At Marketing Using Twitter

Comments (32)

I don’t know who’s managing the District 9 twitter marketing campaign, but their abuse of twitter (via their creation of Twam – “twitter spam”) just caused me to decide not to go see the movie tonight.  Here’s the history of the experience.

On August 15th, I tweeted “has anyone seen District 9?  Worth it?”  I got a handful of generally positive responses including one that said "@bfeld district 9 was very good.  stylistically a bit reminiscent of 28 Days Later.  well done  and entertaining.  also, go see hurt locker.”  I didn’t recognize the handle of the person that tweeted it to me but I noticed it since it was more descriptive than others.

Over the past three days I’ve now gotten over 20 tweets from people I don’t recognize that say exactly the same thing.  For example, I just got one from Joanne ODonnell (apedvatu).  I don’t know Joanne (if she even exists) and her twitter account is garbage. 

Or how about the tweet from Dominique Arnold.  Exactly the same text.  Same drill – no clue who Dominique is and her tweets are a bunch of district 9 crap.

This is classic marketing spam.  No different than all the email garbage we get every day (that a whole industry has been created to deal with).  To date, Twitter has done a great job of dealing with twam but it’ll logically get worse, especially now that all you need to be a “social media consultant” is a twitter account. 

As I was writing this, I saw a tweet pop up on a TechCrunch article titled “You’re Doing It Wrong Part 348: Complete And Utter PR FAIL”  I think the dynamics around social media marketing are now going to get a lot worse now before it settles down.

Guess I’m going to see Julie & Julia tonight instead of District 9.  Amy told me that District 9 looks too scary for me anyway.

  • John Minnihan

    You mean my comment – 'D9 was only half as good as D18' – wasn't helpful?? I'm hurt.

  • Brad Feld

    Well – that’s actually a lot more useful than the 21st comment that says “@bfeld district 9 was very good. stylistically a bit reminiscent of 28 Days Later. well done and entertaining. also, go see hurt locker”

  • John Minnihan

    Yep. The stuff that's starting t bug me is the follow porn-spam. That's getting to be a big drain on me, as there's no easy way to determine – for sure – if they're spam other than to visit their profile. And then WHAM! X-rated crap fills up my screen.

    • Brad Feld

      Yeah – the porn folks are always the first to embrace a new version of spam. 

      I just heard via twitter from another follower that he thinks this is porn spam (twam – now that’s good – porn twam – twat?).  His comment – “Agreed. But that 1 follows a pattern: Spam hashtags/trending topics/celebs/'A-List' users, for attention + SEO (I've studied it)”

      Enough already.

      • @andrewbadera

        Porn spam: bambibots.

        • Brad Feld

          I like that.  I’ve been calling the twat’s, but I think bambibots is better.

  • Deva Hazarika

    weird, brad, i sent you the original tweet saying that. i would guess this is not district 9 marketing, but instead just twitter spammers keying on @bfeld and a trending topic like district 9

  • Brad Feld

    Yeah – that’s what it’s starting to look like as I keep digging in to try to figure out what’s going on.  Many of them (not all) seem to have a porn angle to them so I’m starting to thing they are porn spammers.

  • mikehartcxo

    I'm sure one of the TechStars are already working on a "shutdown"app for this problem.

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  • Mike Su

    Ha! Ironically, your blog post about twitter spam has a display ad next to it offering 4100 followers for $12.95 ;) wild wild web FTW!!!

    • Brad Feld

      Awesomely ironic!

  • Eric Marcoullier

    Brad — it sounds like this is actually a giant porn scam, but let's pretend it wasn't…

    What would you reaction have been if @district9 had tweeted "@bfeld it's stylistically a bit reminiscent of 28 Days Later. People are also comparing it to Hurt Locker"? I'm guessing it's the lack of transparency and the 40 @replies that are pissing you off, yeah?

  • Eric Marcoullier

    Brad — it sounds like this is actually a giant porn scam, but let's pretend it wasn't…

    What would your reaction have been if user @district9 had tweeted "@bfeld it's stylistically a bit reminiscent of 28 Days Later. People are also comparing it to Hurt Locker"? I'm guessing it's the lack of transparency and the 40 @replies that are pissing you off, yeah?

    • Brad Feld

      If @district9 has been the handle I would have been fine.  The 40 @replies is what made me nuts.  Now that I realize this is a giant twitter porn spam ring (I think I’m just going to call these things “twats”) I’m annoyed, but in a totally different way.

  • Alexis

    Curious minds want to know how was Julie aand Julia?

    • Brad Feld

      It was superb – I loved it.  Perfect couples movie, especially for foodies.

  • Paige

    And what did I do when invited to one social media tool after another that asked for any remnant of personal privacy in exchange for the glory of an online profile? I shrugged. LOL at the exchange here –

    Have you seen the Whole Foods CEO Op-Ed / Boycott call… great case study in SMedia. Imagine all those poor fools – working with full health care that will be laid off in the event of a boycott. I admit to mining some out of curiosity. Gosh, you can learn alot about people online.

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  • MikeHaydon

    I don't know if you've had a chance to see the twitter feed of a trending topic before and after it goes trending. If not, check out #ashes over the next few days (it's a cricket series between Australia & England). It might or might not go trending. I noticed that before, people are genuinely talking about the topic, but while it's trending, there's a huge amount of piggybacking and spam. It's quite pathetic, I reckon.

    • Brad Feld

      Yup – 24 hours later I’ve learned a lot about trending topic spam.  The poor hash tag – if it only knew what kind of cruft it was attracting.

  • phanio

    Do you think this will eventually take down twitter – when there is more spam then actual tweets? Or, any ideas on how this can be stopped?

    • Brad Feld

      This won’t take down twitter.  Email had the same problem and it eventually got “mostly” solved – maybe “addressed” / “managed” is a better word.  Comments had the same problem and they are ok.  It’ll just take a bunch of extra software infrastructure.

  • JChauncey

    whats funny to me is how I have people following me that i have never met. I mean just completely random people. What is with that?

  • Sujay

    Just came across this article from Mashable –… It is difficult quantify how much twitter would have helped get it an 8.8 on IMDB (which is also driven by mob-mentality these days) or the $$$ . But the sad part is the encouragement to spammers seeing such things work.

  • sheryl

    live by the social media sword, die by the social media sword – what did you expect?

    quit being part of the problem and become part of the solution – invest in a twam company that does NOT have any patent pending software

  • Brad Feld

    I’d seriously consider it if I could find one!

  • Alex

    Brad, just use Glue!

    • Brad Feld

      Yeah – should have.

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