So let me ask you a question. I’ve been trying to be an outside customer evangelist for many companies for years now. I won’t name the companies here at this time, but if you know me and have followed me you know who I’m talking about.
Here’s the question.
Why is it ok for a company to “market” their services/products on Twitter, but it’s not ok for me to do it as an affiliate evangelist of that product/service?
Here’s an example. A fishing supply company monitors Twitter search for people talking about fishing. The company then follows the person on Twitter and begins to engage them in a conversation about fishing. Which ultimately leads to them maybe getting a sale for their fishing supplies. Or a backlink, or publicity, whatever. They get something.
Now what about me? I’m a partner or affiliate for the fishing supply company. If I do the same thing. If I engage a follower/friend and talk about a product I truly love… People might say that I’m spamming? Shilling for a commission.
But isn’t that what the fishing supply company was doing?
It is. Don’t deny it.
So, why is that different then when I do it, assuming I’m an evangelist?
Why does the company get a free pass promoting themselves and the evangelist doesn’t?
When they do it, it’s “outreach” and being social/cool.
If an affiliate/partner/evangelist does it, it’s “trying to sell something”.
Fair? No. The way it is? I guess so?
I simply find it interesting to explore this new dynamic in our current social media world of marketing and sales. I also find it very interesting how the same companies that worked hard to quell customer evangelists, are now leap frogging the evangelists by adopting their techniques from the corporate level on their own.
You can also hear a spirited discussion of this in our Geekcast.fm podcast from the other day.
Lastly, make sure you attend the Affiliate Summit this summer in NYC to talk more about this type of thing.