At first I thought it was great. In June of 2009 I casually tweeted that I couldn’t wait until my new Mac was delivered, and wondered what was holding up FedEx. It was rhetorical. FedEx was actually right on time with the delivery. However, my tweet prompted a response from FedEx asking if there was a problem, and could they help resolve it. My thoughts were, “Cool! Power!”
In the year since then I’ve had a couple of other similar responses. When we had problems with Charter Communications not responding quickly enough about our new DVR not working properly, I tweeted, and got a response. (Not a resolution, mind you, but in typical Charter fashion, just a response.) There have been a couple of other incidences where tweeting displeasure about a product or service has brought some response. The companies were listening and watching, and it was a good thing.
However, recently I posted the following tweet:
With all the improvements in digital imaging technology, I wonder why document cameras are still so expensive. Makes no sense.
The reply I got was as follows:
PlustekScanners @RndConnections Check out Plustek document scanners. You might be surprised at the price:
My tweet was just an observation, and not meant to get a response. In this case, link provide was for document scanners, and not classroom document cameras. OK, it’s a misunderstanding, and Plustek was just trying to be helpful (and sell scanners.) I can appreciate that. But then there was another incident…
This website crashed over the weekend. Accuwebhosting, my host for RandomConnections, can be a real pain in the posterior, and I tweeted as much. I was hoping to get a quicker response from Accuwebhosting, similar to the response from FedEx. There was nada from them, but I did get the following reply:
sharda1958 @RndConnections Solve all your hosting problems with The best web host at www.epanny.com/houstonwebhost
Now things were getting a bit more annoying, and I can see trouble brewing. Companies already have bots that monitor Twitter traffic for any mention of their name, as well as specific phrases that might have something to do with that company. It seems like it would be trivial to create an auto-response bot for key phrases. So, for example, you tweet that you’re going to go to McDonalds for lunch, you get some automated response from Hardees trying to make me change my mind.
I could see the entire system getting bogged down, much as spam has affected e-mail. However, it has the potential to be worse than e-mail spam, because that is distributed over multiple systems on multiple servers. All Twitter traffic is handled by one source – Twitter itself. Already the “fail whale” has become a common site when Twitter is overloaded. It could kill the whole system.
There are some that say that might not be a bad thing. Sending out life’s minutiae can be about as annoying as some company sending solicitations via Twitter. We’ll see. However, I’m betting that soon there will be money to be made designing and installing Twitter spam filters.