It was only a matter of time: Twitter spam

April 11, 2009

As I wrote about previously, Expensify is doing (what I believe to be) some pretty innovative Twitter marketing.  However, from the very start we realized there’s a delicate line between marketing and spam, so we set out some early rules to ensure we’re on the right side of the line:

1) Keep it personal.  Only send messages from real people, to real people.  Leave the faceless boxes on Google and maintain the social foundation of Twitter.

2) Keep it timely.  A huge benefit of Twitter is you can go straight the people who are experiencing the problem at that exact moment.  Leave the huge backlog of past posters alone and stay focused on the present.

3) Keep it relevant.  The temptation is overwhelming to just blast this out to everybody.  But resist that temptation and focus on the people who are actually calling out for your thing.

That said, we were afraid then that others would cross the line, and it appears that’s happening with increasing frequency.  Alas.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure what Twitter could do to thwart it.  Perhaps the easiest way would be to just add a “Spam” button to the Twitter interface and then kick off users who get too many relative to their post volume.  In Expensify’s case, we get 4x more compliments than complaints (the above rules appear to work!), so I think we’d do just fine under such a scheme.

But it’s still too early to predict how the Twittersphere will react.  What do you think?

David Barrett
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One Response to “It was only a matter of time: Twitter spam”

  1. Tim! Says:

    I think that the problem is already solved by a combination of the unfollow and block buttons.Unlike email, in Twitter you can unfollow those that you don’t want to hear from. I’ve done this many times, whether they are spammy accounts or great accounts that post too often for my taste.And the complaint functionality you want is available in the “block” button. If too many people block an account, it gets shuttered.

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