Stop using interruption marketing on Twitter. It won't work.

Marketers: Are You Being “That Guy” on Twitter?

It used to true that all you had to do was send a message and your customer would see it. But that’s changed over the past few years as people are being inundated with literally thousands of advertising messages each day. Ad blindness has become an epidemic, so advertising has become ever more invasive. But advertisers, marketers and salespeople need to bear one major fact in mind – If you’re not adding value, you’re just interrupting.

These days companies have more options than ever before to interrupt a person’s activities. While marketers can place their ads into any social media stream, Twitter seems to be especially prone to this invasive behavior. But that’s not to say that all of it is terrible, and certainly not that all hope is lost. There are absolutely some examples of greatness…and a whole lot of attempted copycats.

Let’s take a look at all three sides of this story, so you can make sure that you’re not being “that guy” on Twitter.

The Good

Oreo earned its place in the hall of fame with an on-the-spot tweet to fans at the Super Bowl during a blackout. What did the company do so well? A clever ad, at an opportune time, to a somewhat-captive audience. It found the perfect storm of advertising greatness.

The company’s faith in its marketing team (or agency, in this case) let it move on a unique opportunity in a timely manner. The ad was almost universally hailed as brilliant, and other companies have tried (yet failed) to duplicate its success.

The Bad

If your marketing plan consists primarily of stalking your competitors, and interrupting their conversations with their customers, chances are that you’re doing it wrong. Let me set the record straight – FullContact relishes competition. It pushes us to make our products better so that they stand out among the crowd. But what we don’t like so much is that guy at the party who runs up, interrupts your conversation and then spills his drink on your shoes.

The opposite of this behavior is what we see from Rackspace on Twitter. Any time that Amazon’s cloud hosting service happens to have problems, Rackspace could revel in that moment and solicit a move to their services. But the brand doesn’t do that. It chooses to take the high road, never going after Amazon customers but rather wishing the company’s technical team the best of luck in resolving issues.

The Ugly

It’s said that there’s no such thing as bad press, but there are absolutely bad tweets. For instance, take this gem from Kenneth Cole, sent during a crisis in Egypt:

Unfortunately, the backlash from this flub wasn’t bad enough to stop Mr. Cole. As a military situation was unfolding in Syria, he took to Twitter once more to spread his stupidity.

Bad manners? Definitely. Good marketing? Not a chance.


As we’ve discussed before, social is a tool. It’s not the be-all, end-all medium that was promised to us during its early days. But just as you can’t be very effective trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver, you have to make certain that you’re using the tool to its best abilities.

There are lessons to be learned here, mainly surrounding the idea of great power requiring great responsibility. Use your power for good. Be the voice that your customers want to hear, instead of the one that you’re forcing in their face.

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