*This post was written for Rick Oppenheim and Associates PR for their ‘Back to School’ blog on Social Media*
Remember the students back in elementary and middle school who would stand in the hallway between classes wearing a bright vest and identification badge that read something to the effect of “Hall Monitor?” Their role was simple: police their peers to ensure they were acting in accordance with school policy and not doing something that would be considered distasteful on school grounds.
Now take those simple tenants and apply them to social media websites today. Are we starting to see the need for hall monitors in the social realm? In my opinion, when it comes to business practices and behavior – we might!
Don’t get me wrong. As a marketer, I understand the power that a competitive advantage can provide to a business, because that’s part of what I do for my clients. I try to give them a way to compete that sets them apart, whether it is through social media or another platform.
But some business activity in the social media arena takes it too far and surely qualifies more as spam and less as creating competitive advantage.
I see this happening now on Foursquare. For example, Competitor A offers similar school supplies to Competitor B. Competitor A promotes their company, products and even offers a deal or two via Foursquare for customers (students or parents) who check-in when they arrive at their store. Competitor B might also do the same but takes it a step further and leaves a tip (recommendation) for their store and products on the Foursquare page of Competitor A. Creative marketing or dirty tactic?
Any individual with a Foursquare profile can leave a tip on a business’ Foursquare profile. Some would argue that it’s fine to leave a competing tip or promotional jab of sorts on a competitor’s profile. I would argue that if your business wants to leave a tip on my businesses’ Foursquare page, you should be cleared by the hall monitor and ask for a hall pass. There may not be an actual hall pass for Foursquare, but you can always ask for permission to leave a tip for your business on the profile of another business. They might be fine with it if it makes sense, because your business offers complimentary services or products.
This goes for the owner, employees or agents of a competitor as well. If you don’t think you could get a hall pass to leave that tip, then it’s probably best you don’t. If you choose to go down that path, you could be spending time in Principle Spam’s office when potential customers check-in on Foursquare and sees your tip for exactly what it is, a flagrant attempt to piggy back on your competitor’s success, social media presence and business in general.