Over the last few weeks we have seen some campaigns and actions in the social media space that have pushed the boundaries. You would have to be living under a rock to have missed the whole Witchery and QLD Tourism sagas. Both of these pushed (or broke the boundaries) in terms of what some of us argue are the rules of social media.
Additionally, Julian Cole and Laurel Papworth have both provided some other examples of individuals (not companies) that have pushed the boundaries of social media.
Julian recently wrote about how "Cash for comment is alright in Social Media" and that there is currently a trend amongst Youtube Vloggers (US) that transparency is not a rule of social media. Laurel recently wrote about "Twitter: Bots gone bad" and interruptive ads on Twitter.
Peter Wagstaff, Zac Martin and I also briefly touched on this subject in episode 84 of the Marketing Today Podcast where I wondered whether in the future, brands will set up Twitter profiles and quickly harvest loads of followers with the aim of spamming them. So what if people block them? They can easily set up loads more profiles and repeat the process (especially when people auto-follow).
The argument of "brand reputation" may stand up in regards to large and reputable companies but these are not necessarily the ones who spam anyway. The risk of brand damage certainly doesn't stop us getting spam in our inboxes.
In Lauren's case, she received an apology. But what I am starting to see is a lot more examples of companies breaking the so-called rules and I am not so sure the consequences are all that much of a deterramt. For example, it can go one of three ways.
1. A company breaks the so-called rules and then pleads ignorance but still benefits (QLD Tourism),
2. A company breaks the so-called rules and benefits (Withchery, Vloggers), or
3. A company breaks the so-called rules, gets caught, and just says "sorry" and everyone gets on with it but they still benefit (@wibbler).
I posed the question on Julian's blog that "For a while some of us have been noting that the rules of social media are being defined by those that practice it (by that I mean active bloggers, twitter users etc) in the hope of keeping the corporate/brands from “polluting it” … but maybe the cracks are starting to appear?"
You will note that each of the 3 scenarios still results in a benefit being received by the company/person breaking the so-called rules. So my question is - why would they bother taking much notice of the so-called rules? Can we build stronger defences or should we resign ourselves to these new channels being polluted just like TV, Radio and Newspaper?