I was a bit taken aback when a self-proclaimed Social Media Genius (wannabe) sent out a prickly tweet yesterday evening which I'm fairly sure was aimed at me. It was complaining about journalists following him. He only has 11 followers, and as far as I can see, I'm the only hack there - other than his friend @charlesarthur. I sent back a reply asking if he'd rather I unfollowed, but haven't heard anything back yet.
Given his social media proclamations, I'm of the opinion he should know better. But it got me to thinking - this isn't the first time people have been a bit taken aback at my signing up to follow them. There's nothing sinister in it - if people say they're from Croydon, or my summize search feed picks up mentions of it, I'll follow them - both to see what they're up to, but in the hope they'll follow me and I can make the website seem interesting enough to visit.
So far, only two people have blocked me. For the record, one was a girl who was into hip-hop videos. The other was someone pretending to be Dr Who's assistant Sarah Jane.
I'd hate people to think I was intruding on their innermost thoughts - but ferchrissakes, this is Twitter! Protect your updates if you want privacy, people. But another possiblity is newspapers are seen as another variety of spam - that would be pretty depressing.
I wanted to know if there's any kind of emerging etiquette on this for newspapers. I'd found this compilation of general Twitter guidelines, but they don't really cover this. But a post about an American company Zappos' experiences of doing pretty much the same as me, albeit for more purely commercial reasons, made me think twice. We may have genuine, if lofty ambitions of just wanting people to engage with their community via the paper/website - but if people aren't interested, maybe this is just another hard sell of something they'd rather not be confronted with? Ultimately, I have to ask - am I a spammer?
P. S. It's only taken one day for the editor to get the hint and start blogging again - I'll ignore the slightly grumpy start and say I'm glad he's back. And I guess I'll have to start thinking of embarassing things to do to give him enough material to keep it going . . .