Imagine the following exchange…
ME: Hi, I’d like to give you an award because I like you.
RECIPIENT: If you want to give me an award, you first need to fill out a 10 page application. If I like what I see, then I will gladly accept your award.
ME: Sorry, I think I dialed the wrong number.
And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of the TrueTwit validation service.
For those of you who are not familiar, TrueTwit validation proposes to eliminate spammers from your follower stream by having people click on a link to verify that they are real and not a spambot.
The great irony of TrueTwit is that in its attempt to prevent spam the first thing it does is spam you with an auto-DM (automated direct message).
Now, I’m not really here to bang on TrueTwit; I think the folks at TrueTwit are providing a service that attempts to solve a problem.
And I’m not here to attack the people using the service; anyone using validation obviously cares about helping lessen the spam problem on Twitter.
To my mind, however, they are going about it all wrong and in trying to solve one problem are creating an entirely different problem.
Call it the Law of Unintended Annoyances.
Here is the thing: I have chosen to follow you, to read what you have to say, and that is a gesture of at least a modicum of respect. I won’t go so far as to say, as some do, that a simple Twitter follow means I have honored you, but I have chosen to let you and what you have to say into my life.
Sure, it doesn’t mean much, but it is still a nice gesture.
And what is your first response? That I have to earn the right to give you my attention. That’s a bit hard to swallow.
I guess my customer service outlook gives me a different perspective on this topic. If I am your follower, am I not on some very small level your customer? Did I not choose to give you the opportunity to share your thoughts, your ideas, and even your promotional messages with me?
If someone is gracious enough to follow me, the last thing I am going to do is to make them jump through hoops. Sure, they might just be following me just so that I follow them back. Or perhaps, they are a spammer, and if so, I will deal with them as that comes to light. But I’m not going to make everyone who follows me audition for the role.
My perspective on this topic is shaped by a very important customer service concept:
Don’t create systems that disadvantage the great majority of your customers just to prevent a tiny fraction from taking advantage.
And that is what TrueTwit ends up doing. When you treat everyone that follows you like a potential spammer, then you turn off many of the legitimate people who might have heard what you had to say.
I, for one, am one of those people, and I’d rather focus my time on those who have an open door on Twitter and not an entrance exam.
So, what do you think about being asked to validate yourself after you’ve followed someone on Twitter?