...unless they're calling you.
Wes asked me to elaborate on my earlier post about potentially data mining member tweets. He commented:
Ben, care to expound on this? How is collecting and analyzing data freely given by our constituents "evil"? Is it evil to track phone calls from your members and mine them for information?See, generally speaking, tweets aren't intended to be read by just anyone. They're intended for your followers or specific users. Sure, you can read them (go ahead, have a peek at my tweets: I don't mind), but doing anything more than reading them (i.e. systematically analyzing them or trying to profile me based on them) would be just plain wrong. Why? Because they weren't necessarily intended for you, that information doesn't belong to you, and you haven't told me that this is what you intend to do. Eavesdropping on tweets is akin to eavesdropping at a restaurant. Definitely a faux pas. Some might even say it's evil. In other words, just because you CAN analyze data freely given by members doesn't mean you SHOULD analyze data freely given by members.
The exception would be listening to tweets about your organization, using a Twitter search tool. Listening and responding to tweets about your organization is akin to overhearing one member say to another that they have a problem, and then politely interrupting with, "Hey, I work for them. Let me fix that for you."
Where it gets fuzzy is with @ messages. If people @ you, would it be okay to mine that data? The message was intended for you, after all. I'd see that as akin to tracking inbound phone calls to your customer service line. But you'd definitely want to be clear about that you're doing it, since data mining tweets is, to the best of my knowledge, pretty uncommon. People assume that companies track phone call data. I seriously doubt they assume their tweets would data mined. Don't violate their trust.
I can't believe I've gotten into this level of detail on data mining tweets. It just goes to show you how treacherous being involved in social media can be. I've written before that there is a boatload of nuanced blogging customs and etiquette. This is just part of it. There are non-obvious customs in facebook, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, forums, flickr, YouTube, etc.
If you're staking any part of your member engagement strategy on social media, make sure you don't inadvertently piss off the very people you're trying to attract by committing SocMed sins.
(Sorry for the shameless plug, but this area can be so overwhelming that Jeff De Cagna and I are working together help organizations avoid stepping in social media $#@&. Let us know if we can be of service.)
Tagged: Association Management; Associations; CAE; Certified Association Executive