Twitter puts all its chips on lead generation

Twitter advertisers are dealing out discounts in exchange for your email address. Are Twitter Cards a safe bet? Read this first before you go all in.

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Of course this is all voluntary. Nobody’s forcing you to sign up. And you’re getting something of value in return for your data, so it’s a win-win, right? Well, maybe. Remember that once you share that data, it doesn’t belong to either you or Twitter; it belongs to the site you shared it with, and they can do pretty much whatever they want with it. Most lead gen schemes on the Internet make money by selling your data over and over and over again. Twitter requires companies to post a link to their privacy policies, but it doesn’t have any control over what those policies say.

Today Twitter is asking me to share my name and email address. What about tomorrow? Twitter also has my phone number, so I can tweet via text message, as well as my location information. What’s to keep them from including that on my lead gen card when I click Sign Up? Nothing at all.

When it comes to user privacy, Twitter is among the best tech companies going, so it might well have strict rules about what data can be requested or how it will police the companies doing lead generation via Twitter Cards. But I can find nothing in Twitter’s Ad Guidelines prohibiting the collection or use of this information.

In fact, I expect location-based marketing to be a huge component of this. In-store offers sent to your phone are already here. Twitter is just another delivery mechanism, one that happens to have an enormous critical mass from the get go.

The thing about lead gen is that it’s best served hot. A sales pro with a fish on the hook wants to reel it in as quickly as possible. So if you express interest in a product or service, you can expect to hear from the people selling it quite directly. Regular readers will recall when I filled out lead generation forms for online schools, my phone started ringing in minutes.

Imagine if you clicked Like on something or Favorited a Tweet and two minutes later your phone rang with one of those Glengarry Glen Ross sales sharks on the other end of the line. It hasn’t happened yet, but it could.

Remember, ABC: Always Be Careful. Something to think about the next time you are tempted by what seems like a sweet deal.

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