UPDATE: See the great PR response from Paul Hallett, Schmap’s CEO, in the comments below.
In the interest of privacy, I choose not to broadcast my whereabouts using location-based services on Twitter. Sure, I might use social media to share about where I went or where I’m going — but that’s for me to say, or for my friends to retweet.
This weekend, I was surprised to find that two Raleigh-branded twitter accounts (@RaleighPlaces and @Raleigh_Now) were retweeting Schmap maps of my past and future plans. Basically, the service broadcasts a truncated copy of my original Twitter message, with a link to an annotated map on their proprietary website.
The first was after I mentioned going to the North Hills mall earlier on Saturday. The second was today, after @demandycom announced plans for a networking coffee on Monday. The initial Schmap message seemed like a one-off, but two in a row felt intrusive…and kinda creepy. From a business perspective, it’s what marketing guru Seth Godin derides as “interruption marketing.”
Monitoring Twitter for Good, Not Evil
When I ask a question on Twitter and a vendor responds to promote their relevant service, that’s fine — I asked for help. Smart companies monitor Twitter and reply.
But these Schmap.it retweets? Ehh…I don’t see any mutual benefit — it’s just a benefit for the advertiser or the store where I’m headed.
In fact, even if it’s currently a free service, Schmap’s website language is entirely advertiser-focused, trumpeting benefits like “Driv[ing] foot traffic to your business/event” and “go[ing] viral with RTs, RSVPs & comments.” (Note to everyone: Play the persona game, and make sure your website’s copy is appropriate to all of your stakeholders, not just the ones you’re trying to monetize.)
If I wanted to let everyone know my 20, I’d use Foursquare or TriOut to announce it. I know Twitter is public, but Schmap’s Big Brother-ish data-scraping retweets feel too much like an invasion of privacy. Like Facebook before, is Schmap.it focusing on helping [future] advertisers at the expense of individual users?
Don’t Make it Hard to Opt Out
Disappointingly, Schmap’s website doesn’t say anything about how to opt out, not even on their Privacy page. I reached out to Schmap via Twitter this evening, to find out how I could opt out of Schmap retweets that include my @KarlSakas username. I’ll report back on what they say.
Their head of marketing, Donald McMillan, had presented on the Schmaps service at the Triangle Tweetup event earlier this month in Durham, N.C. (they’re based over in Carrboro). I missed his presentation; perhaps it would have helped me understand what’s going on. But as an individual consumer, you shouldn’t need a PowerPoint deck to understand a service that’s megaphoning your information, right? #marketingfail
Look, I’m in marketing — I’m sure there’s a lot of potential to Schmap.it’s mobile marketing service…but only for people who willingly choose to use it. Surely I’m not the only person wondering why a business (even if it’s a local small business) is [re-]sharing my plans with the world.
Considering that both @RaleighPlaces and @Raleigh_Now list Schmap.it as their website on their Twitter profiles, I assume they’re part of an otherwise smart localized marketing campaign controlled by Schmap, Inc. But if their retweets are somehow beyond Schmap’s control, then Schmap needs to have rules of conduct for its partners, including a centralized way for people like me to block being broadcasted via their service.
What Do You Think?
As community manager Angela Connor commented at the Triangle AMA‘s Social Media Boot Camp last week, “Spam is truly in the eye of the beholder.” The same is true about privacy on social media. I hope Schmap.it can use this feedback to improve their service.
Am I overreacting — does mentioning my plans on Twitter give license to any and all to republish it in any form — or should Schmap provide more control to the involuntary subjects of its advertising messages?