Bigpond, Spam, Twitter and why Australia needs to sort this out

After setting up a support facility through Twitter, Bigpond has identified its concern that their correspondence with people through the social networking tool may constitute the “sending of unsolicited ‘commercial electronic messages’”, commonly referred to as spam, under the 2003 Spam Act.

@BigpondTeam Twitter page

@BigpondTeam Twitter page

There has also been significant discussion (much of it criticism) about the way @BigpondTeam has used the Twitter tool to communicate with their followers. Social Media experts such Stephen Collins have identified the boilerplate, bot-style responses being used and spoken about the internal restrictions being placed on the Telstra team. Much has been discussed on the Telstra-managed blog NowWeAreTalking, with plenty of comments adding to the explanation. Another comprehensive post can be found at Blogwell.

The Bigpond issue has also been analysed on Julian Cole’s blog from a legal perspective with some important points from Gavin Heaton, Granleese and Zac Martin from Pigs Don’t Fly. Comments range from the legality of Bigpond’s position to the poor execution of their Twitter project.

Last year, as they continued to recover from the exploding notebook catastrophe, Dell began experimenting with Social Media. They used Twitter and other social media tools to identify problems early and communicate with customers. These conversations ultimately grew into a new channel to communicate directly with journalists and customers on an ongoing basis.

Strive’s Notes has a post about this:

Andy Lark who runs Dell’s corporate marketing … says:

“The social media stuff is probably the most important we do today, from a marketing stand point. The other elements of marketing mix has sort of become more and more transactional and more and more tactical in nature. Social media stuff is much more strategic… Use social media to power the fundamental of the business. That’s what we’re focused on”.


Dell’s Kerry Bridge gave an interesting presention on the cool stuff they are doing.  She said that there are 4,000 unique conversations relating to the Dell brand taking place online each and every day. Kerry and her ‘SWAT team’ identify where they are taking place, prioritise them and engage when they feel their participation would make a positive difference.

Does this sound like what @BigpondTeam was attempting to do?

It’s all about the finesse of the execution that impresses, and the engagement you achieve. That’s what social media is all about – being social. Being engaging. Being human.

As far as spamming, it will be interesting to hear what the legal experts come back with, but solving a genuine problem when a well-trained “team identifies where … their participation would make a positive difference” can’t be spam, can it?

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7 Responses

  1. No problem Sherrilynne. Enjoyed the blog.

  2. Chris, thanks for the links. Glad you liked the Dell stories.

  3. Thanks Gavin – great post, by the way: Enterprise 2.0: It’s Not Your Dad’s Company. We generation Xers created the environment, of course. Cheers, Chris

  4. Agree. The legal “issue” is a smoke screen.

    And anyway, if the ACCC want to do something about Twit-spammers, they can start with rachel909 and their variants first.

    The Bigpond team have some big challenges … it is good to see them facing them head-on. After all, most people complain that brands don’t “listen” to them … it will be interesting to see how it plays out when they find that Telstra does ;)

  5. Hi Zac, I tend to agree. The law is about protecting against invasion of privacy. This is about solving problems, however, companies need to be careful not to overstep the mark and harass people in the social media space with bulk tweets and other bursts. It would be easy for unscrupulous/uneducated “marketers” to get involved and stuff things up bringing on some form of govt intervention. There’s been quite a lot of chat about spam tweets already in the Twitter space – I had plenty of Twitter “spammers” that I followed early on “broadcasting” dodgy urls… Cheers, Chris

  6. From a legal point of view, I think they’re fine but I can see why they’re looking into it.

    The law in this area seems very outdated and not 100% clear, time to update?

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