Walgreens spammed 5K Twitter users when they checked in via Foursquare

Walgreens spammed 5K Twitter users when they checked in via Foursquare

Walgreens has decided to partner with Local Response, a startup that “helps marketers respond to real-time consumer intent.” With the partnership, Walgreens now auto-sends foursquare users a Halls cough drop ad via Twitter when they check into participating stores.

While the idea of location-relevant advertising sounds quite efficient, the resulting bot-like method of spamming users on Twitter is sure to leave a nasty taste in many mouths. The tool, provided by Local Response, makes it possible for brands to search through public social media data to aggressively advertise directly to consumers.

So far, Walgreens has sent out 5,000 Halls messages in January via Twitter, and has continued to do so into February. This is in addition to other methods of advertising like promotions directly on the Foursquare platform. If you take a look at the company’s Twitter page, you’ll see how it has turned into an utter mess.

Here’s how it works, from Ad Age‘s report:

Using a tool from startup LocalResponse,  For example, when customers check in to any of the chain’s 8,000 stores through mobile apps such as Foursquare or Yelp and publish “I’m here!” to Twitter, Walgreens messages back: “Check out Halls new cough drops in the cold aisle.”

At the moment, this seems more like a misguided attempt to tap into social media than a clear new way of reaching customers. Honestly, having professional and helpful staff at every store sounds like a much more practical and useful investment for the chain.

This method of social advertising spamming also fails in two ways.

  1. Smartphones are always buzzing for the type of user that’s willing to check into a drugstore on Foursquare, making it possible for users to never see the coupon until they leave.
  2. I personally have no need for Halls cough drops unless I’m sick, and a lot of fellow shoppers will likely share my feeling of irrelevance. If Walgreens does decide to dig into my tweets and profile for relevant keywords, I’d be even less likely to visit the store for privacy reasons.

What do you think? Is this marketing angle a good idea, or will it just alienate users from checking in at all?

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