Destroying Your Social Capital for a Sale

We all know the importance of being liked in business by our consumers.  One single tweet, blog post, YouTube video or Facebook message by one consumer can determine greatness or failure of your business. If you don’t believe me, go ask United Airlines or the band Barcelona.

TelemarketerLast night I was shocked by a specific sales call I received from one of the major real estate networks.  I was on my way to church at the time so I did not answer the phone as I thought it might have been one of my new clients calling with questions and I did not want to be late because of being on the phone.  After service, I grabbed my phone and began listening to my messages.  The message though was not from a client, but from this company.

In the message they stated that they saw I was registered for an event in New Orleans this week and they were also having an event there the next day.  They knew I had attended their conference the week before in Charlotte and thought I would want to come back again the next day.  My wife looked at me as my face began to get fire red.  It really bothered me that this company was using the RSVP list of another event to try and sell theirs.  To me, that is a really bad move.

The reason this bothers me so much is that my name was on the #REBCNO list was because we were sponsors of the event.  See, Jason & I are big fans of the barcamp movement and like the fact that they are unconference type events where you can learn great information for free.  Because we believe in them, we gladly sponsor and help with many of them around the country.

When I got home I sent a tweet out about my displeasure of this network using this poor choice in judgment to try and sell their event by calling other events RSVP list.  What shocked me even more was when the CEO replied back to me saying why not? I replied because I didn’t feel it was right to use other lists to try and sell your event.

I then sent out a tweet asking if others had received calls and was instantly met by several others who felt the same way.  Some of those responses included:

I was pretty surprised to have gotten the same voicemail especially since I’m not really active on there! I didn’t either & its quite annoying! – Vickie Wyman

Wasn’t sure how they got my info… interesting, but doesn’t make me want to go!- StephanieSells

So for the CEO that asked why, this is the reason why not.  People do not like being called for sales pitches for things they did not opt into.  If #REBCNO had been partnered with your company and you said you were going to call all the RSVP list trying to sell, that might have been a different story.  But since you didn’t have permission to use their list to sell your product I feel it was out of line and not cool.

In the social media world there is such a thing called social capital, or as the whuffie factor as Tara Hunt called it in her book.  The reputation you have online is only as good as your last tweet, email, or blog post.  Before you begin using poor judgment and calling those who you do not really have permission to call, it is important to weigh the consequences.  Personally I think they were not weighed properly this time and the results I feel might be a little more negative than the few extra ticket sales that come about from it.

Next time please have permission to use a list before you begin using it.

Jeremy Blanton

Jeremy Blanton is the Co-Founder of 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors. He is a social media speaker who shares with thousands of people each year on things like how to use Facebook for Business, Blogging, and How to use Twitter.

When he is not coaching or speaking, he spends most of his time working on Custom WordPress Sites for his clients.

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  • Carole Sanek

    Excellent post – great advice now enjoy your time at ReBAR New Orleans!

  • I wish I was there Carole! I wanted to attend, but just couldn’t with the new baby!

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  • As the person who did the setup for this website and RSVP list, as a person who naturally holds all things ReBarCamp near and dear to my heart, and as a person who was an early advocate for the network who scraped the data, all of this strikes a raw nerve with me.

    The root, the dna of a REBarCamp is to be open. To openly share, to openly give, to openly be.
    A while back there was some flack over the RSVP lists of REBC being made available to sponsors of the event. Agree or disagree, that’s not at all what we are talking about here. This was from an outsider, someone competing in the same space, but doing so for a paycheck.

    Where’s the code of ethics? In real estate every Agent knows to layoff anyone who is “presently working with an Agent”. I know nothing like that officially applies here but Really?

    Does this mean the next REBarCamp site I setup will need to have a private RSVP list?

  • Mike it really got under my skin. Scraping other lists to pad your wallet is not a cool thing to me.

  • Jeremy – Sadly, a post like this winds up being the equivalent of preaching to the choir. If they had the thought to reply “why not?” I highly doubt they’re going to stop. I had the same problem with a particular speaker from the first virtual REbarcamp. I finally had to lay down the law and tell him to remove me immediately. He did and I give him credit for being prompt in that. Just because you’re given a list of names, doesn’t mean you should use them for everything. If I give my name to 210 Consulting, I wouldn’t expect Are We Connected to call (although all of you could call me anytime you want). Contact information is little more than a commodity to some people, to be bought and sold. Shame.

  • I agree 100% Matt. I am not a fan of scraping other lists.

  • Kelly with ActiveRain


    Our goal was to share an additional educational piece that is available for real estate professionals during NAR weekend while in turn giving back to a worthy charity, Make It Right. We announced a couple of weeks ago that all proceeds from our donation-based gold ticket would be donated in full to Make It Right, who rebuilds green homes in New Orleans.

    We felt that real estate professionals that are down in New Orleans for the weekend who were already interested in educating themselves to better their business would be interested in another opportunity. We wanted to share this with them.

  • Kelly, that is fine and great, but scraping the list of those who RSVP to another event is not the way to go about it. ActiveRain has a HUGE database to call from. Using the list of someone else is not good. As Jon called them “potential clients” on Twitter. That is not the case. This list is for the people attending the event to connect and network with others in attendance.

    Secondly, I am not a real estate agent. I went to Charlotte to connect with friends, hang out with Bob & Jeff & Ben. I just feel that AR crossed over a line using someone else’s database without permission to call. People have to opt-in to mailing lists before they can be sent newsletters. The same would hold true here. I didn’t opt-in to receiving a sales call because I signed up for this.

    Also, if the person doing the calls had done some research they would see I already have a platinum ticket which gets me into any raincamp during the year. So calling me again would be a moot point.

    The problem isn’t the fact that you have a great event in New Orleans. Yes, raincamp is a fun time for people to attend. The issue is more the way you are trying to fill your seats by scraping other lists from other organizations & events.

    In Real Estate this would be a code of ethics violation and probably land you in an arbitration case. This would be like me walking into an open house of another agent and taking their sign in list, going home and calling everyone to help them purchase a house.

    Not cool at all.

  • Let me understand you. A barcamp used a RSVP list to someone else’s event to call and invite folks to attend their even the next day?

    Ok, so if we identified the issue-did you give them a solution. Would they call the other event and ask permission to contact list. Cause if they contacted you and you didn’t like it then they can’t ask you.

    I see it is questionable behavior and maybe even a little creative. My thoughts are how could they do something different next time. (me I am all about solutions when pointing out problems).

    So, lesson is even if intentions are good you are seen as spammer if you connect with others via a public list. (which is there to help those attendees connect with each other prior to event).

    Now I am wondering if they have a huge list why didn’t they just send out announcement through it? (I think you said that too) Sometimes when they see if from another person (likes kids responding to someone other than their parent, chuckle)

  • No Michelle, someone used the Barcamp’s list to invite them to their paid event. They used the list without permission. They were not even helping to sponsor the barcamp and really had no right to use it.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Sadly, I work for a company right now during the day that has atrocious sales call strategies based on antiquated notions of interruption. No matter how often I say things against the way the phone calls are done, I get the old “that’s just the way we do things” response and then get weekly emails asking why our sales numbers are dropping. It’s maddening. I very much understand your red-face at the phone call. I live with that face from 7-4 most days.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Sadly, I work for a company right now during the day that has atrocious sales call strategies based on antiquated notions of interruption. No matter how often I say things against the way the phone calls are done, I get the old “that’s just the way we do things” response and then get weekly emails asking why our sales numbers are dropping. It’s maddening. I very much understand your red-face at the phone call. I live with that face from 7-4 most days.

  • As Scott said in a recent keynote… if I punch everyone in the face and one person buys to keep me from doing that, it isn’t a good sales strategy!

  • Anonymous

    Haha, exactly. I love that quote from him.

  • Very good post! Author you’re the best!

  • Huh