AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

When too much micro-targeting backfires

Posted by bn2954 on August 5, 2012

Washington Post article described the frustrations subscribers to politician campaigns experience. In an effort to raise more money as election day nears, “political campaigns are drowning their most ardent supporters in a deluge of messages begging for cash,” according to the article.

Political campaigns are often cited as examples of micro-targeting done right (at least for the winner). President Obama’s campaign was the first to successfully integrate social media to tap into a large donor population. The Washington Post also credits “the ubiquity of e-mail, social media and texting services” to the increase, but does warn against the tools being “ruthlessly exploited.”

“Their whole strategy is based on grass-roots, small donors, which is great. But I worry that maybe they’ve over-relied on us to the point that not only are we not responding, they’re getting on our nerves,” said Michael K. Wilkinson who receives Democratic fundraising emails.

The Post collected 600 emails from the Obama campaign, almost all of them sent in the last three months. “One recent message from Beyoncé was aimed at African American women, while other pitches target Latinos, military families, pet owners and a host of other niches,” the article said. Almost all were personally signed by an affiliate of the campaign.

Just how far is the line between meaningful messages and spam and between just enough messages and too many messages, especially when people have voluntarily agreed to receive your information? Does micro-targeting get results (such as a donation) or does it become predictable and even annoying over time? It is important to always be innovative and find new ways to reach audience. That is, after all, the business of the profession we are studying. Yet, how do we ensure we do not take it too far?


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