Is Exclusion Marketing Your Social Media Marketing Tactic?

Last week, Mike Cliffe-Jones of Mike’s Life wrote about Exclusion Marketing and it’s increasing prevalence in the online social media world:

I’m not sure when it started, but it has become cool and trendy in on-line circles to promote on the basis of exclusion. There’s much talk about recruiting tribes of like-minded people and being as clear about who your offerings aren’t for, as you are about who they are for.

Mike’s original post is both a disturbing and eye-opening read – especially for anyone trying to use social media for marketing. The comments – and the healthy debate that followed are great too.

I got a taste of exclusion marketing myself a few days back – in an unintended manner. I use FourSquare on and off – still trying to decipher the meaning relevance it bears in social media. I checked in at a point of interest – and was directed to a special that was on offer nearby.

So looks like RadioShack was offering a 10% discount to anyone who unlocked the offer by checking in there – and then flashing the offer screen at checkout. There’s also a fine print – and I really don’t know what purchases don’t qualify for the discount. By this time, I have already made up my mind that the offer is worth passing over.

But wait – there’s also the bait of a 20% discount for the mayor of this RadioShack. Come on – what’s the probability that the mayor will see the offer – and act on it? Close to zero, I’d say. Unless the mayor is RadioShack regular and keeps checking in everyday!

That’s also where I start to feel excluded from the whole thing. I, some how, am not special, in the eyes of this business. Why spend my time (and money) there?

Exclusion marketing is always bad – and unless you are careful in your own social media marketing – you could well get branded as one, albeit unintentionally.

At the outset, staying on right side of ethical (and relevant) social media marketing calls for clarity of thoughts and purity of intentions. Or call it common sense, and sticking through with your convictions.

As the number of channels you embrace in your social world increase, you need to be even more assertive and proactive to ensure that your messages are being interpreted correctly. Anything less carries the stigma of promoting and/or participating in unethical marketing.

And exclusion marketing is a strict no-no in the world of authentic social media.

What do you think?

(Image Credit: Darren Hester http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrenhester/)

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