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@Glen - this is a good story that illustrates the power of your past experience to make an instinctual decision about whom to trust. It reminds me of other examples in "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell.

@Simon - thank you for stopping by.

@Luis - good observation for you as well about trust. Indeed, once you lose it, you cannot buy it back. There will be changes in the way social media happens, of course. The need to monetize is not trivial. I'm still thinking that when technology becomes boring we'll see the better applications and uses to help business operations, not just their promotional needs. Early days, yet. It's good hearing from you!

@Dave - that is the very best practice, well done! I think there is a second point you make in what you write: talking with people who want to talk with you gets you to where a business transaction takes place. Spam is a recurring issue. There would be none if there were no incentives in it...

@Ryan - have you received pitches on Twitter yet? You know, when you type in a certain word and the bot serves you a link. There is an amazing dissonance between that and conversation for me. Then again, we don't all have our meter set to "unacceptable" in the same spot. Experimentation is good, I think. It's a sign the technology is maturing and we're actually looking for ways to make it work economically. The answer is to keep looking for what works and tempering the feedback from the community with the actual results measured. We do that in business every day. Interesting times!

Authenticity is a tricky concept that depends heavily on context. In the context of social recommendations, authenticity goes deeper than just "is this an ad?" If I'm looking for movie recommendations from friends, it doesn't matter how relevant an ad injected into that conversation is, nor how much I know it's an ad; it's not authentic because I'm looking for peer recommendations, not advertising from a company trying to get me to spend money.

A great post, with great questions all types of marketers need to ask...

I focus on double opt-in on newsletters for sites I manage -- it sucks to have numbers that are low when compared to the bots. I only have 6000 followers on Twitter and can't stand it when bots game the system.

But wait a minute, isn't the point to actually interact with people who want to interact with you?

I don't know what is going to win out in the end...brands having discussions with people and acting on their feedback? Or spam?

But, alas, great, thought-provoking post.

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