We know bad things like spam and malware are starting to show up on social channels like Facebook and Twitter. But many of us have warm-and-fuzzy feelings toward these channels, especially when they are contrasted with more traditional communications tools like e-mail or (shudder) voicemail.
The most common uses for them reflect this shiny, happy sensibility: recruiting enthusiastic employees, solving customers' problems, offering people special promotions and other good deals, generating goodwill, boosting Web site traffic by fostering a sense of community. Awww, all so nice.
Yet a ruthless suggestion snuck its way onto Forbes' list of 21 top Twitter tips. About a third of the way in, New Marketing Labs President Chris Brogan suggests Twitter can be used to poach customers from competitors.
Here's how from social networking consultant Nathan Egan, founder of Freesource Agency: Using the third-party TweetDeck application, set up a permanent search for all variations of competitors' names, especially when used with loaded words like "sucks" or "hate." Follow these dissatisfied folks, and if they follow you back (as many folks more or less automatically do), you can send them direct messages offering better service or other incentives to switch.
(By the way, to see the full list of tips, you'll need to click through to the slideshow.)