Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Texting without Permission

Millions of AT&T Wireless customers recently received texts about the season premiere of American Idol, says the NY Times. Since millions vote via cell phone (AT&T is an Idol sponsor), this probably didn't sound like a bad idea to the AT&T people who decided to send the texts.

But lots of AT&T Wireless customers were unhappy. Although they didn't pay for the texts, many viewed the messages as spam because they hadn't granted permission. The FTC said the texts didn't appear to violate regulations or legal restrictions. But who wants to alienate the very people you count on for revenue, especially in an industry known for high customer churn?

Better idea: Invite voters to sign up for "updates" and then, with permission, send information that will be welcomed and discussed, building positive word of mouth. A growing number of TV programs offer this option and it makes more sense than pushing texts on people who haven't opted in.

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