Social media as it exists today for businesses is a relatively new concept. As much as it seems everyone and their grandmother has a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page, the truth is the majority of companies out there are just dipping their toes in the water.

As with any new campaign, the results can be mixed, depending on how the company chooses to go about it. Some companies such as Jetblue and AT&T actively use their Twitter accounts to promote services, engage with customers, and help trouble-shoot problems. GM and Comcast are also well-known for their customer engagement strategies.

Then there are the companies that don’t get how social media works. Amazon, among many, MANY others make no effort at all to use their account to engage and build a community, instead using it as a news feed for links to random products. The result? One of the largest retailers in the world only has a following of around 16,000 users. They miss the boat for building consumer loyalty among their followers because they choose to ignore the cardinal rule of social media- engagement is everything. Talk *to* your customers instead of *at* them.

Finally you have those that fall into a third group- the Spammers.

Before today, had someone asked me my opinion of Discovery as a company, I’d have cited the quality of their educational materials such as their toys and magazines, the shows I’ve watched on their channels, and the usefulness of their website as an educational resource. Solid company with a lot to offer.

So how does such a smart company do something so damn stupid as to put an absolute idiot in charge of their social media management??

Social media is one part marketing and one part public relations. The face the company puts forward on sites such as Twitter directly impacts customer perception of the brand.

So what image of their company were they trying to convey when Discovery pulled this little stunt today on their Discovery Student Adventures account?

Discovery, let me explain something to you- this is called spamming, and it’s about the worst thing you can possibly do on Twitter. Attempting to get people’s attention in such a generic way with no personal interaction whatsoever? @-Replying people who don’t follow you? Using what is obviously a targeted, pre-packaged list of demographic-based users? Asking for retweets from people who don’t know you? To say that you have breached Twitter etiquette would be a massive understatement.

As a Twitter user I can tell you this sort of behavior is highly annoying, and makes you as a company look very, very bad. In fact the only difference between you are a bunch of cheap porn sites on Twitter right now is that you at least aren’t flashing your tits at me when I go to check my @ replies.

You are, however, looking like really big boobs.