Tuesday, May 26, 2009 completely misses the point

Advertising Age recently posted a a quick article and video introducing Glam Media's Tinker, a tool for managing what is being said about your brand on Twitter. (Sadly, Ad Age is a little behind the times and doesn't allow their videos to be embedded so you'll have to click the link - the video is only three minutes long).

The idea behind Tinker is that you can 1. follow events instead of people and 2. aggregate everything being said about your brand on Twitter and display it on your company's site 3. after it passes through some powerful filters.

First of all, I like the idea of following events instead of people. Cool. But isn't that as simple as using hashtags?

Second, I already know how to embed a Twitter stream onto my blog. Thanks though.

Third, Tinker is plugging its filters as a way to filter out profanity (good) and censor content (bad). Here's how Glam Media's Joe Lagani explained it at the ANA's Brand Innovation Conference last week (chopped up quite a bit in order to be concise):
"Tinker allows for brand-safe marketing tools... There are all kinds of filtering. You can filter out competitive brands... 

"You have to ask yourself now, 'If this were your brand and you were able to assemble this ongoing positive conversation about your brand... how could you get that in front of your consumer?' This is the reason we developed Tinker."
Yep. Sounds like it was developed by marketers.

And that's where Tinker drops the ball: The whole concept of filtering out criticisms about your brand and only showing people an edited version of what's being said is deceptive at best and clearly misses the point of social media. It's trying to control the conversation instead of participate in it.

Sadly, I can see a lot of companies jumping on this, thinking it's their savior from the evil masses that are their customers.

Thoughts? Dissenting opinions? Sound off in the comments.