Attack of the "Mad Men" Twitter-Bots

I experienced an interesting phenomenon this morning using Twitter, and I have to believe some sort of automated twitterbot marketing network is behind it.

It all begin with an innocent tweet about how I spent the weekend: “MC and I were sick all weekend, so we watched the entire first season of “Mad Men”…. time to start wearing my fedora again!”. My wife Micaela and I have been avidly watching the second season of AMC’s Mad Men, and took the $20 plunge on iTunes to catch up on the first season.

A few minutes later I received an email notification from Twitter that bettydraper was now following me. I laughed, and thought it was cute that some person out there loved “Mad Men” enough to a) impersonate one of the main characters, b) notice my tweet and c) actually then follow my feed. I followed Betty in return, and noticing she referenced @don_draper in a recent tweet, I followed him as well.

Now, I quickly realized this must be some sort of viral marketing campaign, or at the least an obsessed group of fans, role playing and recreating these characters in Twitter, hoping to tap into some of the magic of infamous twitterers such as DarthVader or Fake Steve Jobs. Then, however, something strange began…

Within minutes, I was also being followed by jane_segel, Ken_Cosgrove, and harrycrane, all characters from the show. Not that intrusive, but obviously my twitter account was being glommed onto by more make believe twits… how many more should I expect? The whole Mad Men crew?!

What to make of this? Well, considering the timing, either there is a dedicated staff of trained twitter monkeys, or someone has built a bot engine using some combination of Twitter Search and the Twitter API. Nothing mind blowing here, but interesting to come across it in the wild and to see how multiple twitter identities are weaved together to create, or perhaps recreate, the relationships of the show in this online environment.

What did bother me, was the speed at which I was picked up and followed by all of these other characters… just because I was interested in Betty and Don’s tweets, doesn’t mean I want to also know that Cosgrove and Harry Crane are out there, too. Now that they’ve got me hooked, perhaps the bots could monitor the frequency at which I mention Mad Men, and follow me, draw me into, their twitterweb over time. That would be more natural, and reveal the truth of itself in a much less obvious way.

The obvious irony is that this whole post is about viral marketing for a show that is all about the greatest era of marketing that ever existed… the era that created much of how we think about mass marketing and advertising. While digital campaigns such as this pique my imagination for a few moments, they unfortunately don’t have the staying power of an Oscar Meyer weiner tune.