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Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 08/02/2012

Goldman Sachs’s pied-piper failure


Follow! Follow! (Richard Drew - AP)
Well, this is sad and awkward.

It turns out that people still do not like Goldman Sachs.

It retains its position of popularity somewhere above foot fungus and below herpes. I think. That's not a scientific estimate. Sometimes people will write glowing essays about the lessons they have learned from herpes.

Goldman Sachs is still in that uncomfortable phase where no one wants to sit next to it at parties.

Ever-resourceful, Goldman has started a campaign where, for every new Twitter follower it gets between now and Aug. 7, up to 100,000, it will donate a dollar to help military families.

At the rate it’s going, it will donate enough to buy military families one mildly nice purse that they can pass around. Or if they’re lucky, two tickets to see “The Book of Mormon” unobstructed. Since I started watching the proceedings yesterday afternoon, Goldman has attracted fewer than 200 followers. To cap this at 100,000 is like insisting that on no condition will you permit more than 300,000 people to buy one of your inept woodcuts of Mark Hamill’s teeth.

People will do many things for military families, but, well, they won’t do follow Goldman Sachs. One’s Twitter account, after all, is a reflection of oneself. One chooses followees carefully, and then sticks by one’s guns. After a certain point, things shift. You are not following people because they are informative or entertaining; they must be informative or entertaining because you follow them. And signing up for Goldman’s tweets is a big step.

As publicity campaigns go, this is in the same league as the “Buy This Magazine, Or We’ll Shoot This Dog” strategy employed by the National Lampoon. But “Buy This Magazine, And We’ll Do Something Nice For This Dog” lacks the same urgency. The only way Goldman Sachs might get followers out of this deal would be to threaten the military families, and that would only worsen its underlying problem. Threatening people, as a general rule, seldom endears you to anyone.

Then again, maybe I’m being too harsh. Goldman certainly has more followers than I do, even though I never tweet pieces asking which is more difficult, Olympic-level water polo or working for Goldman Sachs? (Oddly, this does not seem to be a rhetorical question.) Perhaps Goldman Sachs and its 200 new friends know something I don’t.

By  |  11:35 AM ET, 08/02/2012

 
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