Walgreens recently started a new social media campaign with New York-based startup, LocalResponse.

When someone checks into Foursquare and tweets about it, Walgreens tweets some of them back with an offer from Halls that can be redeemed in store if they like them on Facebook.

But is this automated campaign the right approach?

This type of tweet is perfect if the person who checked in was looking for cold products. It is the flu season after all. For those who get it, and don’t need Halls, they may disregard or unfollow. Those who are fervent about true engagement may dislike this approach. The only worry may be for those looking to follow Walgreens as they may be turned off if they stumble upon the Twitter feed.

As you can see from Walgreens Twitter page, it has been overtaken by two versions of an ad for Halls Warm-ups cough drops.

Twitter hides @ replies unless you follow both parties. So if you follow Walgreens, you won’t see these replies in your stream unless you have that option set on Tweetdeck or are on Walgreen’s page itself. For most, they’d never see the multiple tweets above.

Adam Kmiec, Walgreens director of social media, felt confident that this was a program worth implementing.

Our social media strategy is built around being real time, local, innovating and providing value. Over the past year we’ve continued to pilot several Social-Local initiatives. From cause related programs like our Flu Shot donation initiative that leveraged check-ins on foursquare to seasonal tips to this most recent initiative with Local Response, we’re constantly innovating, testing and learning. 

The Local Response program was based on insights that were mined from our social monitoring and analysis platforms and a desire to learn more about the opportunities in the local-social space.

Michael Muse, Co-Founder and VP of Product & Operations for LocalReponse, had reservations at first about this type of approach on Twitter but it sooned changed as his company tested its model.

For local businesses, they have a very different voice then nationals so it works for them and can be quite personal. What’s interesting is that over time is that we looked at bigger brands and thought this could work for them if it was done right.

So we customise for clients. The first step is you can’t reply to people not talking to you. If the client wants to reach out to people who are shopping for certain things or only on Tuesdays, we cater to that. There is a selection bias and it focuses on people who are interested and engaged.

Every single campaign we’ve run has less than 2% opt-out rate. Also we provide frequency caps, rate limits, and a 2 level opt out to better serve users who do not wish to receive replies to their check-ins. No one receives more than one tweet per day from companies on the platform, one tweet per week from the same campaign and no more than one tweet a month from an advertiser.

It’s all about experimenting. Advisors Muse met with told him this happens in every medium. There are potential pitfalls, you develop best practise and then you have specific guidelines you can follow.

LocalResponse has its own guidelines companies have to meet to use their service. As Muse outlines

If a campaign’s goals in targeting do not meet all of our guidelines for context, we offer another product that can go broader: retargeting with banner ads as an alternative to response. This allows for broader targeting, but with banners instead of responses. The majority of our clients use this product, often in conjunction with the response product.

It is refreshing to see Walgreens take a chance on a start up in conjunction with a large social media campaign. Not many large companies do.

With no background on how this campaign is being run, the efforts could be misconstrued or seen as “spammy”. By taking the whole picture into account, this may be another way brands can reach the customers interested in them.  

It will be interesting to see the results of this campaign, and if they are as successful as the other campaigns run by LocalResponse so far, it may be one we may be seeing a lot of.