Lifting the lid on Twitter’s big taboo

Twitter logo

I recently read with alarm in the Wall Street Journal about the truly distressing plight of increasing numbers of marketing executives:

Melanie Notkin, founder of SavvyAuntie.com Inc. says: “I can’t ignore them,” Ms. Notkin says of her more than 19,800 Twitter followers. As a small-business owner, Ms. Notkin says she doesn’t take long vacations. But even on a weekend at the beach, she warns those around her of her need to check her phone.

“We need to appear active,” Douglas Quint, co-founder of Big Gay Ice Cream, says. “We want to appear in people’s Twitter feeds once or twice a day.”

On the eve of her trip to the Southwest, Eva Chen, beauty director at Teen Vogue, sent a tweet: “Huzzah! I’m officially on vacation!” Over the next five days, while driving through Arizona, she tweeted more than 120 times, checked-in more than a dozen times on Foursquare and posted more than 30 photos to Instagram.

In the case of the prolific Ms Chen, she may as well on be on vacation at all . . . . . . 120 tweets in 5 days; in addition to the Instagram posts and Foursquare check-ins. It sounds rather like a day in the office to me!

The need to ‘carry the brand’ throughout their waking moments has forced these executives to – literally – become slaves to Twitter. According to the WSJ: “the most compelling social-media handles, whether a brand, a small business or a person inside a larger organization, usually are the work of one individual, with a unique personality and voice . . .”

I’m all in favour of living the brand, but encapsulating into the identity of a single person has its downside. Quite apart from the risk to brand equity (and followers) should a ‘power Tweeter’ leave the organization, I wonder how genuinely authentic such communications can really be. Most people do not see the World the optic of a single brand, experiences are made up of a variety of insights, prejudices, tastes, opinions and loyalties; some of them rational many of them completely irrational.

In fact, that’s what makes Twitter so engaging – people share literally what’s on their mind, what excites, stimulates, amuses, annoys and means something to them. Twitter enables me to catch up on the state of the European bond market (http://t.co/LsrIeekH) and check out the Onion’s latest take on Jennifer Aniston’s new beau (http://t.co/gyxBOD53) in many cases retweeted from the same person! Twitter becomes far less compelling if we see a corporate agenda crudely concealed behind the feed; worst of all it becomes predictable.

Returning to Twitter’s modern slaves, I would encourage them to – literally – get out more, experience life, feelings, emotions, doubt, uncertainty . . . and express them online through a personal account. They are sure to find life outside the brand liberating . . . . or at least their friends and family might appreciate it.

WSJ again:

‘For most heavy tweeters, it isn’t a burden, or even a work obligation, to stay “on brand” and connected. It’s a choice. “I don’t find it to be an intrusion of my vacation,” says Aliza Licht, senior vice president of global communications for Donna Karan Co., who has amassed more than 413,600 followers on her @DKNY Twitter handle.

More revealingly she adds that she also checks work email while on vacation. “It’s not comfortable for me, my personality, to be away,” she says. Her husband and young children are “accepting” of her social-media connectivity, she says. Sometimes her husband suggests tweets.’

“Accepting” of her tweeting . . . sometimes her husband even suggests tweets . . . . ?!” Hmm I’m not sure I’m convinced. When I had the temerity to pick up the BlackBerry during a recent vacation to share an amusing story about a head of state suggesting that hitting a rugby referee with a rock could be justified ‘under certain circumstances’ (http://t.co/zhm3HOLd), my wife’s reaction could hardly be described as ‘brand compliant’ (unless the brand in question included surgery without anesthetic in its portfolio). Her perspective is that vacations are there for a purpose and that purpose does not include work (which she associated with my picking up the BlackBerry).

I believe that she is right – but in more ways than she realizes. For brands and brand ambassadors to be credible they need to reflect multiple experiences, opinions, points of view, insights . . . . most of all they need to include some element of spontaneity and surprise. A brand ambassador who never removes the corporate avatar from his or her online musings is missing out and . . . . ultimately, doing the brand in question a disservice.

So power tweeters of the world, use this summer’s vacations to remove the chains of brand compliance and express yourselves! United, we can put an end to this modern form of slavery!

Let me know what you think!

Post by: Roger Darashah

ENTER MUS-GRAMMYS 226 LAIn today’s social media driven world it seems like all companies are using social media and are trying to be the experts in the field. But as we all know creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle and frequently shouting about your brand is not likely to make you an expert in social media. 

This post comes as a result of the Twitter storm that was sparked around Adele the night of the Grammys. This suggests that personalities work better than brands with online conversations often backfiring on brands and advertising often taking over true conversations. Instead, it is about being able to create content which users can discuss, share and recommend while also supporting customer service and experience.

There is no doubt that brands must embrace social media. The fast-changing landscape means that many companies remain confused about exactly why they are on social media sites – beyond the usual talk about building a fan base there are many ways that brands can interact with customers using social media including handling customer complaints, offering discounts and listening to online conversations.

There are only a small number of brands that are using social media to really connect and interact with customers. For example Dell, has a social media ‘listening command centre’ that identifies customer service issues along with brand evangelists. KLM also is using social media to improve customer service and gleam customer insights. They have a unique 24hr customer service platform on Facebook and Twitter, employees held up large poster with individual letters and created a living alphabet that was videoed and sent to customers to spell out customer questions. Unisys also has a social knowledge sharing platform for employees to network and share information.

Another great example of a brand excelling in their use of social media is American Steak house ‘Morton’s’, who identified that a social media guru tweeted about craving a @Mortons steak after a long flight. Morton Steak House acted quickly and used this as a media opportunity organising a number of employees to greet the influencer with a juicy steak at the arrivals gate. This highlights the importance of noticing a PR opportunity and acting fast.

Looking at these brands examples gives useful insights into why these companies are succeeding in social media.The small handful that really are using social media successfully are listening and communicating with their customers by two way communication that is not overly brand biased. Improving customer service is a key theme flowing through the above examples; customers who feel like they are listened too and understood are likely to be more loyal to the brand. Successful brands are talking to customers about what they actually care about.

Brands who demonstrate understanding, creativity and innovative thinking which moves them out of their comfort zones seems to be winning ingredient. 

@T_Bloore

peasantThe medium was the message in 2011, a year in which revolution and riot were ignited by social media. The persistent insistence that the internet has come to represent a force for democratisation has come under increasing scrutiny. The # is equated to a symbol of equality and freedom, but the extent to which this parallelogram marks out our personal Hyde and becomes a symbol of our own serfdom is something I have recently questioned.

The similarities between social media and feudalism resonate under closer inspection of the ideologies underpinning the two systems. In announcement prior to the announcement of Facebook’s IPO, Zuckerberg announced "we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better…” Feudalism, a system based on social interaction, functioned on a peasants willingness to toil to maintain a space in return for protection, nourishment and submission to authority.

The reciprocity of relations in feudalism echoes the reciprocity of relations in feudalism. Social media is reminiscent of feudalism as we work to rent a segment of cyberspace (a Hyde), be it a profile page, a news feed or a channel, from a corporation (or a magnate) ie Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Like feudal lords these sites (estates) profit through our willingness to work for free and pay for our space through site maintenance. Because we do not give capital for our segment of cyberspace, we pay for it in other ways.

Just as the serfs had no control over their regulating authorities, we too have no space to protest over site updates (for example, the introduction of Facebook timeline). When taken in this context social media appears on an oddly retrograde. It is then that the uprisings of 2011 become the doppelgängers of the Early Modern Peasants Revolution.

Both Luther and Swedenborg were inspired to action partially due to the apparent corruption in the feudal system and the arrival of new media which allowed them to disseminate a message of egalitarianism and revolution. The reformation changed the shape of Europe. However, what has become clear in the wake of the revolutions in 2011 is the difficulty which users of social media have had to impact on any lasting or meaningful change.

@camillaEclarke

bearFishing where the fish are is something that bears have known for years but many folk who use Twitter seem to have forgotten. We cannot simply think our message will be heard by tweeting ourselves which is why we try and target influential people via tools like TweetLevel and BlogLevel.

However, this isn’t the only way of doing it. What I have been doing successfully over the past year is taking part in twitter chats. These are regular conversations that take place about a specific subject on twitter normally for an hour and owned by a specific hashtag.

For example,

· if you are targeting the SME market then look no further than #smallbizchat

· If you are focussing on innovation then #Innochat on Thursdays is the one for you

· Are you a small business that uses LinkedIn (client) – why not use the chat that shares best ways for businesses to use this service on #linkedinchat

My personal favourites are #influencechat and #measurepr – but suggest you look at this larger list to see which ones can help you

Any questions, just chat with me @jonnybentwood

End note: My thanks to Judy Gombita for pointing this list out to me who also wants me to plug Windmill Networking #PR column Wed, Social Capital Byte: Institutionalizing Parity in B2B Relationships

@jonnybentwood

Not the prettiest nor most effectively designed infographic, but data rich nonetheless; Dream Systems Media launched an infographic last week illustrate numbers from the largest social media networks, based on AdAge data. Some of the more interesting highlights are below, see the infographic for full details and sources:

  • 95% of Facebook Wall posts are not answered by brands.
  • Twitter updates that include verbs have a 2% higher shareability than the average tweet.
  • 30% of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars annually on social-marketing programs, though nearly 30% are not tracking the impact of social-media programs on lead generation and sales.
  • More smartphone and tablet owners are researching products that purchasing them – 80.8% compared to 41.4%.
  • The Mobile Marketing Association of Asia stated that our of the 6 billion people on the planet, 4.8 have a mobile phone while only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.
  • 56% of college students said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or they would find a way to circumvent corporate policy.
  • You can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on Facebook than if you post on Twitter.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8584-mapping-the-social-media-lands…

Via eConsultancy

@jacqui_fleming

no answer

Recently I have been updating my twitter account adding relevant followers to be list of people I want to regularly hear from.

The process is pretty simply, I have several columns setup on topics ranging from #influencechat, #ARchat to #measurepr. After a while, i recognise that there are some people whose tweets are interesting that I would like to keep track of regardless.

However, and this is where the twitterquette bit comes in, after I follow them, I frequently get a DM from them. At first i thought it was quite a nice thing to do but now I can’t stand it.

More often than not, they direct me to a link asking me to ACT. I have only just followed you – surely we haven’t built up the relationship for me to start clicking on the links you send me. Other times, its a tweet (un)sincerely thanking me for following them. Should I be flattered that they have setup tweetlater as a way of being sincere with there new followers. In my case, no. Auto-DMs should be first against the wall when the revolution comes (followed by real estate agents and bankers).

The simple rule, which everyone inherently knows is engagement. Why is this forgotten so much? A DM is more intrusive than an @reply so please limit your usage of it to when it is right.

Rant over. You may now eat (but use the cutlery from the outside in).

Image courtesy of nickmack.net

As much as the media industry would like to believe the age old saying ‘all publicity is good publicity’, research by Visable technologies comparing Macys Vs Kohl’s and Target Vs Walmart Twitter interactions demonstrated that this is not always the case.

The report compares the amount of tweets sent out and the level of customer sentiment by the four retailers in the wake of ‘Black Friday’, when brands tend to overload consumers with advertising in the vain hope that they will be chosen over a competitor.

The report proves that too much advertising does not always get results. Kohl sent out 99.7% of the two retailers tweets in that week, yet the level of sentiment for Kohl’s was one of annoyance. However the report goes on to prove that if the material is fresh and relevant to customers, self promotion is not always a bad thing with Walmart sending out proportionally more Tweets than Target but these were seen by customers as original and fresh.

This shows that brands need to be aware of the rising consumer power and tailor fresh and personal communication to customers rather than trying to gain as much coverage is possible.

@t_bloore

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