Twitter. The world cannot stop talking about it — so it must be important right? It’s been a fun ride but I say it’s mostly bull. You don’t need to be using Twitter. Large or small brand, you don’t need to be THAT worried about the social influence of customers on your brand. Fact: none of this social marketing stuff is new, complex or urgent because the outputs, so far, are rarely (if ever) meaningful to businesses. The experts are not only wrong but most of Twitter’s “big success stories” are mostly overblown, illogical or actually symptoms of a broken customer service system.
Twitter’s Illogical Value Formula
Latest example: Scott Rafer and others across the blogosphere are impressed with JetBlue’s continued use of Twitter. I’m not and nor should you be.
A woman named Meaghan O’Connell tweeted “I want to make love to the @jetblue terminal” to which JetBlue replied “Goodness… I hope you at least buy the terminal dinner first!” The result? Hundreds of re-tweets and exposure of the exchange.
Michael Galpert even goes as far as saying “You cant buy that kind of advertising with money @Jetblue did however buy it with 72 Characters!”
You can’t? Of course you can and you can make the dollars spent deliver tangible value beyond MAYBE making people THINK “aren’t they a great, funny airline.” It’s called direct response marketing. What about making people BEHAVE differently — DO something that adds value to their lives through your brand’s behaviors?
The Value Dichotomy
Getting excited about this kind of thing is common and assumes this nonsense somehow equals value to an advertiser. This value, we’re told, are new and based on interactivity in a hyper-connected, digitized world. But think about it — this “hey look how many times it got passed” value equation is extremely BACKWARD and LOW value. It’s borrowed from one-directional mass communications!
Creating campaigns with the goal of hoping people THINK a certain way will not get many of us paid moving forward. Even the award-lovin’ ad agencies are admitting that this kind of big social media “win” means, in reality, zippo.
Yes, change is upon us. No, this is not a revolution or even very valuable. Creating preference means less and less.
Twitter’s Success is a Symptom of a Problem
Is Twitter a new customer service tool that deserves our time, energy and financial investment — or is its success a warning of something more serious? Specifically, are Twitter’s legitimate customer service wins (ie. how Soutwest Airlines and Comcast use it) symptomatic of customer service FAILURES in traditional (strategically more important) channels? While I admit Twitter delivers customer service value the answer is yes.
What worries me quite a bit about the Service side of social is companies have had access to all this information about broken processes or poor product design for decades, and they have largely ignored it. All they had to do is some analysis of call center data tic lists and they could identify and act on their ‘Top 10 Biggest Customer Issues’. But they did not. So there is a much larger organizational issue here, regardless of social media — what is the process we use to identify and act on poor customer experience?
Could part of that identification process already be underway? Perhaps not at Southwest Airlines but certainly elsewhere like Comcast!
Small Business Twittermainia
Adage jumps on board this week with a story of Chicago-based yogurt shop Berry Chill who’s been using Twitter to send out promotions. Get a deal by showing you’re a Twitter follower. In a month, owner Michael Farah logged 700 followers. He says…
“Our last big promotion we gave away 1,100 yogurts — $5,500 worth of product — but sales were the same as the day before,” he said. “The people who were existing customers standing in line attracted people who hadn’t tried it.”
For Adage and a good number of its readers that amounts to a big win. I say…
Most of those who celebrate Twitter are, when you look closely, less concerned with actually turning a profit.
Naked Pizza’s Jeff Leach ran a similar campaign attracting local patrons. He says…
“Every phone call was tracked, every order was measured by where it came from, and it told us very quickly that Twitter is useful… Sure, there’s the brand marketing and getting-to-know-you stuff. … But we wanted to know: Can it make the cash register ring?”
Bravo on the tracking and it did ring the register. As for the profit? Again, not a part of the discussion apparently. And the hystarical, distracting (dangerous) social marketing beat goes on — during a time when we marketers have everything to lose by paying too much attention to social media blather.