Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't let social media turn you into a turkey

Would you like to reach 129,000 prospects for free?

Imagine this Thanksgiving turkey ...

You log off the computer, switch on the telly to watch the football and blissfully forget about the online world.

By the time you finish your turkey, a maelstrom of outraged customers and commentators on Twitter, the rapidly growing microblogging site, could be after your blood (and your stuffing).

Online conversations gather steam within minutes these days. You don't have time to gobble down another slice of pie, see who's won the footy and then respond. You may dismiss Twitter as fringe, small or unrepresentative of your core customers, but conversations on these channels can go from a trickle to a torrent faster than you can cook a 45-minute turkey ... see video from The New York Times' Minimalist, Mark Bittman.

But here's a heads up: Twitter isn't only for IT types and consumer marketers these days. There's a fair smattering of business marketers testing out Twitter as an inexpensive (money-wise) channel.

Responding to one skeptical marketer who just didn't get Twitter, Guy Kawasaki responded in the comments of a post on Motley Fool:

"Twitter is an incredible broadcast mechanism for me. I can reach 29,000 people for free. If you add this https://twitterfeed.com/alltop to the mix, I can reach 129,000 for free. Ask your marketing person if he/she could reach 129,000 people for free, instantly if that would be useful. :-)"

When I asked two b2b marketers whether I should write about the recent Motrin controversy, where Twitterers rounded on a Motrin ad, both argued that Twitter was a long way from being relevant to the average marketer.

I sort of agree with them. For now. But here's a heads-up. The recession could transform Twitter from an influential fringe network to a mainstream marketing movement.

The Motley Fool's Tim Beyers argued yesterday that the recession will see more marketers flock to Twitter for creative, low-cost marketing solutions.

"Either way, Twitter is for real," writes Beyers. "A bona fide Rule Breaker that's helping the Web's wallflowers get social and create network effects on the cheap. And it'll be made more valuable by a recession that's forcing firms to spend creatively."

In the past week, there's been a lot of talk about Twitter's impact, especially in the wake of reaction by some Twitter moms to a Motrin ad, which caused Johnson & Johnson to apologize and pull an ad from YouTube. Whether you think the ad was appalling or inoffensive, what's interesting is how quickly those who hated it mobilized on Twitter. It started on a weekend, when many moms were online, and by Monday morning, Motrin was mashed potato.

Today's AdAge is claiming Motrin caved into a vocal minority on Twitter.

If Motrin had got involved faster, there may have been a different outcome. Check out Beth Harte's response too, for some great arguments about resisting the urge to act on the basis of a few enraged Twitterers. Beth writes: "But here’s the thing I really want to address. To me, what happened to your brand was akin to someone yelling 'fire' in a theater and people getting trampled. And I really don’t want to see it happen again."

Sometimes, of course, that fire can do a lot of good like today's Thanksgiving fundraising called #Tweetsgiving. Within a few hours of its launch, random strangers connected on Twitter by nothing more 140-character conversations had raised more than $3,000 to build a new school house in Tanzania.

Just want a day off to chill out and eat? Before signing off for the holiday, set up some alerts via RSS or try some of the other free online media monitoring tools suggested by Andy Beal here.

And a Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power who will be cooking a speedy turkey Bittman style.



Dave Kerpen said...

Thanks for posting about Tweetsgiving, Julie!

I was a #motrindad, and I have to say, I enjoy using the powers of Twitter for good much more than (for evil?) to bring down an ad campaign.

Anonymous said...

Julie, nice post... I think the economy and Online (including Social Media) will inversely support one another. Economy Down; Online % spend up.

Drop me a line soon.... long over due to catch up on getting a post at http://blog.onlinemarketingconnect.com/