When Jack Dorsey conceived what we know as Twitter today, it must have never crossed his mind even once that Twitter would be used for marketing campaigns one day. What started as an emergency aiding real-time tool, more like an online version of the mobile SMS system, has now turned into a big dollar marketing medium with promoted tweets, brand-implanted trending topics, contests galore and a new online species called ‘Influencers’.
I believe by virtue of being on Twitter for a long time now and experiencing all kinds of conversations and being victimized too, I am qualified enough to pass a judgment or two on the crazy marketing gimmicks applied by brands. Here is a little story:
It so happened that May had just peeped in as my partner started this hot summer day with Twitter. With just five days remaining to our anniversary, he was quite amused when he stumbled upon a tweet by @CSIAMumbai inviting twitteraties to tweet a reason along with the hashtag #iwanttoflyto. Lucky winners would get free air tickets to their desired destination. Here is the chain of tweets:
— Prasant Naidu (@LHInsights) May 3, 2012
— Prasant Naidu (@LHInsights) May 3, 2012
We won! Not the free air tickets but Polo watches and we were asked to send our postal address, which we promptly did. Days passed into weeks and then one fine day, the courier guy brought his gift but not mine. I tweeted to @CSIAMumbai at once and they reassured me in a DM that it will be sent soon. After about a few days, when I enquired again, my tweet went ignored while the brand was busy replying with its canned responses to others. This happened once again too, upon my enquiry.
Clearly, the issue was not with the gift, it was about the conversation. Had @CSIAMumbai cared to find out the courier dispatch details and find out the reason for the delay or at least made an effort to comfort me, I wouldn’t be bothered. Perhaps, the brand meant to give a single watch to both of us but they noted my postal address too. The point is that the brand missed out on clarifying with us in the very beginning, and now ignoring us altogether. Whatever happened to Twitter being about social conversations! And this is not an isolated case. Besides, brands have come up with ‘innovative’ marketing strategies either to trend the whole day or to increase their followers on Twitter.
The manner in which brands run contests on Twitter is a very worrisome issue. They will go to any length to get a particular hashtag trending. There is scant regard for brand values, tweet value, customer experience, customer feedback, etc. A little tweet would invite for participation in a quiz, or just for fun, along with a specific hashtag. For instance, #ReplaceMovieTitleWith_____ is an agency favourite. The blanks can be replaced with any product, TV show, term or thing they want to be associated with and get trending the whole day.
Get Twitter Influencers to run their show
Another popular and extremely favorite Twitter strategy by these over-ambitious brands is to implant their target hashtag into tweets and send them to ‘Influencers’ or ‘Twitter celebrities’. This particular species has anywhere from 5000 to more than a lakh followers. So you can do the maths that when a tweet gets re-tweeted by them, how many impressions does it create. Some of the influencers are part of the strategy while some of them get pissed off! I guess the ones who participate also get the favor returned by way of cash or gift vouchers. Alas! I cannot check their DMs.
Take care of ‘Influencers’ only
Coming back to the topic of the Twitter quizzes, here again we see a nexus between the brand and the Twitter influencers. Nobody can fathom a guess as to how the winners for a particular quiz are selected. Somehow it is a big mystery! When we had started with this blog, we were hardly visible. Our popularity increased with time and it was surprisingly evident to us when our complaint tweets were taken seriously on Twitter. Brands called up and tried to resolve our case to their maximum best. But this was not the case a year back. And my concern lies with the common man’s tweets, what about his complaints? How about him winning a contest or two?
It isn’t that I am into designer watches. It’s just that brands are taking it too easy on Twitter when they should be very cautious about the power of 140 characters!
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