Social Media – The Wrong Place for a “Push” Campaign

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

DBU031Remember a few years back, right around dinnertime the phone would ring, you’d pick it up and you’d hear “Stay Tuned for this important announcement from [insert company name here]?” Then they’d put you on hold and expect you to hang around for the sales pitch?

Whose dorky idea was that??

I’ve tossed my land line, so I’m less likely to get those recorded announcements, but I suspect they have mostly gone to the Lousy Marketing Ideas graveyard anyway. Why were the recorded phone broadcasts so terrible, compared to getting ads in the newspaper, on TV and in the mail?

Here’s the reason: the telephone is an intimately interactive medium. It demands a speaker and a listener ON BOTH ENDS. Even when one side is carrying on the bulk of the conversation, it’s the job of the speaker to check in with the listener, who indicates their engagement with the “Yeah…uh huh” interlocution (now there’s a big linguistics word from my past) that we all come to expect on the phone. It’s why we tend to bristle at the automatic phone tree when we enter corporate telephone systems. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that if I want to do business with a machine, I’ll use my computer. If I’m on the phone, I would really like to talk to a real person.

And guess what we are discovering on the social media networks, particularly Twitter? It, too, is an interactive medium, where we expect conversation, or at least a sense that the person sending the updates and the tweets is a real person, as interested in what you have to say as in what they have to say to you.

So is there room in the social media universe for a “recorded announcement”? Heaven knows, you can even set these up in advance with tools like HootSuite and Tweet Later. These are very fine tools if you don’t want to hang out in the Twittersphere all day just to be visible. You can actually automate some of your communications while you are away, getting work done.

The answer is yes, there is room – BUT you have to be very careful how you use your automatic tweets (and updates – this applies to places like Facebook and LinkedIn, too). It’s better if you are sending a bit of news or a helpful hint that your followers might actually like to hear. You can schedule these ahead of time if you like, but please mix it up with real-time conversations with the people whom you find interesting, and vice versa. I try to spend a short burst of time in the morning, mid-day and in the evening for my Twitter conversations.

More important, don’t let an autoresponder be your first interaction with a new person in your Twitter network. I tried this for about a month, and got rid of it. It sends the wrong message, even if that message isn’t all about you. Mine said “Thanks for following me. I’ll follow you back, and I look forward to your tweets”. Innocuous enough, but I actually got replies of “Thank You!” when I announced that I was shutting it off.

Everybody wants to feel appreciated. Social Media is a place for that appreciation and engagement. It’s not for the “push” marketing message.

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2 Responses to “Social Media – The Wrong Place for a “Push” Campaign”

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Good post, Catherine. Love the critique of phone trees. If you’re in the mood for a laugh, take a look at David Weinberger’s post, here: http://tinyurl.com/clu7ks and then be sure to click thru to see the GetHuman video (it’s a riot): http://gethuman.com/video/

I totally agree!


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