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January 30, 2010

Twitter as a Marketing tool: Failure

Filed under: rants,Technology,The Internet — chuck goolsbee @ 12:25 pm
Twitter Marketing Failure
Twitter Marketing Failure

Twitter is an amazing communications channel. It serves to maintain several types of communications. Here’s how I use it:

  • Keep a sort of running conversation going with my friends, many of whom are literally scattered around the globe.
  • Follow news, as it is shared and interpreted by friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
  • Gain insight into things I’m interested in, such as Datacenters, the Network Operations side of the Internet, Web Hosting, Cloud Computing, Technology news, Apple, the Automotive Industry, Collector Cars, Photography, and the Pacific Northwest.

At work we use Twitter as an out-of-band comms channel with our customers. We post notifications of scheduled maintenance, new support blog posts, and real-time updates when there is any sort of an issue going on within our facility, such as UPS maintenance.

Twitter is great for items that are “important now” like that. Where I have seen Twitter consistently fail, is marketing to new customers via responses. Usually this is a Twitter API driven “bot” (automated software) that responds with a pat bit of sales-speak to any Tweet that makes mention of them, their product/service, or posts a URL that links to them in any way.

The image above is an example of one such miserable, fail-prone auto-replies. I posted a URL pointing to an article on TechFlash, which is a local news blog, covering the Seattle-area technology & business beat. The article in question pointed out the irony of a local Tech Exec, being swept up in a long-term criminal investigation concerning suspected organized crime involved in a Seattle strip club. The exec in question committed perjury with regard to having “Clintonian” relations with a stripper at said club. The irony of course was the same exec’s on-stage demo of their software which allows people to perform background checks of people they meet, on the fly using their mobile phone. The criminal history feature of this software is called “Sleaze Detector.” The layers of irony here are too good to pass up, so I sent the tweet.

The employer (which by the way has a history and reputation in Seattle of seemingly sleazy executives) of this seemingly sleazy executive responded to my tweet with a discount on their software!

This is why human beings are unlikely to lose their jobs to software over the long run. Software lacks judgement, and can not detect sarcasm or irony.

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