The Twitter Effect

On: October 5, 2009
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About Ramses Petronia


   

For all those feeling nostalgic about the good old days in which search engines were not based on algorithms but actual people doing the work; your human side of the search engine is back.

On Lazytweet you can ask questions or search through a database that provides answers by other users through Twitter. Works terribly bad, and seems more like a passtime thing to do, than something to get meaningful answers, or search results with.

So, then, what exactly is the deal with Twitter, the microblogging hype?

Just cool for passtime?

It might seem so, but research shows that besides the hypened internet celebrities and general public that make use of Twitter at a large scale, it is mainly used by people that see Twitter as an addition to their marketing.

Sysomo, a social media analytics company came up with a set of percentages based on their ‘Inside Twitter survey’ . A few examples are:

– 10% of Twitter users account for 86% of all activity.
– Of the people who identify themselves as marketers, 15% follow more than 2,000 people. This compares with 0.29% of overall Twitter users who follow more than 2,000 people.

This same survey shows that many marketers see use in Twitter, and make sure that their companies, websites, projects, etc. have a Twitter account that actively updates and follows on twitter.

Many website owners or companies see the popularity of microblogging as a sign to integrate social networking into their existing website. Does this work for companies? What are good ways to use social networking for company branding?

While looking for answers to this question online I found many reasons why companies should use Twitter, yet one that sprung out was the following, mentioned by a media marketer in his 5 twitter tactics to build a stellar brand:

Monitor your Twitter reputation.

Monitoring Twitter for mention of your personal, or corporate, brand can save you a lot of future reputation headaches. Conversations about your brand can happen on Twitter, hours before someone decides to migrate the conversation to something more widespread, such as a blog.

Here’s a real life example. I recently had a bad experience with Office Depot. On the evening of July 14th, I posted this on Twitter:

The next day, my “Office Depot Joins the Reputation Deadpool” post went live on Marketing Pilgrim. If Office Depot were actively monitoring Twitter, it could have saved itself a huge reputation headache by resolving the situation, before I posted to my blog.

This is an example of a twitterer that happens to be a professional blogger and marketing man himself. Though this means, he can decide to make his own tweet bigger news than 140 characters when he wants to, it is one of the many examples of what sometimes is described as the Twitter Effect.

This is the effect caused by the rapid spread of information through microblogging. It ranges from people not going to see Bruno, a new movie release, because of reactions on Twitter, to authorities of Iran being labeled fascist, because if it weren’t for the Twitter Effect of Iranian microblogposts they might have censored any negative news leaving the country.

What I find interesting about this blogger’s proposal, is how it shows that the power relations we normally see between producer and consumers can change. According to this tactic to build a stellar brand a company should be on a constant lookout for negative tweets, intercept them and act upon them to achieve or remain top level status.  So just depending on the procedure of consumers with problems mailing or calling them would not be good enough? If we would apply Foucaults explanation of our reaction to surveillance (panopticon) to this case it is interesting that Twitter apparently gives consumers a strong hand in their relation to companies. The companies in turn are more and more behaving in a manner that they think will suit the consumer. Companies have always been talked and thought about, but now that we have new social networks every year, they have to start thinking about their behavior? I think it really depends on how you want to do your business. Websites like amazon.com have had customer reviews on their own websites for years. For this reason I don’t think they need to search Twitter for possibly bad reviews.

Since microblogging seems to be the first place where news can be found, it is also the best place to find any news about yourself, good, or bad. Now I get it, it’s all about gossip. On twitter search you can find out all about any specific topic being discussed in real time.

Thus, besides the people a company can reach through its marketing techniques by using Twitter, it might also have a monitoring responsibility to keep business optimal. The implications this new medium has, only for jobs, for example an ‘online company monitor’, are very interesting.

My own interest in Twitter for online marketing stems from a project about a reality television program I’m working on, which combines making music video’s, travelling and online interaction between viewers, musicians and film directors.

It requires musicians as active participants, to be able to find me, apply for a music video, and comment and communicate about the video’s. Me and the rest of the team have to update/post news on what we do, and reply on messages and questions. And the viewers and followers can comment, watch video’s or vote for bands they like.

The first pilot will be online by the end of october, and the microblogging slogan will probably be something like: “Bad publicity is good publicity”

Now I have to think of something terrible to do to create a Twitter Effect.

3 Responses to “The Twitter Effect”
  • October 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Foucault’s Panopticon is about power relations. The panopticon as an all seeing machine of which you are never sure if its gaze is present or not. This constant insecurity makes it that people are becoming disciplined. How are these power relations present in your marketing notion and the relation of consumer and producer? In my opinion it is more a monitor tool, which fits better in Deleuze’s notion of the Control Society.

  • October 5, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Tx! I’ll look into it, and redefine as clear as possible. From the perspective of power relations I think it’s interesting that there seems to be a bottom up version of the idea of the panopticon. Companies don’t know what their clients/users etc. might think of them, and hope to find out by checking Twitter. The fact that they are so concerned with this power of the (formerly more) invisible pole of users shows a similar effect of being surveilled by an invisible entity. I see monitoring by companies of Twitter as a symptom of the idea that they are being surveilled. This idea disciplines them into taking Twitter, Facebook,.. and at the same time think about and act upon what they can do to not be reviewed negatively etc..

  • October 8, 2009 at 1:26 am

    I am curious why do companies choose to follow Twitter users for monitoring their reputation. For one thing, they can just search keyword in Twitter and see what’s going on; and for another, I doubt if scrolling all the babbles of a Twitter user is an efficient way. It seems to me that companies choose to follow back Tweeter users for the purpose of gathering user(usually supporter) profile.

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