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Social Media: “Doing It Right” on Twitter

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Pretzel Crisps Social Media Win

Yes, those are apparently brand new pants before I took the tag off ;-)

I’ve had two different companies tweet “at” me because I’ve been out and about in San Francisco. Anytime a brand identity is tweeting at you on Social, you know that they want you to come patronize their business, so if they’re sloppy about it and are obviously just angling to sell you something, you can tell rather quickly.  As a social marketer, I have a very sensitive radar for what is technically referred to as “Social Media Horseshit,” and I have very little tolerance for spammy Twitter use in particular.

Done right, Twitter is an incredibly powerful way to develop long-term relationships with customers. Done wrong, social media is about as effective as email spam, but twice as annoying.

A brand is something that people actively have a relationship with, and social media is no less than a way for your brand to have an active relationship with potential, current, and even past customers. Twitter, in particular, offers you the opportunity to engage potential customers in real time, often at the precise moment they might be looking to make a purchase or use your service. For example, moving to a new city….

People tweet their flight check-ins and will talk about the city they travel or move to. When I drove into San Francisco last Friday afternoon, all my belongings in my trunk, it was raining. The city had rolled out a big soggy welcome mat for me, and I tweeted it.

Pretzel Crisps was paying attention, and they tweeted at me, using the rain as an excuse, and then offering me free snacks.

Pretty good welcome to a new city, right?

This afternoon, right before I was heading out to a coffee shop for a meeting, Pretzel Crisps showed up with a ridiculous amount of free noms. Guess what my favorite San Francisco brand of pretzels is now?

This approached worked because Pretzel Crisps was able to very easily create a relationship with a potential customer by offering a free experience of their product to me via Twitter. By making it simple (and free) for me to try their stuff, I now have a relationship with their product, AND I’m blogging about it.  Tons of free attention.  Not bad, right?

They got my attention because 1. They responded with a sense of humor, and 2. They offered me something free in their tweet.  Had the brand just made small talk, I would have ignored it. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but I don’t always have time to respond to the people that tweet at me.  When a brand tweets without offering something of value immediately, I assume, just like everyone else, that they aren’t really interested in anything but selling something. I tune out immediately.

For example, the Half Moon Bay Golf Course apparently has a Twitter handle that likes to make small talk with people who check-in when their flights land in SFO. Brands making small talk, and not offering something in return is “doing it wrong.”

I don’t want to make small talk with a golf course. Now, they can’t offer me a fun-sized bag containing 9 holes of golf, but they could have some blog content about the best links in the bay area, including, but not limited to their course. Maybe throw me a link for some free balls, or a beer at the end of a golf game. Anything that would be valuable or relevant to me.

Rather, they just asked me what my plans were.  Basically, that’s asking me to spend time as I’m de-planing to tweet a golf course what my itinerary is.  Not happening.

So I responded like this.

Then I felt bad about being mean, so I tweeted back at them to apologize and give whoever that person running their social media channel an opening to engage me, but they didn’t respond back, which is a mistake.

Even if I’m not going to play golf, I know plenty of people who do, and I may have a chance to recommend a place at some point. That social media interaction had the potential to create a brand advocate out of me.

I use my own story as an example to show the power of social media to connect with real customers in ways that traditional advertising could only dream of.  I’ve literally got a counter full of Pretzel Crisps in my kitchen now, and I’m going to be offering them to every single guest that I have in my new San Francisco digs for weeks. I had never had the Pretzels before, but I’ll never forget them at this point.

Hope this helps.

Austin W. Gunter

Side note: I haven’t mentioned whether they’re good or not. That’s because an aggressive social media campaign like this assumes you have a stellar product. Otherwise, all that attention and energy you’ve poured into the marketing will blow up in your face with really nasty tweets. If the product isn’t good, social can’t solve that :-)

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