Twitter as marketing and corporate communications tool

This article in USA Today contains interesting information related to using Twitter as a marketing and corporate communications tool.Of particular interest, further down the story, is how Twitter can be used to improve customer service. The question is: are any Indonesian companies/institutions ready to embrace such technology?
clipped from www.usatoday.com
Twitter took off from simple to ‘tweet’ success

SAN FRANCISCO — “What are you doing?”

That question is the rocket fuel for Twitter — a hot social-network service that lets you tell people what you are up to at any given moment of the day — via cellphone, instant messenger, or the Web. Never heard of it, you say?

“What are you doing?” is the question Twitter asks “Twitterers” to answer in a simple text message as they connect with friends, co-workers or the wider world. Twitterers “tweet” about everything from what they had for lunch to how much they enjoyed their latest Netflix DVD. If that sounds silly and incredibly narrow at first, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

“When people hear about Twitter, their immediate reaction is that it’s the simplest and stupidest idea in the world,” says co-founder Biz Stone.

blog it

How to tell voters you don’t have your act together

Unspun supposes we all have to blame Oprah Winfrey. When she started Twittering, then it must be good for the masses and everyone should somehow Tweet as well.

Perhaps it is for this reason, but maybe also because some young entrepreneurs saw a chance to milk the Indonesian Presidential candidates for some easy money, the candidates had taken to Twittering.

Over the weekend many Indonesian Twitterers were surprised to receive a “follow” from Megawati and Prabowo. Many readers reacted with surprise that the Dynamic Duo was following them. Some were flattered, others were vehement in shooing them away. The rest felt in between where sentiments were concerned.Megapro twits

Unspun, even though he can’t vote, received a follow too and, ever polite person that he is, returned the courtesy. Then his innate curiousity drove him to the Twitter home page of Megapro. There he encountered a strange message:

Megapro

Ever obedient Unspun went to Megabowo and saw:

megabowoWanting to know more, Unspun then clicked on the link to the Web page of the account holder and goess what he found?

Prabowo’s Facebook page.

So what does this all say about the communications efforts of the Megapro/bowo team?

1. That they don’t have their act together

2. That Prabowo or his team is behind the New Media efforts and mega is still probably struggling with how to send a SMS. Notice that the photo in both the Twitter accounts are of Prabowo’s face, not Mega and Prabowo’s, not much of an assurance of unity here. Someone also said that initially Prabowo’s backdrop was of the PDIP red-white color but today its been changed to Gerindra red.

3. That Prabowo seems to be in the driver’s seat so if by a long shot the duo are elected into office, we’ll know who wears the pants in that relationship. Hint: its below XXXL.

4. That Prabowo’s team was hasty and impulsive. Otherwise why go with Megapro and then change it to Megabowo in a matter of hours. If they can’t think through the name thay want to use as a handle for their partnership, what other things can’t they think through?

Seriously though, why would anyone vote for this team, given that they can’t even get their act together even on Twitter, let alone the more important affairs of state?

Vivanews: Head in sand not a solution

Something interesting happened in the Indonesian Twittersphere recently.

Shortly after Unspun and the Indonesian Tweeps gave their thumbs down to Vivanews’ Twitter Blasts (see previous post here), and Unspun as well as Mavericknetwork blogged about it, Vivanews went off air in the Twittersphere.

Why? Ju

Image from Orangscale.net

dging from  the comment left by an anonymous visitor in Mavericknetwork, it could be that Vivanews was actually listening and, as he said, learning (which is a very good approach – promote the guy if any of you at Vivanews is listening to this). Of it could be that my pal with the good looks, Mirwan Suwarso sent Unspun‘s post to Vivanews marketing Director.

Mirwan

Whatever, it is some measure of indication that Vivanews, as opposed to so many other businesses, is at least is aware of the chatter about it on the Net by removing their Twitter account.

But is pulling out a good idea? Thomas at Orangescale.net questions the tactic with this posting:

VIVAnews Deleted Its Twitter Account. A Smart Move?

Not following VIVAnews doesn’t make me stop reading people’s comments about it. There are some blogs brought this Twitter account into discussion. Today, I noticed that @vivanews_com account had been deleted by the account holder. Maybe, it’s because the Twitter users’ (especially in Indonesia and its followers) responses.

Now, the question: Is it — deleting its Twitter — a smart move? Is it the best option? I think, it’s not. Let’s figure out why the account was closed.

  • VIVAnews wanted to get another account, and announce it as its official account. When it was published, I couldn’t find any link of it at their site, or something mentioned that it was official.
  • They (people at VIVAnews?) want to do it better in the future.
  • They want to “remove” people’s comment.

I think, rather than closing/deactivated its account, the account holder should stop the auto-update and show that they’re listening. They can do it by removing its feed(s) from Twitterfeed. Then, they give respond also via Twitter. Why? Because it’s the medium. They can ask for feedback, and how they can make it better next time.

It can be a better counter for the negative comments on Twitter. If they think that closing account will remove the negative comments, they’re wrong. It’s still accessible in Twitter database, unless people who wrote tweets delete them. See these screenshots: one and two. Those screenshots were taken, even the referenced account has been deleted.

Now, will they join Twitter again? I’m curious.

Unspun agrees. If Vivanews wants to make an impact in Web2.0 they must realize that they are either part of the Conversation or they can be toast. Clamming up and putting their head in the sand is Neolithic by today’s standards and is no longer an option. A good example of why this is so lies with examples discussed in the excellent book The Truth about SEO by Rebecca Lieb.

Lieb gave the example of the bicycle lock maker Kryptonite and Dell in Chapter 4 of the book, Your Reputation is On the Line. Somewhere around 2004-5 both companies got into trouble, Kryptonite for selling an expensive bicycle lock that could be opened by a cheap ball point pen and Dell for incurring the wrath of uberblogger Jeff Jarvis.

Both companies were trashed on the blogosphere. Yet if  you Google them (at least until twhen the book was written) you see two different results. The negative stories from those days still haunt Kryptonite in the first two pages of Google. (This is no longer the case today – I just checked – perhaps Kryptonite learned as well). Google results for Dell were different – searches for “Dell Hell” were relegated to the umpteenth page of Google search results.

The lesson here? When confronted by a PR fallout on the Net, don’t put your head in the sand and hope the bad things said about you will go away. On the contrary, these bad things will stay around forever in the Net unless you do something about it. What companies in trouble should do is to be part of the Conversation and help shape or steer it so that the chatter is about things positive and meaningful to you and your Net stakeholders.

Now, if Vivanews was really smart, they should revive their Twitter account, apologize for the slip up, maybe even ask the audience what news they would like to receive in Twitter and be part of the Conversation. Unspun would think that this is crucial for Vivanews since it, presumably, at some time wants to be seen as a purveyor of information in the Web 2.0 (and beyond) era.

Hmmmm…maybe they should send their marketing/PR person to (get ready for shameless plug of an event Unspun‘s office is organizing) the PR and New Media Workshop being organized by Maverick’s New Media Division?

Also read: Toni’s news at navinot: Kita adalah Anak Manja Dunia Digital