Bin Laden – Twitter Comes Of Age

Like many I woke up to the great news of the death of Osama Bin Laden this morning.

And as soon as I watched the pictures on the BBC, I turned to Twitter for the more information and insight from around the world.

An everyone was playing their part:

Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land was commenting on how re story was trending, Monte Lutz believed that Twitter was outscoring Facebook on the story by around 10:1, but the most authentic coverage was coming from a tweeter in Abbotabad. The tweets from @reallyvirtual are to be preserved for future generations.

Here was a guy, the owner of a coffee shop in downtown Abbottabad who heard a helicopter overhead which he thought as unusual. ” I need to swat it” he said, clearly annoyed at the late night disturbance. But as time moved on, he clearly became aware that something major was happening. “I’m told it’s not one of ours” “could be a drone”.

Until finally this amazing realisation, “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”

In addition @storify provided a consolidated picture of events as they unfolded.

So I think this; that Twitter today had a great day. It found it’s place and as the growth of Twitter that follows this story inevitably happens, more and more people will call on it for news and updates from people on the ground as a natural reaction.

@reallyvirtual later tweets included this “wondering what music to play in the coffee shop today”.

Life goes on.

Nearly half of all Twitter users don’t read a word you say – that many?

Here’s an article I came across, bizarrely enough, on Twitter the other day. I’m not sure where the author has gathered the information, the source isn’t quoted, but it makes the claim that although the number of people subscribing to Twitter continues to grow inexorably, those who ‘use’ the site are relatively small in number.

The headline says is it all – Half Twitter users don’t read a word you say.

So what?

If you imagine that Twitter is another channel to push your message out to your audience, then of course that message will continue to be mistrusted. That’s not engagement. Remember, the key to winning on the social web is to listen and then to engage.

I continue to see company Facebook pages that don’t allow people to post messages. Is the expectation that people are just waiting to hear what they have to say like the sermon on the mount?

Twitter and Facebook can only really be called ‘social’ media if they facilitate conversations and discussions between brands and their customers and prospects. Those who follow a brand on Twitter are doing so for a variety of reasons, to wait for discounts, find out when the next store is opening etc etc. But more and more, these people are going to have questions. When is the next offer? When is the store opening in my neighbourhood? And they will ask these questions and expect answers – quickly. Those people will be listening to what you say becasue you’ll be saying it to them directly.

That’s the real power of social media.

 

Does ‘Like’ Go Far Enough? – Rosa Parks’s Facebook Status

Someone I spoke to the other day made a the comment – “What would the Victorians or Tudors have made of social media?”

Got me thinking. And then I read this article by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker – an eloquent condemnation of the notion that it’s social media tools that have empowered people to make real change. He sure has a point.

Martin Luther King didn’t need Twitter to mobilise a movement. He didn’t say “I have a mission statement”, and Rosa Parks didn’t post on Facebook “Rode the bus today – some people got a bit angry when I wouldn’t give up my seat. Let’s start a revolution. Please ‘Like’ this”.

In fact when you consider relatively recent historical events of say the last 200 years, it’s quite humbling to see what has been achieved, all without social networks.

Think, William Cobbet’s pamphlets opposing the Corn Laws and support for Catholic Emancipation. Think, the Great Reform Acts, the Suffragettes, the Chartists, the Levellers, the overthrow of Ceaucescu and the Poll Tax riots. All examples of people power and mass mobilisation. The power of word of mouth and engagement. “Come down to Kennington Common – bring a friend” probably wasn’t exactly how the Chartists organised themselves, but you get the idea.

And so are we any more different or more powerful than these people in history, now that we have Facebook and Twitter?

Well, as I wrote about this week, a movement of people have persuaded Gap to change their logo inside a week of launching a new one,  by mobilising quickly and effectively on social media and scaring the bejeezus out of a major brand.

But now doesn’t that sound lame?

The best we can do through these channels is to persuade a business to change its logo because we don’t like it. I’m not disparaging this event. In the history of business and commerce I think it’s a massive one. One that will be written about for years.

But where are the flashmobs organised on Twitter and Facebook to protest against the travesty that is  young carers having their childhoods taken from them as they have to perform the tasks that their handicapped parents are unable to carry out for example?

Have we lost sight of what really matters and of what social tools could really do to help raise awareness and mobilise action? Has the nature of these tools themselves actually isolated and numbed people from what’s really happening in the world?

What if people had clicked ‘Like’ on Rosa Parks’s Facebook status? Would they have left it at that and gone back to their lives?

I’m not sure. What do you think?

 

Verizon – Are You Listening?

I’m not letting up on this issue.

For me examples like this are the very reason this blog exists.

Here’s someone, clearly having trouble with Verizon. There’s no judgement here as to whether their complaints are justified or not. But that doesn’t matter. @KatStep2010 clearly does have issues.

So, as she says, are Verizon listening? If so, will they engage?

I’m going to be following this closely and will report back if anything happens in public.

Since starting this, here’s an update already!

KatStep2010
I can’t get thru to anyone they keep sending me bills for an account I canceled in June. @Verizon is there anybody out there?
14 minutes ago
KatStep2010
@Verizon Why have I been on hold for 45 minutes? and why oh why won’t you help me?
30 minutes ago
So it seems Verizon aren’t listening.
Another great truth:

“Customers wouldn’t feel the need to embarrass us en masse, if our customer service channels weren’t so completely broken.” Bob Knorpp, The Beancast

Gap’s About Turn – Strength or Weakness?

Yesterday was a big day for the retailer Gap.

Having announced that they were to change their logo just a week ago, they have now reverted back to their traditional blue box.

And the reason for this change of heart is the huge outcry and anger amongst Gap’s customers that they have expressed through social media.

Here are a couple of quotes from Gap:

“Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”

“We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.”

As someone who has been involved in a rebranding process for two major high street brands, I know that a logo change is an 18 month process – minimum. For Gap, this must have included customer focus groups, test marketing and a whole host of other research activities before, firstly they decided to launch a new logo at all and secondly undertake all the work necessary to ensure a transition on the ground from old to new.

So for this process to have been turned into  a costly waste of time and money inside one week, is astonishing.

I can’t think of another example of ‘people power’ that comes close to this. The Gap logo episdoe will surely become case study worthy for all students of marketing in the future.

And yet the fantastic news for Gap in all of this is that they now know, beyond any doubt, that they have a rich vein of customers who love the brand deeply. Care about it passionatley enough to feel moved to mobilise so quickly and express their feelings. This episode proves Kevin Roberts’ great truth “Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them”.

Of course Facebook and Twitter were the main vehicles for this movement. But the speed at which people were able to organise and mobilise is jaw dropping.

There are now sites selling T-shirts with the words “Logo Fail’ across the chest. This story has become huge.

And if anyone doubted that they can afford to stand by and continue to believe that they don’t have to engage directly with customers, then here is the lesson  – Engage or Die.

Of course Gap could have stuck to their guns. They could have done so in a engaging way – “We hear you, but trust us.”

They chose not to.

Do you think they did the right thing?

Seconds Out!

I am having a row with someone on a Linkedin group discussion.

It’s brilliant therapy! They are moaning about the fact that new Twitter will remove a brands wallpaper and replace it with video, imagery and threads of a conversation that you can only currently see by leaving the main Twitter page.

One quote from my opponent is this:

“How would you feel if you are making a living making custom Twitter backgrounds and you just found out that your profession was made obsolete overnight?

Angry? Hell yes!”

There are people out there who make a living doing nothing but this? Holy moley!

Here’s another:

“What if you have been building brand recognition for a client with their custom Twitter background being central to their brand strategy? How do you now tell your client that you have to rethink their entire brand strategy?

Angry? HELL YES!”

So, some poor business has been told that their Twitter wallpaper is central to their brand strategy, that now needs entirely rethinking?

Wow!

I’d love an introduction….

Perhaps my adversary is realising that they might actually have to write something interesting for their client now and is coming over all peculiar? After all 140 characters is lot these days isn’t it?

Or am I being facetious?

Don’t Let Your Customer Service Get ‘Buried’!

Last month saw the release of a new thriller/horror movie by Spanish director,  Rodrigo Cortés entitled ‘Buried’.

The premise of the movie is (taken directly from IMDB) “Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.”

The point of this post hinges on you understanding that he has a cell phone, which of course he uses to try and contact the outside world, but that of course, has limited battery life. The movie sounds absolutely gripping, but here is another direct quote from the great Mark Kermode about Buried.

“It’s a film about the horror of being put ‘on hold’. I have yet to see a film that so brilliantly encapsulates the annoyance, the frustration, the terror, the anguish of being ‘on hold’.

Doesn’t that ring true? Excuse the pun.

We’ve all had the opportunity to press 3 by pressing 2 and then being put on hold whilst being told just how valuable we are. So valuable that we can be left in a black hole for 45 minutes – thanks T Mobile!

Customer care is thankfully being redefined. Those amazing CRM systems that were going to rock our world in the nineties and noughties will soon be painful things of the past. All because of the voice that we now have through social media.

I’ve written before about AT&T. They have a terrible reputation in the US. When the iPhone 4 started dropping calls beacuse of the design, who got the complaints – Steve Jobs or AT&T ‘helpdesk”? OK, so Apple took a bad dose of publicity, but on the ground, customers were battering AT&T.

And yet, the great thing about them is that they recognised that the days of leaving people on hold were numbered. They still did it – don’t get me wrong, but by promoting Twitter as a key customer care channel, they have shown that the biggest step in winning on the social web, is accepting the world has changed.

Their strategy for using Twitter to meet their objective is still flawed – nowhere near enough resource and they clock off at 5! Poor Molly, the face of AT&T’s Twitter customer care page seems a lovely lady, with only your best interests at heart, but nevertheless has a thankless task.

If there is a lesson from the last few years experiences surrounding CRM, it’s that peoples expectations are, quite rightly, rising all the time. If your wifi goes down at 3am while working on a presentation, you need help at 3.05.

Customer care can’t take holidays anymore.

Comment on this post and I’ll get right back to you…