Brand twitter outreach - a dangerous strategy

Much has been made of the realtime marketingchannel twitter - lets all agree that this is what it is today - where brands try their best to entertain us by inserting themselves into sports & news, address our constant complaints about delayed flights, act as a help desk reception dishing out links to those who can't google or.. Fight for our attention based on what we tweet.

There's been countless examples of brands stepping in it on twitter. Jumping into hashtags like a boutique did when #Aurora was trending made for a spectacular trainwreck. Turning an entire countries twitter account over to "regular citizens" cemented the idea that Swedes are anti-semites when a quirky comedian famed for pushing buttons asked calculated naive questions. On the flip side, Smart Car has outsmarted all other cars on social media by carefully responding to jokes about bird poop and cars with straight guy replies.

This is yet another example of a fail, and possible the results of bots doing the job. We can make our twitter bots do a lot these days, they even have conversations (which if the bots are bad, can go on forever between them). We can not, however, automate outreach to humans yet because there is such a thing as context.

The outreach from the Clickitclinic came from someone manning the twitter account who, despite taking three days to reply, clearly didn't spend any time at all looking at Kellibob's twitter feed. Kellibob often speaks of Z n twitter. Z battles a chronic genetic disorder, with her mom Kellibob as her ambulance-driver and hospital waiting-room entourage. Kellibob shares absurd, funny and exasperated stories with her twitter friends as they whittle away hours waiting for doctors and nurses and test results. Her friends are virtual shoulders, engaged audience and a network of worriers fretting over Z's health. Some days you'd think Kellibob's job was a nurse/caretaker. Other days it's all school woes, craft things, #%!¿ bad drivers, "what's for dinner?", football, homework and hilarious pictures of her kids being adorable and funny. That's context. All of that was missed by Clickitclinic.

Twitter as a beast has changed a lot over the years, the white house has been tweeting hump day jokes as if the medium was only suitable for jokes. Twitter-activists moved in, so feminism had toxic twitter wars long before Gamergate proved twitter is broken as the short - snarky - messages lack context per default. While people were click-bait debating if the social media manager should be old or young we seem to have forgotten the bots who only see the single tweet, and the people who do the same. Bots and and searching scripts on twitter are making it easier for brands to monitor mentions of their brand or product or service, but it should not be used for fast-outreach campaigns without due diligence paid to context.

Like the failed direct mail that reached a friend of mine, offering a retirement home for his deceased mother, the failure here lies in trying to automate personal conversations. Personal conversations that come in tiny burts of 140 chars. Social media doesn't lend itself to being very social when all you see is a persons most recent tweet.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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