All posts tagged Twitter

Forget Kenny, the Emmys Killed Twitter.

Social media has made the democracy of “vote with your dollars” capitalism even better. Platforms like Twitter keep every person and corporation in check. Sure, they can help overthrow governments but they can also turn any Jack or Jill into a covert whistle blower helping illuminate everything from unethical business practices to napping transit employees. I know it’s not perfect but you have to admit that social media is pretty authentic. And real. And totally fair. If you have something to say, go for it. It’s one of the only places on the planet where everyone is (kinda) treated equally.

That is, until marketers screw it up.
Which is exactly what happened to Twitter last night.

Over the past couple of years, Twitter has made watching live TV enjoyable again. Social TV was born when viewers around the world started sharing unedited comments about the shows they were virtually watching together.

Remember the London closing ceremonies? Which was better: Watching the Spice Girls reunite on top of a bunch of taxis or reading bitchy tweets about Mel C’s cankles? I know… riiiiiight? Dialing into a hashtag was like joining a telephone party line in the ‘70s. Unfiltered and open airwaves. No hierarchy. No status. And corporations were completely welcome, too. They just had to get in line with everyone else where one tweet to a hashtag simply followed another.

Until Sunday night.
I was late for the Emmys broadcast so I did what most modern people who forget to set the PVR do. I searched “#Emmys” on Twitter.

What I expected to see in the hashtag were humourous ramblings from a thousand disciples of Suri’s Burn Book. What I got was a conversation that had been hi-jacked by HBO, Vanity Fair and Chris Kattan. Yes. THAT Chris Kattan. When I compared the stream directly through Twitter with the one through Hootsuite, they were rather different, even after selecting “View all tweets”.

The Emmy’s didn’t just brand the hashtag. They kidnapped the conversation and replaced it with select tweets from Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, Wolfgang Puck, and Jessica Alba. While the rest of us users froze outside in line waiting, the Emmys gave priority access to partners, media companies, insiders and celebrities who have a vested interest in the telecast. Shouldn’t users be the default stream with an option for “See all biased tweets”?

Did I really need this tweet to have priority?


Do we want to live in a world where Chris Kattan has been judged to be more important than @TanyaRM who has 36 subscribers to her YouTube channel? If you’re not sure, let me give you a hint using 5 little words: “A Night at the Roxbury”.

In the quest for quality content, the Emmys killed the (better) content that was already being generated. For free.
Forget looking a gift horse in the mouth, they sucked the life out of the very thing that gave their telecast a new one. They sucker punched the person who administered CPR. (How many metaphors can I cram in there? )

But more than that, they bought a conversation. And that’s not only wrong, it’s bad business.
Their customers don’t include Vanity Fair. Or People Magazine. Or Jessica Alba. Their customers are you and me. People who have a cable bill. People who have an iTines or Netflix account. People who pay for the right to to tune into (and out of) whatever they want. Most importantly, people who want to share honest and open feedback on the shows and celebrities they financially support.

It still amazes me when brands want to own conversations instead of owning the process to make better products to help improve the conversation.
Done correctly and it’s a win-win.
Done poorly and it’s just another performance of Mango.

Is the brief age of transparency over? I hope not.


This 71 year old knows more about social media than you and I do.

While various social media apps can help you be more effective or more productive or more accurate, a passionate desire to connect is far more powerful than any software package. A brand that has a genuine willingness to engage with their customers will trump one that doesn’t, regardless of the budget, websites, widgets or tools used.

You want proof? Don’t talk to the 21 year old social media evangelist who’s busy building their Google+ profile in the corner. Talk to 71 year old Evelyn Hannon.

Back when putting brochures online was considered breakthrough, Evelyn decided to launch a website for female travellers called

That was 1997.
And she hasn’t changed the design since.

Seriously. There’s no flash. No video. No HTML 5. Or, in her words, “…there’s no fancy shmancy”. Check it out. You’ll be amazed. It’s so old school, it’s retro. Her site is the Polaroid in a sea of iPhone 4 HD cameras. One look and you’ll think you got to it by putting a punch card into a mainframe.

What it does have, though, is a massive loyal community of active contributors.

• She has an e-newsletter with over 75,000 subscribers.
• She has 13,000 Twitter followers.
• She built a global database of female mentors.
• She’s been an imbedded blogger on a ship sailing around the world.
• People from over 200 countries follower her, read her and trust her.

She has no heavily researched strategy, she’s never checked out Google Analytics, she doesn’t read up on what the experts say she should do and her approach to engagement, refreshingly, doesn’t even use the word “engagement”.

All she does is care.

She cares about the subject of travel. She cares about helping women. She cares about being genuine.
She acts like a grandmother. Not surprising because, well, she is.

Evelyn reminds us that real communities don’t live on Twitter or Facebook. They camp out there. Real communities live because of a passion that is shared by those who belong to it. And when it’s strong enough, that community can exist anywhere.

Have a listen. You won’t just love Evelyn. You’ll love her approach.
Success may be a journey but this woman has figured out what to do along the way.

KLM gets it. Luckily, their passengers do, too.

When companies want to thank their loyal customers, the first thought is to bombard them with trinkets and trash – little gifts companies buy in mass quantities complete with logos, corporate colours and sadly, almost no value to the customer whatsoever. In the past, it was really difficult to really get to know individual customer interests so we were forced to purchase one gift for everyone and the lowest common denominator (and lowest price) ruled the day of customer appreciation. Luckily, we can kiss this approach (and the logoed golf shirts that came along with it) goodbye.

When you combine the new tools that  give us greater access to our customers’ interests with the real time updates of their lives that are available, the potential to truly surprise and delight customers is unprecedented. And that’s not just good for customers. It’s also good for business.

KLM gets it. Do you?

Pizza Nova gets it. Pizza Pizza doesn’t.

Yesterday, I wrote about the customer service issue that Cammi Pham experienced with  Canadian pizza retailer Pizza Pizza. Here’s Pizza Pizza’s response:

Good Afternoon Ron,
We’ve read your blog in regards to the social media driven, customer service issue. This customer’s complaint was handled immediately, complying several hours in advance of our 24 hour response guarantee.  At this point, we are not able to release any further information with regards to this, as we take customer confidentiality very seriously. If there are any other issues directly pertaining to yourself that you would like to discuss we are open to chatting live. Thank you .

Pizza Pizza didn’t just fail to deliver a pizza to a hungry customer. They failed (and continue to fail) with their social media efforts, especially when compared to their competition. Here’s why:

No one wants to speak to a corporation.
Pizza Nova’s Twitter account is @PizzaNovaGuy. Whether it’s one person actually managing the stream or not, it certainly feels like it is. Pizza Pizza, on the other hand, tweets from the account @PizzaPizzaLtd. Yech. People like connecting with people. With corporations? Not so much. And the numbers prove it. Pizza Pizza has 587 more locations than Pizza Nova but close to 500 fewer followers.

Deals! Offers! Let’s talk about us!
One of the most common mistakes big brands make is using social media as a one-way bugle that provides a never-ending and piercing stream of infomercial-like offers, deals and promotions. On both Twitter and Facebook, Pizza Pizza excels at this. SM isn’t a commercial. It’s an operational service that listens, responds and keeps people interested and engaged. I’m getting tired of hearing it and saying it but clearly, this critical point still needs to be communicated.

We’ll deliver a response in 24 hours… or it’s free.
As noted above, Pizza Pizza gives themselves 24 hours to respond to a customer complaint. So, they can prepare, cook and deliver a pizza in under an hour but can’t respond to a complaint in less than 24? In the fast pace world of SM, that can be too long. I imagine (but can’t confirm) that Pizza Pizza’s community is managed by someone at their head office even though the bulk of their sales come after 6pm. If they serve their customers after normal work hours, they should respond to them then, too.

PIzza Nova doesn’t seem to maintain a Facebook presence at all. That’s a good thing. Facebook has proven be an unbelievable platform  for brands but only when they have the resources to manage it. I’d rather a brand choose a platform that works for them and focus their time and energy into doing a good job there. To quote Steam Whistle, “Do one thing really, really well.”

Let’s face it, pizza is a fun, easy and fast food. We don’t tuck linen napkins into our shirts when enjoying it and most of us want communications that are consistent with this. Take a look at this tweet from @PizzaNovaGuy:

Pizza should be fun.

Almost 25% of Pizza Pizza’s July tweets were template responses that seemed to be written by their legal department. And knowing what I know about large organizations, they probably were.

Clearly, people love the Pizza Nova brand. Of their 36 Tweets in the month of July, 29 were actually unprompted positive comments retweeted from other users. It’s amazing how easy social media can be when other people do the work for you.

Judging by the numerous complaints to @PizzaPizzaLtd, the passion for Pizza Pizza isn’t as strong. I think their social media process has a lot to do with that.

But it’s not the only thing.

As a huge organization, Pizza Pizza has a more difficult job. They have more drivers to keep in line, more locations to quality control and a ton more pizzas to deliver. They’re bound to make more mistakes. They have to dedicate more resources, provide more training and instill a culture of service from top to bottom.

Clearly, they have potential and hopefully, they can turn it around. They’re a successful organization, they have a great mobile app, and they do a lot of good for the communities they work in. They do have over 80,000 Facebook fans (which I guess is impressive) but as we all know, that doesn’t really indicate true engagement.

Get with it, Pizza Pizza. You’re an institution. I’d just prefer you didn’t act like one.

UPDATE: Here’s another Pizza fail.





Please tweet responsibly.

As we’ve seen, social media can be an unbelievable force that can help topple a dictatorship, expose a napping TTC driver or even just convince an airline to improve their customer service.
We citizens literally have the ability to change the world right in the palm of our hand.

If you’ve been treated poorly
or if you hate an ad
or if you don’t approve of a company’s environmental policy
or if you don’t like a political candidate well, choose to vote for someone else.
Or choose to not buy that product.

And while you’re at it, do what you can to convince others to follow your lead. Tweet about it. Start a Facebook page. Comment on a post. Expose the wrong, promote the right and leave the world (or at least a brand’s newsfeed) a little better than you found it.

But with that power comes a noble duty.
Please tweet responsibly.

Bitch about government but cheer about it, too.
Complain about staff who were rude but acknowledge the ones who were nice.
Give a restaurant a bad review but be sure to rave about the places that you love.

And here’s the most important part: If you have commented on, complained about, or campaigned against something or someone in the past, well then go out of your way to compliment them when they deserve it.

It doesn’t make you hypocritical.
And doesn’t mean you have to buy what they’re selling.

It’s just the right thing to do.


The end is nigh! Sigh.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Last week, I was speaking to a group of people in Ottawa about “Building your brand in the digital age”. It wasn’t a keynote on social media (Mitch Joel and Gary Vaynerchuk already do that splendidly) but I certainly covered the implications that social media can have on one’s personal brand.

One of the participants asked about the speed of social media and Dave Hale, President and Founder of Soshal Group, told a quick tale about looking for office space. He tweeted a real estate agent, gave him 15 minutes to respond and seeing none, Dave tweeted another agent, got an immediate reply and signed a lease later that day.

Some of the group were borderline appalled and thought it was unprofessional to only give someone 15 minutes to respond. “What if he was with another client?” they asked. “It would have been unprofessional for the agent to focus his attention on Twitter opposed to the person who sat in front of him.”

Well, they certainly weren’t wrong. But it does bring up an interesting point.

Clearly, some of us are “all in” on social media. Speakers (myself included) can make it seem like those who aren’t dialed into Twitter 24/7 face imminent career death. Worse, we look down on them like they were carriers of an analog epidemic that combines mad cow disease with the bodily sounds of a Speak-n-Spell transmitted by the Pony Express.

Here’s the thing:

People want to do business with brands that share their values.

And there are a hell of a lot of people who simply don’t value the type of interactions that the rest of us do. They actually want to do business the old-fashioned way and will spend their dollars with those who act accordingly. There’s an actual market of technophobes and I’d be willing to bet that in some categories, it’s pretty damn big.

It’s just that it’s getting smaller. Quickly.

Striking fear and panic into the hearts of people is wrong and it’s probably what creates the mad rush of people jumping into something that they don’t really understand. Next thing you know, we’re clicking “Like” buttons for no apparent reason and desperately asking people to follow us even though we have no idea what it means when they do.

Speakers: Stop screaming “the end is nigh!” and we’ll have more time to do it right.

Listeners: Look at the numbers, believe the trends, and pursue a course of action that’s good for your business, good for your career, and consistent with your values.

Your customers today and tomorrow will appreciate it. 


Going gaga for Gaga.

Lady GaGa concert

Image via Wikipedia

What brands can learn from the Queen of Marketing.

The last time I saw someone emerge from an egg, Robin Williams was morking his way into our Nanu-Nanus. Well, 24-year-old Lady Gaga’s Grammy entrance trumped the Orkian tradition with more glitz, more glam, and more of something a little less expected:

Business smarts.

Yup, pay attention pointy-haired CEOs: The best marketing case study may not be in the Harvard Business Review after all. It’s on your kid’s iPod. Welcome to the School of Gaga. Here’s what business and brands can learn.

 1. She stands for something.

 At the core of the Lady Gaga brand isn’t a committee-written mission statement. It’s a belief.  And everything Gaga does ties back to that one mantra: People should be free to be themselves.

It drives her music. It inspires her outfits. It dictates her performances. How many brands have a belief that influences product development, packaging, social responsibility, customer service and more? Sadly, as many brands’ campaigns change, so do their beliefs.

2. She’s open, honest and genuine.

“What artists do wrong is they lie. And I don’t lie. I’m not a liar. I built good will with my fans. They know who I am.”

Above all else, consumers want honesty. Lady Gaga delivers. Whether it’s being open about her background (real name: Stephanie), her drug use (smokes pot) or even her insecurities, Gaga is honest. Some may think she’s just one big marketing machine but she’s even open about that:

“One of my greatest artworks is the Art of Fame. I’m a master of the Art of Fame.”

 Her honesty brings credibility to everything she does. Are you listening big business?

3. She puts her customers first.

Gaga doesn’t just call her fans, “Little Monsters”. She actually has those words tattooed on her leg. And I don’t think it’s one of those lick-the-back-and-press-really-hard tattoos, either. How many of us are THAT dedicated to the people who put bread on our table? Not many.Lady Gaga’s customers are not a necessary evil. They inspire her. They’re at the centre of everything she does. She listens to them. She communicates with them. And she shares her success with them.

4. It’s about her but it’s not about her.

 Obviously, one person could not do this alone. Gaga is surrounded by a team of stylists, musicians, choreographers, publicists, and creatives that keep her and her music fresh.

Instead of calling them her suppliers or partners or whatever the latest version of “self-directed work teams” is, she simply includes them in the collective family unit, “House of Gaga”. There may be a Lady in the House but the brand requires a gaggle of Gagas. She acknowledges and celebrates that in a real and genuine way. As she explained to Jay Leno recently,

“I don’t want the band and dancers to feel like a band and dancers behind me because the performance of Born This Way is nothing without them.”

 It’s simple. Instead of creating policies on improving morale and retention, she treats her people with respect. I wish more would.

5. She keeps us interested.

 What will she do next? We never know. What we DO know is that simply talking about personal freedom and expression could get really boring after a while. To keep us engaged, she keeps us entertained. Provocative videos. Original attire. Unique performances. Grand entrances. Perfectly timed sneak peeks and releases. Constant media exposure. New partnerships (Beyonce, Elton John and others). Consistent communication. She does it all to keep us coming back for more. And it’s ALWAYS interesting.

6. She understands social media

  • 8 million followers on Twitter (the most)
  • 28 million + Facebook fans
  • 1 billion + views on Youtube.

At the end of her Leno interview, Jay was gushing from his chin as he wrapped up:

Leno: I think you’re really great… I do appreciate all the effort. Your people get here early. And you look great. And people can’t wait to see you. And you have wonderful taste and everything. And I thought you were just fantastic.

Gaga: Well, this is what I do.

What is it you do?