All a flutter about Twitter Promoted Tweets?

We have all heard the news, Twitter has launched a long awaited revenue/advertising model – Promoted Tweets. The first phase of trials have begun with a handful of brands that have embraced Twitter including Virgin America, Best Buys, Sony & Starbucks to name a few.

But is it the next Google Paid Search, or is everyone getting a flutter about nothing?

How do Promoted Tweets Work?

Without re-gurgitation all of the press circulating about the product, I will highlight some of the interesting innovations they claim to have made with their product (obviously as I have not tested it as an advertiser thus I cannot comment on this from first hand experience).

Promoted Tweets* Ads that form part of the conversation; Twitter’s ethos of building a great user experience has been at the centre of their strategy to date and they have used this to help guide their ad strategy. Rather than disrupt the user experience promoted tweets aim to naturally form part of the conversation. Twitter’s first step is to deliver promoted tweets at the top of search results however overtime Twitter plans to display “relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.” – according to Biz Stone

* User Behaviour; Twitter’s promoted tweet system analyses user interaction to help determine whether or not to show these ads to the user moving forward. To quote Biz Stone;
We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate. For it to resonate with a user they must reply to it, favorite it, or re-tweet it, if not the Promoted Tweet will disappear.

When is it occurring?

I have taken a quick poke around to catch a glimpse of when and how the ads are being triggered. I conducted several searches related to Starbucks and also Virgin America (that users might search on within Twitter) to gain an understanding of when they are featured. In particular however I want to highlight 2 of the outcomes of this experiment;

1. Coffee & Guns – Starbucks Promoted Tweets
One of the most topical issues for Starbucks at the moment is that related to people being allowed to carry guns within their stores. Their Facebook page features a lot of discussion around the topic as does Google news. This is obviously a very topical discussion as a search on Twitter will quickly reveal a lot of Twitter activity – however I note that the ad that is served by the new Promoted Tweets feature is irrelevant.

Twitter Ads

Another topical issue is that of Fairtrade coffee which when searched provides the same irrelevant ads.
This example whilst showing there is more work to do, does present a potential opportunity of the promoted tweet. Topical issues spread through social networks like wildfire. For brand who need to regain their voice in such circumstances like the “guns issue in starbucks” it could provide the platform to connect with their audience and the influencers.

The Verdict

It is obvious that the Twitter ad network is still in its infancy, although given that it has taken this long to develop a revenue model, I am sure the advertising industry was expecting something more exceptional. From the initial searching I conducted across not just Starbucks but other brands, it seems that at best these ads are relevant on a brand basis but not contextually targeted at all.

Unlike search advertising, Twitter’s new ad network has the potential to provide a very unique offering. Its underlying approach makes sense in a social environment ie factoring in user engagement and also attempting to integrate ads in the conversation rather than disrupt the user experience, however more work still needs to be done. In particular as real time search is increasing in size, a real time search strategy will become increasingly important for organisations.

At present 600 million Twitter searches are conducted every month and Twitter needs to provide brands with an opportunity to actively leverage this search volume in a useful way which does not currently exist (from what I have seen). They must do this however whilst building promoted tweets into the natural Twitter stream.

What are your thoughts on Twitters new advertising platform – would love to hear from others on this topic

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A Social Step Up For Customer Service In Oz

Twitter Strategy

For years marketers have debated the positive and negative impact word of mouth can have on a brand. Negative customer experiences and word of mouth offline has always been a concern, but fast forward to today’s day and age and very quickly a negative customer experience projected through social media channels can cause a PR disaster.
Unlike offline negative word of mouth a poor customer experience captured online is;
• Real Time – Customers do not have time to reassess the situation, venting their frustrations immediately without further thought
• A Digital Footprint – A bad customer service experience is retained online for others to view for years to come
• More Widespread – It is largely believed that consumers tell 7 or 8 people about a bad experience – but online such a broadcast could be cast to hundreds of contacts.

However despite all the draw backs, one of the big benefits of social media is that organisations can identify unsatisfied customer experiences and nip them in the bud. And if dealt with effectively these consumers may radiate their positive experience to their wider online network.
Thus as social media usage has exploded in Australia, some Australian organisations have taken the brave step into the social media customer service space. So whose doing it and what can we learn from some of the social media customer service case studies in Australia?

PANASONIC

Just last month, Panasonic Australia launched support services through both Twitter and Facebook to enable customers to log queries related to products such as Viera televisions and the new Limax Life camera.

 

Panasonic Twitter Strategy

Their approach

Through social platforms, Panasonic has been able to launch its new camera Lumix to enthusiasts and have proactively offered support, to new Lumix customers, which from a customer service perspective is quite forward thinking. In addition Panasonic have made it clear that their strategy will not just focus on one channel but rather support consumers across some of the most popular social media platforms in Australia . However how can Panasonic improve their customer service offering through social media?

The Facebook presence seems to be largely unattended to by its customer service staff. Whilst only a few customers have requested assistance, it seems their questions have either been answered via a direct message to the user or not at all. In the customer service sector obviously delivery is key so this is an important consideration for Panasonic.
In addition Panasonic could consider promoting their new customer service options via their site to encourage more consumers to ask questions because at this stage the service is experiencing some demand but not high volume of take up. Whilst a strategy of inviting more people into the social space to raise their customer service questions or complaints could be risky – it will enable Panasonic to meet changing customer needs as consumers can interact with the brand by their preferred method of communication.

OPTUS
Telecommunications is one industry that suffers from a high level of customer service complaints, therefore it is no wonder that both Optus and Telstra have invested in social media customer service. If you spend 10 minutes searching Twitter there is no wonder why such a strategy is important for both these brands – with many unsatisfied customers venting their anger, a social media customer service strategy is crucial to maintain at least some credibility in the market.

Their Approach

Optus seems to monitor its online Twitter presence very carefully and by doing so it seems they are in at least in some cases turning customer informants into advocates.
Whilst Optus is changing many customer experiences from negative to positive ones, one in particular stands out. In a recent article published in Marketing Magazine, it seems Optus has been able to turn around one #badoptus customer to a satisfied one, who told his 4,268 followers that;

“You may have seen some of my past #badoptus tweets. Thanks to Scott at @Optus social media response team I can now say thank you #goodoptus.”

But have Optus got it 100% right? As Optus only entered the space in the past 4 – 6 weeks, one of the biggest downfalls for their strategy would have to be timing – with so much bad consumer PR being posted online, Optus should have entered the space sooner to effectively manage its reputation and attend to consumers needs.

For Optus coverage may also be an issue. For any brand moving into the social media space it is important to not just to concentrate on the platform but rather consider where consumers are passionately expressing their views, whether it be social networking platforms, forums or even blogs to determine how the customer service strategy can most effectively reach the large pockets of consumer complaints and customer service issues.

For Optus Facebook is another area where consumers are passionately expressing their dissatisfaction about the brand by joining or creating “hate Optus” groups, and this is probably just the beginning. However despite the negative feedback on Facebook, for Optus Twitter may have been the most important channel to tackle first, as the brand had been inundated with negative PR.
Regardless of their approach, for those considering social media customer service it is important to monitor the web and determine where conversations and complaints are occurring about their brand before determining the best approach.

Business Brand Twitter Strategy

Overall despite some of the improvements that can be made I believe Panasonic, Optus and even Telstra should be applauded for taking the bold step into the social media space.

Got any other examples of Australian organisations who are using social media to improve customer service? If so add them below.

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Spamitter – Will Spam Mark The End of Twitter?

Spam Tweets

Could Twitter’s Success Be Its Demise?

Twitter SpamWe are all seeing more and more of it lately – Twitter Spam. And quite rightly so, it’s putting many of us off that cute little bird. But just how big is the SPAM problem?

You only need to search #SPAM to realise that this bird has some serious problems, with many users fed up by the onslaught of SPAM on the micro-blogging site. According to Pear Analytics, only 3.75% of messages are SPAM and 6% are promotional. But it seems this analysis fails to consider follower SPAM probably the biggest issue facing the site. One Twitterer stated in a recent article that up to 38% of his new followers were SPAM. Thus with this problem spiralling out of control, Twitter could face a mass exodus of loyal users whom are fed up, as the value of Twitter is diluted by the sea of irrelevant content and followers.

Why all the SPAM?

Since its inception, the very ease of connecting with potential consumers, or other industry peers has been one of the core drivers of the sites success. Unfortunately however with no barriers to entry, and ease of SPAMMING the twitterverse, not only are dodgy starts ups spamming Twitter users, even many corporates are mass following users and feeding marketing messages through the engine with no concept how to engage with consumers.

What is Twitter Going To Do About It?

So with an increasing amount of SPAM followers and content – just how is Twitter going to rise to the challenge – or is it too late as the SPAM flood gates are open?

In 2008 Twitter introduced a new Spam control method – that limits the amount of people you can follow to 2,000, but with all buying and selling of followers that is going on – this has not had any real effect with more and more users complaining of increasing SPAM. In addition Twitter is attempting to crack down on follower sellers with one Australian company, USocial, contacted by a Twitter brand management firm expressing concern over their activities. But picking off the culprits one by one is probably not going to be a long term strategy, as for every 1 they tackle another 10 could surface.
Twitter now therefore stands at the cross-roads, as did the email marketing industry to significantly clamp down on SPAM – but just how are they going to do it?

What Twitter Needs To Do

I have every confidence that Twitter will be taking this issue very seriously considering that it could significantly devalue the organisations worth. Some of the key tactics I believe Twitter should consider are;

1. Block Porn; So much of Twitter “SPAM” accounts contain profiles and content that is pornographic. Twitter needs its system to make decisions in real time to block such profiles from the get go by adopting a plug in similar to the WordPress SPAM filter which will stop the flow of direct message and follower SPAM.

Block Spam2. Bulk User Block; The current blocking capability of Twitter, makes hard work of removing unwanted contacts. A simple bulk select and delete function should be added to enable users to block or report users to Twitter. Whilst this function maybe available in other Twitter apps, the vast majority of novice users will not be aware of how to unleash the power of the applications thus these tools need to be accessible through the twitter interface.

3. Learn from email; Twitter should provide users with the ability to mark messages as junk to enable Twitter to determine repeat offenders abusing the system.

4. Monetise Direct Messages; Whilst Twitter imposes a limit of 250 direct messages per day, one of Twitter’s SPAM issues is related to the “zero” cost involved in sending messages. By charging users to send direct messages above reasonable use, Twitter may be able to reduce the influx of direct message SPAM and also make some money out of its network. In addition to such a strategy, Twitter should provide users with an opt-in ability to determine if they want to receive such promotional messages.

5. API access; Twitter must deploy much more stringent guidelines for use of its API, and block those IPs/users who are abusing the system.

What are your thoughts – will all of this unsolicited Twitter noise make you disable your Twitter access? What do you think Twitter can do to reduce SPAM?

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