Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Social Media Experts Chime In On The Fake BP Twitter Account

Friday, May 28th, 2010

With an estimated 18 to 39 million gallons of oil already spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and at least an added 504,000 gallons a day, most people do not find the BP oil spill to be a laughing matter. But for one Twitter user under the alias of @BPGlobalPR, it has become just that. The fake account created on May 19th as a satire to poke fun at the BP disaster has bolstered over 69,000 followers at the time of this writing, with no signs of slowing down. It has become a PR nightmare for the BP company gaining both mainstream media attention and the attention of the internet marketing industry.

I first caught wind of the account on May 22 when online marketing strategist Samir Balwani posted ‘What Should BP Do About This Twitter Account?’. At the time the account had just over 1,000 followers and BP had not yet spoken out about the account. Samir’s advice at the time?

“I wouldn’t do anything. I wouldn’t try to get Twitter to close it, I’d let it be, and let it run it’s course. Right now, it’s just a joke – do something and it could be a lot worse.”

The post generated some interesting conversation in the comments. Social media expert and author of The New Community Rules: Marketing On The Social Web, Tamar Weinberg chimed in with an opposing view.

“I disagree that it shouldn’t be closed. Frankly, it’s completely misleading; it uses the BP logo and thus the likeness, and some moron (read: idiot) would probably think that some disgruntled BP employee is really trash talking his employer. Bottom line: it can create confusion. If the guy was using a different logo and username, it would be fine, but once you’re using the company’s likeness, you’re stepping on shaky ground.”

Tamar admitted however that in this case she was speaking as someone with a background in trademark research and copyright and not as a social media strategist.

In a follow up comment Tamar chimed in saying, “I like being the devil’s advocate. To be honest, you’re right – what do they have to lose?”, but she continued to stress the impact the account had on negative PR and the potential legal problems behind it.

A few days later Lisa Barone did a post titled, ‘Why BP Should Embrace the Fake BP Twitter Account’ on the Outspoken Media blog where she states, “I don’t think they should have the account removed. In fact, I think they should embrace it.” Lisa gave a handful of ideas on how BP could improve the situation. In one instance she described how BP could leverage the fake account for good by partnering with the account holder to raise awareness and support fundraising initiatives.

“Now that the satire account is being used to raise money for the Gulf disaster, it can only help BP to become loudly involved. BP should create a national campaign to using the BP Cares slogan to raise money for the Gulf situation and attach some good news for spokespeople to talk about.”

In the end Lisa mentioned closing the account as well, but said that ultimately the damage is already done.

The comments of this post also share a wealth of insight with back and forth between readers and Lisa as well as Rae Hoffman and provide additional points on how the account could both hurt and help the oil giant.

Overall I don’t think there is a wrong or right way for BP to handle this situation, but I think this handful of social media experts have given some great ideas that apply not only to BP, but any organization that is hit with a PR nightmare of this nature. The fact of the matter is BP can’t undo the damage that has already been done. Their best bet is to either embrace it and use it to their advantage or cut it off at the source and hope there is no serious media backlash.  What are your thoughts on the fake BP account?  I’d be even more curious to get your thoughts on what you feel this account is doing right in regards to social media.

Gaining Social Media Success From Your Twitter Quitters

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

This past month I celebrated two milestones in the twittersphere. First I hit my two year anniversary of using Twitter and second I reached the 1,000 follower mark.  Personally, I’ve never put a lot of weight into follower numbers.  They can easily be inflated, they don’t illustrate any sort of real influence, and ultimately unless you are using follower numbers as a goal, they don’t offer a lot in terms of the measure of success.

That being said, about a week or so ago the Twitter follower tracking service, Qwitter began sending out e-mails again that notify you when someone has stopped following you.  It was in that moment that I started thinking about how using tracking services like Qwitter could provide an opportunity for businesses to help improve their efforts on Twitter.

The data collected from Qwitter provides businesses with a means of following up with people who stopped following their business on Twitter; people that could potentially provide some insight as to why the company is losing followers.  While this method isn’t flawless, it’s nothing new in terms of customer feedback and research.  Oftentimes when we unsubscribe or cancel a service we will receive a follow up questionnaire or be directed to a short form to provide feedback as to why we have opted to discontinue the service.  This same method could be applied using information from Qwitter.

Businesses could create a Twitter specific landing page that has a short questionnaire asking visitors why they stopped following the business on twitter. Then, using the e-mails sent from Qwitter they could sort through the un-follow notifications and contact legitimate followers (you know the one’s who aren’t playing the twit it and quit it game trying to sell you on their get rich quick schemes) via a tweet asking them to provide feedback as to why they stopped following the business on Twitter. Were you tweeting too much? Were you not engaging enough? Was it all about you, and not about your audience?  These are the kinds of questions you could ask in your questionnaire to aid in your efforts.

Does this open the door for some criticism because of an open tweet to a fellow twitter user about un-following you? Sure it does, but if you use it in a way that is right for your business and can benefit the social media efforts of your company as a whole then I think the good outweigh the bad.  If you’re afraid of engaging followers this way you could always look for other opportunities to contact them outside the socialsphere, but you will be forced to invest that much more time and effort into the process.

A Modern Day War of the Worlds on Twitter

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

War of the Worlds by H.G. WellsTomorrow one of the largest earthquake drills in California history will take place. An estimated 6.6 million people statewide will participate, with roughly 675,000 of them hailing from Orange County. While the bulk of the participants will simply be doing a typical drop, cover, hold drill, the Orange County Register reported that many O.C. organizations will be doing more. But if that weren’t enough OCReggie, the Orange County Register’s twitter account, asked its followers what they thought about posting simulated tweets during the drill.

Two things came to mind the second I heard the idea. First what a brilliant new use of Twitter, second “oh my god it’ll be the War of the Worlds radio broadcast all over again”. Now I get that most people following the Orange County Register probably live in Orange County, and probably would most likely know whether or not they had a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. However, if they work out of town, or they follow the Register, but don’t live in Orange County they may not be as keen to what is actually going on.

At the time of this writing I had not gotten word back from OCReggie in regards to their plans for the event tomorrow, but will update you as soon as I know. What are your thoughts on a simulated disaster on Twitter? Is it a social media disaster waiting to happen, or is it an innovative new way to prepare us for a disaster? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this since it’s something I have never seen done before or even considered.

UPDATE: Orange County Register staff member Jit Fong Chin got back to me this morning and advised that they would have several reporters covering todays events, but nothing about the actual simulation tweets.  The drill started 21 minutes ago and no simulation tweets have gone out from OCReggie, instead retweets from various OC residents participating in the drill have gone out.

I want to give props to the Orange County Register again for being a newspaper that seems to actually get how to use Twitter effectively.  They are quick to respond and engage their followers and even retweet on ocassion.  Hats off to the OCReggie twitter staff, let’s hope more newspapers can learn from your example.

The New Twitter Home Page, Does It Matter?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Twitter HomepageSo there has been a lot of buzz this week revolving around the launch of the new Twitter home page, which features trending topics that are hot at the moment, hot for that current day, and hot this week, as well as a hot this month.  But more importantly Twitter’s home page is now dominated by a search feature.  The new focus on search has people talking about Twitter being the next big thing in search when it comes to real time search and discovery engines, but in all honesty I don’t think it means a damn thing.

Sure it’s fancy, it shows trends and it’s NEW, but how many of you are actually using to do anything that involves twitter?  Most serious twitter users are using programs like TweetDeck.  I personally use Twitterfox while on the computer and UberTwitter on my Blackberry.  The only time I ever visit is to add or remove people.  Unless you are visiting Twitter’s website everytime you manage your tweets I don’t see this feature being used too often.

Overall I think, much like everything in the search and social community, it’s new, it’s shiny, and it’s something to get overly excited about.  But there really isn’t any true value there yet.  Real time search is only really good for news and entertainment at the moment and even then there is no control over the value and relevance of the content presented.  On the flipside if you’re doing buzz monitoring or monitoring your brand you might find some value in this newly revamped homepage, but honestly I don’t think it’s worth the hype its getting.

What are your thoughts?  Have you used the new Twitter homepage?  Did it add any value to your Twitter experience?

Celebrities, Brands, and Social Media

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

There are a number of celebrities using twitter and social media these days.  Some of them have their people do all the updates, some of them only update occasionally and others update regularly and interact with their fans on a regular basis.  However last night I saw a level of interaction from a celebrity that I hadn’t seen previously.

Hannah Montana star and pop music starlet Miley Cyrus spent a good chunk of her night interacting with female fans on twitter.  It all started around 9:40pm when Cyrus posted a picture of herself without any makeup and then about ten minutes later she called for a girls night with her tweeters.  For the next hour Cyrus interacted with a number of her fans and exchanged beauty and skin care tips.

A Tweet from Miley CyrusThe night ended with a series of tweets from the actress telling the girls on twitter to believe in their own beauty and not to ever think that they are ugly.  In all honesty her words were heartfelt, kind, and even a bit inspiring.  But at the end of the girlie makeup fest I was left wondering; was this staged to push products or was this just another teenage girl chatting it up with other girls online.

I’ve mentioned in the past my concerns with social media and honest opinions, and I wonder if the same concerns should apply to celebrities.  We all know celebrities are endorsed by various brands and last night Cyrus dropped brand names like crazy.  In fact nearly every response to her fans included a brand and occasionally the twitter account for the brand.  While I thought the outreach from Cyrus was amazing and unlike anything I have seen come out of almost any musician or actor to date, it did leave me to wonder about the motive behind this impromptu girl talk.

Was Miley Cyrus just enjoying a late night chat with the girls, or was she setup by her agent to push some products?  In the few days that I have been following Miley Cyrus on twitter I will say that she seems like a really sweet girl.  Very down to earth, very genuine, so at the core I want to believe it was just a bunch of teenage girls have a virtual slumber party.  However the marketer in me and the skeptic are wary.

What do you think of stars dropping brand names on social and microblogging sites like twitter?  Do you think the opinions are legit or are we as consumers being left open to product endorsements? Weigh in in the comments below!