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Immediate Response Required!

NOTE: this post was first published over at @techpr’s blog. Thanks to Marivic for giving me some space to write until I had this one up!

During a Social Media Mastermind (@smmtulsa) meeting recently, the group collectively tackled a member’s questions, ones that are nearly universal these days: “Should my business be involved in Social Media? If so, how? On which platforms?” There are lots of posts and information out there geared toward lists of questions, tips and guidelines to answer these questions. Some of my favorites are here and here. That (a list of tips or pithy answers) isn’t the focus of this post.

The situation discussed at our meeting involved an upcoming product launch that represented a new, distinct market & accompanying brand for an established parent company. One thing that struck me was that though every member of the group was active (and I do mean ACTIVE) on Twitter, none of us felt that it was an appropriate platform for the new brand to utilize yet.

Why? Simply put, Twitter is an immediate-response mechanism. Case in point… Did you notice the way #iranelection dropped off trending topics, replaced by all things Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett on the day they both died? It wasn’t that the Twitterverse stopped caring about the situation in Iran. It was just that more immediate news happened. As the dust began to settle, #iranelections trended again. People and brands, outside of celebrities, who build large, active followings on Twitter are ON Twitter frequently. It’s the platform of immediacy. A one-way conversation (I post to you, you answer a week later when you check in on Twitter, I’ve posted 300 tweets since then…) isn’t a conversation. It’s an unthreaded bulletin board.

Our advice to our group member, and my advice to you, is don’t tweet until there is something to tweet about (a full website, a product demo, etc.). If you do your job and pique potential customers’ interest in your product but give them no outlet for their interest, it will quickly fade, like my recollection of our “conversation” that started 300 tweets ago. We advised her to start building LinkedIn contacts and start a Facebook page where she can connect with current clients of the parent company, and begin to seek referrals and do other prospecting to build a base of people interested in news about the upcoming launch. Since Facebook and LinkedIn conversations are threaded, there’s no danger that posts and answers a week apart will be tiny voices screaming in a wilderness of status updates.

Personally, we all hope she gets on Twitter right away and spends the next few months learning the ins and outs, the spoken and unspoken rules, and connecting with people. Then, when her company’s product is ready… activate another account and start to share the good news. Interested persons can then take immediate action via the links or shared info in her tweets. So, as you consider whether your business should use social media, and if so, how; remember that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Reddit, etc., are NOT equal. If the nature of the platform is real-time and immediate, your approach better reflect that nature.

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