As Ye Seek, So Shall We Tweet

Being a neophyte in the world that is termed “social media”, what I really wish is that I had someone who is really using things like Twitter, Facebook, etc. and actually accomplishing things with it. A mentor, for lack of a better word.

Because as much as I’ve made snide remarks about these tools, I have to admit that most of it is because I’m not in a position to really use these things to market a product or build some kind of network that I am trying to wring a buck out of. To me, what they really represent are new advertising channels.

You don’t hear the word “advertising” much anymore. It somehow seems so old-school, and slightly smarmy. An “ad” is something we are supposed to not be susceptible to, since we are so sophisticated. “Marketing” is the newer and hipper term. If you are in “marketing”, then you are somehow kind of hip, with secret knowledge of how to influence people, and probably wear a turtleneck or ribbed T-shirt under your jacket instead of a white shirt and tie.

Yet advertising is what it is all about. It doesn’t matter whether I see Captain Krunch on a Saturday morning cartoon or on a blog somewhere, the hoped-for end is to get me to buy more Captain Krunch. If people said they were “advertising experts” we’d expect them to write killer copy and move product off the shelves. Instead, saying you are a “social media expert” takes a lot of the performance pressure off things, since we are still feeling our way around how to use those media and don’t expect much yet.

The one unique twist I see developing is the fact that commercials on TV for really dull, everyday products now show you the Twitter and Facebook logos and want you to follow or “friend” them….this freaking floors me!

Do I really need to follow the Twitter feed for Tide Laundry Detergent? How can I be a “friend” to Kraft 1000 Island salad dressing? Are we so commercially saturated and consumption driven that we actively SEEK advertising and product commercials, rather than just having them inserted into our lives to the degree they already are?

Now I don’t doubt that communicating via Twitter and FB is one hell of a way to keep your name in front of your customers and push product information. But let’s call it what it is – advertising. It’s a necessary part of the commercial landscape, and serves the same purpose it always has. Social media did not invent it.

When the ruins of Pompeii were excavated and cleaned up, there were ads for brothels found on some of the walls. The people who put them there probably thought they were onto something new and unique because they didn’t have to carve them into trees anymore.

They probably told their clients “we understand the new wall-based advertising paradigm better. Don’t give your business to that old firm that still carves the stuff into trees and wooden signs along the Appian Way. We reach the more sophisticated audience here in Campania. Don’t follow an 8th Century B.C. business model!”

Another interesting inscription was found in one of the ruins. Salve, Lucru – which translates to “Welcome, Money!”

Shows you things haven’t changed all that much, have they?


2 thoughts on “As Ye Seek, So Shall We Tweet

  1. I actually gave a brief tutorial on Twitter today to my boss and other office folk. After going over retweets versus reply, mentions and links, the question still remained – “Why?”

    My only answer as to why use Twitter stems from the only positive that I got from the service. When Comic-Con (the large, gargantuan comic, pop-culture convention in San Diego) tickets were announced, I was one of the first on Ticket Leap trying to buy tickets. My transaction switched from timing out to saying the event was “sold out” and back and forth. Tickets went on sale at 10AM and I wasn’t able to finish my transaction until 1PM.

    What kept me going was that Comic-Con and Ticket Leap were on Twitter explaining the situation. They could not update their websites fast enough so they took to Twitter, an immediate news outlet that kept fans (consumers) up to date, instantaneously, as to what was happening. In turn, it kept a lot of potential customers; we followed the Twitter feeds, kept trying, and finally bought our tickets.

    Moral of the story – the users, the normal folk, are reduced to what we truly are; we are consumers. Those companies, Kraft and Tide, can offer immediate deals to consumers that would take rounds of approval for website or direct mail advertising, so we both benefit.

    Johnny or Sally blah blah updating about their new baby? Lost. Gone to the digitized ether. No one cares. But if they got a discount at a restaurant through the Twitter feed of the restaurant we want to know where and how.

    In truth, we all benefit. It’s a tool. I’ve benefited. If I had given up on Comic-Con until the next day when their website was updated it would have been too late. It did, in fact, sell out that day, but because of Twitter I knew what was going on.

    On a similar note – check out Andy Carvin, or @andycarvin on Twitter. He’s an NPR journalist that offers up to date news of the world before it can get on a website or newspaper. His only problem? He doesn’t try to sell me anything.

    Well, other than trying to get me to listen to NPR.

    • The use you describe is the kind of thing I’ve been missing out on….I have only really been exposed to the “blah blah” updating you mention. The immediacy is the advantage. It doesn’t really apply to everything, but when it does I can see how it can be a useful tool. Thanks for your comment, and I’ll check out Andy Carvin!

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