Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Cautionary Tale Of Twitter

Social marketing can be a perilous escapade. Especially if you don't give it the kind of attention it deserves.

Marketing campaigns on sites such as Twitter cannot be something a company does just because 'everyone else is doing it'. This kind of mindset can only lead to disaster.

I get the impression some companies see social marketing as somewhat of an inconvenience. The kind of job you get the spotty work experience student to do because no one can think of another task for him to get stuck into.

Identifying an ill-thought out Twitter campaign is not difficult. There are dozens of failed attempts on Twitter, abandoned like the burnt-out cars on the side of the road towards a particularly dodgy neighbourhood. The symptoms of an ailing marketing strategy are pretty consistent.

  • Infrequent updates
  • A dedicated collection of spam followers – it's really not that difficult to block spam followers. Any spam looks bad and reflects poorly on a brand. It gives off the impression that you couldn't give a tweet about the quality of your followers.
  • Hash tag spam

Still, even if your strategy avoids all of these pitfalls, there are still many holes for you to fall into.

The recent Twitter escapades of Habitat – the UK furniture store – is a fine example of how to incur the wrath of the social collective. Hashtag spam is never a clever play. No matter how many Viagra pills you have to ship before the end of the month.

Suffice it to say, jumping on the back of trending topics to advertise your wares, particularly topics of a sensitive nature such as the continuing political unrest in Iran, is not the smartest strategy. It reeks of an incoherent marketing plan; the act of a salesman desperate to get a commission.

This was a schoolboy error from a company, which up to that point, had a steady relationship with Twitter. The damage done to the Habitat brand far out weights any possible profit (if any) made from this misadventure. Companies need to be smarter

Habitat countered this bad publicity with the following tweet:

“We’ve been listening and we know 140 characters aren’t enough for a full apology”

Would this have all been necessary if someone had just found the work experience guy some photocopying to do?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Wolfram Alpha Finds The Funny

Funny Wolfram Alpha quotesWolfram Alpha, the mathematical search engine from Brit scientist Stephan Wolfram, has been live for just over a month. Rather than bringing up a list of relevant websites per search term, a la Google or its ilk, Wolfram Alpha has a pop at answering the question itself. Indeed, it excels in returning a number of searches: the answer to an equation, population density and number of registered users to a website.

Wolfram Alpha is also a search engine with a funny side. Ask it a philosophical question and it probably has an answer. Here is a selection of some of the wittiest, and frankly, occasional smart-arsed Wolfram Alpha results.

So now you know
Wolfram Alpa - polite
Searching for love on Wolfram Alpha
Wait a moment...
Wolfram Alpha - scary
Advanced search engine, you say?

Wolfram Alpha hits the classics
Wish Google showed me this much love
Sans red hat
Sadly, it's not the root of all knowledge and I'm sure that the team at WA are sick of coming to work and finding their inbox full of failed/ down-right weird search queries. If you see any more, let me know.