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tweeting your way to the top… or not June 11, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Technology Trouble, Unsociable Networking.
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It’s interesting that I haven’t talked about the phenomenon of businesses using social networks to promote themselves, but now I have no excuse.

A friend of mine, Mae, works for a TV station in Texas. Here’s her story.

Picture from Jim Milles

Picture from Jim Milles

Mae’s station is going crazy trying to attach itself to anything that works — throw enough mud at the wall and, eventually, some of it will stick is the watchword over there. Well, now that more and more of the talent — what on-air people are called — are getting involved in Twitter and Facebook, they’re trying to think of ways to use it to build viewership.

This morning, one of their anchors came up with what Mae (and I) both think is a novel idea: challenge another anchor in the same time-slot to a race to 10,000 followers, similar to what Ashton Kutcher recently did to CNN. The prize: the loser has to go onto the winner’s show live via Skype and congratulate him or her.

Great idea, right? I guarantee that day’s show, be it 6am or 11pm or anywhere in between, will be one of the most DVR-ed episodes of the news in a while. People will want to see the interplay between two sworn enemies.

Mae told me this early in the morning. Later in the day, she got on IM and said “the idea’s metamorphosing”.

“Into what?” I asked.

“They’re going to ask John Smith* to go up against Diane Simmons**, instead of Diane going up against someone from one of the other stations.”

“Well, that’s no fun.”

The great part is, though, that Diane has already issued the challenge. She posted it on Twitter and people have begun retweeting it, and at some point relatively soon I’m fairly certain one of Diane’s counterparts on another station is going to accept the challenge.

Which will then be undoubtedly kiboshed by the Big Boss at Mae’s TV station, followed shortly by a meeting with Diane, Mae, and everyone else involved.

The thing about Twitter is that it’s an immediate medium. You post before you think. You post your ideas. You post your feelings. You post your complaints. For public figures, it’s a way for them to connect with their fans in a way they’ve never connected before, and for the fans, it’s a way for them to talk directly to the public figures. Diane posted pretty much without thinking, and if her idea works, not only will she (and the station) have the potential to gain thousands of followers and viewers, but the station will also generate a ton of buzz. With everyone trying to figure out viral marketing, it only makes sense for companies to use any buzz they can.

Of course, the other problem is that the idea didn’t come out of the marketing department, and if they can’t put their stamp on it, they’ll mire it in committee until it’s forgotten about. This has happened to me countless times. I hope it doesn’t happen to Mae, because employees as a whole are pretty stagnant and when one has a good idea, it’s not smart to shut that person down.

P.S.: I do have both a Twitter and a Facebook, but because I write this blog anonymously, I will not link to them. If you’d like to make a fan page for CorporateSpeak on Facebook, I will be glad to promote it here on the site.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

* I am using a pseudonym for the name of a national morning show host because I don’t want Mae or her co-workers to get in trouble. This person is on either ABC, NBC, or CBS.

** Obviously a stand-in for the female anchor who issued the challenge.

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