@Twitter Users #Fail as Branding Automatons

If you are [in marketing], Twitter apparently looks like a heaven where brands and
people interact constantly, the same way tweeters interact with other
people.

And every time brands and people interact with each other represents an opportunity to reinforce messaging about that brand. Our tires are safe! Our oil rigs don’t leak!

[...]

However, the study finds, marketers can benefit from using Twitter to
eavesdrop on what people are saying about their brands and tailor
messaging to address that, rather than simply trying to tweet
advertising messages to a twitterverse that simply doesn’t care. Another
hard-won lesson: while celebrities only make up 0.4 percent of the
conversation on Twitter, their reach is so significant that “by
activating just one celebrity on Twitter, a marketer can reach [a
thousand times] more eyeballs than he or she can with the average
consumer.”

This is how marketers view Twitter users: as neural connections in
the global brain, which are “activated” every time we mention their
brand.

However, the study suggests, companies would do well to view Twitter
not as “a megaphone,” but as “a conversation.” In other words, rather
than trying to activate us, they need to address our concerns directly
and transparently, becoming an organic part of the conversation. “Our
tires were defective. Our oil rig does leak. Sorry. Here’s what we’re
doing about it.”

The embattled BP would have done well to heed this lesson. In the
early days of its oil spill — a crisis that reached its hundredth day
Wednesday — BP failed to utilize Twitter and other social networks
to tell everyone what was going on. Instead, it relied on television
advertising and the purchase of keywords like “oil spill” on Google. –Eliot Van Buskirk, Wired