Those of you that know me will agree that i love twitter more than facebook. To me, facebook is too "in your face" and demands a level of dedication daily / hourly / every bloody minute to keep track of everything that's going on. I don't have that amount of time on a daily basis to dedicate to something that gives my friends perks on "Farmville", or declares to the world what my fictitious stripper name would be.
Twitter is different. You pick it up at your own pace, and treat it as you want to. Some live on it, posting what they've had for lunch, and the size of the cow pat they just drove through. Others are more reserved, but are still willing to have a laugh. There's also another type of user on twitter, and that's the "cyber-silent" tweeters that just follow and never interact.
As a result of twitter's popularity, companies have (quite rightly) come on board to take part in the banter that happens daily, or to generally get their company known. I would like to declare at this point that i have no problem with companies being on twitter, as long as they "get" twitter and use twitter properly.
In the next few paragraphs, i will outline an experience i shared recently with a local (but growing) computer company called Novatech.
Novatech have a twitter account (@novatechltd) and appear to use it to post about new product ranges, or general tweets to do with their computer industry. They are also known for their weekly competitions where they will randomly choose a lucky tweeter to receive said competition prize. It's easy to enter (like all twitter competitions should be) as all you have to do is retweet. Simple, eh?
I've taken part in a few of these competitions, nothing fruitful from Novatech but i did manage to win a pre-publish edition of Simon Garfield's "Just my Type" book from Serpents Tail PR (@serpentstailpr). However, this story is about to turn grim. Hold on!
A few weeks back, Novatech declared on twitter that they are going to do something a little different for their competition that week. Excitement rose quickly, only to be burst by the "competition" rules. They tweeted that in order to enter the competition, you had to "Get 5 of your followers to follow @NovatechLtd on twitter, to then wait for Novatech to follow them back, to then "Direct Message" them telling Novatech of the twitter user who recommended them." Now, not surprisingly this competition sucked. Let's find out why.
Firstly, doesn't that seem like a lot of effort to enter a competition? It wasn't even that the prize was that amazing (i think it was just a gaming mouse) to lure people in for the chance. I mean, one reason i am on twitter is because i don't have time to monitor other social networks, so to launch a competition that demands time and effort just doesn't seem like a twitter thing to do. Anyone who has been on twitter long enough will realise that most people do not have a huge steer on their followers. I mean, take me for example. I have 300 something followers at the moment and if i simply asked all of my followers to follow someone else, i would be lucky if 3 people did. Those three people would probably be my brother, my step-dad and my good mate Richard ; people i know in real-life.
The second thing that came to mind was the way this competition was thought through. To me, it sounded like management at Novatech declared that they wanted more followers to market to (understandable business goals) and then forced a decision through that isn't twitter-like. To build a wall, you need to know how to lay bricks. If you're going to do twitter, you need to understand twitter.
So, as soon as Novatech tweeted this new competition my business head flicked into gear and immediately challenged Novatech's twitter account on this new competition. Not only that, but another follower of mine and Novatech (@stevefrost) also joined in, agreeing with my points that the competition is a lot of effort and a cheap attempt at getting lots of new contacts. Needless to say, Novatech responded promptly explaining that it's a "new idea" and that they would "give it a go and see". I backed off, not wanted to get hunted down with soldering irons from a local (decent) company. The truth is, i was on holiday and didn't want to upset m'lady with being wholly obsessed by twitter.
The week passed, and i thought i would send a quick tweet to Novatech to see how the competition went. Needless to say, their response was a gem :
Despite the fact they said that i could have a pink mouse (for helping them see the light of day) and have since retracted their offer, i think that Novatech responded as well as any company should in those situations. I would hope that they have taken on board how to (and how not to) run a competition on twitter and that by responding quick to any form of feedback they maintain their twitter "rep".
I've just been informed that i am still receiving my wonderful pink mouse, and when it arrives i will take a picture and share on here. Once again, this shows the awesomeness of companies when they use social media in a positive way.
** UPDATE NUMBER 2
Man, the pink mouse is nice... http://www.flickr.com/photos/52723942@N07/5119799383/in/set-72157625251951474/