Many people enjoy chit-chatting on Twitter these days—even people who swore they could never fit everything they wanted to say into 140 characters. Businesses are taking notice of this and getting their own Twitter accounts, both to keep current customers and to attract new ones. The concept of “social media marketing” is becoming more popular all the time. The author of #tweetsmart – 25 Twitter Projects to Help You Build Your Community, J.S. McDougall, saw an opportunity to help businesses use Twitter to good advantage. Was he right about this, or did his “tweet” miss the mark?
A book for business?
This book is definitely not for the person who uses Twitter primarily for everyday social interactions. It is supposed to be specifically for people who want to use Twitter to help their businesses. The author is adamant that it’s not about “marketing” but rather about “building a community.” Unfortunately, from beginning to end, the book is full of marketing terminology and suggestions for increased sales, referrals, and opportunities for feedback and improvement. I am not sure why he considers this approach to be something different from “marketing.” The author also recycles promotion ideas that have been used by radio stations from time immemorial. Anyone who’s ever listened to commercial radio, will have seen these things before.
Each chapter has its own QR code that allegedly lets the reader tweet that chapter’s project to the business’s followers. These turned out to be nothing more than blatant advertisements, to be sent through your own Twitter account, for the book and its author. Not a good way to win friends. It’s a good thing the QR code doesn’t actually send the ads. It puts them into the reader’s Twitter app to be sent—or deleted on sight, which I think is what most people will do. The first chapter continues with instructions for running your own Twitter-blog-website based contest. But the way it’s described, it’s not a contest. It’s a way to get people to do your social media marketing for you, by being required to post or tweet or re-tweet or recommend or browse your website in order to win. It’s supposed to be timed specifically to run during the work day. Yes, of course, because every workplace wants its employees horsing around on Twitter when they’re supposed to be working. Wow, way to get off to a really bad start!
And on it goes
Honestly, after that bad beginning, it was difficult to continue reading the book. As I suspected, it turned out to be more of the same. A restaurant owner could pack up a van full of one of the house specialties, drive to some public place, and give the food away (never mind that most US cities have licensing laws that prohibit this). Or a business owner could send someone out with a handful of prizes and tweet clues to the location. What kind of prize is going to get people to drop everything and go driving around, especially if it’s a work day? A “buy one, get one free” promotion that requires people to buy something, go through almost the entire order process on a web site and then tweet some phrase (to all their twitter followers, of course) with a hashtag on it and a link to something else they want–all out in public as an ad for some business. Does he really think that will fly?
The other chapters talk about yet more radio-station reruns, or tired games that have been on Twitter forever, or downright unethical suggestions like Twitter-bombing. This means getting a group of people together to send a tweet containing some other user’s name all at once, so that poor person gets, as the book puts it, quickly inundated with messages. The author thinks the victim will appreciate this. Perhaps the author would appreciate it. I doubt anyone else wants their Twitter feed overloaded with nonsense from people they don’t know. The author claims he finds coupon codes “distasteful” and then writes at length on how to offer them. He spends a lot of time discussing hashtags, and how they can be used for, yes indeed, marketing. He also suggests that businesses use the “check in” feature to broadcast their location, in the interest of giving away something to the person who finds them.