#1: Mistakes Companies Make on Twitter TIMELINES VELOCITY

This is a series of posts (one a day so another one tomorrow!) on mistakes companies make when using Twitter for business. Entering online communities is easy (mostly) but working effectively is hard. This series shows the mistake and (hopefully) the fix. This particular post is on Velocity and Timelines in Social Media.

Optus, one of Australia’s main telecommunications carriers,  have made a classic social media error:

Social Media Timelines

Opening a Twitter account to promote something on the day of the event is not giving enough time for building engagement before entering campaign mode. A common error by the way, this not understanding velocity in social networks.

Optus_cebit opened an account this morning, the morning of the CeBIT conference. They have 2 followers.

click for larger image

But they are throwing out oodles of spam now hitting the #CeBit stream. The only chat they had on Twitter:
@Optus_Cebit Business Executives waiting to answer your Telco Questions. See if you can improve your efficiency and cost! Stand D15 #Cebit
@jasonsbradshaw @Optus_Cebit which executives?
@Optus_Cebit @jasonsbradshaw Agreed!

If the last comment didn’t make sense to you either, it was actually to an open tweet from @jasonbradshaw about skimpy clothing women on stands.

In one fell swoop Optus have alienated anyone they were friending on @Optus account with this spammy poorly-thought-through Cebit event based account.

Anyway, I threw some diagrams to show the rather obvious difference in timelines between a traditional campaign and a social media one.
Traditional vs Social Media timelines
Diagram 1 is Traditional media (where you throw a lot of $$ at a campaign to get traditional media interest). Of course, interest dies pretty quickly as soon as your News becomes Old News, and when you stop throwing money at it. Think of a movie promotion. In fact diagram 1. is a typical long tail – lots of interest in the short head. Big drop off at the end of the $$ cycle.

Diagram 2 is Social Media – start seeding but expect some time for the take up. I was recently – unfortunately – part of a social media campaign by a not for profit that gave everyone 4 weeks (and over Christmas/New Years break!) to raise money. Experienced fundraisers can pull on their connection and social networks but everyone else has to start from scratch. The diagram below might explain a little more why 4 week is rarely enough, though I can see the diagram itself doesn’t show the J curve very effectively.
Chain Reaction over time in social networks Diagram 3 can go either way. If you think of Best Job in the WorldOpens in a new tab. – lots of traditional media marketing $$$ to promote the user generated content of the social media campaign. But a big drop off at the end of the double page spreads and tv crews leading to few comments on the Best Job blog or twitter engagement. Also think of the V (vodafone I think) campaign – 3 guys to tweet every minute from LA for 24 hours. None of them had much of a twitter audience before starting. Certainly nothing like Darren Rowse and his 100,000 followers. Media interest? Yes. Social Media interest? Not really.  Still, give me your traditional advertising budget and I’ll build a social network for you. And nah, it’s not really cheating. 😛 MarketingMix FTW!

Joining the day of the event with no lead up will leave you with 2 followers just like @Optus_CebitOpens in a new tab.. One of their followers is a spammer by the way.

Tip: If you are going to put your company on Twitter, think of it as a strategy not a campaign. Plan ahead. Give everything enough time. Think about engagement before during and after. Particularly after – what are you going to do with that database of followers who might actually like what you were tweeting about? What will be your marketing mix? PR , advertising, social media, education, SEM?

Question: even if they did get hundreds or thousands of followers, what are they going to do next week when cebit is no longer on? I mean, I know what I would do, but do they?

I’ll cover another common mistake companies make on Twitter tomorrow…

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

16 thoughts on “#1: Mistakes Companies Make on Twitter TIMELINES VELOCITY

  1. RT @loriguffey: HT @matthewgain Nice transparent/prompt response from @Optus on @SilkCharm post 2day http://bit.ly/9pSN4i // good #socia …

  2. Thanks for this post – good example and great outline of why timing is so important in social media. I’m pondering whether Optus did have a plan for this at all. Let’s see what happens to the account; methinks it will die a quick death.

  3. Laurel,

    Your post is spot on. This is exactly the sort of social media worst practice that I have to try daily to stamp out. At Optus, we have a centralised team, which I lead, that manages the social media strategy company-wide, and is also tasked with educating the business about this space.

    Unfortunately, in such a large company, there’s always a few people that miss the memo, and channels like this are set up without the right thinking behind them. All our official (like, actually official) social media presences, such as www.twitter.com/optus are set up with a lifecycle in mind and with commonsense guidelines like avoiding spammy behaviour.

    I’ve been at Optus for a year tomorrow and in that time I’ve seen a massive change in the understanding of social media in the company. Are mistakes inevitable? Sure. The important thing is that we learn from them – you can bet that internally we will learn from this one.


    Sebastian Vasta
    Social Media Manager, Optus

  4. Nice post Laurel, but it was in fact the comment from Optus that has prompted this comment.

    @Sebastian, At the risk of coming across as patronising, I wanted to comment on how refreshing it is to see someone like yourself form a brand such as yours so promptly and transparently responding on this. Of course it is not rocket science and should be the norm, but so often it isn’t. Nice work.

    1. no problemo. You kids just chat amongst yourselves. I’ll sit here politely until you are finished. *fidgets* 😛

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