I don’t know the answer to this question. My intuition tells me no and that Twitter doesn’t have that much power; but my alternate personality keeps tapping me on the shoulder in disagreement. And to clarify, maybe I should rephrase this question to be “Can Twitter really suck the life out of a brand, if a brand chooses not to participate?”
I read about it all time in Twitter and on various social media blogs; how big brands and corporate America continue to #fail at social media. There are hundreds of Monday morning quarterbacks that try and poke holes at various strategies, programs and corporate blogs; and then give their unsolicited feedback on what they (the brand) should have done. Funny thing is … that these same folks would jump at the opportunity to work for and/or consult with the very organizations they criticize, duh.
Some people want brands on twitter. Some don’t and some are not sure. And then there are random peeps who bitch about a product or service, expecting the brand’s Twitter account to start following them and treat them like some celebrity customer because they use twitter and have thousands of followers. I say whatever to that and I will save my point of view for a different post.
We all remember the Amazon fiasco a few weeks ago (if not, read more here: #amazonfail) where they were just about crucified on twitter for I am not even sure what; but apparently they didn’t “join the conversation” fast enough to appease the twitter crowd. Point is, with all the heat, criticism, re-tweets and conversations on twitter, I wonder if it really moved the needle at all. I would be anxious to find out what Amazon’s 2nd quarter earnings are to understand what, if any, the impact really was. My intuition says — probably no impact at all.
Then there was this crazy concept that Domino’s Pizza somehow suffered from not having a Twitter account (they do now). The suffering was actually caused by two dumb a$$ employees who did very nasty things to some food before boxing it up for a customer; and then doing the unthinkable – posting it to YouTube. And to make things even worse, the girl in the video is a registered sex offender. That in itself was the true #fail; which demonstrated the incompetence of the local franchise owner more so than Dominos corporate. It had nothing to do with twitter, in my opinion.
Even if twitter accounted for 10% of the entire social universe, my intuition would still say no. To this day, Walmart continues to be scrutinized and used as a case study in conferences and academia on “what not to do” in social media from those who still preach the basics of authenticity and transparency. Yet, last I heard their sales are still up and in the billions even within the current state of the economy.
I love Twitter. I am addicted to it and I have made some really good friends over the last two years participating in meaningful discussions. I have learned a lot; and I have tried to share just as much. I even get a decent number of re-tweets and click throughs from links that I post (yes, I track it). But, despite twitter’s growth and penetration into the mainstream, I just don’t think it has the power or influence to cause significant damage to brand, if the brand chooses not to particpate. Truth is, it’s the people that will suck the life out of a brand, not twitter, especially if the product sucks or just doesn’t solve a problem.
Last thing. I personally believe that every company/brand, regardless of the size, should have some level of presence in twitter; and be a part of a larger strategy that includes customer outreach and engagement.