I’m fascinated by the use of Twitter as a consumer outreach tool. Obviously, to some extent, it’s what we all do online: sell our persona and then do market research on the results. For instance, I’d like to think that a side benefit of me joining Twitter is that people think of entertainment journalists as a personable lot. We preview your favorite TV shows and films and we’re, as Lil0 & Stitch‘s Stitch would say, “cute and fluffy!” But there’s also a sizable portion of Twitter users (and Facebook and Tumblr) who are literally using the platform to sell themselves or a product. “Buy my book, see my band, watch my show!” And it can go one of two ways: cheerfully right or laughably wrong. I experienced both this week!
First, the upbeat example: Chobani, which I tweeted about this morning.
@badnecklace Having Chobani Greek yogurt for breakfast instead of Fage. I wanted the Blackie Parrish yogurt but they didn’t have any. #freeblackieparrish
@Chobani: What do ya think?
@badnecklace Jury’s out about the fruit on the bottom, but the yogurt is smooth and delicious! RT @Chobani What do ya think?
I was so tickled by the simple question that I responded honestly, with an RT so my followers could see the exchange!
Less delightful, and more of a head-scratcher, was my Aug. 20 trip to the movie theater to see Fright Night. During the “AMC First Look” portion of the previews, we got a glimpse at the upcoming remake of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen this particular bit, so I felt pretty comfortable tweeting my thoughts (I swear I’m not one of those people who uses their phone during movies — the lights were still on!).
@badnecklace STRAW DOGS looks awful. And I’m not just talking about James Marsden’s hair.
Not ten minutes later, when the lights actually were off for the previews, my phone buzzed…
@RodLurie Hey, Mala- I’m the writer/director. Do me a favor and give it a shot- then tweet me what u think. I think you’ll like it.
@badnecklace We’ll see, Rod. Good luck with the release!
Hey, I wasn’t about to a) apologize for being honest or b) promise to watch the film. So, after giving my phone the side-eye and cracking up to my friend, I shrugged and settled in to watch Fright Night. Sunday morning, I decided to look up Rod Lurie’s Twitter. It was no surprise at all to learn that I wasn’t the only lucky user he’d implored to see his film! Apparently, he has alerts set up for the film title and is systematically telling anyone who tweets the words that he’s the writer/director and they should check it out. Putting aside the fact that creator-fan interaction is rarely a good idea in general, what does using Twitter like a door-to-door salesman really accomplish? It certainly doesn’t entice someone like me to check out your product. If anything, it just makes me laugh. I wasn’t going to see Straw Dogs before, but I’m definitely not seeing it now.
It’s the same instant turn-off when a fledgling author Twitter-spams people to buy their new book — you check out their profile page only to see the exact same message over and over again — or when someone tacks their Web site address or newest title onto the end of every tweet. How is that appealing? It’s poor marketing, because it comes off as desperation or pushiness — or a combination of both. People don’t like to be told what to click, what to watch, what to do — and they like being spammed even less. It’s bound to backfire.
Counter that with Chobani’s approach: short, sweet and non-intrusive. They didn’t say, “Eat more of our stuff” and, by virtue of that, have made sure that I most certainly will!