Not a tweet too far

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There was a time when ‘cancel’ referred mainly to hotel and restaurant reservations and a ‘troll’ was a being in Scandinavian folklore.

Today, of course, they have additional and slightly more sinister meanings as public debates over social media -especially Twitter – become increasingly heated and, in some instances, people with differing views are then targeted with various forms of abuse.

Much has already been written about how social media can be anything but social at times, so it is worth remembering that ‘twitter’ used mainly to refer to the sound birds make. The Twitter platform was apparently originally to be called ‘Status’ but after searching the dictionary, one of its founders Jack Dorsey found the word Twitter, whose definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information, and chirps from birds’ – and this perfectly sums up the product, providing a place for light-hearted conversations and banter.

Social media has now become an important marketing and communication tool for companies, especially as a means of reaching those important target groups for whom traditional mass media outlets such as television no longer hold much sway. For consumers, it has also given them a much louder voice and a more direct link to big business. There is no longer any need to email your complaint or visit the customer services desk; a short Tweet is usually the best way to get an immediate response and satisfactory outcome!

The B2C world was not surprisingly the first to embrace social media and its communications opportunities but the B2B world has been quick to catch up, with LinkedIn in particular creating a vibrant and fast-moving discussion and promotional forum.

At first glance, Twitter might not seem as applicable to the business world. The relationship between customer and supplier is much closer after all, and in the event of a problem or a complaint, a response will still be generated more quickly by contacting the company directly rather than putting something onto a public platform.

Nevertheless, the conversational aspect of Twitter does provide opportunities for new business. When we started working for a client that had just launched a new type of multipack can carrier, a key objective of the company was to target the craft brewery sector. By following a number of brewers, engaging with them through comments on new launches or pack designs, conversations developed rather than a hard-nosed sales pitch. And one of the results of this approach was to create interest from a brewer who requested samples to test on his new range.

More recently, the launch of Aldi’s Ald IPA, Brew Dog’s first ever exclusive creation for a supermarket, was the direct result of a conversation initiated through Twitter after shoppers pointed out the similarity between Aldi’s Anti-Establishment Beer and Brew Dog’s Punk IPA.

Interestingly, what could have degenerated into a public spat between two major companies turned instead into a good-natured conversation – and far from ‘cancelling’ each other, the exchange resulted in a business deal and an abundance of positive publicity for both parties.

Similarly, a few years ago, Sainsbury’s dealt with a complaint about a packet of salmon which had no ‘bar cod’ with an hour-long humorous exchange of puns with the customer – another excellent example of turning a potential negative into a positive and gaining some great media coverage at the same time.

Now, I can think of at least one high-profile figure who could learn something from this approach…

To discuss how our team can help your social media and communications keep on track, give us a call, or use our contact form to request more information.

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