Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sorry Will Akerlof, you're half wrong

This is a response to a blog posting I read on Online Media Daily. You can read the blog posting titled: Twits: Why Twitter Won't Change Marketing by a Will Akerlof

Before I go on, I do agree with Mr Akerlof that Twitter won't change the fundamentals of Marketing. Where I have a problem with his article, is the premise that it will have no effect at all and everyone will look back it as silly and deny we ever took it seriously.

I am a Twitter user. Sometimes I am a Twitter promoter. I wouldn't call myself a Twitter Zealot, but I do find myself compelled to defend the service from time to time. One thing I don't consider my self: a Twitter Evangelist.

Now, when I use the term Evangelist, it brings to mind a religious connotation, and that fits. There are "Born Again" Twitterers out there that would have you believe that Twitter is the second coming of The Net, or the "end all and be all" of this new field of marketing. But, don't let their extreme rhetoric distort the landscape

It is easy to get the impression that Twitter is populated by a few, distinct types of users. The popular press likes to represent new technologies that way. It makes it easy to fit it into a news story, or use it as background. Mr. Akerlof is a good example of the over-simplification of Twitter and its users. He presents a graphic showing that there are 3 types of users:
  • People he doesn't care about
  • People doing something interesting
  • People who twitter
And his Venn diagram shows that the overlap of those people is a very small area. It is cute, easy to understand, and probably wrong. I can't speak for him and the little circles that he uses to classify people, but his system of determining the data behind this graph seems just a little bit shortsighted. Does he really believe that the Marketing, Business and Network populace falls neatly into these three groups? That should make finding your audience and reaching them a piece of cake! Lets not put users into your little boxes quite yet.

Twitter won't drastically change Marketing. Saying that it will is as short sighted as the Dot-Com pundits who were saying that all the rules of business had changed because of the Internet. We all learned that, No, the rules actually still apply. At the end of the day, you do needed to make a profit and all the sock puppets and WebVan trucks you advertize are not going to make up for loosing money, just because your stock price is inflated.

The rules of Marketing still apply. You need to get your brand out there, connect with your customers and make them feel comfortable with your product. If 72% didn't stick with Twitter, and you were uninterested in that other 28% of vocal users, fine, ignore them. I bet a year ago, that 28% was only 10%.

Now, although the internet did not change the basic rules of business, you can't argue that it has not affected businesses. I doubt you would start a company and say that you are going to ignore any internet facing access for your company and its employees. That web thing and blogging is a bunch of out of work guys in they pajamas working from their parents basements, right?

Twitter's place in marketing is the same. If you are depending on Twitter to be your entire marketing campaign, you're going to fail. Unless of course you are one of the 500,000 life coaches, or Social Media Guru's that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

Data showing that many 72% of Twitter users loose interest and drop out, is not a compelling argument that it is a wasteland or black hole of marketing resource. It is a piece of the puzzle, a small but very interesting tool in the belt of a marketing professional. But don't try to give the impression that it will have no effect at all, unless you are just trying to get others that don't "get it" to comment and reinforce your opinion.

That sounds like an echo chamber too.

But, thanks for making me think about it

No comments: