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8

Jul 2010

Catch the worm

Posted in Advertising, Online PR, Social Media | 0 Comments

“The early bird catches the worm.”

So it’s been said since the beginning of time immemorial, or at least it feels like it. The first to anything tends to benefit the most, and of course in today’s economy, also tends to monopolise and monetise it to high heaven. This isn’t mean, or possessive – just good, solid business sense. The main reason that Twitter’s official @earlybird account is such exciting news for any business looking to use the micro-blogging specialist for advertising purposes is just this – monopolise and capitalise. Come first, win the race, take it to the bank.

If you’ve ever used a book of vouchers at a shop or, god forbid, gone for an item you’d never normally had bought in a sale, then this will appeal to you. Long story short: it’s a Twitter account manned by Twitter staff, giving you updates on discounts and offers from the companies they work with. It’s the closest thing to full-on advertising on the site, so it’s a big first step for a company with a colossal prospective audience.

Twitter currently has around 70m accounts. If even 1% follow @earlybird, any company advertising with Twitter will instantly gain an audience of the best part of a million people. Now picture 10% joining. Makes your bank account tingle, right? If I was a company with the budget, I’d be getting a slice of this action as soon as possible, because it won’t be long before we’re inundated by mega corporations (Apple, Microsoft) who’ve hit @earlybird with the force of a swan’s wing (which can apparently break your arm).

Of course, there’s also the viral nature of Twitter to take into account. Those 700,000 people, that 1% potential follower statistic (if it goes down well with Twitter users, that is) could then turn round and re-tweet. This has the potential to at least double the amount of eyes that see it, and grab more people’s attention and direct it in @earlybird‘s direction. However, there are many different sites picking up on the new account, and giving different takes on the service.

The Guardian, being cautiously neutral as usual, have spoke about how Coca Cola received a mind-boggling 86 million impressions after running promotional content through Twitter. This is a big return on an investment that, for all intents and purposes, only costs the thirty seconds required to write and hit “tweet”. Realistically however, I’d imagine Twitter are making a pretty penny out of it too. It just goes to show what you can do by exploiting what appear to be officially endorsed channels on various social media.

But should use these channels over more usual advertising channels? Well, when you think about it, people are more likely to see it, and definitely more likely to read it, pay attention to it and therefore absorb it. WordPress (we’ll discuss this site’s social media identity in a future post), Twitter, Facebook – it doesn’t matter where your social updates come from, realistically speaking these guys have more access to you than other users. They can post things to you via email, through your dashboard, or a multitude of other hidden means.

What this means for you, the blogger, the status-checker and the Twitterer, is that you’re now opening yourself up to social media’s new wave of advertising in a way that’s not intrusive, annoying or outrageous – simply helpful. We see adverts on sites as an invasion of the information we want to absorb and mentally download. However, discounts, sales – are these adverts, or just a nudge in the right financial direction? It remains to be seen whether @earlybird will be a success, but going on Coca Cola’s statistics, I’d say it will be.

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