Live from OMMA Social: Meet the Corporate Twitterers: Companies that Tweet Show How to Follow Their Keystrokes

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jun 23, 2009
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Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

This panel was moderated by David Tice of Knowledge Networks and featured Billy Custer of Six Flags, Frank Eliason of Comcast, Jason Jakubiak of Doner, Thomas Pintel of Mazda ARG, and David Puner of Dunkin’ Brands.

What has everyone done with Twitter? How does it work with your overall plan?

Billy started last month and the Twitter account is pretty fun and relaxed. They are doing:

  • #funnelcakefriday (and discuss how “awesomely delicious funnel cake is”)
  • Twitter hunts and went throughout the park, hid passes and food vouchers and tweeted the locations. That gave them a 60% rise in following. Twitter works well with people in the park and can be really fun.
  • $10 ticket offer open for only four hours. They had 1300 followers when started, and over 4000 24 hours later.

Frank works in customer service, and they found that customer service works well, and Twitter, when it’s a personal interaction. He tweets about personal things as well as for customers. At least one person is monitoring Comcast tweets at a time.

Jason said that with the launch of the Mazda3 they created a game. There were 33 geocached keys, one of which would start a car. They used Facebook, blogs and Twitter primarily. They shared information about where the keys were hidden. Corporate was watching how the tweets were going, and influencers (pack leaders) were also sharing information. Jason said that their purpose was a specific drive — eight weeks and it was done.

David said that Dunkin’ Brands knew they had to have an authentic voice. It grew organically, and while followers wasn’t the main goal, they have 26,000 followers now. He feels it is an opportunity to share coupons, specials, etc. with a community that WANTS to converse with Dunkin’. Now they have a voice to connect with inside of the company.

Do you have to worry about “dinging” your brand?

David said that Dunkin’ was concerned about that. You likely can’t have too many rules just yet — what works for one may not work for another. They did know that the Twitter person had to be empowered and had to know the company to get the right answers. Trust the one who tweets!

Frank said mistakes will happen. Frank does stay away from topics like religion and politics. Just acknowledge mistakes and move on. Legal doesn’t review every phone call — therefore they likely can’t review everything on Twitter.

Jason said that they felt they had to control the Twitter space for the game.

Billy said that his “immaturity” is encouraged. He can really engage audiences.

Has there been pressure to demonstrate ROI?

Billy said they can see that the audience is growing, and they know that Twitter is helping, so they’re not focused on hard ROI yet.

Frank said they know how many customers they are dealing with on Twitter, but Twitter also reaches potential customers. Often Twitter will allow you to know a problem before the company will be contacted. Within three minutes of an outage for Fox Sports during a hockey game, they learned about it on Twitter and were able to figure it out in three minutes.

Jason said that Mazda had never done an ARG before, but they wanted some stats like followers, game users, etc., but it wasn’t the main metric.

David said everyone wants to figure out ROI, but he made the point that a billboard can’t talk back. But you can get feedback immediately from Twitter. For instance if he asks if Twitter followers like a new menu item, he can get instant feedback.

Billy added that Twitter could effectively replace focus groups.

How do you extend your Twitter initiative to your broader brand audience?

Billy said that the influencers are on Twitter, so they are the audience you WANT to reach, even if only 10% of people are on Twitter.

Frank said you want to treat everyone equally from a service perspective. But they are able to share their learnings with the rest of the company. The feedback you receive from Twitter is in the customer’s own words — it’s invaluable.

Jason said that fan sites cropped up around the game.

David said that he thinks there is a lot of opportunity on Facebook as well. Twitter seems to be the best place at this point to do what they are doing with it. That may change, but for now, it works well.

Should brands follow back?

Billy looks for those that participate with Six Flags and engage to follow, such as those that post pictures. He also keyword search “funnel cake” on funnel cake Friday to follow them.

Frank follows everyone that follows him. He thinks that important because it allows you to direct message. He does clean out over time though… so he checks to make sure that he clears out those that no longer follow him.

Thomas said they only followed those that were very active in the game.

David said that they followed everyone at first and began looking at each follower, but they had to stop because it was too time intensive. They auto-follow everyone back. David, like Frank, uses the search capability to really get to the topics and pertinent tweets.

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