When Twitter can be inspirational…

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There are times when the power of Twitter & Facebook still amazes me.

Earlier today it was revealed that Chris Sievey (the creator of cult comedy act Frank Sidebottom) who died earlier this week, had not left much money behind & it was highly likely he would need a “pauper’s funeral”.

Very quickly, ordinary fans set up a paypal account and using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word, ordinary fans donated over £6000 in only 4 or 5 hours.  I found the speed of events breathtaking, and genuinely inspiring that so many people could reach into their pockets in tribute to a man who many won’t have met, spoken to, or even seen his face.

It’s nice to know there are so many kind-hearted people out there & wonderful to see another example of how social networks can be used in a positive, inspirational way.

2009 showed the power of social networking

2009 has been the year of Twitter.  While lacking Facebook’s massive userbase, the influence Twitter exerted on the national news agenda in the UK has been impressive.

Graham Linehan’s WeLoveTheNHS twitter hashtag marked the beginning of Twitter as a grassroots form of protest, & both the Trafigura & JanMoir hashtags gained a rapid momentum forcing the mainstream media to highlight these stories.  Over on Facebook, a group propelled Rage Against The Machine to Christmas number 1 as a protest against manufactured pop music. 2010 will bring more social media surprises, particularly with a General Election on the way.

It will be interesting to see how e-marketers try to harness the power of social media over the next year & try to adapt to a unique medium.

Social Media Marketing – What NOT to do

Social media marketing is a tricky subject & handled badly can generate terrible results.  Habitat tried to harness the power of Twitter by hijacking hashtags & posting special offers.  The problem here comes from the way the medium has been approached.

Habitat treated Twitter as if it were some form of broadcast medium; they talked at people and not with them – Twitter is the big conversation.

Unless you are tweeting compelling content, then you won’t acquire any followers, so your tweets won’t show on anyone’s timeline… they won’t be seen by anyone.  To counteract this Habitat’s marketing team started including current trending hashtags so that when users around the world did a search, the special offer would appear.

Unsurprisingly enough the Twitter community didn’t like this approach & has become a case study for how not to run a Twitter campaign; afterall who wants to see furniture being cynically advertised on a hashtag reserved for protests of outrage over the Iranian elections.

I think this 2010 will provide yet more interesting examples of what to do & what to avoid, but if you want to see the best example I’ve seen so far of a good Twitter campaign that engages with users, JetBlue is particularly impressive.