Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Using Twitter For Marketing Part 3: The Public Eye

Continued from Part 2: Events

I think twitter could be used by people in the public eye to interact and engage with their audiences in meaningful ways.

To an extent, the use of Twitter by people in the public eye has already begun. As my Twitter friend Cheryl commented in Part 2, Henry Rollins has been twittering. It may seem strange to some that Henry Rollins is one of the first celebrities to experiment with Twitter, but it's not really that surprising considering he's a spoken word artist and singer/songwriter. His tweets seem to range from plugging tour dates to one liners such as "Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on", to linking to his Letter to Laura Bush video on YouTube.

I think Twitter and other services like it hold a number of possibilities for musicians, actors, directors, authors. comedians and other people in the arts and entertainment. For instance, they could Twitter during promotional and concert tours, or during the making of albums and films. This could of course be achieved without giving away too much personal information. It would be up to them how much they revealed about themselves and their lives.

Twittering would allow these people to connect directly with their fans on a daily basis. This already happens to a certain extent with websites and blogs published by celebrities, but this could be a much more immediate, intimate and direct engagement. Can you imagine how many followers some pop and film stars would get if they began to twitter from their mobile phones? Do you think people would be interested in following their favourite Idol contestants during the show? It would add a whole new level of engagement to a reality show such as this.

For the premiere of its new tv show Drive in the U.S., Fox recently offered a live Twitter by Greg Yaitanes, the show's director. I see that the director's commentary had close to 900 followers. While not huge in relation to the show's audience numbers, this is still significant given that it was an experimental first attempt and Twitter hasn't gone mainstream.

On the political front, I've also noticed that both Barack Obama and John Edwards are twittering. It's doubtful that Obama's tweets are from him personally, but rather from staff. I don't think there is anything wrong with this, but Edwards makes it clear by stating whether the tweet is "from staff" or from him. I think you have to give full disclosure in a medium like this, or you run the risk of people feeling cheated if they get the wrong impression.

I do think there is a good case for politicians using Twitter. Again, it's a good way for them to communicate directly with voters, and for their followers to ask them questions and keep up with the issues. When I 'added' both these politicians, I was impressed at the speed at which they befriended me. One of my American Twitter friends (can't remember who sorry) said they sent a direct message asking a question and received an immediate answer from the politician's staff. This level of attention and engagement should be commended.

In these days of increasing media fragmentation, I think politicians need to have all bases covered, and that includes honest and open social media engagement. This is going to become increasingly important if they want to reach those people who spend much more time online than they do consuming tv, print and radio. That's already a lot of people, and If you are reading this, you are most probably one of them.

4th and final part to follow...

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