Make up a word. Any word. Here, I’ll help you. Hmmmm….let’s saaaaay ‘Beepsy.’
Now, pretend Beepsy represented one of the most innovative, most flexible, most exciting marketing opportunities you have ever seen in…your life. And you are so excited to tell your client/your boss about it. So you run in and say:
(You) ‘Hey, we HAVE to consider this new program. It’s going to allow us to talk with customers and potential customers, directly, and send out information about our product virtually free of charge.’
(Your client/boss) ‘Wow, that’s cool – let’s hear more about it.’
(You) ‘Well, it’s called Beepsy, and you can send these “beeps” to people who ‘follow’ us…’
And then the speculation begins. How can anything with such a goofy name be a legitimate marketing (business) strategy? Why should people take you seriously when you’re talking to them about a made up word?
Welcome to selling Twitter, circa 2007. Yep, the hottest social media channel and strategy was once dismissed at the mere mention of its name. When I think about it, the fact that so much has happened in only six years, it blows my mind. I can’t believe Twitter has been adopted so quickly. Especially when I think back to those ‘early days’.
I remember a conversation I had at our office in 2005 – what if the press release was never invented? What would we use to communicate to our audiences? The point was, we use press releases because it is an accepted practice in our business, and has been for some time. But the fact is, at some point, someone just like you and me had to convince their client, their boss, that sending four paragraphs about their product was a good idea. And someone, at some point, had to convince their client, their boss, that www was the way of the future.
I remember we asked ourselves, if that’s the case, what is the next big thing? What will WE have to convince our clients of. Do we have a chance to ‘invent’ something different? Will we ever have our moment? The reason mad men were mad men is because they were the disciples of a new medium. They spoke the language and could make people believe in the power of it. Would we ever get the chance to be mad men?
My first tweet.
I wish I could remember how I came to find out about Twitter, but I don’t. I just know that it was 2007 and I kept seeing it mentioned on MTV as they were saying to follow them. So I went and checked it out.
And I had no freaking idea what I was looking at, what I was doing and who these people were.
I used to think that if I timed my tweets right they would be featured more prominently on the ‘main feed.’ And if I was featured on the ‘main feed’ I’d receive more followers. Eh, that’s not really how it worked. I became discouraged that I wasn’t getting followers but I stuck with it. Then the addiction set in. I loved microblogging; loved those self-indulgent moments of 140 characters. I would walk around the office basically bullying people into signing up for Twitter. My handle was a vanity handle (@TheBenny) based on my high school nickname. I bragged about where I ranked in the face pile (which used to be ranked by when you signed up for Twitter…so no matter what, @jack was always first in my pile).
I finally learned enough and felt comfortable enough to start talking with clients about it. And while they were intrigued and saw the long-term potential, people just weren’t ready to talk to their boss about sending ‘tweets.’ However, they were very interested in learning more about it. And once in a while, they even brought their boss along. So we started there, focusing on educating clients and helping them understand what it could mean to them and their customers. And little by little, more and more people started seeing the opportunity. Our meetings got bigger and bigger and eventually we had case studies to reference. I dropped the vanity handle in favor of @BenBrugler (it’s all about your personal brand) and began speaking at professional organization meetings around town. And today, we manage Twitter programs for a large percentage of our clients.
If I couldn’t imagine the power of Twitter in 2007, I certainly never dreamed I’d one day be celebrating Social Media Day. But thanks to Mashable, Social Media Day is five years strong and celebrated all over the world. The lessons we’ve learned from our experiences over the past few years is that as new channels and technologies continue to evolve and appear on the scene, it’s less about what’s being developed and more about taking the time to ensure it’s the right fit and explaining why it’s the right fit. So Happy Social Media Day, and keep on tweeting!