what’s the tweeting point?

I’ve noticed a trend recently.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in various pubs.  Ahhh, I hear you think.  No job.  Slippery slope.  I saw this coming. Tragic waste.

Um, that’s not the trend I’m talking about, but thanks for your concern.

That said, I do now understand where Cheers was coming from. When your only company most days is the real housewives of [insert place with readily available plastic surgery], you find solace where you can.  And now that cafes are called “coffee shops” and are overrun with speccy beardie types brooding oh so creatively over their macbook airs, it’s no wonder I need something stronger…

But I digress.

So what I’ve noticed is how many pubs (and cafés and bars and local shops and hairdressers and and and…) now have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Firstly, what I love is how there’s still no other way to advertise your adoption of that most modern of marketing media than by putting up crappy posters around the place.  Delicious irony.

Secondly, I love that the language of Facebook and Twitter makes insecure schoolgirls of us all. Like me. Follow me. Why don’t you like me? Why won’t you follow me? You like Zara but you don’t like me? Am I not pretty enough?  **sob**  Terribly damaging stuff.  I’m sure there’s a PhD thesis in there somewhere.

But mainly I’m wondering what the tweeting point of it is?

Sure, I can see merit in having a Facebook page instead of a website. It’s cheap, quick and you can get your minimum-wage student bar staff to update it, since they’re probably spending most of their working time on Facebook anyway.  I get that it provides a way to let punters know about the Wednesday pub quiz or Friday night’s covers band.  I get that you can offer discounts and exclusives for Likers.

But I find it bizarre that loads of little businesses now seem to think that they need to have an all-singing-all-dancing fully integrated social media marketing campaign.   Why oh why oh why??

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Facebook and Twitter are a humungous waste of time for most small businesses.

I mean, what on earth are you going to tweet about?  That you’ve just changed the barrel on the Erdinger?  That most of your female clients are going Hollywood over Brazilian this season, so you’d better get strimming?  I have visions of pub landlords and artisan bakers having sleepless nights as they desperately try to think of enticing status updates and witty tweets about buns and baps.

I’d hazard a guess that most of us are happy just to turn up to the pub and see what’s occurring.  And most of us stick to local pubs, so we already know what’s going on. Because we go there. And they have it written down on boards with brightly coloured chalk.

The truth about Twitter (as in life) is that the followed are few and the followers are many.  So unless you already have a loyal bunch of customers who just happen to also be very widely followed on Twitter, you’re unlikely to pick up any new business that way.  It’s like the old philosophical conundrum:  if a business tweets in a forest but no-one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound??

Facebook and Twitter can work well for big businesses.  That’s because they have lots of money to create marketing content that they can then spread via social media.  For those companies, it’s not radically different from the advertising model of the 80s.  They spend money and they get customer eyeballs.  We’ve just swapped TV for Facebook.  Same audience, same spiel.  No-one’s doing anything particularly cool or innovative.  There’s a formula to it, just like with any other type of marketing.  And those which are most successful at it are those who already have a strong brand presence and have the money to do it properly.

But if you’re a small business, I’d say don’t bother.  The pickings are slim and the maintenance is tedious.  I would do a leaflet-drop over a twitter campaign any day – it’s targeted, relevant and proactive.  Leave the F-ing and T-ing to the big boys.  They’ve convinced themselves that it’s an essential part of their marketing strategy.  And maybe it is, just like TV advertising was in the 80s….

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Thoughts??

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