I learned from @chadlivengood that the Missouri State Teachers Association is now on Twitter (@MSTA). I seem to recall them advertising on one of our radio networks a few years ago. I’ve been thinking about what they were getting for their money. Basically, distribution of their message to radio stations affiliated with our network. If someone was listening to one of these stations when an MSTA announcement aired, mission accomplished.
So what does the MSTA do with Twitter. In theory, everyone in the state could see their tweets. But only if they choose to “follow” @MSTA. The association must persuade people to pay attention to their Twitter feed? Most advertisers spend a lot of time or money or both on the messages they air on radio and TV. But even if the message is weak, someone hears it.
With Twitter, nobody sees the message unless it’s good (i.e. relevant, interesting). And being limited to 140 characters forces one to boil the message down to the essence. Distribution is free, but worthless unless you have something to say.
During my radio days I wrote and produced commercials and entered what I considered my best in competitions each year. I wonder if there are competitions for the best commercial tweet? I doubt it. Nobody wants to hear “commercials,” no matter how short they are.
From a traditional advertising perspective, Twitter’s only up side is it’s free. It can take a long time to grow the number of people who follow you. And more importantly, they have all the power, all the control. If a company is successful, it has something far more valuable than advertising. Something that money –literally– cannot buy.
Given enough time and money, even a bad product or service can see returns from advertising. Not so with social media. I’m not sure it’s possible to teach a company how to be open, honest, authentic and caring. They were supposed to have learned that in kindergarten.