The problem that many companies face when they delve into the social media waters is that they really don't understand these new-fangled tools.  And that means they are probably going to use them in the wrong ways, and for the wrong reasons.

Which brings us to DirecTV's presence on Twitter.

Stoney mentioned that DirecTV was on Twitter over the weekend with this tweet:

StoneyTwit.jpg





And if you check their Twitter page, first you see this:

DirecTV1.jpg









....then this:

DirecTV2.jpgNow to be fair, it's possible that DirecTV isn't behind this account.  But I would bet they are, simply because if someone else was on Twitter impersonating DirecTV, they would likely be familiar enough with the service to understand that you can't leave a direct message to someone that isn't following you. But a company that simply wanted to be on the 'hot new social media site', wouldn't get that.

This is why companies need to forget trying to use social media on their terms, and need to focus on using these tools as the rest of us do.  Having an effective presence on Twitter means you have to interact with other people.  You have to follow other people, and yes, you have to respond to people publically.

Or you can try using Twitter the way YOU think is best.  Because as we can see, as DirecTV's whopping ONE follower attests, the company clearly knows how to use Twitter better than the rest of us do.

UPDATE:  Literally as I was going to publish this post, Stoney left this tweet:

StoneyTwit2.jpg





Kudos to DirecTV for monitoring Twitter, hopefully they'll now spice up their Twitter account and start using it as a tool to more effectively connect with their customers.


May 5, 2008





Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.






Comments(22)

That's hysterical.

While the DirecTV presence is amusing, I wonder if you're being a little unfair here.

Chances are DirecTV doesn't have a Twitter strategy, or even know they have a presence at all. More likely, some marketer created the account months ago as a test case, or to reserve the brand name. They probably thought they were thinking ahead, just in case the company decided to twitter some day. Now that poor sap is probably getting a stern lecture about corporate responsibility and approval processes.

Yes, it's true that there's no such thing as a "practice" presence on the web. But I'd be willing to bet that this sort of case isn't unique. There are probably plenty of companies on Twitter with a single, lonely post -- although hopefully one a little better than DirecTV's. After all, in a corporate environment where elevator pitches rule the day, the case for Twitter can be a tough one to make. (Witness the steady stream of "Why you should be on Twitter" blog posts in the last few months -- have you ever seen one that was short?)

We like to talk about companies as if they're one single entity with a solitary vision. But in reality, there are plenty of marketing folks out there who are trying to fight the good fight, sneaking off into this site or that platform in an attempt to nudge their company into the modern world. Let's cut them a little slack, even when they fail miserably.

What you pointed out is the same kind of thing I tell people when they say they're thinking about starting a blog. If you don't think you can keep up with it, don't even start, because it looks worse when there's nothing new for a very long time.

"We like to talk about companies as if they're one single entity with a solitary vision. But in reality, there are plenty of marketing folks out there who are trying to fight the good fight, sneaking off into this site or that platform in an attempt to nudge their company into the modern world. Let's cut them a little slack, even when they fail miserably."

Doesn't matter if this was a coordinated 'effort', or the effort of a 'rogue' brand manager, the end result is that DirecTV looks totally clueless about how to use Twitter right now.

This isn't 2004. Companies still shouldn't be struggling with how to properly use these tools. The growing pains should have ended long ago.

"If you don't think you can keep up with it, don't even start, because it looks worse when there's nothing new for a very long time."

Exactly Mitch. Whether it's blogging or being on Twitter, companies should realize that neither has an expiration date. You assume going in that you will do it from now on.

I wonder if hey manage http://twitter.com/directtv as well. This one seem more like the possible twitter account than the other one.

I think the big failure here is simply not being familiar with how twitter works. they got the account, great start. they haven't engaged yet, but they can be forgiven for that... especially since they found my twitter, looked me up and gave me a call. I think that's fantastic. But to make a tweet that says, "contact us by..." which simply doesn't work, is a colossal failure. It's like having a contact form or email address that doesn't work. Might as well be poking your audience in the eye. But I still give them credit for monitoring and reacting. That's a big plus.

Stoney the fact that they are monitoring is most important. Hopefully what will happen is they'll see the tweets you left on Twitter, and possibly this post here, and realize that they need to change how they are using Twitter.

But as you said, they are apparently monitoring and reacted to what you wrote, that's most important.

I think Sean has a point, the seo 'elite' like to espouse best-practice as a reflection of what they (can) do.

But for the most part it is simply the clients budget that matters - most SEO's have to take it all with a pinch of salt because they're clients can only pay so much (and therefore they can't do everything).

Sure this doesn't look great for the company but at least they're on there - that makes them, what? within the top 20% of progressive companies? how many companies use twitter?

Sometimes I think you all get caught up in the corporate mind-set and forget that most people have limited resources. As with blogging, you bang on about it and I'm sure these networks can offer benefits, but the 'can' is the operative bit - for most people it's all a potential distraction from their core focus. And one which draws people in to keep investing more to keep building or protect what they have, often with no apparent end to this cycle.

Online marketing offers diminishing returns for time invested, so there's a cut off point which has to be found. Otherwise you could promote a site 24/7 and always find new avenues. And then what? your competitors copy your hard work and can keep up with you.. by which time you've turned half your company into a publisher so that you can churn out the required content.. It all seems at times a potentially massive waste of time, and bad for business at the micro and macro level.

But the online world exagerates it's own influence and bamboozles mainstream business with jargon and hyperbole. MySpace and Facebook somewhat proved that by winning massive backing without any apparent monetization potential.. now as they sell out they become less popular.

Marketing. It's like politics.. it has no benefit to mankind or people individually, only to those peddling it. The net effect is..?

Hope I've contributed to your 'content' satisfactorily here, job well done for a post which must not have taken long to put together.

I wonder, if this story justifies a post why you can't find many millions of other sub-optimal profiles and pages to discuss and pad-out your site with?

This isn't the work of an authority or thought-leader, if you can't come up with something why not spend the time elsewhere? help a client, do a case study.. some sort of real marketing, rather than just marketing marketing to marketers.

"Sometimes I think you all get caught up in the corporate mind-set and forget that most people have limited resources. As with blogging, you bang on about it and I'm sure these networks can offer benefits, but the 'can' is the operative bit - for most people it's all a potential distraction from their core focus. And one which draws people in to keep investing more to keep building or protect what they have, often with no apparent end to this cycle.

Online marketing offers diminishing returns for time invested, so there's a cut off point which has to be found."

I find it fascinating that you paired these two statements together.

First, a small business can start blogging or using Twitter for free. The only cost is their time. Which is exactly why so many small businesses are interested in these tools, because of those limited resources that you touched on.

Secondly, blogging and Twitter offer INCREASED returns the MORE time you invest. The biggest reason why most small businesses have subpar blogs is because they don't spend enough time on them. The more time a business invests in blogging, the more they get back from it.

"This isn't the work of an authority or thought-leader, if you can't come up with something why not spend the time elsewhere? help a client, do a case study.. some sort of real marketing, rather than just marketing marketing to marketers."

It sounds like you fall into 'I don't get these new-fangled Web 2.0 tools, and I'm sick of hearing about them!' camp.

Right? Pity as social media offers enormous potential for businesses of all sizes to better connect with, and build relationships with their customers. And is most cases, the only expense is time, and the more time you invest, the greater your return.

I'm sorry that you aren't familiar enough with this space to understand its amazing potential. Good news is that we're still on the ground floor and there's plenty of time to get up to speed. Reading sites such as this one are a good place to start, but an open mind and a willingness to learn is your best friend right now. Be curious.

Of course, Mack, he did sign his name as "coward", with no links to anything. :-)

"Of course, Mack, he did sign his name as "coward", with no links to anything. :-)"

I did notice that ;)

Vitriol rules the day? If you don't have something nice to say...

Okay, I got an account on Twitter and I've hit a blank wall, literally. I can't seem to get out of my little box. Perhaps Direct is having the same problem.

There doesn't seem to be any way to "find" anyone unless you already know them from somewhere else. How do you make new acquaintances with similar interests? What's the point in marketing via Twitter if you can't figure out how to get heard?

I just don't seem to have these problems on MySpace (at least until they're merged completely).

I agree with Al Kalar,

I find Twitter to be confounding, so far. I've created a personal account, not a corporate one, to find out what all the fuss is about (with some skepticism, I might add). I now find myself trapped in a little cell without a means to dip my toe in to see the benefits of this tool for myself. Why would I invite others to join me from my contact list, seeing as I don't really know what the benefits really are myself? It seems a bit Catch-22 to me - join to meet people, but invite others first (to increase our user base...) to gain the big, mysterious advantages. If this was a store on a main street, I'd hightail it outta there.

Al and Rob, thanks for the inspiration, this post's for you:

http://www.searchengineguide.com/mack-collier/so-how-do-you-find-people-on-twitter.php

I think we also need to keep in mind how jargony our space is.

i know PLENTY of twitter users who either do not know the difference between a dm and an "@reply" or who use the two terms interchangeably.

to us it seems dead dumb and obvious, but perhaps they meant an "@reply" when they said direct message. it is, after all, a message directly to you.

just sayin.

Coward posted:
"Online marketing offers diminishing returns for time invested, so there's a cut off point which has to be found. Otherwise you could promote a site 24/7 and always find new avenues. And then what? your competitors copy your hard work and can keep up with you.. by which time you've turned half your company into a publisher so that you can churn out the required content.."

Excellent point, Coward! The truth is Stoney, the majority of DirectTv's demo is not on Twittr or not on it enough to dedicate a signifigant amount of resources to it. It's a quality content vs. lack presence issue. Granted, I am all for a well rounded strategy, but let's be practical- return on investment is the bottomline.
Unfortunately, it would cost too much to expand internal staff resources (which are bound already) or hire independent folks to follow people around Stoney. A company is left with a $12 an hour worker to convey their brand message? and be responsible enough to execute an official brand image in the social realm? C'mon we know you would charge an arm and a leg to manage this campaign Stoney.
Sometimes I think independent SEMers fishbowl themselves from reality because independence provides such a freedom. Anyone can play marketing critic rather than marketing strategist. A strategist always considers the inherent obstacles to overcome, and I would of much rather heard Stoney the strategist in this piece.

HAHA... sorry Mack I was calling you Stoney the whole time...

Interesting post. Many companies are continuing to fail to use Twitter properly. As well as highlighting the best 100, Revolution has just identified the worst 8 brands:
Twitter FAIL! The 8 worst brands on the world's hottest microblog

I think its easier for SMEs to start using Twitter than large corporates, they have less hoops to jump through in terms of approval - don't you?

It takes time to agree a strategy internally and then putting it into practice is just a learning curve. But jumping in at the deep end (how many more cliches can I come up with?) worked well for us.

This is more of an administrative comment, but I went to retweet this today and got the error message: "Failed to resolve the URL in the tweet." Didn't know if this was related to the age of it or not but I thought you'd want to know.

Hi Carolyn,

Thank you for pointing this out. I just checked the retweet button and it worked so I'm hoping it was just a temporary issue.

Thanks!

Robert

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