Recently Twitter announced via blog post that they would be releasing a series of stories, “Read about a single Tweet that helped save a bookstore from going out of business; an athlete who took a hundred of his followers out to a crab dinner; and, Japanese fishermen who use Twitter to sell their catch before returning to shore.”
Twitter is positioning the stories to showcase how how connected we all are. I see the stories a little differently. Each story is essentially a success story about how to use social media and why it works. The biggest trap people fall into when using Twitter & social media in general is that they see it as a destination rather than a vehicle. Despite budgets continuing to shift towards digital and social, brands are still making statements like “We need to create a presence on Twitter and Facebook.” It’s ironic this is the case at a time when marketers are more concerned than ever over ROMI and how to allocate budgets against defined marketing objectives.
To fight against the “Twitter is a destination” mentality, let’s look at an example of how Twitter has been used to make an impact and real life to find out what we can learn from it courtesy Twitter Stories.
Aaron Durand Saves His Mother’s Bookstore With A Tweet
The story in the video above is inspiring. By offering free burritos to anyone who purchased $50 in books from his mom’s bookstore, Aaron was able to spark a wave of support for the local business. But I’m betting most people didn’t redeem their purchase for a free burrito. So why would this create the kind of business results that a offering discounts or giveaways can’t?
- Appealed to a sense of community– Aaron offered up $1000 from his own credit card to subsidize the reward for making $50 purchases at his mothers store and spoke directly to Portland residents. This combination made Aaron’s message both compelling and shareable. The personal nature of Aaron’s plea and how clearly important the cause was for Aaron made the message powerful, but highlighting that this was a concern for Portland residents made it shareable because it defined a community. Within a community (in this case being Portland) we are comfortable sharing and connecting over things relevant to the interests of that group. If Aaron’s tweet was “Help my mom’s bookstore” instead of “All of my Portland peeps should read this” we might not have ever heard of this story, and Portland would be less one more bookstore.
- Sold a story not a book (or a burrito) – If one story typified what we were all feeling at the beginning of the recession, this is it. The little guy was being put out of business by the effects of decisions made 2000 miles away. This was a story that begged us to take action, if not for the bookstore, then for ourselves. It gave the community a means of controlling the outcome of something tangible in an environment where macroeconomic forces seemed to be leaving us all helpless.
- Made it personal – I touched on this a little bit in the first point, but I think its worth emphasizing. Social media is about personal connections. Aaron put a human face to his mother’s bookstore. People felt connected with the outcome of the store because they understood the human element behind it. If I’ve learned anything in my time doing social media, it’s that people aren’t interested in connecting with the brand per se, they are interested in connecting with the people that make it go.There are other stories on Twitter’s page that I could do this same kind of analysis on and pull out different lessons to be learned for each one. I can almost guarantee that #3 will be present in all of them though.
If you haven’t checked it out already, I recommend taking a look at the stories that Twitter put together. Next time you read a Twitter success story, or any other social media case for that matter remember not to focus too much on the utility of the tool and understand the psychology behind why it worked instead.