Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Rise of Microblogging and Marketers' Responses and frightening at the same time.

- Christopher Hoff, Southwest Airlines passenger and Twitter user

In Rachel King, "How Companies Use Twitter to Bolster Their Brands," Business Week, September 6, 2008

Hoff is referring to his experience getting a message from Southwest the day after he send a used Twitter to circulate to friends a complaint about his flight. The two-year-old Twitter is a new of microblogging, a way for users to keep friends and acquaintances informed of what they are doing or feeling at a particular moment through text messaging that reaches all of them at the same time. Estimates of the number of people using Twitter range from one to three million. It's not that large an audience, but marketers such as Comcast, Dell, General Motors and Whole Foods see individuals who send "tweets" as potential opinion leaders. As King notes, they task employees with "haunting Twitter to do everything from burnish brands to provide customer service." King adds that "the attention to Twitter reflects the power of new social media tools in letting consumers shape public discussion over brands." But it also shows how companies are trying to exploit and even control that discussion. For consumers who receive messages they don't expect, it can all seem a bit creepy.

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