Twitter and the Art of Brand Building


Twitter reported their first quarterly earnings as a publicly traded company last week. But this is not a financial blog, so I won’t discuss what happened.

What I will say is that if Twitter wants to continue to grow their revenue, their ability to do that will lie with big companies finding value in paying to reach their user base. It’s possible, but it will take time and effort.

True, it’s working for Facebook. But Twitter is different. The allure of Twitter for big business today seems to be more in their ability to do “real-time marketing”. The Twitter platform is very good at breaking news. And it did not take long for brands to see the value in commenting on news stories, or interacting with people in real time on subjects that were trending.

Just look at some of the Twitter related stories (this one and this one, in particular) surrounding the Superbowl.

For now, it seems like the message from companies to Twitter is, “we just want to be heard”. The platform is so good at letting companies share something (for free) that they may have a harder time getting advertisers to pay than Facebook did.

Companies are just looking for a way to broadcast to a large number of people. They just want attention and brand awareness. Maybe they just want followers, and then they will figure out what to do with them.

To say that Twitter does not work as a business because the value for brands is not in advertising is not fair. But for now, it might be true.

Dominos Superbowl Fail

The following is a personal story meant to serve as a warning to marketers and companies around the world.

The moral = While it takes a lot of effort on the part of companies to get in good favor with consumers, it only takes one bad experience to lose customers forever.

Dominos has spent a lot of money over the past year or so advertising the fact that they started paying more attention to customers. “You didn’t like our crust, so we made it better” type ads have been prominent. They started admitting to past mistakes, and updating outdated food. They even allow customer feedback in order to “improve everything”.

They launched a new online ordering portal that gives customers a uniquely personalized look at order progress (at least that’s what they claim).

Cue Superbowl Sunday!

On what is possibly one of the busiest ordering days of the year for Dominos, the pressure was on. We ordered online in advance of the game. We watched as the progress meter showed us our food was being prepared. We were given a message that the order would arrive in 50-60 minutes. Perfect.

The only problem is that the food never came. A call placed 60 minutes later was very frustrating. I was told, “Yes it will be ready in an hour or 90 minutes.”

“90 minutes from now?”

“Yes, it’s the Superbowl you know? We have a lot of pizza to make.”

I knew it was the Superbowl, hence the order. The attitude from the guy on the other end of the phone does not do much to calm an angry, misled customer. We canceled the order and went elsewhere.

It is reminiscent of the time over-promised on delivery for Valentine’s Day and failed to deliver to thousands of unhappy wives and girlfriends. It’s a warning to all companies who make an offer to customers without taking into account whether or not you can come through on that offer.

What could they have done differently?

  1. Anticipated the higher demand.
  2. Update the website with more accurate timing and messaging.
  3. Owned up to the mistake on the phone and either offer something to say sorry or at least leave the attitude out of it.

Needless to say, it will be a long time before I order Dominos again. But I also won’t believe any future marketing that Dominos does.

Branding are the promises you make. Your brand is the promises you keep. When the two are out of whack, it’s the brand that suffers.