Friday, January 30, 2009

Social Media Countdown to the Super Bowl - Samsung

I thought I was running out of social media Super Bowl campaigns with one Friday left before the Big Game. Then I saw the Ad Age article about the contest Samsung ran to pick a fan to star in its TV commercial.

So I blithely set out to find out what they did and how they did it. I came up pretty empty, which is a surprise with social media programs. The winning commercial is not on their website. I can’t find it on YouTube (ok, there are 3600 Samsung videos, but I searched several ways). There are “How I See It” (the NFL, in case you can’t guess) videos on the website but they are commercials with fictional characters.
The picture gives a clue to what was done. According to AdAge, “Samsung found its "real-life" candidates by going on a mobile marketing tour to eight NFL cities and filming more than 400 stories, which were whittled down to 48 for website visitors to vote on.”

Questions? How did they “whittle down?” How many website vistors voted? Why haven’t they told us? Why haven’t posted the winner? I think I can intuit the answer to the last one. They’re keeping it a secret for the Super Bowl.

Is any of this a good idea? Aren’t they losing a chance to create visibility and buzz?

I searched the name of the winner, Reginald Castilla, and found only a few mentions by bloggers who, like me, probably read the AdAge article. What I did find, however was the contest site, which I had actually found and mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Still same Vikings fan with purple face yelling something when you open it. But I don’t find the contest site connected to the corporate site.

I’ll answer my own question. I think they’ve lost a huge chance to leverage all the money they spent on the contest and the $3 million Super Bowl ad. If they wanted to create their own content, I guess that’s ok, although it’s not really in the spirit of the social web. There doesn’t seem to have been much promotion of the contest. They are not celebrating the winner in the days leading up to the Big Game.

It seems to me that this represents an overabundance of caution on someone’s part, probably the management of Samsung. Even more, it seems to be a willingness to let your customers in only part way, only under close supervision. That’s safe, but I’m not sure it is a campaign that makes best use of the social web.

Having searched several times, several ways, I can say with considerable assurance that it hasn’t generated buzz at a time when the economy is impacting many aspects of Super Bowl advertising.

But in the spirit of continuing to bone up on what’s going on, here’s a WSJ article that discusses social media integration into advertising efforts.

Enjoy the game!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Cautionary Note About Widgets

I often tell my students that we could learn a lot from marketing programs that don’t work, but marketers—understandably—don’t want to talk about them. Quite by accident I ran across one that had unintended effects.

My intent was to write a post about widget distribution networks, since we are all looking for cost-effective customer acquisition tools. In the process, I ran across the Kimberly-Clark Room-a-Day Giveaway and the widget it used in the promotion. Ok, looked like a good example because the widget was successfully distributed across a network.

Kept on looking, and what I found was that the web is littered with broken links to the widget. That is as it should be, because the 2008 contest ended. But I thought there ought to be a working archive somewhere so I could see the dancing Huggies and other Kimberly-Clark brands. Static captures like this one were all I could find. That piqued my curiosity, especially when I realized that KC is running the sweeps again. The highly successful sweeps was launched again on The View on January 14 with, according to Ad Age, lots of promotional support but not a widget in sight.

According to the Ad Age article, they are using Twitter this year, but I don’t see any evidence of it on the sweeps home page or on the Connect with our Brands page, although I didn’t register for any of the brand messages. I kept looking, and there is Twitter listed on Very Recent. The Twitter messages I found link to the sweeps home page, but I couldn’t find where they come from.
The 2009 sweeps has a new spokesperson—Thom Filicia. He was the designer on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy if that places him for you. The Ad Age article describes him as the blogger for the campaign. I searched his name and found all sorts of blog activity (try it; it is an exercise in creating visibility). I finally found his blog for the sweeps under Kimberly-Clark Brands. It’s interesting, but I still haven’t found the source of the Twitter for the campaign. Mommy blogs, perhaps.

But I digress. Why no widget this year? I found the complaint about the autoplay (wish we’d just delete that command from the programming lexicon) on several blogs. Here’s what Donna DeClemente said about the pros and cons of the widget on her promotions blog (links removed):

. . .they're really engaging audiences with an interactive promotional component that features a dynamic new website along with cutting edge digital technology that's enabled the first sweepstakes enabled widget.

(Please Note: I originally had the widget embedded right here in this post, but moved it to this new page instead. The reason being is that the widget automatically plays and the audio would come on immediately each time you visit my blog.)

Anyhow, I think this widget is amazing. Not only does it offers the user the interactive fun of being able to choose both a specific dance along with where the packages dance (I like the Abby Road location), but it also represents the very first time a widget has built-in functionality allowing viewers to directly enter a sweepstakes. This is truly innovative and a application that should help take sweepstakes to the next level (Sweeps 3.0?)

Now once the user is registered it remembers their name and lets them know how much time is left till they can enter the sweepstakes again with a digital clock countdown . . .

There’s more, and her evaluation is interesting. But her problem was that of other bloggers I found—the autoplay that really annoys people who are trying to read other blog entries. I have to admit that I also wonder about dancing Huggies, etc. Was it cute, or was it silly? And does it matter? A lot of promotional material is silly but if it attracts attention and is reasonably entertaining it works.

My guess is that this widget was more annoying than entertaining and that Kimberly-Clark was smart enough to recognize that and come up with another promotional tool. They haven’t given up on social media, they are just learning from a lot of what has worked very well for them and one thing that didn’t. I just hope they don't disregard what looks like great interactivity in the widget in the annoyance factor.

Learning from what does and doesn't work is what social media in 2009 should be all about!

Monday, January 26, 2009

B2B Use of Social Media

This is hardly a new subject. In the past I’ve suggested that business customers often have strong motivations for participating in communities and that corporations can dip their toes in the social media waters with internal applications.

When a newsletter from IBM crossed my desk this morning I was reminded of this chart from Marketing Sherpa a couple of weeks ago. They surveyed mid-sized and up B2B marketers about their plans for 2009. Identifying new audiences/quality lists had the highest priority, developing social media and integrating it into their marketing efforts was considered hardest, and the most common activity was developing traditional content. All of it makes sense, but clearly all of it is pretty traditional, quite the opposite of an interesting article in today’s iMedia Connection, which argues that all media is becoming social. Schumacher’s examples are mostly of consumer brands, but all his arguments apply to B2B also.
Pursuing one of the many links in the newsletter I came across an IBM white paper. It looks as if it is from late 2007, but the points it makes are relevant and still need attention from B2B marketers. This quote particularly caught my eye:

(Web 2.0 technologies) can enable large companies to more efficiently and effectively market to small customer segments that have specific interests or requirements. Without Web 2.0 approaches, cost constraints may force these companies to broaden their marketing message to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Isn’t that exactly what you see in the Marketing Sherpa chart; we need more lists with better names. Even if those lists are out there, and they often aren’t, isn’t this the higher cost approach IMB speculates about?

In the eyes of Big Blue, which is clearly interested in pushing its own social media technologies, what should enterprises do? They should:

Harness the collective intelligence of your people.
• Discover and tap into specific communities of interest.
• Connect people to one another and to relevant information more efficiently.

None of that sounds radical or dangerous. Is it as hard as B2B marketers think it is?

Look at the technologies IBM recommends and their definitions:

• Wikis—Collective authoring environments that enable people to easily populate and edit a Web site based on project or community needs. Wiki is derived from the Hawaiian term for fast.
• Mash-ups—Applications that combine content from more than one source to create a new service.
• Blogs--Web pages where users can keep a personal diary or share information with teams, a social network, the company or the world, helping businesses to drive new viewpoints and harness the wisdom of crowds.
• Tagging—A method of tracking online items that can help you discover
related items and help improve searches and expertise location.
• Folksonomy—The categorization system that emerges from tagging.

Folksonomy—did IBM make that up??? Turns out they didn’t; I missed something else. Here’s an interesting brief description with a good link to some academic work. It’s the difference between a formal taxonomy and the categories that emerge from user tagging. The idea is appealing and reminds me of techniques from quality management that I’ve applied to website content to develop user-centered groupings. It works and user input has merit.

A new term aside, none of this is radical or even particularly difficult. IBM’s arguments about the value of collaboration—throughout the value chain—for increasing speed and improving business processes are hard to refute.

I add the argument that this allows the B2B enterprise to become familiar—maybe even comfortable—with these collaborative technologies. Letting customers participate is the next step. Customer engagement and true community is the result.

Isn’t it worth the effort?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Social Media Countdown to the Super Bowl - Pepsi

Read the earlier installments here.

A couple of weeks ago Pepsi sent me an email (I’m on their list) and told me I could get free tickets to the Super Bowl. The email takes you to a site called Dear Mr. President that’s populated with videos from celebrities, many of whom like were highly visible during the inauguration itself. The idea is a group letter to the new president, and viewers are asked to submit their videos.

The videos are submitted on YouTube, so I went there and took a look. There’s obviously a lot of other stuff in the Pepsi channel, but it looks like over 3,000 videos have been submitted for the “Dear Mr. President” project.

If you don’t want to make a video, you can submit text on Tumblr. This is a site I’m not familiar with, but it looks like a collaborative blog. Interesting. But the contest doesn’t end until February 9, so it isn’t going to be over by the time of the Super Bowl. However, when I clicked on the basic link, I got a popup saying I had been entered. Maybe I could win Super Bowl tickets or maybe a flip camera. It’s hard to tell. But it is clear that the winning videos are going to be posted on this site; I don’t think they are actually going to be part of the Super Bowl, although the Refresh slogan is being used in several ways to tie it all together.
While I was looking around I found another Pepsi Super Bowl promotion, pretty much by accident. This one is on a blog called “The Full Mommy” (cute, huh) and on a long list of other mommy blogs; the ones that that alert readers to coupons, promotions, etc. This may be a “reach out to bloggers” promotion; I couldn’t tell for sure but the rules on The Full Mommy site are interesting:

1. Leave a comment telling us your favorite Super Bowl Snack
2. Blog about this giveaway
3. Tweet the giveaway
4. Subscribe to The Full Mommy in a reader
5. Add our button to your site

A joint promotion between the site and Pepsi? It looks like it. You can get up to 5 entries by doing the further promotion; looks quite viral for both Pepsi and the participating blogs.

Put the two together and it’s especially interesting. Pepsi is doing traditional Super Bowl advertising (well, sort of; they’re doing one in 3D). They have related promotions which apparently are not actually going to show up in the Super Bowl itself. The Super Bowl Party Pack(s) will be awarded before the Super Bowl. The Dear Mr. President goes on until afterward. All of it is tied together as part of the Refresh 2009. It will be interesting to see if there’s any mention of these promotions in the Super Bowl, especially the halftime where Pepsi will be featured.

So that’s my update for this Friday. However, if you are still boning up for the Super Bowl, here’s an advertising report from TNS. If you find it interesting, I offer it to you with my sincere hope that you soon get a life!

So the Super Bowl countdown continues!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My CNN Debut by C.C. Chapman

The world is still buzzing about the inauguration. I'm still thinking about the social media impact. Yesterday I described watching on Facebook with my friends. C. C. Chapman was interviewed by the iReport team and that's a different, new media perspective. The video has the perspective of two iReporters--another of CNN's successful UGC/engagement initiatives.

I posted this using the Reblog function on CC's site. That's interesting, but I had to go back and get the link so you could see the video and CC's comments (CNN's embed isn't working today, just as the one for John King's didn't work yesterday).


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CNN Engages Inaugural Viewers

Have you also been glued to the television—or other communications channels—for the last few days? By all accounts, the number of people around the world who watched some portion of the inaugural was historic. Also historic was the number of options we had for watching the occasion.

I wrote about CNN’s “magic map” during the campaign, so I made my plans to watch when CNN began touting new technology and a partnership with Facebook. Watching on Facebook with my friends was fascinating. When I logged on some were already there discussing the fact that they didn’t like the dress Oprah had on Monday—ok. Others came on as the swearing in neared. Most of my friends are former students and my daughter and her friends—in other words, much younger than I—not surprising. They made comments as events went on by writing on Facebook walls. In one of the screen shots I have the CNN comment box open, so there were multiple options to participate.
Social media maven C. C. Chapman was “in the room.” His comments were interesting and he pointed out that the new White House site had gone live--although apparently not without a few glitches—with a blog post at 12:01 p.m. This post, expressing the communications objectives of the administration, is interesting.

Watching video with the television on in the background was interesting too. CNN obviously had numerous cameras around. When you paid attention, you realized that video was more likely to have chose-up shots and the “big screen” was able to move between long views and close-ups more readily. Interesting. But, in general, the quality of the video was excellent and overall it was a good consumer experience.

The technology that was debuted (on CNN anyway; it’s Micro Soft technology that is not brand new) is also interesting and even more directly engaging. John King, the maestro of the magic map, explains it in this video.

By early evening they had the map page up. It’s probably even more detailed by this morning, although I don’t know that the casual observer can tell the difference. Try it; it’s fun to move around and look at “The Moment” from different angles. My only quibble is that, even knowing about it, I couldn’t find it on the CNN site until Wolf Blitzer gave me the URL on television. Oh, well, I guess that’s media integration!

It’s clear that the channels options contributed to the audience that was able to watch this event from all over the world. It’s also clear to me that CNN is on to something. People love to contribute, and they are giving them opportunities to do. Maybe it’s accurate to say that they have taken a page from direct marketers and make it easy to take action—in this case to contribute content.

Note something else. There were other interesting media activities yesterday. As a blogger, I was watching the Facebook/CNN partnership for the purpose of this post, and I stayed there so I wouldn’t miss something. But I’m not sure I would have moved around a lot anyway. This whole thing captured my attention and kept it for several hours. Isn’t that what engagement is about?

I’d also suggest watching the activities of the White House media team. They are working on engagement also, and, in fact, leading the way in some aspects. Isn’t that a novel experience?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Social Media Super Bowl Countdown - The NFL

It’s not surprising that the NFL is taking the opportunity to promote itself on the Big Game! And since it owes its success to loyal football fans, bringing them into the process of selecting the NFL ad, as they have done for the last 2 years, seems entirely reasonable. They call that their Super Ad. This year they’ve added a Super Fan ad contest to the mix.
I checked the NFL ad site today (for the first time; I’m not a follower) and found that the voting was closed and both were being turned into the actual ads for airing on the Super Bowl (the lead time issue I talked about last week). The Super Fan, the “how I see it” ad is being sponsored by Samsung. I don’t see any sponsorship of the NFL’s own ad, which makes sense.
If you’re really at a loss for something to do this weekend, you can see all the videos on each part of the site, one for each of the NFL teams and it looks like maybe 75 videos for the “fan story.” That page opened on a guy with a viking helmet and a purple face shouting about something. That did it for me; who watches all of these???

Or if you want another use of your time between now and the Super Bowl, Ad Age has running coverage organized for you; that’s a nice way to make something easy for readers and goodness only knows there’s plenty of coverage to archive.

The NFL or any other business depends on its customers. Engaging them, bringing them into the process, makes sense. The NFL seems to like the results, having gone from one social media effort in 2007 and 2008 to two such efforts in 2009. Like Doritos, have they figured something out?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Customer Service Still Rules!

A new customer satisfaction survey report from Accenture just crossed my desk. It’s about customer service generally, not on the Internet specifically, but that’s ok. As the report points out, we live in a multichannel world. That makes excellent customer service at all customer touchpoints essential.

Overall, the report sees three important trends:
• Globally, the perceived quality of customer service declined in 2007, although it is still rated as “good” in many countries, especially developed economies
• Customers say their expectations of quality customer service continue to increase. This is especially true in developing economies.
• Two of three respondents reported they had switched patronage during the year as a result of poor customer service; half had switched patronage in multiple industry segments as a result of poor service?
Is the Internet at least partially responsible for rising service expectations and increasing ease of switching suppliers? I think so.
And customer service does still rule. In most of the countries where data was collected, poor customer service trumped lower price as a reason for switching, often by a large amount. The exceptions were Germany and France. Interesting.
This somewhat complex chart gives more detail. It shows the importance of various factors to respondents who did switch and did not switch. Most of these factors are almost equally important; that’s worth thinking about, especially in light of the satisfaction data. It’s also worth noting that the two most important factors have to do with company representatives—their knowledge and their courtesy.

Equally important—and even less surprising—is that the higher the level of satisfaction, the less likely respondents were to switch. But look carefully. The levels of satisfaction are not that different between respondents who switched and those who did not. That’s not a new finding, but it should be worrisome to marketers.

Besides some general issues about satisfaction that we already knew, what should we take away from this study? First is that satisfaction is really important, but it doesn’t keep people from switching. And it often was not price that caused them to switch. So what did?

Two things are worth thinking about. First, the switching data looks at individual customer service factors; is it the overall customer experience that really makes the difference? Second, “price” may not capture the effects of powerful promotional offers, whether price-based or not.

Accenture’s summary points to the importance of individual customer service factors but relates it to overall customer experience. They say:

Accenture’s high performance business research has found that leading organizations enhance customer loyalty by mastering specific activities. Of these activities, our research shows providing a consistent, differentiated customer experience has the most impact on customer loyalty, which in turn contributes to growth, profitability, and shareholder value.

I’m still betting on overall customer experience as the determinant, but the power of a single really good feature—or even more one really bad aspect of customer service—cannot be denied. I suggest that this research provides a good framework for thinking about customer service and customer experience and there’s more useful data in the full report (download from this page). However, it can’t substitute for research that gets very specific about what causes customers to switch in your product category or for your own brand, as discussed in the recent post on Forrester's customer experience survey. And what if the importance factors still don’t differ a great deal? Then marketers are going to have to set some priorities based on where they are loosing customers or where they have the most chance to exceed customers’ expectations and create real loyalty. No one ever said that exceptional customer service was easy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Site for News and Brand Monitoring

Over the weekend I set up a new (another, actually) personal page. I had seen a notice about Ogilvy’s The Daily Influence site, and a look suggested it was worth taking for a trial run. I’ve had my Yahoo! start page for many years, and I have no intention of giving that up. I am, however, often surprised when I ask groups how many have a personal page—a lot don’t, so this one might be worth a try.
I liked their social media page—a lot of familiar sources and a few new to me. I added this blog so it would be on the page with the rest. As a news source, I was perfectly happy, except that I wished I could somehow put a link on my Yahoo! page, although it’s not really configured for that. Maybe I can add a widget; I’ll have to work on that.

What I didn’t pay enough attention to in the beginning was The Listening Post feature. Thanks to a review by Melissa Daniels drew my attention to the reputation monitoring feature. I tried that out and was impressed. In the Twitter box I put this blog. A search always produces a lot of noise, because DIY Marketing is a common content phrase these days. I entered the name of a non-profit I work with in the YouTube search box and found more videos than I knew about even though I do pay attention.
So I’d suggest that the news pages are potentially valuable, but the reputation monitoring is more so. At the same time, a comment on Melissa Daniels’ post pointed out that there’s a good list of free tools on Mashable and some of those may be more robust. But for the small business or the beginner, this all-in-one place may be a great time saver and/or an eye opener to the important world of monitoring your brand online.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Social Media Super Bowl Countdown--Doritos

For several years marketers have been integrating first the Internet itself and more recently social media into their overall Super Bowl advertising effort. Obviously, this is an attempt to get more mileage from the expensive TV ads themselves. While all ads require planning and preparation, social media campaigns have to be rolled out well in advance of the big day. A number are underway, and I’m going to do Friday posts on them between now and February 1.

Let’s start with one of the usual suspects. Doritos has run contests soliciting UGC for their ads for the past two years and the 2009 contest is in its last stages. In their own words, “Here’s the deal:”

"Doritos® is giving people nationwide a chance to have their commercial aired during the Big Game. As an added bonus, we’re giving away $1,000,000 if the Doritos® spot takes #1 on the USA TODAY Ad Meter (see official rules). But who will win? That’s where you come in. Visit the gallery page and vote on one of the five finalists. Your vote could win you a pair of tickets to Super Bowl XLIII. We’re giving away a pair of tickets every day. So come back and vote every day through 1/25/09.

I’ll avoid making a comment about how that sounds like voting in Chicago, and point out that their campaign reaches out to a lot of people. That’s what a social media campaign should do; it involves both the creators of content (the ads) and the viewers of content (the voters). Good going!

For more details, and to view the 5 finalists, which were posted on January 7, visit their site. Notice that the SnackStrong site is, in fact, the Doritos home page. And you may want to turn down the volume on your speakers!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Managing Your Branded Community

As noted yesterday, I’ve been writing a lot about community lately; I think it’s a (the?) pillar of Web 2.0. I’ve done posts on aspects including best practices and monitoring. It was the monitoring post that connected me with Brian Person when he made a thoughtful comment.

Bryan works for LiveWorld, a supplier of community-related services. I’m breaking from usual practice in writing about it, because they don’t offer free services. Their target market is large corporations who are willing to pay for services that smaller businesses can provide for themselves. That gives them a special perspective.
LiveWorld offers a platform, but their value added seems to be in the services they offer to assist their customers. They manage branded communities and provide a monitoring service that is available to even to communities that do not run on their platform. That says something about what corporations are finding difficult or onorous. Why? I suspect its because of the necessity to set management and monitoring guidelines and train a group of people to implement them. In some cases it may also simply be that the corporations do not think they have employees with the necessary time or expertise.

They have an interesting new addition to their product line called LiveBar, which allows customers to add social functionality to their own websites by offering conversations and something they call “soapboxes” that have blog-like functionality. LiveWorld CEO Peter Friedman demoed the new offering at the Web 2.0 expo in late fall.

Earlier in the week I had an opportunity to talk to Brian Person, who’s written some interesting posts on the corporate blog lately. I asked him what made their services worthwhile when there are free counterparts available. He said that it’s partly their experience with social networks and communities. It takes 3 to 6 months of serious effort to build a sustainable community. It’s not a silver bullet and good consultants help managers understand that and have patience. Monitoring does seem to be a real issue. He says they usually monitor communities for their customers. They require the customer to invest at least 10 hours each week in community management. This is not an activity to just be outsourced and then wash your (corporate) hands of the operations. It’s your brand; continuous involvement is necessary even if you hire management services.

Both those are useful lessons for the small firm. “Community development,” if you will takes ongoing effort. Monitoring, with careful guidelines especially if done by more than one person, is essential.

So community may be the common theme of Web 2.0 and branded communities may be seen as desirable. However, they are neither resource-free nor quick nor necessarily easy to establish. The smaller business may find it wise to participate in established communities of interest rather than trying to start a branded community. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Essentials of Web 2.0 Community

I’ve found myself writing a lot about community lately, and I have several other things I want to cover in days to come. This material has gotten me thinking and I’d like to suggest a couple of ideas.

The basic one is that “community” in the broadest sense, seems to be the uniting theme of the social web. That’s true in both B2C markets, where it’s easy to see, and also in B2B markets, where there is strong motivation for community building and participation.

If community is the uniting theme, what are the special elements of the social web in each marketspace? In the B2B space it seems obvious that collaboration—again broadly speaking--is the key benefit of focused social networks. For example, while I was writing this I got an update from LinkedIn guiding me to the activity of the Social Media group where people are asking questions, passing along information and looking for jobs and business. That’s a public network; the collaboration that goes on inside corporate firewalls on shared documents, wikis, and so forth is a major productivity enhancement, especially for global corporations.

In the B2C space the key element doesn’t seem—to me at least—to be as clear. I’ve called it User-Focused Communications, to include both relevant marketer-initiated communications as well as user-generated content. Do you have a better/another idea?

Whatever terms you use, I would argue that community is the common thread. What should we be thinking about in terms of “community strategy” if there is such a thing. A concept that has been circulating on the web for several months is the 4C’s of Community. They are:

• Content
• Context
• Connectivity
• Continuity.

Think about those and read this Ad Age article. Content, context and continuity are all things that require organizational commitment and resources. In the way it’s used here, connectivity is more than just the technology, and therefore it becomes an organizational issue also. More about that tomorrow.

There’s a lot of fun technology out there, and I enjoy that as much as anyone else. More important to marketers, though, will be the emergence of a strategic framework for thinking about the social web. Your comments on this broad-brush strategic concept are welcome!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Twittering to Support Their Brands

There’s been controversy lately in the pages of ClickZ about the value of Twitter in business communications, both pro and con.

Comcast, aka ComcastCares, runs its Twitter activity out of the customer service department, and that’s clearly the thrust of the activity, beginning with the name. Dunkin Donuts, on the other hand, started their Twitter program with the rather vague goal of engaging with their loyal customers. Another interesting difference is that the ComcastCares account has a human face, Frank Eliason, their Director of Digital Care. The Dunkin Donuts Twitter page identifies only “Dunkin' Dave, ” whom I would guess to be David Tryder, their Manager of Interactive Marketing. Two points. First, I prefer the identifiable human face—what about you? Second, even though a Twitter account is free, these programs are taking up the time of top marketing executives. They need to be worthy of that time.

The major buzz at the moment is around Scott Monty, formerly of the Crayon agency, who was hired to bring Ford into the social media age. In a short time at Ford he has already used Twitter to good effect in dealing with brand controversies including one with the independent aftermarket products site The Ranger Station. Scott’s full title is Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager for Ford and he has a strong strategic perspective on social media, including Twitter. Here’s an interview that’s worth listening to.

Did you know that the Prime Minister of Great Britain twitters? Well, at least someone in his office maintains an account for the PM. Barak Obama used Twitter in the campaign, and I doubt he wrote his messages either. That’s another model.

The take-away from all of this twitter about Twitter is that it does have potential uses, whether as a reputation management tool, a customer service tool, or – more problematically—just to hear what your customers are thinking. The emphasis should be on tool. And the question should be “how does this tool fit into our strategy?” Then there are issues of who has the expertise to do it well and how management is going to evaluate its effectiveness.

All of which says that--unlike individual consumers who may be twittering just for fun--it should be a strategic undertaking, not just “should we twitter?”