18/11/2011

By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and owner of Energy PR

There’s much talk of social media making marketing smarter, but I’d argue that a lack of joined up thinking means it’s making many brands look rather stupid.

Let me show you what I mean. I was recently sent two pieces of direct mail in the post. Both were from different, competing, investment management companies. One was offering me a product that would save me £150. The other was targeting me as someone who might have a spare £500,000 to invest!

Now I think it’s safe to say that one (if not both) of these companies has its database analysis a bit wrong. Someone who is going to get so excited about £150 that they will disrupt their personal finance arrangements, isn’t equally going to have a cool half million hidden down the back of their sofa.

However, what is more surprising (and depressing) about this is that I recently handed both of these companies a golden opportunity to get to know me much, much better.

Opportunity Missed

Just two weeks before the direct mail landed in my letterbox I began to follow eight of the major names in wealth management on Twitter. I wanted to see what they were doing in social media terms and these two direct mailers were included in the eight.

You would think that a company that is devoting some serious money to direct mail campaigns in the hope of selling me investment products and services would grab the opportunity to interact with someone who is willingly sticking their hand up (on Twitter) and saying ‘I’m here, I’m thinking about personal finance...talk to me’.

Sadly not...I am shocked to report that not one of the eight major players (these are all big personal finance brands) that I followed on Twitter even sent me an automated tweet saying ‘thanks for following’, let alone interact with me properly.

What Did They Lose?

If someone (a person not an automated robot) had looked at my profile, what would they have learned? Well, quite a lot actually.

They’d know that I own two businesses and that I’m based in Oxfordshire. If they had scanned my tweets for a few days they’d pick up that I have kids (four, as it happens) and that my kids are netball and cricket mad. A bit of desk research would take them to my blog, my LinkedIn profile, my websites and my email address.

I appreciate that this sounds like a bit of effort but imagine how much richer this insight is than the information they are currently working with. By not paying attention, their direct mail activity is left simply with a name, my address and, based on my postcode, some value judgements about what kinds of investor I might be. They have nothing. They’re flying blind!

If they joined the ‘me’ on Twitter with the ‘me’ in their database they could talk to me about investment products for my kids. They could invite me, and my family, to corporate hospitality involving cricket, or at least try and excite us with a competition to win some tickets to a match.

How smart and impressed I would have been if one of them had actually tweeted:

@louisefw hear your kids love cricket. We sometimes get free tickets to county matches, will see if there are any coming up in yr area

Twitter Motions

But no! Instead, the eight companies in question are going through the twitter motions...One look at their tweets and twitter profiles and you’d see what I mean. They barely follow anyone other than a few ‘serious’ journalists, and their twitter streams are simply broadcasts about their results, their CEO, their interview with the FT, their latest product or sponsorship. It’s all about Them. I shouldn’t think for one instance anyone in their organisation has thought ‘Why are these people following us on Twitter? What are they hoping to get out of this experience? How can we serve them?’

Oh no, for them Twitter followers are a statistic, proof that Twitter activity is happening! Followers are an audience for them to talk at. They’re not looking for relationships or conversations, they just think they should be on Twitter and so have assigned it to someone.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

I should say it’s probably not the fault of the person responsible for managing Twitter. They probably haven’t been properly trained, and don’t know what they’re doing. They’re probably quite divorced from the wider marketing mix. They are certainly not involved in direct mail campaigns.

So all that potential insight about me is not being picked up and fed through to the other marketing operations. As I said, they may be connected to Twitter but their marketing is far from joined up.


Follow Louise on Twitter @louisefw

If you are looking for a PR agency or want to do your own PR, contact Louise Findlay-Wilson on 01993 823011 or one of her businesses. For training and tools so you can DIY PR visit www.prpro.co.uk If you are looking for a PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk


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