Why? Because you can’t fake community. If you want to manipulate me, you have to get to know me first and it helps if you seem to care about me, too… in addition to other worthy causes.
I read about Verizon’s Twittering Teddy a couple of weeks ago in PRWeek and there were a number of things that didn’t seem right about this.
1. The teddy was only supposed to be on Twitter for two weeks– that’s not nearly long enough to establish real relationships or build a meaningful network on Twitter.
2. Finding the bear’s name on Twitter took too much effort in the form of Google searching and clicking on multiple articles to no avail. I also searched on Twitter for Twittering Teddy to find nothing. None of the articles listed the name of the bear on Twitter, which happens to be @Teddy2PointHome.
3. Part of the campaign is to promote text-to-speech software and unless they know something I don’t, Twitter doesn’t. I have yet to hear someone tweet.
4. Next, they throw in something about UStream, an eBay auction, something about a Verizon Foundation and the Homeless Children’s Education Fund… Confused yet?
Apparently, the folks at Verizon thought that latching onto Twitter as the latest fashion in Web 2.0 would be a great idea to promote text-to-speech software that they will showcase on UStream for a couple of weeks in a big push to create some buzz.
Then for a measure of goodwill, they will then auction one of the bears off on eBay with plans to match the auction price with funds from the Verizon Foundation to benefit the Homeless Children’s Education Fund. Whew.
What a strange path to fundraising for a worthy organization.
As of tonight, less than 5 hours until the eBay auction is set to close, Verizon’s Twittering Teddy only has 383 followers and a high bid of $212.50.
If you really want to be confused, check out the online home of Twittering Teddy here: http://www.2pointhome.com/teddy Then, ask yourself; what have they done to Teddy Ruxpin?
And, for an example of why I think so many social media press releases don’t work, read this page of FAQs and see how long it takes you to figure out what this promotion is really all about: http://www.2pointhome.com/articles/view/45602 While you’re there, be sure to check out the world’s longest quote from an executive in a press release:
“My Home 2.0 brings to life the ways ultra-high-speed broadband and high-definition TV, powered by Verizon FiOS, can make the homes of families large and small more fun, productive and connected. Twittering Teddy is an example of the creative applications that are available through the use of our all-fiber technology. We are thrilled that the recipient of the proceeds of the eBay charity auction will be the most deserving provider of quality educational resources, The Homeless Children’s Education Fund.”
Attributed to William B. Petersen, President of Verizon Pennsylvania:
Social media is not a flash in the pan, or something to engage in when it suits the needs of the current strategy or promotion.
When the Teddy idea is kicked to the curb, Verizon shouldn’t write off communication tools like Twitter as useless. Instead, they should start using them to participate and engage their customers in a meaningful way that adds value to their lives and to the brand.
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