the twitimpact phenomenon on brand at light speed

The following is a guest post from Dan Phillips, the co-founder of Skybend, a design and brand company focused on helping businesses navigate the gauntlet of electronic media. A classically trained artist turned graphics designer turned entrepreneur, Dan brings his unique perspective to branding efforts for businesses around the country. Contact Dan through his website at http://skybend.com or on Twitter via @ruqus.

Today I heard a story about the immediate impact of Twitter, or Twitimpact (that’s right you read it here first, Twitimpact). HLG_Twitter_FiredThe story goes like this:

  1. Celebrity eats out at a favorite Hollywood spot.
  2. Celebrity skips out on bill. Claims wallet was in car and never returns.
  3. Server at the eatery tweets (sent a Twitter message) about it.
  4. Celebrity sees tweet and gets angry.
  5. Celebrity then has her assistant pay the bill but not the tip.
  6. Server tweets “NO TIP.”
  7. Celebrity returns to the scene of the crime and slaps three dollars on the table in front of server.
  8. Server tweets “Thank You” to the celebrity.
  9. Server gets fired. Presumably at the celebrities request.
  10. Server continues to happily tweet saying “thank you” to the celebrity for days off with family.
  11. People feel bad for the server and add their own tweets.
  12. Celebrity looks even worse.

This silly incident has forever affected the celebrity’s Brand. It could have a very real, and immediate, impact on the viewership of the celebrity’s TV show. Which in turn effects advertising dollars for the network. All because she chose not to pay for the daily lunch special. What is the ultimate cost of that lunch?

Key takeaway:

  • a minor slip-up in Brand awareness is like peeing in the pool, no amount of chlorine can get the pee out.

Defining a Reputation

What is brand? For our discussion, the simplest definition of Brand is reputation. An example:

Positive: You buy a pair of Nike running shoes. The shoes perform flawlessly. You run faster and jump higher than ever before. You are now a customer for life. Telling your friends about the “experience” and the shoes.

Negative: You buy a pair of Nike running shoes. They cause foot pain, lower back pain, and fall apart. You are now likely to never purchase the brand again, and you tell everyone you know about the “experience.”

The collection of customer experiences help establish a reputation, which in turn defines a brand. In ancient times, 5 to 10 years ago, information moved much slower. It took days, weeks, or even month for your recommendations and warnings to travel through your pre-social media network. Now with Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, text messaging, and all the rest, your experiences are broadcast immediately, complete with pictures and videos. Reputations are shined or tarnished in a matter of seconds.

Key takeaways:

  • Reputation is a good way to think of Brand.
  • Good user experience is always the best way to build a loyal following.
  • The world is connected and reputations are shined or tarnished in a matter of seconds.

What should the celebrity have done?

The celebrity should have recognized the powerful Twitimpact, and used it as an opportunity to advance her brand. The result would have been completely different had she sent the server a $100 tip with a nice note and an 8×10 glossy. The server would have surely tweeted about the gesture over and over. The celebrity’s brand influence would have gone way up.

Sure, I can see the celebrity’s point-of-view. But, when the public is watching, you pucker up so the cameras can catch it. Only time will tell what the true Twitimpact is, but I’m certain there are other servers waiting to tweet about their brushes with celebrity.

Key takeaways:

  • There are millions of people waiting to tweet their experiences.
  • Your brand actions now travel at light speed. It is a wonderful, yet deadly, double-edged sword.

Obviously the celebrity is a metaphor for any company, product, or service. Be careful, in today’s social media obsessed world, the Twitimpact phenomenon can cause a quick death, or an even quicker rise to greatness. Social media is not going away any time soon. So use it to elevate your company.

(image is from Duane Hoffman / msnbc.com)

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