A Twitter Marketing Success Story

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on my company blog about Twitter from a marketer’s perspective (I think it’s pretty good, so go read it when you’re done here πŸ™‚ ). This post is about my experience with Twitter on the other side of the aisle — not just as a consumer, but as a *target* of marketers (in a good way).

Last night I was trying out iPlotz, a new online tool for doing product design. I own a license for the desktop version of Balsamiq Mockups, a competing product. But, iPlotz had a couple key features Balsamiq didn’t. So, I was really bummed when iPlotz changed the limits for free trials without warning (the day before I had created 7 wireframes in my iPlotz account, and now it was telling me the limit was 5). Since I was sitting at my desk at home and had no one to bitch to, I bitched to Twitter:

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I wasn’t really expecting a reply from anyone, let alone one from iPlotz. (At most, I had been hoping to publicly shame them a little bit for the not cool practice of changing the rules without notice.)

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I was flattered that someone at this company was actually listening to me. All of a sudden I went from being in a bitchy mood about their policy faux pas to wanting to compliment them.

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Wow! I was kinda just being patronizing before, but this actually sounds like a really cool product. Even though I just dropped $79 on Balsamiq a few months ago, I might have to buy *this* one too when it drops.

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And that’s that, right? If it had been, it would have been an interesting (if not unique) example of an up-and-coming start-up reaching out to an ‘early adopter’ through social media.

But, that wasn’t the end. When I woke up this morning, I found a reply from Balsamiq.

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It turns out they *do* have the main feature I’ve been wanting, I just didn’t realize they had released an update. And in learning about this one feature I wanted, I also learn about another new feature I love.

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Well as long as I have their attention, I might as well speak up for that other feature I’ve been longing for.

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HOLY SHIT!!! Not only are they working on the new feature, but they’ve put its design up for review by their users (via Get Satisfaction). I’m in LOVE! First, to put in my $0.02 on the proposed feature design. Now, where’s that tweet Robi sent a couple days ago asking for design software recommendations (on which I originally remained silent)?

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I know Robi can be a cheap bastard sometimes, so I’d better make clear to him how great this really is. πŸ˜‰

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First of all, this whole episode struck me as rather phenomenal — I literally just had 2 brands (and not just some PR flacks, but the CEOs of both companies) competing for my business on Twitter! And while having Pepsi and Coke compete for my business on TV is the main reason I don’t watch it, I came away from this experience on Twitter with a very positive sentiment about both companies (even though I came into it dissatisfied with both of them). And it’s not just that I was flattered to be conversing with the CEOs, it could have been any employee as long as they were empowered to address my needs (like Frank aka @comcastcares).

But in my mind, this goes beyond Twitter and really showcases the power of social media as a CRM tool (what is the difference between ‘marketing’ and ‘CRM’ other than connotation, really?). As Debs wrote:

The social web can actually provide much deeper and more interesting connections for customers and companies than simply being a marketing channel – it ties into the entire product lifecycle.

By showing that they’re listening to me and bringing me into the process, Balsamiq just turned me from a disenchanted user to an enthusiastic evangelist. Not only are they tolerating my Monday morning product management, they’re inviting it. Bringing your customers into the product development process has the dual benefits of helping you build better and more customer-centric products and making your customers your most passionate sales people (because after all, it’s their product too).

Now, go buy Balsamiq Mockups! πŸ˜‰ (And, go read my post on quick wins for brands on Twitter.)

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9 thoughts on “A Twitter Marketing Success Story”

  1. Hahahah finally got around to reading this (too many open tabs syndrome strikes again..) and wanted to say:

    “Yeah I am a cheap bastard sometimes!”

    Seriously though, great story about how the social web (and Twitter in particular in this instance) are changing the nature of customer-corporate communications. It’s also a strong voice in support of your post on why you’re more hesitant than ever to give money to packaged software.

    Combining your thoughts in both, I find that the most interesting piece of this is that you think you might pay for iPlotz in ADDITION to your existing purchase of Balsamiq. It seems to imply to me that something I’ve believed for a long time is actually happening: As consumers, we’re fairly likely to “overspend” when we personalize a brand and move from feeling like they just want our money to a place where we view them as complex and generally interested in being “my friend” and therefore, worth an investment of my time and money. When we view a company as being well-meaning and full of real people, we give them more leeway and more business, happily.

    I’ll expand:

    To date, the best way to accomplish brand personalization has been through having employees connect with customers in person (think Starbucks or Nordstrom) and impress upon the customers that the corporation is neither faceless nor evil. Most importantly, these interactions help communicate that the company is focused on making you, the customer, HAPPY. Packaged goods (whether it’s your iPod that craps out 6 months in or your Quickbooks software package) struggle mightily with achieving this type of brand personalization. Now, with services like Twitter and Facebook, the efficacy of search and our increasing willingness to complain out loud, companies can identify us more effectively. They can engage us in conversation and teach us about how they think and how they’re trying to EARN our money, instead of TAKING it.

    But, again, the packaged goods companies in this situation are hamstrung, because while they can listen to your complaints, they’re not really in a position to do much about it in order to meet your needs. The service-oriented companies, however (whether it’s Starbucks or Balsamiq) can take another step; they can actually change your experience with them by listening to your complaints/suggestions and doing something about it. Physical service businesses have been capable of doing this for a long time (and amazingly, most of them still stink at it) but digital companies are just beginning to really wake up to this idea. This is where iPlotz and Balsamiq really can show us what the future holds: conversations and personal interactions with customers (existing and potential) can lead to better future products and experiences. The new generation of digital companies all need to understand this and seek to incorporate it into their culture (and man, are they going to need a lot of help with this..). The knowledge that a company is working in this manner, to constantly evolve and improve upon what they’re offering to us in turn, increases our willingness to give them money. When we believe that a company is trying to do right by us, even if they don’t do it all the time, we see the money we give them as more of an investment, rather than a hard cost.

    Whoa.. so this has turned into probably the longest comment I’ve ever left, but your 2 posts got me fired up. Might have to take this and move it into my blog as well (which you can of course link to if you choose to mention me on here in the future πŸ˜‰ ).

    -Robi

  2. I think the question is what a business is going to use Twitter or LinkedIn for. Twitter is great if your a large business and you want daily, instant consumer reaction. However, for people who follow hundreds or thousands on Twitter, a few Tweets a day from a company may not even be noticed. A good LinkedIn page, however, is almost like a company Web site, with lots of good, detailed info and links.

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