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 🙂 ). 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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well as long as I have their attention, I might as well speak up for that other feature I’ve been longing for.
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)?
I know Robi can be a cheap bastard sometimes, so I’d better make clear to him how great this really is. 😉
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).