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Twitter Poaching

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment

If no one else has coined it yet, I’d like to throw a phrase into the zeitgeist:

“Twitter Poaching”: the practice of using social media to monitor the discussion about an industry or topic and look for opportunities to lure customers/stakeholders away from competitors by providing them with higher-quality customer service.

SouthWest Airlines (@southwestair) and Charter Communications (@CharterCom, @Umattertocharter) are experts at this already, and new organizations are adding this practice to their arsenal of promotional/recruitment tactics every single day.

Right now it’s a curiosity.  Soon it will become commonplace, and soon after that your audience will expect/demand it.  May as well invest now (and it will be an investment: knowledgeable personnel to monitor and respond as well as money to invest in new relationships with customers) when you can still get a little bit of credit for being an early adopter (though by the time I hit send on this post it may be too late).

PRSA 2009 International Conference Flashmob Experiment

November 13, 2009 1 comment

Recently, at the 2009 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, the national assembly was held to go over proposed changes to the bylaws.  As with many events of this size and demographic (tech-savvy professionals), discussion about the proceedings took place on Twitter using the hashtag #prsa09.

Interested in the reach of the medium, I proposed a flashmob to test how much active engagement was taking place.  At 3:50 p.m. PST, those following the discussion on Twitter were asked to turn the tent cards at their tables on their sides.  As one can see from the photos, a number of people participated and the experiment even reached the leadership seated at the dais.  Afterwards, an impromptu tweetup was held in the back of the room.  Yes, I know, it’s all very geeky but I’m used to it as someone who sewed his own bag for the purposes of holding his D&D dice (right now I’m making a saving throw against embarrassment).

I’m interested to see what will happen next year when many of the participants at the conference will have access to wi-fi and Google Wave (as well as what this portends for other group processes like legislating, collective bargaining, arbitration, etc.) …

Text Messaging Reduced the Spread of the Novovirus at Hope College

December 5, 2008 Leave a comment

UPDATE: Text messages reduce the spread of norovirus at Hope College
Posted By: Joshua Aldredge Posted By: Chris Fleszar | WZZM13 | December 5, 2008

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) A text message proved effective in alerting thousands of students about last month’s norovirus outbreak at Hope College. Hope College officials informed the Health Department they had a database that contained all of the students email and tex messaging addresses. 3600 students were notified at once. Students were asked via text message to reply to an email detailing their symptoms and how long they were ill. The Health Department says in the end about 540 students responded. Officials say the information was crucial for determining a plan of action and slowing the spread of the virus. [Source…]

It should be noted that Grand Rapids Community College was the first college or university in West Michigan to offer emergency SMS text messages to students and employees. Years later, a temporary CIO for the college staffed by a consulting firm learned that the college had been doing this and called it “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”

Fortunately the college did not take his advice to drop the text messaging service it offers (but instead has invested in a more robust system which now serves over 4,500 users).