Keeping it in the family, today's post comes courtesy of my brother Chris, who runs marketing for North East Derbyshire District Council. He has actually shown that Twitter can have some use in business, when it's applied to help solve a business issue, in this case finding homes for stray doggies.
During 2010/11 the economic downturn led to a sharp increase in stray and abandoned dogs, causing Chris's Authority a number of problems. First, costs of running the animal welfare service, in officer time and kennelling fees, were increasing. Also, due to the increasing number of strays it was getting harder to find new homes - with the risk that more animals were being destroyed, which was both upsetting and an additional cost.
Rising to the challenge, Chris and his team developed and launched a Twitter feed called 'Tweets by Albert' (http://twitter.com/#!/Tweetsby_albert). Albert is a loveable, mischievous pug dog who asks for help re-housing his doggie mates.
- Over the past year not one single dog has been destroyed.
- 50 animals have been re-homed over the past eight months - a rate of more than one per week, a 30% increase on the previous 12 months
- Service running costs have been reduced
- Campaign budget of zero, vs. previous cost of running ads in local newspapers
1. Solve a business issue: this is a good example of using social media to actually solve a problem, rather than just send out a stream of pretty irrelevant brand information. What's cool in this case is increasing effectiveness, whilst also reducing costs.
2. Let's get personal: Twitter is personal. People follow people, or in this case a dog, and not brands. This is why the CEO of US etailer Zappos has 200 times the following of Zappos.com on Twitter. The clever trick here was using an imaginary dog, and getting the tone of voice right. Albert manages to ask for help without lecturing people.
3. Benefits of being distinctive: the creation of Albert had news value. This helped generate over 60 positive stories about animal welfare issues, a 30% increase on the previous year.
In conclusion, Chris has shown that if used creatively in a targeted way social media can be an effective and efficient way to achieve business goals and build your reputation.