Brand Protection via Twitter

I’m getting used to hearing from folks who aren’t pleased [or, occasionally, are pleased] with what I write in my blog.

I know that people and companies use Google Alerts and other tools to monitor electroland for mentions of themselves. I do it too. I used to get alerts about another guy named Craig Stoltz,  who worked in the communications department of Bristol-Myers Squib. [In fact, he’s probably reading this right now. Hi, Craig!]

But a few days ago I was surprised that one of my carefree Twitter messages set off a PR alarm.

I had decided to give a try to usertesting.com, a ridiculously cheap service that conducts very basic usability testing on websites. I was using it on behalf of a client, to test a site I’d been working on for a while.

And so one afternoon, after I’d just gotten results from my first user tests, I Tweeted the following:

Trying usertesting.com for client. $20/user! May reduce my usability testing income. Results only OK. http://www.usertesting.com/…

At 7:55 p.m., this note showed up in my e-mail box, from Dave Garr.

Hi Craig,

I just saw your Twitter about UserTesting.com. As one of the founders of UserTesting.com, I really want you to be satisfied. Two questions:

1. Can I ask why you felt the results were only OK?

2. What can I do to make it up to you?. . . .

That’s an impressive pounce–fast, concerned, generous. I guess that increasingly, this is all in a day’s work. It’s a noisy, unruly social world out here. People who need to protect their brands and reputations have to be on alert and ready to respond.

What surprises me is the speed with which reputation monitors appear to have added Twitter to their must-check lists. This is made possible due to the rise of Summize, a search engine that sweeps the text of Tweets. [Google seems to notice some Tweets, but I haven’t figured out how or which.]

I know it was a delusion, but there was a time when I thought that my Twittering was semi-private, a way of speaking casually to folks who’d decided to follow me and whom I’d accepted into my posse.

But of course this is foolish sentimentalism: Like everything else in the digital world, Twitter content is forever. And everywhere. And immediate. I’m sure that within the next few weeks some kid just out of college will be rejected from a job not because of something she posted on Facebook, but due to some unguarded Tweet.

So it goes.

And I guess now I’ll have to use Summize every once in a while to what’s being said about me on Twitter. In fact, I just did.

Note to that other Craig Stoltz: I think we’re fine for now.

And to Dave Garr: Hi again!

Explore posts in the same categories: PR, social media, Twitter, Web 2.0

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9 Comments on “Brand Protection via Twitter”

  1. Kat Says:

    I’d like to think companies are becoming aware that a negative comment is not just dangerous, but actually a great opportunity to learn something about their brands – and hopefully sort out the issues. It seems this is how Dave Garr saw your comment, good on him.

  2. Craig Stoltz Says:

    Kat was being excessively modest by failing to mention she has an excellent post on this very topic at http://www.gottaquirk.com/post/1389/critical-customers

  3. Michael Chin Says:

    Twitter noise aside (wow…@XYZ really likes cookies & cream ice cream!), from a marketing and customer service point of view it’s interesting how your ‘voice’ changes in the Twitter universe. Immediacy takes center stage but what I find interesting is that anonymity on both sides (the complainer and the responder) is removed and everything is public. Having these ‘real’ and public conversations with people on both ends of the equation is a real change. Can you imagine if the airline industry actually cared enough about their customers to engage this way? http://summize.com/search?q=american+airlines

  4. Paul Says:

    Michael Arrington posted about this very topic in April with a pretty interesting story about comcast. Clearly, other companies are catching on.

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/06/comcast-twitter-and-the-chicken-trust-me-i-have-a-point/

  5. Craig Stoltz Says:

    Paul–Thanks so much for this link. It proves, again, that I’m late to the party.

    All: Arrington’s post is great, seminal on this topic. It also explains the source of the now legendary adventures of him and Comcast, and Jeff Jarvis and Dell.

  6. John Welsh Says:

    I asked if Twitter was in danger of becoming the new spam two days ago – http://johnwelsh.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/is-twitter-the-new-spam/. I had another nudge from an advertiser today. So where does this place us all in terms of data protection? Does anyone know?

  7. Kat Says:

    Thanks Craig, you’ve put a massive smile on my face.🙂


  8. […] is the phenomenon I wrote about not long ago in an entry describing how Dave Garr, founder of a site called Usertesting.com, discovered a negative comment […]


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