Monday, February 22, 2010

Socially inept social marketing

As enablers of communications, I don't think it's too much to expect of communications companies to be able to communicate. However, it seems to be almost an alien concept, and when it goes wrong, their efforts can smack of ineptitude, if not outright desperation. A friend received the following from a PR agency, which shall remain nameless to save them embarrassment, though I don't know why I'm being so charitable:

Hi there,

We work for BT and would like to offer you the opportunity to trial the new BT Infinity Superfast Broadband. The service is being rolled out across the UK over the coming months and as a prominent xxx blogger, we'll like your influence to help tell people about it. Here’s the deal – we’ll give you FREEbroadband in exchange for running a competition about BT Infinity on your blog.

BT Infinity is basically a fibre optic broadband service that allows download speeds up to 40MB and upload speeds of up to 10MB so you'll be able to do so much more at the same time - and in an instant.

Here’s some more info on BT Infinity:

Sound a good deal? Just let us know if it's something you'd be interest taking part and we’ll arrange for full installation and send you a media pack about the competition details right away!

Please let us know.

Best wishes

So it looks like said PR shop is scatter gun spamming bloggers in a cack handed effort to tap some illusory "social buzz" surrounding BT Infinity (interesting name choice, by the way - you can't go beyond infinity, now defined as 40/10Mbps). No personal salutation, so not particularly social, and in line two my friend is described as a "prominent xxx blogger." Triple X? Really? I'm also baffled as to exactly what sort of "competition about BT Infinity" he is meant to "run" on his blog. Perhaps some sort of xxx download speed contest?

Bizarre from start to finish, and it's reminiscent of the kind of anonymous nonsense I occasionally receive from Sani Abacha's widow. Socially inept, and, methinks, highly unlikely to inspire a warm and fuzzy feeling in any "prominent xxx blogger," but fantastic comedic value. So here comes the punchline: the "prominent xxx blogger" recipient mothballed his blog quite some time ago, just so you know.

BT, if you are intent on doing social marketing, I am available to advise you.


Paul Sweeney said...

You know, if it was actually any good they should just make it available to you. Then, you would write about it if it was "remarkable". Its like tweets that ask you to re-tweet. I kinda say, no, no, because you asked me to, no. That's just how I roll.

Gareth Wood said...

As someone who has worked in Telecoms for 10 years I can confirm that communication - be it internal within the business or external to its customers and the investment community, is a skill that I have yet to encounter in any of the companies I have dealt with. With the possible exception of Skype.

Anthony said...

Is your friend a prominent porn blogger? That may explain the unusual nomenclature.....

francis mahon said...

Of course you can go higher than infinity! Haven't you ever heard of infinity + 1?

The more I think about it, the more desirable the requirement that people should have to pass a test before being given Internet access becomes. What's the point of having the greatest communications tool ever at your fingertips if you don't know how to communicate?

chris said...

Hmm, infinity eh? Maybe get an amp that has the dial go up to 11? Good luck with your house move - you were missed last evening over tapas

James Enck said...

Thanks Chris, wish I could have been there. Have been preparing for a Friday move which I am now told will have to wait until next Wednesday. Ahhh, customer satisfaction, UK-style!

David H. Deans said...

James, here in the U.S. we have the same phenomenon -- telcos learn the hard way that social media is rarely handled correctly by their Ad agency or PR firm.

Remember, most telcos outsource this outreach activity because they believe that an "expert" can do it better than they can themselves.

People at agencies who have been schooled in how to "buy influence" do a poor job of "earning influence."

That said, anyone who sends an email broadcast using a text template that was intended to be personalized is truly inept.

Then there's the culture issue. Most telcos issue social media policies for their employees that inhibit any creative experimentation -- where those people could actively participate online without fear of negative ramification.

Solving these "marketing savvy" deficiency issues is a huge undertaking for the typical incumbent broadband service provider. It's clearly a work in progress, for sure.

thisisspain said...

This is on a par with the appalling Nestle arrival in the social media arena.

Am I surprised? No.

When will the "big boys" realise that people buy people and not hype.