The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

The Power Of Twitter Or Why You Should Run Your Association Like A Bakery

Posted by Chris Bonney on Fri, Feb 19, 2010


describe the imageLet's start off by dispelling a few lingering myths about Twitter. Twitter can be, but is mostly not:

1. Ruled by teenagers.

2. A place to post what you had for breakfast.

3. A fad.

Okay, still not convinced?

Let me tell you a story about the sandwich man.

There is a fabulous bakery and deli called Specialty's that happens to be right on my way to the office from the train. I tend to stop there on occasion (okay, my definition of "on occasion" is 3 to 4 mornings a week) and I get an oatmeal banana muffin and an Odwalla OJ. It's a great way to start the day.

Okay, now the other thing I've been doing on occasion is broadcasting my location via Foursquare. It's less of an attempt to be hip than a semi-futile undertaking to be as abreast of modern technology as I can be so my clients have someone to turn to when they have questions about new stuff. So, on the morning of Tuesday, February 2nd, like an obedient early adopter, I "checked in" at Specialty's via Foursquare. Foursquare has a neat option that allows my check-ins to be broadcast to my Twitter followers.

Here is what a Foursquare check-in looks like coming over the wire on Twitter:

Later in the week on Friday I get this @ mention from Specialty's Twitter account:

So, to see if there was a human behind the account, I tweeted this back:

Of course, the entire day went by with no response from Specialty's. I shrugged as I left  the office Friday evening thinking, "Yet another company that apparently knows how to broadcast, but not really engage on Twitter."

Fast forward to Monday, February 8th at around 10am.

I was on an important conference call when our office manager, Marilyn, slowly entered my office with a concerned look on her face.

"Chris, there are two men here that say it's very important that they see you right away," she whispered as I placed my hand over the receiver.

I quickly ended my call and did my best to look out the window of my office to our lobby to see who from the IRS/CIA/Singing Telegram Service was waiting for me.

Enter the sandwich man.

As I approached our lobby there was a jovial man (pictured above) in a sandwich suit. "Hi, Chris," he said. "We heard you lost your orange juice!" He stuck out his hand, handing me a big jug of Odwalla orange juice (Yes, the same OJ in the picture). I was speechless. describe the image

Then a man I hadn't noticed yet, introduced himself as the catering manager and handed me two large, handled bags FULL of baked goods and juices. "We heard you lost your orange juice in our store and my manager said we needed to get you some more orange juice asap. So here we are and here are some treats for your office!"

I thanked them both uncontrollably as they walked out the door and, still in a state of awe, walked all the incredibly tasty sweets back to my office. My associates gathered around and asked what was going on. We chowed on sticky buns, muffins (yes, they brought me oatmeal banana) and danishes as I explained the experience.

Specialty's continues to keep track of me. Here's a post from yesterday after they saw I had checked-in earlier:

So I have to ask.

Could Twitter be much more than you imagined? Do you look at it differently now? Is there anything for you on Twitter? Any relevance? Any meaning? Is there a way your organization could use Twitter? Is one-to-one marketing an option for your association? Is going the extra mile worth more than the expense and hassle? Is a story like this worth more than any brochure or members' only report you could offer?

My answer is yes. What about you?

Topics: vanguard technology, twitter, web 2.0, social media, foursquare, specialty's, associations

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