Ah talkback radio. I grew up with talkback radio as my Mum listened to it pretty much all the time. Her station of choice was 3AW and it’s main stars at the time (and probably still) were Neil Mitchell, Steve Price and Derryn Hinch. John Faine from 774 in Melbourne is now, in my opinion, really no different (we’ve even renamed his 11-12 segment the Condescension Hour)
In Sydney I believe the main players are Alan Jones, Ray Hadley, Mike Carlton, John Stanley
Anyway … if you’ve listened to talkback radio basically the host (incredibly self important) sets an agenda and a bunch of people call up and either undeniably agree with everything or disagree entirely. No room for middle ground in talkback radio and the more of an obnixous douchebag you are the better it is.
Personally I see some similarities between talkback radio and Twitter.
Some people say that you have to pay extremely close attention to Twitter as a Twitter user with a beef against your brand is extremely powerful and can be incredibly damaging.
The difference I guess between talkback radio and Twitter is talkback radio has to be careful to ensure its callers don’t say anything slanderous against a brand/individual and generally must run at a delay to ensure nothing like that goes to air … whereas with Twitter anyone can say anything and there’s really no need for fact checking. And if it’s witty enough the retweet stream will start and half-truths or just plain incorrect assertions can become ‘viral’ (bang)
Perhaps worth closer inspection is the overall sentiment on Twitter towards brands.
My opinion is a funny one liner generally needs to have a negative or sarcastic slant. You get more haha’s if you say something like ‘Wow, what excellent customer service from Optus thanks for leaving me on hold for 90 mins you really know how to run a business d*ckheads’ than ‘Fantastic service from Optus today. Problem resolved in 30 seconds. Thanks guys’
You could argue that people don’t feel the need to broadcast positive sentiment as maybe we all expect it. But we feel we have the right to broadcast to everyone when things don’t fall our way. If I have to wait longer than I deem appropriate for someone of my Internet stature when I call the ANZ call centre then you can guarantee I’ll use the downtime to Twitter about how ridiculous it is in 2009 that companies haven’t invented instant customer service. We’ve all done it.
i thought I’d do a Twitter search for a few key AU brands and just see what the Twitterati (eugh) are saying
OPTUS – Most current sentiment is either negative or around iphone. Not much positive here aside 1 positive twitter message aroud customer service. Still, much more f*ck you’s than thanks. http://twitter.com/#search?q=optus (look out Optus your days are numbered)
Jetstar (disclaimer: Maxus client) – Some comments around sale activity … some whinging around late arrivals, check in allowance. Much more ‘Jetstar is terrible’ than ‘Jetstar is great’. Whilst all this is going on Jetstar as a business keeps growing with more passengers. http://twitter.com/#search?q=jetstar
Telstra – The trash talking from disgruntled users is the theme on Twitter. Bigpond have a social media team (that works business hours …) with around 1,500 followers that from my observations seems to give other twitter users with bigpond related problems the number of the call centre and sign off with a smiley. From estimates Bigpond has around 4m paying subscribers. http://twitter.com/#search?q=telstra
Commonwealth Bank – Lots of whining and retweets of other peoples clever whining. Nothing positive here which much ultimately mean they are also doomed. http://twitter.com/#search?q=commbank
Anyway – my point is … are we paying too much attention to the extremely vocal, but tiny, minority … and not enough to the not so vocal, but less bratty majority. I’m not saying ignore them – not at all – monitoring is important … but potentially we’re amplifying its importance more than we should.
Would we show the same reactions to talkback radio callers that we do to Twitter users?