Is Twitter talkback radio for people without landlines?


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?

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4 responses to “Is Twitter talkback radio for people without landlines?

  1. I know you’re not a Seth Godin fan these days but I think he addressed this topic pretty well a few months ago….
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/03/ignore-your-critics.html

    Of the 4 brands you mentioned, with the exception of Jetstar (to whom I’m pretty neutral) I have moderately to strongly negative perceptions of all of them, and have done since well before I started using Twitter. Whereas brands I really like (AirAsia, Virgin, Apple, iiNet) seem to get a pretty good run.

    So I think Twitter just reflects the perceptions/opinions of wider society; The difference with Twitter is how quickly stuff can spread and how easily brands can monitor and respond to it.

    As you point out, the brands you mentioned are dominant and in no danger, but if they (or their competitors) were committed to lifting their game, Twitter seems a pretty accurate gauge of their effectiveness.

  2. talkingdigital

    it’s an interesting area – does it reflect wider society or just the fringe elements?

    tom do you think tony delroy is on twitter?

  3. Doesn’t look like it. If he was Magpie’d be on his nuts non-stop with the DMs.

    His name’s available… wonder if I should grab it for safe keeping before Leslie Nasser gets his grubby little paws on it and sullies the impeccable Delroy name forever.

  4. Talking of Sullies…I’m really wondering how long twitter can last?

    Isn’t it like shouting at a brick wall? (I am twitterless)

    At least blogs are directional with a pov and response, even if according to the luminaries in News Ltd it is all uninformed / ignorant ranting!

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