John D. Rockefeller famously saw the Wall Street crash coming and got his money out when the shoeshine boy started giving him stock tips. So what does it mean for the Next New Thing in social media when your parents-in-law start telling you about Twitter?
For one thing, any self-respecting digital trendspotter will have started looking elsewhere at least a year ago. But the more important point for brands is how quickly these social media innovations are moving from the margins to the mainstream. As author and teacher Clay Shirky notes, it’s only when technology gets boring—that’s to say, routine for the majority, not just the Geekosphere—that it gets interesting.
Twitter is already becoming one of the first places people look for breaking news, often by eyewitnesses, on everything from plane crashes to earthquakes to, sadly, school shootings. It’s also the place companies look when trying to monitor not just run-of-the-mill customer opinions (“wow walmart super center employees are rude!”) but real-time feedback on their own breaking news stories.
For instance, Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) recently used Twitter to engage directly with people spreading the news about a YouTube video that showed employees adding, shall we say, nonstandard ingredients to the food. By responding to the scale and intensity of the customer mood, Domino’s averted what could have been a major PR disaster.
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