I log into hootsuite today and I see a promoted tweet as below:

blackberrysale

This annoys me because O2 as a company should be better at this kind of thing. Let me tell you why.

I used to be a loyal Nokia customer but ever since I bought an iPhone I can not imagine owning another device. A previous employer gave me a blackberry for work when I had a Nokia for personal use. The blackberry was great because my Nokia made it almost impossible to use the internet or emails. I thought the blackberry was amazing. However, as soon as got the iPhone I made it my mission to tell everyone with a blackberry how much better their life would be with an iPhone. I would never say never but Apple would have to make some serious bad moves for me to look elsewhere. I now have two iPhones and two iPads.

Ever since I got my first mobile around 1999 I was loyal to T-Mobile as a network. I changed because when I moved house the reception was so bad I couldn’t make a call. I still changed networks even though I was getting half price line rental with T-Mobile.

O2 provided good reception, I tested it against some friends on different networks before buying. However, Tesco Mobile offers the same network at a much cheaper price so I went through them. I had no loyalty to O2, I just wanted to use the O2 network and I could get it cheaper through Tesco.

I still think that the O2 network is the only network for me but you offer other routes to your network so I don’t need to do business with you directly. When I met Vincent Boon a couple of weeks back at a social business conference I told him I was a brand advocate for giffgaff and I am not even a customer of them (yet!). Ever since I first heard of giffgaff.com I have been telling people at every opportunity how great the business model and the company is. I believe that the social customer service model is the future. I would actually pay above the odds for that network because I want to help that business be successful and put the traditional mobile network business model out of business.

With all the social data out there, you can find out a lot about people so that you could target your promotions much better. Why send a promoted tweet trying to sell something to me that I don’t like and for a reason that means nothing to me. I would not want a blackberry if you gave it to me free with £1000 cash. I would still want an iPhone.

This is how I think you should target your customers with offers:

Demographic

If you knew what kind of job somebody has and what their family situation was, you could profile people as to potentially how much disposable income they have. A single female who is doesn’t have any kids, lives on their own, works in an investment bank and earn a half decent salary will not join your network because you give her a £10 off a handset or a couple of free music downloads. She may be more interested in being successful in her career. If you can help her achieve what she wants to achieve you will be viewed in a better way and she may be more likely to buy from you.

Suggested tweet

Find out how O2 has helped employees of investment bank work better <insert link>

Location

This is not sending an offer because I am walking past your shop, that is so Starbucks.

You could figure out roughly where someone lives from a number of different public profiles I have. You could target people based on the fact that your network is very strong in their area or you may know that your competitor is weak in that area.

You could pick up on location based data from people checking in to places using foursquare or Facebook. You could also use the geo-tags attached to a tweet. From this information you could find out places that someone goes to regularly such as where they work. If you could tell they are going places where your competitors signal is weak and yours is strong, then you could inform them that you could help them make clearer calls when at work.

Suggested tweet

Suffering from poor reception on T-Mobile? Get full reception in your area on the O2

Preferences

You can tell what people like (and sometimes dislike) on their profiles. This can be done either through seeing if some has clicked “like” on the Apple or Blackberry Facebook page or you can use sentiment analysis tools to figure out if someone has good or bad things to say about your phones/network by looking at their tweets/status updates

Suggested tweet

At O2 we love iPhones too, O2’s new #on&on tariff could be a perfect new home for you iPhone

Motivations

Free music downloads or 10% off calls to my friends is not going to motivate me to do business with you. You will not breed loyal customers by offering a form of manipulation to join you such as discounts or freebies (more in this article). The people who join you will be only be with you till someone else comes along with a better freebie to entice them away from you. I think O2 priority moments is a good attempt but it focuses on getting discounts and tickets. You can get a similar location-based experience with foursquare which you don’t have to be an O2 customer to get. You need to understand what motivates people and how you can make them feel part of something they won’t get elsewhere. Share you values, share your believes and people who believe what you believe will want to do business with you

Suggested tweet

Let @O2 show you why we believe that social customer service is the best way to help our customers <insert hyperlink>

Timeliness

When I bought my iPhone a few years back I was talking on social networks about what should I buy because I trusted my friends opinions and not company adverts. You could find out who was talking about buying a phone 22-24 months ago and then you would have a good idea to see if they were in the market for a new phone.

Maybe you know who used to be a customer of yours and you could link their old customer record file to their social profile. So you know they left you 22-24 ago and that’s when you hit them with an offer to rejoin. You could maybe even pick up on the fact they were asking their friends about which phone to buy.

Suggested tweet

Contract run out soon? We would love you back as a customer here at O2 come say hi!

Relevance

This offer has no relevance to me at all. That is the main motivation for me to sit down and write this blog about how bad it is. Although all the above points would offer more relevance, you could take it a step further by looking at people’s social graphs. If you knew whom out of my friends on Facebook I had a close friendship with and told me one of them had just joined O2 it might make me take more notice of the ad.

Suggested tweet

Your friend John Smith just joined O2 why dont you ask him why he joined us?

SUMMARY

Companies such as O2 should be taking all of this kind of social data into consideration when trying to figure out how to market to people. At the moment you failed on so many levels, all of which you could have fixed if you knew how utilise social data.

All of the above tweets would have caught my eye but imagine if you could combine a few of the different attributes specifically for me?

Does your iPhone contract run out soon? See how O2 provides great social customer service <insert link>

That is a promoted tweet I would click on.

You are not alone. The majority of companies large and small dont get how to use social media properly. All they want to do is push generic or slightly targeted adverts down people’s necks. The social data is out there and so is the technology for you to change the way your industry works. So why with all the resources you have to play with are you not doing something which would have an amazing impact on the ROI of your marketing activities and could potentially change the way your industry operates?

Reader feedback?

What are you thought on promoted tweets? Do you think they might actually work if company seem to care what you actually want? How much more effective do you think social media marketing would be if companies used the information you share to provide better offers to you? Is it a step to far to dig around in your social graph to sell you what you actually want, when you want to buy it?

Other posts you may be interested in

Why complain using social media?

What is the future of Social Media? Part 2 – Retail

Other comments I found under the #blackberrysale I thought were worth adding to this post