Imagine this: your brand is given a unique opportunity to touch ALL of your customers. The press — one of your most fanatic users and stout defenders — is excited to talk about it. You have deep knowledge of many of the things that interest and concern your customers. You have permission to reach out to them. In fact, you have permission to send them any email you wish.

And, what do you do? You bomb.

Anniversary celebration

Twitter 10th Birthday 4

In celebration of Twitter’s 10th birthday, the company sent out an email to every account. I know because I received six such messages. The tragedy: they could think of nothing better than to spam us all with EXACTLY the same message. It is a bona fide travesty of marketing that Twitter — with all its available marketing might, customer data and insights and implicit permissions — should send out to its 300+ million customers the same message…

Twitter’s 10th Birthday Message

Twitter 10th Birthday

The message reads:

Thank you! Ten years ago today, it began with a single Tweet. Since then, every moment of every day, people connect live about the things they care about most — all over the world. Throughout the years, you’ve made Twitter what it is today and you’re shaping what it will be in the future. And for that, we thank you!”

To be clear, I am a big Twitter fan. I love it for many reasons, not least of which is its 140 constraint, which thankfully they plan to retain. However, to my mind, the 10th birthday message they decided to send out doesn’t really help define what makes Twitter special. More importantly, it doesn’t help understand what will become of Twitter, whose stock is languishing at $17, some 75% off its high of $69.

The only “personalization” came in the form of the first name and the translation into the appropriate language (see the more prosaic French version below):

Twitter 10th Birthday

Anniversary Marketing

I have long felt that when a brand celebrates its own birthday, aka “anniversary marketing,” it is one of the lower forms of me-me-me marketing. “Happy Birthday to Me” just doesn’t cut it when trying to pretend to be a customer-centric organization. Of course, for many of these internet “start-ups” and pure player companies, the fact that they have survived 10 years can/should be considered a feat. Nonetheless, especially for a brand with an identity crisis and a flagging stock, it’s really more about the future.

The Identity Crisis

Whereas Twitter might have used this occasion to demonstrate its point of difference, they just used the worst form of marketing: a bland, uninformative message with zero personalization and absolutely no call to action. Twitter suffers from a number of misconceptions. One of its big issues is that it is trying to play in the yard of the big boys, when really it just needs to be itself. This could have been an opportunity to wow us, flatter us or entertain us. A message that extracted my best tweet or showed my most engaged follower or made a surprise offer based on my profile might have been a good indication of how they could/should use data.

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