Psycho Killer: ‘Murderer’ Tweets Provide Insight into Twitter Habits
Bored of the same old regurgitated comments on microblogging site Twitter, one social media specialist decided to experiment in extreme tweeting. New Media Knowledge’s Chris Lee got under the skin of the notorious ‘dinner_guest’ murderer.
Many of the entries on microblogging site Twitter may not have relevance for many people as users describe the minutiae of their day-to-day lives, but they spurred one social media consultant on to experiment with the lengths one could go to with her Twitter updates.
Claire Stokoe describes herself as a “social media engineer”, working for Worthing-based social media consultancy Fresh Egg. When she got “bored of coming across the same stuff constantly being regurgitated on Twitter”, Stokoe decided to shake things up a little…by creating a killer.
Stokoe decided to create a fictional Twitter user called dinner_guest. Via its Twitter updates, Dinner_guest describes kidnapping a man, imprisoning him and disposing of the body. So, what was the inspiration?
“I’m a huge fan of Thomas Harris books, so it was Hannibal Lecter all the way,” Stokoe told NMK. “I thought that the dark fairy tale appeal of Lecter was a good way into people’s imaginations. The name came straight from all the media about [President] Obama’s Facebook dinner guests.”
Postings included “I like to listen to some little tunes while I stalk my current victim” and “Going to pop out & grab a packet of beefy hula hoops and prostitute.”
Via the dinner_guest character, Stokoe says she has learned some important lessons about the way people interact on Twitter.
“The major one was that people take Twitter far too seriously, even after I highlighted that it was a work of fiction, people still thought it was real,” she said. “Having 300 followers can be a lot more of an impact than having 5,000 - it just depends on how active and passionate your followers are.”
Seven days after going live dinner_guest had been mentioned on 37 blogs globally, received more than 30 comments, had over 200 active Twitter followers and reached over 6,000 people with just 50 tweets. Dinner_guest had influencer endorsement, a blog audience of 500 and a Facebook following of 90.
So how should brands approach using Twitter? According to Stokoe, it depends on what the brand wants to achieve.
“Mostly, I’d say to be honest - and I don’t mean say ‘hey, I work for [company]’ for every account you run, I mean if you set out an agenda in the beginning stick to it,” Stokoe advised. “If you plan to entertain them, do it; if you plan to sell to them, forget it. If you are running your account as a customer service exercise then 100 per cent disclosure is needed, deal with issues opening and very publicly. Show your flaws, we all have them, make the brand personable.”
Rather than fear spamming by brands on Twitter, many consumers follow brands they like as it may provide outlets for their concerns to be felt and to receive benefits, such as vouchers, Stokoe said.
“Twitter is, in my opinion, one of the most affective business tools out there, but it really depends on the ethics of the business behind the account,” she said. “If used properly Twitter can be your Customer Service Desk, Development Division, Event Management, Sales Force and Marketing Team. You only have to look at Zappos to see just how much of a success Twitter can make your business.”
Twitter in 2010
So what Twitter’s prospects as we head into 2010? On the downside, Stokoe believes that spam is going to become an even bigger problem to the extent that the Direct Message functionality will become obsolete.
She also believes that business will “become the new celebrity” while the stars go elsewhere for attention. Mobile use will rival desktop Twitter use and other programmes, such as Foursquare, will really take off.
In conclusion, Stokoe believes Twitter will double in size next year and agrees with Time magazine that “Twitter will permanently change American business within the next two to three years.”