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Bringing tweets into the real world

A television at Epic Burger in Chicago's south Loop displays Twitter results in the restaurant via TweetDeck.

A television at Epic Burger in Chicago's south Loop displays Twitter results in the restaurant via TweetDeck.

If you suggested that your company take everything that anyone is saying about your brand online, flattering and unflattering, true and untrue, and put it up on the walls in all of your stores and offices for all to see, what do you think the response would be?

Epic Burger, an eco-friendly lunch spot in Chicago’s south Loop, does just that, with a wall-mounted flat screen TV displaying every tweet mentioning Epic Burger in real time via TweetDeck. No editing, no filtering. Just a discussion about a brand being shared with its customers.

The small volume of tweets being directed at Epic Burger range from the enthusiastic (“How I love you so! “) to the skeptical (“Trying out this ‘epic burger’ place. I’ll decide whether it’s truly epic or not”). Now, you might be saying to yourself, that’s great for a small restaurant that uses all petroleum-free packaging. Yet as World Wide Rave author David Meerman Scott points out, most organizations aren’t comfortable with that level of transparency. Faced with ideas for social outreach online, they tell him, “But David, we’re a ________. We can’t do that.” From non-profits to the military to manufacturing and beyond, many communications professionals feel the same way.

As this little case study demonstrates, though, you needn’t have a huge volume of chatter surrounding your brand on social sites to come up with an innovative way to make use of that content, maybe even in a bricks-and-mortar store. From its own Twitter feed, Epic Burger often just retweets and thanks its enthusiasts.  

Does the TweetDeck display sell more burgers? Maybe not. Is it enough that it might keep a few customers thinking about what they’re eating while they’re in the store? Perhaps. If someone in the dining area were to tweet that they don’t like their meal, would everyone get up and leave? Of course not. The bottom line is that you have to have some confidence in your products and services in order to encourage this kind of transparent, social marketing. Once you have that, the rest is easy.

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