The social media campaign of caterer/restaurant conglomerate, D’Amico has been the subject of much on and offline conversations in the Twin Cities the past month or so.
For those of you who have missed it (and it’d be real hard to miss it if you live here), D’Amico entered the Twittersphere recently with a boom.
They set-up many, many, many Twitter accounts (often with such cozy names as D’Amico_12) for the brand, each of its restaurants, each of its employees and all of its catering arms.(There is a small handful of them listed here.)
Then, they populated these accounts with syndicated content (hashtagged within an inch of its life) that is neither gregarious nor graceful in tone or form.
There is no human voice to the Twitter presence – the feeds are just automated “menu-a-trons” brand blasts that march across people’s screens with the calculated regularity and precision of a North Korean army.
If you’ve made the mistake of following more than one of these accounts, the affect can be akin to watching that Faberge commercial from the 80’s with Heather Locklear, where she says “and so on and so on and so on…” while her photo replicates like a virus.
In this Twitter campaign, there appears to be little talking and, more importantly, little listening. And the general consensus among Twin Cities tweeters is that the whole endeavor is highly unappealing.
The larger question though is….
Is it ineffective?
(Oh wait…you wanted me to say “yes” here, didn’t you?)
The reality is that broadcast messaging still works, since that’s what most of us are used to.
While the people YOU know might DVR shows to skip commercials, listen to commercial free satellite radio or engage in authentic, relationship-building conversations on social media, a whole lot of other people out there do not.
Now, I’m sure there are a ton of people who follow back these accounts and are befuddled by what they see. But there are probably just as many that think, “oh hey, a coupon for lemonade!” and click through without thinking twice.
I’m sure D’Amico is seeing payoff with these accounts, especially if their campaign metrics are not concerned with brand sentiment, only the number of hits, follows, retweets, etc. – data that, while mesmerizing in its magnitude, often fails to address the larger question of, “Does anyone really LIKE what we’re saying?”
Is it brand damaging?
In their pursuit of short-term gain, personally, I think that, yes, D’Amico is missing the opportunity for long-term growth.
Whenever I complain about them online, I nearly always receive public or private messages in response from people who say, “thank you for saying something about this.”
In short, I have never seen ANYONE publicly stand up in support on behalf of this brand – not even D’Amico itself.
This campaign has given D’Amico a bad reputation, but is it brand damaging? Probably not.
I have many connections in the meetings and events industry, and the vast majority of these people have no idea what D’Amico’s Twitter presence is like (many of them aren’t even on Twitter themselves).
These people will continue to use D’Amico as a vendor and will probably be tickled to be asked to “Follow them on Twitter” with no knowledge that their social media experience could be anything different.
Ironically, not only do I not think their actions will damage their brand, I think it will actually reinforce it.
I’ve had a number of contacts with D’Amico staff where the vibe was, “If you don’t like it — tough. We own all the event facilities in this town, so it doesn’t really matter what you think.”
And they’re right.
So, not being particularly chummy or concerned with people’s opinions on Twitter is actually a pretty “spot on” approach for this company. They are authentic … authentically disinterested in what you think.
Is it spam?
One might say that, if you opt-in to the D’Amico party, then you really can’t call it spam.
True. But I’m inclined to still label it as such simply due to their gratuitous following/unfollowing/refollowing approach.
One reason why many hard-core Twitter users don’t like this campaign is that it is fairly manipulative. It preys off of newbies’ tendency to just automatically follow back people who follow them.
For example, a person sees “New D’Amico follower” in their email and clicks “follow.” Maybe the next day they get another one and think, “I thought I followed them yesterday…oh well [click]. Maybe the next day they get followed from a D’Amico account for one of their restaurants – the name’s a little different, so they think, “okay,” [click].
These and other Twitter tactics are just part of a numbers game. I understand the game, so I just opt not to play.
But many of my clients, friends and followers don’t have that knowledge. What I hear from them is that these practices leave them feeling used, duped and confused.
That sounds pretty “spamy” in my books.
So, what’s next?
I probably am just preaching to the choir here. But, the whole point of a choir is that voices, when combined, amplify.
My own quiet message to D’Amico is this: Because I do not support your approach to social media …
- I will not follow your accounts.
- I will not retweet your information.
- I will not click on your links.
- I will not dine in your restaurants.
- I will not use you as a caterer for my events.
If you feel strongly about this too, then I invite you to add your voice to the conversation.
While ultimately we may not be listened to, I can promise you that we will be heard.