Friday, May 15, 2009

The right lesson, and the wrong lesson, to derive from the Twitter cornbread story

If you haven't heard the Twitter cornbread story, or if you only saw the tweet, read it here. In brief, Lauren McKay tweeted a desire for some cornbread while at a Gaylord resort, and a Gaylord representative happened to see McKay's tweet and responded within minutes. Four months later, McKay arrived at another Gaylord resort and was greeted with complimentary cornbread.

Now I'm sure that some starry-eyed people will dance around their malaria nets and say how Twitter is wonderful and everyone should use Twitter and why don't you have a Twitter account already.

But Twitter is only a small part, albeit an important one, in this story.

The primary part of this particular story is people - specifically, the Gaylord person who happened to see McKay's tweet and acted on it. And the Gaylord person's supervisor, who either told this person to search Twitter for mentions of Gaylord, or who didn't complain when the person did it.

And the other part of this particular story is the systems at Gaylord. A company's Twitter account doesn't do any good if there aren't back-end systems at the company that take advantage of the Twitter information.

My guess is that there is a Gaylord system that stored McKay's name and added a little note in the database. When McKay made her reservation in Nashville, the system displayed the note to the reservations agent, and voila! Fresh cornbread arrived.

Or perhaps it's not quite that complex a system. Maybe it's just a scribbled note on a Rolodex card. But a manual system is still a system, and you need to have some system to store institutional information.

So before WidgetCo gets that Twitter account, WidgetCo should take the time to set up the infrastructure to use it.
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