Twitter, free steaks and reality: a morality tale
Bill Smart, a nice guy who works for Dry Creek Vineyard, a great California winery, and who is a regular commenter on my blog, wrote in yesterday about my recent post, “Can a winery get buzz from Twitter? Probably not.”
Now, I got my butt kicked all over Twitter for saying that Twitter can’t really help wineries in the only way they want and need to be helped–selling more wine. Some people tweeted the usual BS that I’m a dinosaur who doesn’t get it (interesting that these people who say I don’t understand social media don’t get a fraction of the readership on their blogs as I do! Not to mention my Facebook traffic which also is big). Others agreed with me. That’s to be expected. Everybody’s entitled to his or her opinion in these United States (except evolution deniers).
Bill played it down the middle, arguing that while “Twitter doesn’t sell wine,” it can have a fantastic effect in individual cases. As proof, he sent me the link to this amazing story told at Peter Shankman’s blog. It’s a good blog; Peter describes himself this way: “An author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector, Peter is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about Social Media, PR, marketing, advertising, and customer service.”
Please open the link and read it. I’ll summarize: Peter loves Morton’s the Steakhouse. He was on a airplane flight and expected to return home hungry and tired. As a lark, he writes, “I jokingly tweeted the following: Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours K, thanks.” Well, you know how this ends. Peter arrives at Newark, “started walking to the door” when, “Um, Mr. Shankman,” a guy said to him.
“I turned around.”
“There’s a surprise for you here.” It’s a bag with “a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware.”
Writes Peter: “I. Was.Floored.” He continues, “I was joking in my Tweet. I never, ever expected anything to come of it other than a few giggles.”
Back to Bill Smart, who commented, “This is one of the most powerful examples I have seen recently about what kind of impact Twitter can make.” Even if the whole thing was a PR stunt, Bill writes, “The bottom line is that it worked and as a result has created THOUSANDS of POSITIVE tweets and impressions for Morton’s.”
Okay, come, let us reason together. I accept Peter’s claim that it was not a PR stunt–he really was just joking. I also accept that the entire episode generated a gazillion tweets and retweets, and Morton’s the Steakhouse got some juice out of it, even though it cost them a few bucks. Here’s my problem. If I, or you, or anybody else had put that same joke tweet up, do you think we would have been met at the airport by a guy in a tuxedo carrying a full dinner? I don’t. Peter Shankman was, apparently, because–in his own words–“I’m a frequent diner, and Morton’s knows it. They have a spectacular Customer Relations Management system in place, as well as a spectacular social media team, and they know when I call from my mobile number who I am, and that I eat at their restaurants regularly.”
Peter is, in other words, a Morton’s VIP, and in this case he was given the VIP treatment. I think he was a little disingenuous when he conceded that there had been “a few tweets from the other side of the camp [i.e., critical of him], specifically calling out that I have over 100k Twitter followers, and if I didn’t, this never would have happened.” I mean, that’s my conclusion too, and it seems obvious, doesn’t it? But Peter then writes, “But you know what? I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think it’s about my follower numbers. I think it’s about Morton’s knowing I’m a good customer, who frequents their establishments regularly.” In other words, Morton’s the Steak House didn’t go to all that trouble to hand deliver Peter a warm meal at the airport just because of his Twitter followers. His numbers had nothing to do with that. It wasn’t because Morton’s “spectacular social media team” felt that they could get a million bucks in free Twitter publicity with a relatively small investment. No, it was because Peter loves Morton’s the Steak House, and Morton’s feels the love and just wants to love Peter back.
Ah, love, sweet love.
In conclusion, I would like to say how much I love BMW. By the way, I’ll be flying up to Seattle next week to visit my niece and it sure would be nice to have a new 750i Sedan (red, please) registered in my name to drive to the airport. Oh, I also love Bill Harlan and his wines. Bill, I’m having steak this weekend with my friend Marilyn. Please overnight me two bottles of ‘97 Harlan Estate. You can throw in some BOND too. And did I ever tell Thomas Keller how much I love French Laundry? I do, Thomas, I do, and I wouldn’t mind at all if you give me carte blanche to walk in the door any old time I want to and get seated–on the house, of course, including tip.
You see, with love, and a spectacular social media team, anything’s possible–well, if not anything, then at least steak and shrimp hand delivered at the airport for a Morton’s VIP!