What the flock is up with Twitter?

June 26, 2009

By Dave Huerta, VP, Associate Creative Director @NYCA  

Have you ever wondered how flocks of birds are able to change direction in unison like they do? It’s amazing.  birdsThey’re all going one way and then all of a sudden, on cue, they all go a different way.

You might think it’s some highly evolved bird-brained telepathy, or that there is a leader in the group sending out signals to all the other birds to turn left NOW. “ 

Actually, it’s a much more democratic process that happens millisecond by millisecond. As birds fly together, individuals within the flock make decisions resulting in the collective direction the flock will travel.  

If a bird in the group senses danger, for example, it flies away from the potential danger. All the other birds then react eventually changing the direction of the entire flock.  

That same kind of interconnectivity that’s shared by a flock of birds is shared by millions of others who use Twitter. And, it’s this social aspect that allows information to go from one member to another that gives it its power.  

As its millions of users are following links or videos or tweets about what you’re doing right now, like the birds flying in a flock, they are collectively changing the course of how information is shared and used. 

Imagine if advertisers and marketers worked this way. Imagine if their products and services were conceived and sold with the same input that a flock has from the birds in it. 

The smart ones are already working this way. Little by little, other companies are following the flock. They’re finding relevant ways to have honest dialogue with their potential customers through sites like Twitter. Access to new products or promotions, live customer service, and customer involvement in new product development are all ways consumers can feel valued and closer to the brands that choose to listen to them.  

The smart ones will understand the strength consumers have when they’re part of a network like Twitter.

And that a comment from co-workers and peers will have more weight than a trophy from J.D. Power and Associates. 

The marketing model of the past where a company would create a product, create a need and sell it to a customer is growing stale fast. If advertisers want to stay relevant, they’ll have to develop a new model that works in the reverse order: listen to your customer, understand their need, and then provide them with a solution.