Twitter Is Like Skywriting, Only Better

On the way to our hotel from Orlando International Airport for the 2014 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, a colleague of mine and our driver, a hospitable immigrant from London, tried to decipher the skywriting that appeared in the sky before us. Seems that skywriting as a marketing message is quite popular in these warmer climes. In the past, my kids have enjoyed reading such messages driving up and down I-4 when we visit family.

It was difficult to read the letters in the blue sky, which were fading away as we gazed upward. It was at that point that I remarked, “Skywriting has the shelf life of a Tweet.” The marketers in the Mears shuttle van chuckled.

But aside from their similarities (both fade away quickly, and both work best when messages are kept very brief) I say that tweeting is a whole lot more effective than skywriting, and certainly cheaper. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Cost. Skywriting sessions will put you out thousands of dollars. For the most part, tweeting only involves the time spent tweeting – and this includes a long-term investment in your tweet program. Tweeting brings results as long as you are in it for the long haul and you are strategic in your approach.
  2. Target audience. I think any skywriter will tell you that it’s possible to target audiences. So, perhaps sun worshippers on a summertime beach who may be wondering where to go for a good seafood dinner that evening. But with Twitter one can actually seek out specific targets (whether clients, prospects, potential partners, and media sources) and tag them in order to increase the value of each tweet. Relationships truly are built in this way.
  3. Experimentation. So the tweet you sent out at 9:30 am died in the twittersphere with seemingly no one noticing? Never fear, you can try again (and again), at different hours, using different hashtags and tagging different people. Your message can be changed up too: I’ve created tweets that turned out to be downright hermitic that I had thought were worthy of being called digital haiku and shared the world over. On the other hand, I’ve written tweets that I thought were less thoughtful and elegant that earned some excellent Retweets. You want to try a new skywriting message? That’ll cost you. And we’ll have to see if the plane is available. And get the weather to cooperate, too.
  4. Scheduling. The “listening” part of social engagement is hugely important, and it can best be done either in real time or via attention to lists and keyword searches. However, your promotional tweets of your own content can be accomplished in a short window of time. Focused attention for 30 minutes after the kids are asleep can set you up for a week’s worth of tweets. Last I checked, skywriting doesn’t work at night (but that would be cool, wouldn’t it?).
  5. Paying attention to others. Social media is most successful when we achieve engagement and dialogue. Skywriting is a one-way broadcast medium. And that is probably its biggest weakness versus platforms like Twitter.

Agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts.

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