Albert the Dog shows Twitter does have a use

Keeping it in the family, today's post comes courtesy of my brother Chris, who runs marketing for North
East Derbyshire District Council. He  has actually shown that Twitter can have some use in business, when it's applied to help solve a business issue, in this case finding homes for stray doggies.

The challenge

2010/11 the economic downturn led to a sharp increase in stray and
abandoned dogs, causing Chris's Authority a number of problems. First, costs of running the
animal welfare service, in officer time and kennelling fees, were
increasing. Also, due to the increasing
number of strays it was getting harder to find new homes – with the risk
that more animals were being destroyed, which was both upsetting
and an additional cost.

The idea

to the challenge, Chris and his team developed and
launched a Twitter feed called 'Tweets by Albert' (!/Tweetsby_albert). Albert
is a loveable, mischievous pug dog who asks for help re-housing his doggie mates.

Screen Shot 2012-10-05 at 13.19.46
The results

  • Over the past
    year not one single dog has been destroyed.
  • 50 animals have been re-homed over the past eight months – a rate of more
    than one per week, a 30% increase on the previous 12 months
  • Service
    running costs have been reduced
  • Campaign budget of zero, vs. previous cost of running ads in local newspapers

The learning

1. Solve a business issue: this is a good example of using social media to actually solve a problem, rather than just send out a stream of pretty irrelevant brand information. What's cool in this case is increasing effectiveness, whilst also reducing costs.

2. Let's get personal: Twitter is personal. People follow people, or in this case a dog, and not brands. This is why the CEO of US etailer Zappos has 200 times the following of on Twitter. The clever trick here was using an imaginary dog, and getting the tone of voice right. Albert manages to ask for help without lecturing people.

3. Benefits of being distinctive: the creation of Albert had news value. This helped generate over 60 positive stories about animal welfare issues, a 30% increase on the previous year. 

In conclusion, Chris has shown that if used
creatively in a targeted way social media can be an effective and efficient way to achieve business goals and build your reputation.