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Social Media Lessons From My Dog

August 30, 2010

I have a confession, I’ve done a very, very bad thing. I’ve shelled out my hard-earned cash for a silly and stupid use of social media.

So what is this dirty act that I’m so ashamed of?

Okay, here I go…acceptance is the first step of rehab, right?

Hello, my name is Dawn and I’m a social media addict. I have set-up a Twitter account for my dog and bought him device so he can “tweet” on his own.

GASP!

Yes, I am that social media user who sets-up stupid Twitter accounts and allows bots to fill the Twitter-sphere with trash. I’m one of those accounts that every social media hater points to as “LOOK! What a damn waste of time.”

Yes, it’s bad, but it’s also something to learn from and turn into an act of good.

It all started with the NY Toy Fair in January 2010 where Mattel announced the latest social media craze Puppy Tweets – a toy device that allows your 4-legged friend to send over 500 prewritten activities. A full eight months later – renewing my Amazon wait-listing twice – the device arrived and took my $29.99 + s/h.

I then set-up a Gmail account and a Twitter account for my beloved dog Herman. After plugging in the USB transmitter and attaching the collar device, Herman was ready to wow the world with his thoughtful insights about canine life. His first tweet was sent at 6:15 pm on August 17. Awwwh, I’m such a proud social media mommy.

In reality, Herman can’t even wear the collar device, it is way too big for his nine-pound frame. Despite being left on the kitchen table and unplugging the USB transmitter, Herman is continuing to send out his happy tweets to the world. Nice to know that my $30 investment in the plastic really has no impact on the experience – so in reality I am paying for a Twitter bot to tweet on behalf of my dog.

The content on the tweets is entertaining for dog owners – nothing really thought-provoking there. They are happy, silly and border on Pixar-styled-safe-for-the-kids-but-amusing-for-adults humor. Here is a list of other dogs who use Puppy Tweet (who has time to find these accounts?).

I do see some potential for good here. I am going to leverage Herman’s tweets as an opportunity to share our support of shelter dogs. Herman was adopted from a shelter in Texas and the BC/DC team is all about rescue dogs. It’s a cute way to share one more aspect of our passion and connect with new people.

To add to Herman’s tweets – he really is slacking on his content development – I’m testing out some automated information sharing applications like Paper.li to send out fresh content everyday. I’m also going to try some tweet reply functions, including TwitReply, to see if we can get new followers.

Yes, I might be adding more trash to the dumpster that is Twitter. But, the real lesson here is about experimentation. It’s about seeing what engages people, how to make social media easier and more entertaining. Is he going to be the next social media phenom? No. And that is not the goal.

If people get a kick out of Herman’s tweets and he puts a smile on someone’s face, then is that really a waste? There is enough serious in the world. Maybe we do just need to get obsessively lost with barking at a passing car and be so excited that we pee (just a little bit) when our loved ones get home for the day. Would that really be so bad?

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