Cruise Lines obsessed with Twitter
NCL had it fascination with Twitter - to the point where EVP Andy Stuart agreed to spend at least 30 minutes a day on there.
Andy has quit doing that - he now tweets about once every month - and I don;t see NCL and worse for the wear.
Right now it is Carnival who is obsessed with Twitter - since Gerry Cahill took over they generally only invite journalists with high Twitter follower numbers to go on their cruises. Right now carnival's PR is considered to be at its lowest rating since time began.
Now that Twitter is proposing its own IPO, the truth about twitter users is coming out - they really aren't there. The only people using twitter are celebrities and people with agenda who want to spread the word - but the problem is no one is listening, except for their competition and few journalists who ignore 99% of what comes across solely because if it is only important enough for Twitter, and not in a press release or Google News , it is not worth the effort.
So, I want to remind the cruise lines that I wrote this in 2009 - and I still stand by it. Ohm I have played the Twitter game and now have 3300 followers (not shabby). But has any of it dome me any good? I seriously doubt it. Here is my original article from 2009:
Cruisemates Newsletter 07-16-2009
Twavelers hungry for regurgitated information.
Twitter Travel Trends
I have seen a lot of stories lately about the wonders of Twitter, especially for travelers. It is true that Twitter has at times reached beyond its self-imposed limits with instant knowledge we may have otherwise missed. But the other 99% of the time I find Twitter aggravatingly twivial and gratwuitously superfluous. Most of the time Twitter is self-promotion distilled into 140 characters; ego gratification for the ADD crowd.
Do we really live in a world where people want travel information every three seconds, but only in 140 characters or less? What does this say about us? Are we all so bored that we need new information every three seconds? And are we all so boring that 140 characters is enough to say anything? Are we all so attention deficient that we can't absorb more than 140 characters of information at a time?
When most travel journalists tweet it is nothing more than advertising - they tweet links (or twinks, if you will) to their articles and ask you to come and read them. And that is Twitter at its best, promotional links with no censorship or rating system. With Google you can look up a topic and see relevant articles listed. With Twitter, you only get what people want to send you. It is essentially fast-paced, compressed spam.
Twitter has an extremely low return on time invested. CruiseMates has a monthly audience of 225,000 visitors, but my Twitter audience is only about 425 people of which only a fraction see anything I tweet at any given time. Most Twits (isn't that what you call people addicted to Twitter?) are watching at least 100 people, some 1000. Most tweeters tweet far more than I do, so I see my updates roll off the page almost as soon as I put them up. If that is true for me it is also true for my followers.
I also see travel journalists with as many as 4000 followers - but not all at once. How did they get them? The key is to tweet as often as possible and hope other twits will retweet your name. So, here is the problem; building up a substantial Twitter audience takes tons of Twitter time, and every minute I spend on Twitter I am neglecting my audience of 225,000 readers for a few dozen people. Where are my priorities?
Another twick of Twitter is that you follow those who follow you. It's a Twitter courtesy, or a twertousy, if you will. So, most travel journalists who have a big following also follow lots of other travel journalists. So in the end when they are not diluting their proprietary travel information by giving it away to every other journalist they are merely engaged in meaningless conversations.
Today I watched a Twit ask every single cruise line Twitter representative (or Twerp, if you will) to describe their loyalty program. How can a cruise line describe their loyalty program in 140 characters or less? They all tried anyway. CruiseMates just did a report on cruise line loyalty programs and it took us 10 pages of solid text.
If that twit had googled "cruise line loyalty programs" they would have seen that between CruiseMates and sister site CruiseReviews, our loyalty program articles come up numbers 1 and 2 in Google search results. So hours of uninformed Twittering equals one Google. You don't need to go to Stanford to solve that equation.
Don't we all know someone who generally only accesses the world of knowledge through other people, never directly? They never read a book, watch a documentary or Google any subject just because they wanted to know more about it. Aren't these some of the most irritating people you know?
On my way back from Europe I sat next to a guy who hadn't brought anything to amuse himself for a nine-hour trip. When I wasn't talking to him he just sat and twiddled his thumbs. I thought "he seems like he would be on Twitter" and I soon wondered if that was where Twitter got its name, from thumb twiddlers. That is how I picture Twerps, or Twits, or tweeterbugs, whatever you call them, thumb twiddlers just waiting for the next thing to come along to fill the void that is their imagination.
And what is the absolute most boring tweet possible? Tweets about Twitter!
OMG! I h8 Tweets about Twitter! Do you know there are Twerps and twits tweeting on Twitter who are solely Twitter experts, or twexperts if you will? They specialize in Twitter twerpitude. It's twutterly twidiculous and I twot I taw a puddytat.
Twanks for tweading this. And if you came here because of a tweet I twittered retweet me. By4now.
Bob Dickinson's recent comments about the reliance on social media to cultivate new cruisers are on target. When I read them I also felt sure he offended more than a few people at their corporate offices, who had been enjoying praise and bonuses for their genius at dumping traditional advertising and expert advice and recommendations (from places like CruiseMates) and going with Twitter and Facebook as their prime outlets.
I monitor several Facebook cruise line groups, including John Heald's, and indeed, it is quite apparent that most of the users are past cruisers looking for perks, a deal, that perfect table for two by a window in the main dining room. "John, I'm a longtime Carnival cruiser and I was wondering if you could help me get <fill in the blank> on my next cruise." You will need a calculator to keep track of how many times people ask him for personal favors.
The same holds true for the other cruise lines. One of the Royal Caribbean FB groups is filled with members who obsess about getting the latest price break, who brag about always getting hundreds of dollars in onboard credit from their agent, free wine, upgrades, etc. It is rare to find a virgin cruiser among them.
And I do personally know two agents who have largely abandoned selling mass market cruises and now focus on all-inclusives, lux lines, and river cruises. As one told me recently, "I make more money in two bookings on a river cruise or luxury line than a year’s effort to maintain a 25 person group on Royal Caribbean. It’s whatcha call a “no brainer.”
Last Friday - Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report, deleted ALL of his tweets from the past. He no longer has a Twitter presence. I am not sure if he has said why, yet, but if he does I will post it here.
But I would say the reason is obvious - that he longer feels all of the time & effort it takes is worthwhile - at least not to him.
By the way - as far as the cruise lines go - we noticed a Twitter obsession way back in 2007 - that thought that the payoff for a large presence there would be huge.
Cruise line started inviting people who tweet a lot, rather than reporters like ourselves, to cruise ship outings, supposedly so they could all "tweet-bomb" Twitter during the cruise. Suddenly there were people we had never met before who were taking cruises where we didn't even get an invitation.
If I saw any benefit to Twitter personally, I would have started doing it myself back then. I do personally have over 3500 followers now, though there are other travel and even cruise people there with 10-times that number. But I learned one thing by running CruiseMates starting in 1999. We had a very popular chat room program (very similar to Twitter in format) for years that always attracted regular "viewers" every night. But in looking at our statistics I knew that for every chat room patron we had 10,000 people reading our forum messages.
I had staff-people who were getting burned out doing a one-hour chat every week for 25 people, and I would say to them - "spend the same hour on the message boards at least once a week, and we'll get far more benefit anyway"
Some people just don't understand "marketing" - they see it as developing one on one relationships, instead off what it really should be - trying to reach the widest audience possible. A single chat room answer would be read by a few people, sometimes only one (the person who asked) - while a singular forum answer to the same question may be read 10,000 times.
Twitter simply does not deliver on the "mass market" metric and it never will. Facebook, on the other hand is different, it's posts are more permanent. It is hard for me to fault Facebook except in one way - that if you subscribe to it chances are you are constantly bombed by people who post ambiguous personal stuff every day - and so it is hard to get to out YOUR message. I know I have personally grown tired of Facebook because of people who post every little thing they do all day long.
The web is at its best when it is focused on the message and delivering expert advice. The "focused" part is where both Facebook and Twitter fall down, for the users. If you are a cruise line chances are very good your message on Facebook and Twitter will be highly diluted by other's messages long before an average user (a person who goes in once per week, according to recent report) sees your message.
Actually John Heald slowed down his blog efforts after the death of his father but has picked it up again recently.
Repeat cruises don't grow the business or pay for new cruise ships and highly overvalue themselves.
Bob's focus continues to be on the new cruiser which is where it should be.
Well, it's good to know I'm not missing anything on either Twitter or Facebook.
I love Betty White's comment about Facebook, which mirrors my own opinion: "It just seems like a monumental waste of time!":D
That is funny - that Betty White would say that. I think I read that seniors are their fastest growing audience now.
It is funny how the kids all start out being the early adopters of things like FaceBook, but they always want something new.
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