Invasion of the celebrity tweeters

By Owen Garrett

Celebrity endorsement for brands and products has always been a popular way for marketers to generate buzz. If you’ve got a celebrity talking positively about your company or products in the public eye, the benefits can be huge. As celebrities increasingly become active on social networking sites such as Twitter, it becomes easier for brands to reach a wider audience.

At the same time, however, brands need to think carefully about how they use celebrities to market goods and services. Twitter and other social networking platforms have an incredibly powerful role in directing traffic around the web, and this effect is compounded when the power of these sites is combined with the notoriety of a celebrity.

Celebrity spikes

The challenges celebrities create for brands in the online environment concerns the spikes in web traffic their actions create. When teen pop sensation Justin Bieber linked to a news story about a charity campaign on Twitter, his 5.2 million followers caused the website of a regional radio station to crash. Although this sort of issue can be difficult to plan for, brands that actively seek the involvement of celebrities for marketing campaigns can prepare.

Stephen Fry, widely regarded as the ‘king of Twitter’, provides organisations with a warning to this effect on his website. On the site it states: ‘If you wish to asked Stephen to Tweet about a charity or special event which points to your/a website, it must be capable of taking 1,200+ calls per second to the website’s server in order to be able to stay live once Stephen’s Tweeted.’

Preparing for peaks

To cope with such high levels of traffic, its crucial marketers prioritise the issue of web traffic management and talk regularly with their IT teams. If a site can’t cope with a large or sudden peak in online demand, the negative impact on sales and brand reputation can be huge. This is especially true in today’s environment as consumers don’t think twice about going to a competitor if the service they receive isn’t up to scratch. The impact on reputation can be also be long-lasting as consumers today are very active online, unafraid to voice their frustrations in a public environment.

For example, when Topshop and Topman recently launched its mid-season sale, the weight of visitors promptly crashed both websites. Within minutes, the brand suffered from a deluge of backlash on Twitter with individuals criticising the clothing retailer for being unprepared.

It’s good to talk

Speaking with IT teams more regularly sounds like an obvious action for marketers keen to tackle the issue of traffic management, but it’s surprising how few do. In many cases marketing campaigns are launched online without consultation with IT teams. A sudden peak in traffic as the result of a promotion can mean that the website is unable to cope, leaving customers frustrated. By alerting IT teams about marketing plans and giving as much notice as possible, IT can ensure the right steps are taken back-of-house to prevent sites from collapsing under the weight of demand.

Web performance issues, no matter how long they last for, are unacceptable for brands of all sizes. Although most marketers know this, when it comes to launching campaigns online or using celebrities to endorse products, many fail to factor web traffic management into their planning. Celebrity endorsements are great in helping create a huge amount of buzz and traffic to a brand’s website, but if organisations are to translate that buzz into sales, they must ensure that they provide a great online experience. The popularity of twitter can cause unpredictable levels of traffic to a brands site, so it’s up to businesses more than ever to ensure they have the measures in place proactively, to avoid unnecessary web performance issues.

About the author

Owen Garrett joined Zeus in 1999 initially as a member of the software development team. More recently, Owen’s primary responsibility has grown to include product management, strategy and new product delivery. Owen is also deeply involved in the research and development needed to ensure Zeus continues to launch next-generation software and application technologies, based on current and future customer and market demands. Owen is also instrumental in the development of Zeus’ Cloud solution portfolio and go-to-market strategy, including engaging and partnering with a range of businesses that are pivotal within the Virtualisation and Cloud environments.

Owen has a strong track record in technology development and commercialisation and is a recognized Cloud evangelist speaker at key industry events. Owen studied Mathematics at Cambridge University, followed by Cambridge’s Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science. He is joint author of a number of patents relating to application delivery.

About the company

Zeus software enables you to create, manage and deliver exceptional online services. Global businesses who demand a flexible, robust and secure web infrastructure use our award-winning software to manage their web-based application traffic. Zeus allows you to visualize and manipulate the flow of traffic to and from your web-enabled applications. Zeus gives you the ability to create and deliver new online services quickly and makes those services faster, more reliable, more secure and easier to manage.

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