Last Saturday, I woke up to an appeal from my good friend and collaborator, Dave Palmer. He as moving his family from San Diego to Nashville and was stuck in rural Texas. His truck repeatedly overheated and it’d gotten to the point where his 80 year old dad had fallen ill from the lack of air conditioning. And U-Haul was beyond slow in their response.
So we made some coffee and tossed out a few tweets. Here’s what our mini-campaign, dubbed #freepalmer, posted over a few hours:
tweet 1 - I need your help. Please RT and/or post your own tweet about my next tweet. We need help getting a companies attention ASAP.
tweet 2 - Hey @UHaul_Cares! Your truck has @davepalmerinc stranded in the desert. He needs help ASAP. #freepalmer bitly.com/N0j8ny pls RT
tweet 3 - Hey @penskemoving. Be a hero, rescue @davepalmerinc. @Uhaul_Cares has left him in the deserts of Texas. #freeplamer http://bitly.com/N0j8ny
tweet 4 - Hey @budgettrucknews Be a hero, rescue @davepalmerinc. @Uhaul_Cares has left him stranded in Texas. #freeplamer bitly.com/N0j8ny
tweet 5 – Hey @Uhaul_Cares! Are you listening? One of your customers is stranded in Texas. Step up and do the right thing. #freepalmer http://bitly.com/N0j8ny
tweet 6 – Hey @RyderPR! Be a hero, rescue @davepalmerinc. @Uhaul_Cares has left him in the deserts of Texas. #freeplamer http://bitly.com/N0j8ny
tweet 7 - .@Uhaul_Cares, either do the right thing and help Dave or change your twitter handle. Need ideas? #freepalmer http://bitly.com/N0j8ny
tweet 8 – Hey @abfupackmoving! Be a hero, rescue @davepalmerinc. @Uhaul_Cares has left him in the deserts of Texas. #freeplamer http://bitly.com/N0j8ny
tweet 9 – Hey @pods! Be a hero, rescue @davepalmerinc. @Uhaul_Cares has left him in the deserts of Texas. #freeplamer http://bitly.com/N0j8ny
In fairness, we weren’t the only one who jumped on the #freepalmer bandwagon as a bunch of Dave’s friends started tweeting, facebooking, and alerting media. Hey, we’re marketing people… this is what we do!
But the results were fantastic. In about 4 hours we had 380 specific tweets, thousands of retweets, and with the hashtag totally followers (potential reach) of over 1 million. The response from U-Haul was fairly quick because of the volume of attention. Just as it was really building up steam to be something that might actually trend on Twitter, U-Haul called Dave and began a process of fixing the situation. Part of the strategy with tweeting U-Haul’s competitors was to add a layer of desperation because no brand wants to be seen as losing face publicly. (@penskemoving offered to step in and fix the whole thing and about 15 minutes later U-Haul had a fix in motion. Coincidence? Doubt it.)
Lesson learned: If the cause is good and the message is clear, there’s no such thing as a bad day for social good to happen in the social arena. I never would have sat in a strategy meeting and picked a Saturday. But the immediacy of both the need and the need for a response made this totally work.