CVS Twitter Program Perplexing

Social media sites are driving retail marketers crazy. They clearly know that powerful things are happening on these sites, but they're clueless about how to get involved. CVS on Wednesday (Feb. 10) launched a series of programs on Twitter, indicating that the chain simultaneously gets Twitter and doesn't get it. An E-mail blast from a PR firm representing CVS promised anyone following CVS on Twitter "special discounts, coupons, money-saving tips and 'inside scoop' updates" as well as "a secret discount code for 25 percent off nearly everything on"

Where to start? Given that a Twitter feed is offered to anyone and everyone, using the words "secret" and "inside scoop" demonstrates either a lack of understanding of what Twitter is or an impressive lack of concern for truth. Neither is a great trait for a pharmacy chain trying to gain the trust of Twitter users. But much more meaningfully, the whole concept of Twitter for retailers is to use it to open a dialogue and solve customer problems. Using Twitter as a coupon feed misses the point of the service. If you want to read a really powerful book on the topic, check out Twitterville, Shel Israel's take on the service. The book makes a surprisingly strong case for retail Twitter use if and only if the chain is willing to make it two-way.