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Welcome to the drive-thru. It's fast, informative, and downright digital.

Digital Drive-Thru Week of 12/07/2009
   
Buying, Selling and Twittering All the Way
Once upon a time, people mailed their holiday wishes to the North Pole and hoped for a reply on Christmas Day. Nowadays they are sending their wishes into cyberspace and are apt to get a reply in minutes. America’s first Twitter Christmas got under way in earnest on Black Friday. Across the land, retailers and their customers used the social networking site to talk to one another about bargains, problems, purchases and shopping strategies. Talk about a powerful and immediate customer feedback and engagement channel!
   
Retailers seek early birds through tweets
Retailers big and small have beefed up their presence on Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks well in advance of this week's traditional start to the annual holiday shopping season. This is the first holiday season many major retailers will experiment with Twitter messages about special in-store deals, Facebook applications that suggest what friends want as gifts, "how-to" YouTube videos for planning holiday parties, and "leaking" Black Friday discounts that go far beyond the day after Thanksgiving.
   
Wondering What Not to Do When It Comes to Social Media? Learn From BCS
In the past two weeks, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) -- which determines the sport's national championship game every year -- hired its first full-time executive director in Bill Hancock, retained former George W. Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer's firm to handle its PR, and added a Twitter feed and Facebook fan page. But it made the classic mistake of treating these social-media platforms like propaganda broadcast tools, rather than a way of finding out what, exactly, fans want. For several days after its Twitter feed went live on Nov. 18, nothing but ire was directed the way of the organization, which helped fuel the anger by failing to respond in any meaningful way to the incoming messages. Organizations on Twitter should always stay engaged with conversations relating to their business. Using Twitter or Facebook as one-way broadcasting channels really works against the conversational ethos of social media, and run the risk of sparking a backlash amongst unhappy users and other stakeholders.
   
Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring
IBM and a handful of other major marketers, including casino operator Harrah's Entertainment and software giant Microsoft, are experimenting with developing ad campaigns based in part on what consumers are chatting about on the Web. For decades, advertisers have relied heavily on sometimes-dated consumer surveys and focus groups to provide grist for their ads. Now, some are using new technologies to scan the Web for key words to find out what consumers are—and aren't—saying about their brands.