Is Twitter's @EarlyBird Offers Social Media Bait Or Bait & Switch?

Why did two Disney movie film projects decide to purchase two different advertising campaigns off of Twitter? Does the early bird really get the worm, or was this a calculated marketing move predicated by two divergent strategies?

Twitter has launched a few advertising options in the last several weeks, and early adopters are choosing the ones that suit their promotional needs.  While Sponsored Trends sells 'trending topics,' @earlybird offers 'promotional discounts.' While the former supports two way conversations with users, the later is strictly transactional  and doesn't encourage customer feedback.

Since we don't know how much Disney actually paid Twitter for the Sponsored Trends or "@earlybird" offer deals, for the sake of this analysis, we are going to assume that the 'ad spend' was not the determining factor as to why Disney chose the former ad vehicle for "Toy Story 3" and the latter for the "Sorcerer's Apprentice."

According to a ReadWriteWeb report by Marshall Kirkpatrick, he believes that Disney had two distinct goals in mind in selecting one option for one movie, and another for the second movie. I also believe the strategy applied was very different for each film and hence the reason behind which approach became the better fit. While Kirkpatrick labels the choice of promotions "symbolic," I see it more as a pragmatic move.

Twitter's Sponsored TrendsTwitter's Sponsored TrendsSince Toy Story 3 was critiqued as a great movie, and  the majority of followers on all the social networks gave it "two thumbs up," it made all the sense in the world for Disney to select Twitter's Sponsored Trends to promote it. This allowed followers to have a two-way conversation with the folks that managed Disney's Twitter accounts and for favorable tweets to resonate throughout the Twitterverse.

Sorcerer's Apprentice, according to Kirkpatrick was a different story. The movie was panned by @earlybird offers@earlybird offersa good number of movie critics, including Rotten Tomatoes. This obviously caused doubt with Disney producers and promoters and prompted their decision to make the most out of a bad situation. So instead of going with Sponsored Trends, they selected Twitter's latest advertising vehicle - the @earlybird discounts.

This decision was based in my opinion on two factors - one was to ward off any negative commentary to seep out into the Twittersphere, and secondly it would provide Disney with an opportunity recoup their losses by selling more tickets at a discount- then they might been able to without the promotion.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice was a two-for-one special and was Twitter's inaugural offer on their @earlybird site, as evidenced here.

As Kirkpatrick noted, "its not the kind of thing you promote by drawing people's attention to the public conversation about it. It's the kind of thing you'd promote by giving 'buy one give one' tickets to it."

However, there is also a kicker to this particular promotion. If Twitter is going to offer these kind of specials on their @earlybird site, the deals need to show value for the consumer. Yes, getting a two-for-one ticket deal for a movie sounds like an attractive cost savings offer on the surface - but unfortunately, when one digs deeper, there is a 'hook' involved when you actually try to claim the tickets.

Much like a 'bait and switch' marketing ploy which we've all witnessed over the years, while your one ticket is free, you need to "purchase" or "register" for something else you very well might not need, like a "credit report," a " restaurant gift certificate," or an "identity protection service."

Scorcerer's Apprentice Two-for-One Ticket DealScorcerer's Apprentice Two-for-One Ticket Deal

This approach gives one pause whether Disney or Twitter gave this type of promotion enough forethought to offer something of value to consumers where are all three parties benefited. In this case, I give @earlybird "no worm" and an inaugural FAIL.

Let's see if future promotions will redeem this advertising platform going forward - and if Twitter and/or Disney will respond to this type of early criticism? Your thoughts?