Can brands build unique experiences for consumers around Twitter? Toyota is giving it a shot with a new Twitter-oriented microsite called Harmony Tweets that is being used to promote the Prius.
The microsite was built by Federated Media, which has over time gone from an ad rep to a "conversational marketing" agency.
What is Harmony Tweets? From the about page:
Whether your passion is design, social good, or clean technology, HarmonyTweets plugs you in to innovation and inspiration updates from charitable organizations, industry leaders like Toyota, and sustainability-minded individuals. You can add a bit of positivity to your day by exploring and contributing to the inspiration, giving and Prius communities.
The Harmony Tweets homepage displays recent tweets on a Google Map that are pulled in from the microsite's three 'communities'. The communities display a real-time stream of tweets in the categories of Inspiration, Giving and Prius.
On each community's page, there's an invitation to join the conversation by posting a tweet of your own using Twitter's OAuth authentication. Unfortunately, when I tried to send a tweet, I got an error message so it looks like there's still some work to do (or I've been deemed not prepared to save the world).
Based on the July 15, 2009 registration of the harmonytweets.com domain, it would seem that this is a quick turnaround initiative for Toyota and Federated Media. As I write this, there appears to be no announcement of Harmony Tweets' launch.
So how'd I learn about it? A 'sponsored definition' on Twitter:
Yes, Twitter is experimenting with an advertising model. And Toyota isn't the first brand to buy (?) a sponsored definition. Example: a similar microsite called Cinema Tweets was promoted with a sponsored definition too. Like Harmony Tweets, it was built by Federated Media for Universal Studios to promote the movie Funny People. It that Twitter has partnered in some fashion with Federated Media to work the sponsored definition model.
The question, as always, comes down to "Where's the ROI?" Harmony Tweets is a nice-looking site and given that it was built with the popular open-source CMS WordPress, ostensibly in 2-3 weeks, this probably isn't the most expensive marketing campaign Toyota has ever engaged in.
Obviously we don't know the financial details, including how much Toyota paid Twitter for the sponsored definition. And we don't know what sort of traffic and engagement Twitter's sponsored definitions can deliver. But one thing is clear: these sorts of Twitter-based microsites seem to be of interest to brands so we can probably expect to see more of them going forward as brands try to figure out how to get the most out of Twitter.