Ernie was lying quietly beneath his favourite lamp post waiting for Theo to arrive.
Despite the biting December breeze, he was almost fast asleep.
For the past three days, he felt he’d spent every waking moment looking for the internet. Theo had tried to explain it all to him but he knew he had to find out for himself.
He’d searched in his bed, his food bowl, the garden and the garage. With the help of his humans, he’d found a box called a “router”. They explained to him that this box was used to send data packets between computers and this was what the internet did.
He knew what packets were so he went to look for one. He found one full of wooden plaques used to make “Ernie and Theo” lead holders.
He picked this packet up and took it back to the router. He sat looking very puzzled. The router was smaller than the packet of plaques. His humans saw he was confused and explained that data wasn’t a real thing like plaques. He thought about asking how you put something that wasn’t real in a packet but decided to play with his toy duck. He needed a break from all this virtual reality. At least his duck was real - in a pretend sort of way.
Ernie was only taking a break from his quest though. Theo had promised to explain it all to him tonight. He was relieved to see his best friend trot around the corner. Everything would soon become clear to him.
“Yeo, Theo,” he said brightly.
“Hello Ernie, how are you?” Theo asked.
“I have been trying to understand the internet Theo,” Ernie replied looking very proud of himself, “but I’ve got some questions.”
Theo felt his stomach sink. He’d hoped Ernie would have forgotten all about their chat about social media marketing strategy. Theo blamed himself. He shouldn’t have mentioned he’d been to the social media marketing seminar. He should have just created a strategy without saying a word to his curious friend. It was too late now though. He took a deep breath:
“Ernie, you and I don’t need to understand all the ins and outs of internet and computer technology,” he explained. “That world is full of strange language. Even I don’t understand it all. What we do need to do is work out how this technology can help ‘Ernie and Theo’ reach even more customers who’ll buy our expanding range of pet gifts and accessories.”
The look of relief on Ernie’s face was almost palpable. Deep down, he knew he didn’t have the personal bandwidth for all this stuff about the internet, routers and data packets.
“Oh, that is good news,” he said. “So, what have we got to do then?”
Theo tried to answer Ernie’s question as simply as he could:
“Well Ernie,” he explained, “we need to put lots of messages, stories and pictures of what ‘Ernie and Theo’ does on social media websites.”
“What’s a social media website?” Ernie asked.
“Well Ernie, they’re places people go to share information with each other,” Theo replied.
“A bit like our lamp post then?” Ernie asked.
Now and again, Theo was thunderstruck by Ernie’s perspicuity. This was one such occasion.
“You’ve got it Ernie!” Theo said excitedly. “Social media is just like our lamp post. It’s a place where millions of people can go to share information with each other.”
Ernie started looking around their lamp post, stopped, sat down and scratched his chin. Theo knew exactly what his friend was thinking.
“Remember Ernie you said social media is a bit like our lamp post.” He explained. “Social media is a much bigger space than the one we have here!”
Ernie’s cortical neurons tried to picture a space big enough for millions of people to meet in. It was too much work for them. To help them out, Ernie decided to ask a simpler question.
“So, when do we start using this social media then Theo,” he enquired.
“Oh, we started using it a long time ago Ernie,” Theo explained. “You know we have got our own website. We’ve also got our own Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts.”
“Ah right,” Ernie said. “What do we do with them all?”
“Oh, lots of things Ernie,” Theo replied. “We use them to tell people the markets we’ll be at; post pictures of our customers wearing their ‘Ernie and Theo’ bandanas and bowties. We also use them to tell our followers about our new products. That’s why your human keeps taking pictures of you in our bandanas” he added excitedly. “The thing is, there are lots of other little businesses like ours. We need a social media marketing strategy to help us reach lots more people and stand out from the crowd,” he explained
Ernie had listened carefully to everything his very clever friend said. He’d even looked behind him to see if the followers Theo mentioned were following them now. He didn’t see anyone though. However, he was very curious about one of the words Theo had used. In fact, he’d been saying it to himself ever since Theo mentioned it. So, tired as he was, he managed to ask his bright buddy one more question:
“What’s ‘twitter’ about Theo?” he asked (still saying “twitter, twitter, twitter, twitter” to himself).
“Well it’s a way of sending short messages to people. We use Twitter to remind our followers about the markets we are doing,” Theo explained. “We might also pass on messages to them that we get from other people. These twitter messages are called ‘tweets.”
As soon as Theo mentioned “tweets” Ernie got extremely animated. His tail started wagging furiously. He began walking round the lamp post in a very animated way. He simply had to ask one more question:
“Do we get lots of tweets Theo,” he asked.
“Well, not as many as we’d like Ernie,” Theo replied, “increasing them is just the sort of thing our social media marketing strategy will be designed to do.”
“Count me in Theo, I’m all for anything that gets us more tweets…I love tweets” Ernie replied.
“It’s not the sort of tweets you are thinking of Ernie…it’s…” Theo tried to start explaining. He saw it was too late though.
Ernie had spotted a couple of sparrows squabbling nearby. Their twittering was also the real thing. He decided to run off to investigate.
“I’ll explain more tomorrow!” Theo shouted after his friend.
“Yeo Theo, gotta go…” Ernie shouted back, his voice disappearing into the gathering December gloom.