Jesse DeWitt is the digital director of language learning products at Merriam-Webster. And as you may surmise from his title, he does not devote the lion's share of his time to social marketing. He actually shares social media responsibilities with a few other colleagues who themselves have full-time jobs at the dictionary publisher, each one contributing a tweet here and a post there.
So why is Merriam-Webster cranking out so many posts—40 so far—on Peach, the social app that debuted last Friday and that is quickly becoming the talk of the Twittersphere? (Some praise it while others say it's a techie flash in the pan.)
For starters, Peach is easy to create content with, said DeWitt, whose team has a dearth of visual images at its fingertips and little to no time to create them. For that reason, Merriam-Webster doesn't even have an account on Instagram or Snapchat.
"Visual storytelling is a real problem for us," DeWitt explained. "Obviously, we are so heavily associated with words. It's not like we have this great library of assets we can draw from like a magazine might have. It's been an impediment in using Instagram or Snapchat. Peach has nice built-in commands that give you a quick and easy way to post something visual."
Here's what he's talking about. Peach, created by Vine founder Dom Hofmann, lets users find their friends through their phone contacts and then upload GIFs, pictures and status updates into the app. What's more, it lets people use commands—or "magic words," as the app calls them—to summon content for their updates. For instance, typing "GIF" calls up a Giphy search tool. Typing "here" adds the user's current location, and entering "draw" lets folks draw images on their phone screens.
Among its dozens of posts, Merriam-Webster has "Peached" in real-time while reacting to the passing of David Bowie on Monday as well as President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last night. The posts have generally gotten a couple dozen hearts and likes apiece along with a smattering of comments.
"We are doing some of the things we've been doing on Twitter, but Peach has those nice commands that I really see as the new grammar for social media," DeWitt said.
Here's the second reason why Merriam-Webster was such an early Peach adopter: DeWitt is the father of an 8-month-old boy and sometimes homebound, and he had time to kill last weekend while off the clock. "It wasn't like I was going out on the town Friday night," he quipped.
Since then, DeWitt and his team have posted more than 40 times on Peach while garnering roughly 2,000 followers on the app. So, it appears his crib-side content creation last weekend was time well spent.
DeWitt understands the skepticism around Peach—he immediately established an Ello account last year for Merriam before that social network quickly faded into the background. Many are now predicting Peach will suffer the same fate.
Merriam-Webster's digital executive doesn't see it that way. (Peach didn't respond to an emailed inquiry about its users number.)
"I honestly think this one has a chance," DeWitt said. "But we didn't see the same kind of community [on Ello] that we're already seeing on Peach. The people who are following us, they seem to be forging a more emotional connection than what we saw on Ello and maybe even more than on Facebook or Twitter. I am not saying it's going to replace anything, but they've done some nice things with the product."
David Deal, an independent digital marketing consultant, concurs, stating that Peach has the tools to be a breakthrough app this year. "It's immersive, playful and perfectly suited for millennials and digital natives," he said.
In today's social media world, those attributes may as well be the definition of success.