Think Before you Speak!

No, this isn’t another post about Google + although the rapid rise and excitement of Google’s latest and greatest social network is the impetus for this post (that was originally to be titled, “Shut the F*ck Already with the MySpace Comparisons). However, with all of the recent tweets, status updates and blog posts predicting the demise of either Facebook, Twitter or both a la MySpace, I couldn’t not share my thoughts in a space that allowed for more than 140 characters. What I can tell you is that while I have seen too many big companies fail over my lifetime to not know that it can always happen again, if Facebook and Twitter fail, it won’t be for the reasons that MySpace did.

For starters, let’s clarify that MySpace did NOT fail because a newer, shinier object came along in the form of Facebook OR Twitter. MySpace failed because of several fundamental flaws in the way it operated, particularly once it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch (btw, Businessweek wrote a great article that goes into all the details of the rise and fall of MySpace).

In particular:

  • Once Murdoch purchased MySpace, there was significant pressure to deliver revenue (not necessarily a bad thing). Unfortunately, this forced MySpace to ramp up the advertising opportunities on the site which led to a lot of spammy ads for unsavory products. As a corollary to this, Twitter and Facebook are both venture backed and private. While both are feeling pressure to deliver more revenue, innovation has taken precedence over money.
  • MySpace made the fatal mistake (I’ll call this the AngelFire Boner) by allowing users to customize the background, fonts, layouts of their pages. While creativity is good, allowing for 8 billion different user interfaces (UI) across 350 million pages is not. UI 101 calls for putting things in the places where users expect to find them. Some people are good at this. Most people are not.
  • Demographics – while most companies love to attract the 18-35 set (male-skewed), there is a downside to this strategy. This demographic tends to be technology-savvy and fickle. The combination of the two allows them to pick up their “ball” and take it to a different ballpark whenever they like. You’ll notice that Twitter’s demographic came out of the gate closer to 32 than 22 and Facebook’s fastest growing (and most dedicated) segment right now are women over 40.
  • Lack of developer commitment. While Twitter and Facebook have both fostered rich ecosystems of developers, MySpace never went down this path.
  • After a few months of MySpace being the apple of Murdoch’s eye, a new “jewel” in the crown emerged when Murdoch opted to court and ultimately purchase the prestigious Wall Street Journal.
Does this mean that the rise of Googe + (which is still has only 5 million more users than photo sharing site, Instagram, and the same number of users as location-based service, foursquare) won’t kill either Twitter or Facebook? No. But if it does, it will be for different reasons than those that dethroned MySpace. To that end, I responded to a tweet by Edelman EVP and uber-blogger, Steve Rubel, regarding a post that tech-blogger, Robert Scoble, wrote the other day about how Twitter had become boring and what it could do to fix that problem. My message to Steve was that “Twitter has become like electricity. Boring but critical.” Facebook will be around for a while longer because of the “barriers to exit” it’s created with the over 40 set. What this means is that Facebook owns most people’s social graph and it has taught most parents and grand parents how to post, comment and share. For this reason, it will take a pretty significant change to get these people to leave (privacy be damned!)
What do you think?

Paid Media… Meet Social Media: The New Twitter Model

For three years, many of us skeptics have wondered aloud about the viability of Twitter. Will they sell sponsorships? Can they corporate tools help merit their billion dollar plus valuation? Would power users be wiling to pay for their services? Apparently, the answer is no (or at least not at the core). Instead, Twitter is taking a page out of the paid media book of tricks — but with a social twist.

Witness, the promoted trend. Some of you who still make your way over to Twitter.com may have noticed that at the top of the trending topics list, their is now a little yellow “promoted” box. According to a trusted source, this slot is purchased for 24 hours and as of right now, is selling for somewhere in the $100,000/slot range. While little data has emerged about the success of these promoted trends (or the accompanying promoted tweets), up to 80% of the advertisers who have tested promoted trends and tweets are repeat buyers.

Twitter also has a third product called recommended accounts which they plan to dial up over the coming months (beta tests with select brands ran in September). These accounts can include people, companies and services. What I like about this last model is that it fulfills on the promise of marrying social media (an annuity) with paid media (ongoing costs). It will also put pressure on companies to get strategic about their bio, picture and quality of their tweet streams.





Coming Soon

While I’m still not 100% sold on the value of the sponsored tweet (apparently they are sold on a cost-per-click basis), I do like the idea of the trends and follower recommendations, especially as things like geo, demographic and day-part targeting come into effect (I’m assuming that Twitter has plans for those in the works). All of a sudden, brands will have an opportunity an amazing opportunity to present relevant content via links based on location, profile, current trends and past behavior. And most important of all, this gets done in a place that’s become a regular hang out spot for millions of regulars.

Where things could get really interesting is when tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are fitted for these same types of paid media opportunities. I’m just guessing here but I have a hunch that Tweetdeck’s launch of their latest version that includes real time updates is signaling a tighter integration between Tweetdeck and Twitter (otherwise, I can’t imagine that Twitter would allow Tweetdeck full access to its API). It’s this kind of integration that will prevent Twitter from being disintermediated from itself by the ecosystem of tools and clients that have cropped up over the last three years.

Which brands will be most successful using Twitter’s new paid offerings? I guarantee that any kind of travel and entertainment business will benefit from this. Retailers — particularly around the holidays — should also benefit from the opportunity. B2B will definitely have a tougher time cracking this nut but then again, many B2B companies are more niche advertisers anyway.

What do you think? Will Twitter truly realize it’s billion dollar plus potential this way? I have a feeling that they may just be onto something.

How Important is Your Twitter Bio?

It’s funny. I’ve been on Twitter for almost exactly three years to the day. During that time, my Twitter bio has evolved ever so slightly. I’ve always included my title and company name. In addition, I’ve made it clear that I’m married (happily) and have three beautiful children. Recently, I included the fact that I am the co-host of the Quick’n’Dirty podcast show. That’s it. I think at certain points in time I included the fact that I’m a huge Redsox and Patriots fan. But while I waiver on whether or not to add that back, I like my bio clean and simple.

Why do I do this? For a few reasons. Over the course of my three years on Twitter, I’ve had a chance to go through at least 14,730 people’s Twitter bios. Yes, I look at every single one before I follow back. I also check and see if they have a picture and will try and get a sense of what they tweet about. I like real people… not robots. In that process, I’ve found that some people say a whole lot of nothing in their bios. And that’s okay. It just likely won’t get me to follow back.

To that end, is it okay to mention the fact that you like a particular sport, type of food, wine, sports team or music? Of course. Personal is good. In my case, my family is my “personal” part. And while I’d like to connect with other people that like the Redsox, the Patriots, BBQ, Tool or the Black Keys, I already know who a lot of these folks are. Why? Because they respond to me when I talk about them on Twitter. And if we find mutual value in each other’s tweets, we start to follow each other.

So while I’m up on my soapbox, here are a few other tips I’d recommend if you’re interested in getting more out of Twitter.

Tip One
Here are twelve thirteen fourteen* people/organizations that I’d recommend following (high signal to noise ratio):

  • Ann Handley - Author and chief content officer at MarketingProfs.
  • David Armano - SVP at Edelman Digital [*shame on me for leaving him off the first go around]
  • Brian Solis - Two time author and principal of FutureWorks
  • Marshal Kirkpatrick - Co-Editor of ReadWriteWeb.com
  • Robert Scoble Rackspace employee who provides tech news, videos and opinions
  • eMarketer - Digital intelligence for marketers and advertisers on social media, mobile, media, advertising, retail, consumer products, and more
  • Brian Morrissey - Digital Editor at Adweek
  • Simon Mainwaring - Ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger
  • Augie Ray - Sr. Analyst of Social Computing/Marketing @ Forrester, tracking Communities, Twitter, Influence, Facebook and WOM
  • Joseph Jaffe - Three time author and chief interruptor at Powered.
  • ANA Marketers - Official account for the ANA. Provides info on events, insights, advocacy, training workshops, and news.
  • Jeremiah Owyang - Partner, Altimeter Group
  • Brett Petersel - Business Development, Community and Events at Mashable
  • Ad Age - AdAge the magazine’s Twitter presence. A great source of news, intelligence and conversation for marketing and media communities.
Tip Two
Don’t be afraid to mix fun with business. I try and add value to everyone that has decided to follow me. Sometimes this is through sharing useful news/links.  Sometimes through snark. Sometimes by expressing my feelings — happy, sad, angry or Zen. While I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, I think the people that have stuck with me over the years would agree that I’m more valuable than not. Those that disagree vote with their feet.
Tip Three
Don’t be discouraged if someone doesn’t follow you back. Some people don’t like to follow anyone but people they know well. Some will follow after you’ve engaged them in dialogue a few times. But the way I go into it is that if I follow someone, I don’t expect that they will follow me back. I follow them because I find what they say interesting enough not to care. With that said, I know part of the reason I’ve been lucky enough to have nearly 15,000 people follow me is because I mostly reciprocate when someone follows me.
Yes, there are hundreds of other good Twitter tips. But hopefully these will help. If you’ve got one you’d like to add, that’s why God invented comments.

Quick-n-dirty Podcast Recap 33: Reunited Edition!

It’s been a few weeks since my podcast partner in crime, Jennifer Leggio, and I have been able to do a Quick-n-Dirty podcast together. For two weeks in a row, travel prevented me from joining her on our weekly show. Fortunately, we had a couple of more than capable substitutes in Brian Solis (author and principal of FutureWorks) and Greg Matthews, director of innovation at Humana. Write ups from the shows with Brian and Greg can be found here and here on Jennifer’s ZDNet blog.

This week, Jennifer and I were back in the saddle again with me broadcasting live from Jackson Hole, WY (yes, I took one for the team). We had an action packed show starting with our featured social network of the week, Hollrr. Neither Jennifer or I had had much of chance to play with Hollrr but saw some decent potential in this site that Mashable likens to “Foursquare for product discovery” (full review here). Both Jennifer and I appreciated Hollrr’s off-the-shelf integration with other social networks like Twitter and Facebook and I personally look forward to getting product recommendations from friends and connections. Oh yeah, they have a pretty cool logo too.

Next up was our featured guest (and former “Twitterer of the week,”) Simon Mainwaring. If you don’t know Simon, you should. Officially, he is a branding consultant, advertising creative director, blogger, author and speaker. A former Nike creative at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, and worldwide creative director for Motorola at Ogilvy, he now consults for brands and creative companies that are re-inventing their industries. During this week’s show, Simon shared some fascinating updates from a recent trip he took to the Middle East as a guest of the Brookings Institute. The focus was on social media and foreign policy, two disciplines that traditionally don’t share the same space. I won’t pretend to do Simon’s interview justice so just this one time, I’m MANDATING that you listen to at least Simon’s portion of the show (starts about 7 mins in and runs for aproximately 25 minutes).

Speaking of “Twitterers of the week,” this week’s choice was principal of The Community Roundtable (and close friend), Jim Storer. As I mentioned during the show, nobody has done a better job at taking community management skills to Twitter than Jim. Regularly mixing helpful tips, humor, love of bacon and Red Sox commentary into his stream, Jim is a “must add” to anyone’s Twitter follow list irrespective of what industry they are in.

Last but not least, our point/counterpoint focused on one of Jennifer’s recent blog posts, Twitter: Becoming Nothing Special. Jennifer’s post theorizes that the recent announcement of Yahoo’s partnership with Twitter pushes them from “new shiny object” into the merely “ordinary” category. While Jennifer didn’t see this as all bad, she wondered aloud if this might hurt Twitter’s future potential. Taking the opposing side of this issue, I argued that this is exactly what Twitter (and social media) need. Making Twitter and other social networks like “electricity” — something we don’t ever even think about in spite of the critical role it plays in our daily lives — is a good thing. To me, this means that it’s so ingrained in our daily lives, personal and professional, that we can’t live without it.

Looking forward to next week’s show, Jennifer and I will switch places and I will be working with friend and founder of Oneforty, Laura Fitton, as my guest host. Jennifer will be attending the RSA Conference and thus will be out of pocket for this week’s Quick-n-Dirty. I’m sure she’ll want to listen to the show (as will you). Fortunately for her, our shows are archived here and on iTunes (search on “quickndirty”).

Getting Started with Twitter: A Smart Newbie’s Perspective


As you know, I’m a big fan of serendipity. This morning, it struck again as I invited folks in the great city of Austin, TX to join me for coffee at one of my favorite spots, the Hideout. I had low expectations given the fact that I gave people less than 18 hours notice AND the fact that it was two days before Christmas. While we didn’t get quantity, I got quality in spades with my friend, Michael Pearson and new friend, David Patton.


Why I mentioned “serendipity” is that David happens to be quite an interesting fellow. What intrigued me the most was the fact that he had just started on his Twitter adventure about six weeks ago so this was my opportunity to relive those early moments of “holy shit, this thing is a game changer” of Twitter. Since I didn’t have an audio recorder, I went the old fashioned route and sent David six questions via e-mail to answer. Being a good doobie, he turned them around within a few hours.

For anyone that’s new to Twitter, I REALLY like the way David is approaching the space. If I were to have a do over, I’d likely take an approach to Twitter that’s similar to his.

1) Talk a little bit about your role at Hush and the jobs/paths that led you up to your current position.
My association with Hush began in late ’90s as an initial investor, and subsequently, after helping secure several rounds of funding, as a director.

Starting and growing a real estate development company in Austin during the malaise of the savings and loan crisis, and a securities/investment firm in the latter part of the decade, provided much of the experience necessary to help guide Hush through the dot com meltdown.

More importantly, very early on we decided it was important to gain credibility with encryption experts, by publishing our source code, and with our customers, by offering swift, honest and detailed
customer service, often provided by our CTO, Brian Smith. This was completely uncharacteristic of the industry at the time, and it built a high level of trust between the company, our industry peers and our subscribers. And this trust is the foundation of our business, because without it the technology means nothing.

2) When did you get started on Twitter? What was the impetus for joining?
Uncharacteristically, the early phase passed passed me by. But the Twitterstorms which erupted during the Hudson River plane crash, and after the Iranian election voter uprising, got me to take notice that something had changed in the way we communicate as a society. News procurement and provision would never be the same.

3) What has been your greatest “aha” moment on Twitter?

There were two. The first was replacing decade old website habits with my real-time Twitter timeline. It didn’t take long to realize Google is a horrible search engine for up to the minute news. And
even once cutting edge sites, updated daily, began to appear stale. If it’s happening now, it’s streaming on Twitter.

The second was the realization that the Cluetrain had picked up steam and was making speed right down Madison Avenue. This was a game changer. Who buys anything anymore without reading customer reviews? Who went to see Bruno? James Cameron should pay a portion of Avatar’s box office receipts to Robert Scoble and [Mike] Arrington.


4) What do you find most annoying about Twitter?

Not much. It’s all pretty fascinating to me. Democracy can be messy. Democratization of industries can be downright ugly, and that’s what we’re seeing. But like the dust, sweat and noise of travel, it’s all part of reaching a better place!

5) Talk a little bit about your follow strategy.

This can be tricky.  To get right to the crux of any matter you have to go where the action is, so I right off the bat I followed almost all of the employees at Twitter, listened to the buzz, followed who they followed and who followed them, and gradually got a better feel for the etiquette and protocols of the Titterverse. Scoble followed me then you followed me, so I said, wow, anyone can engage anyone else here, and that was key. I made it a point to follow, and to be followed by, anyone who genuinely wanted to engage in a conversation that was meaningful to both of us.

6) Words of wisdom (this is the freeform section)

  • Listen. It takes a lot of patience, but you can learn so much more by paying attention to what’s going on around you than by interrupting a conversation.
  • Give. Link people who may gain something by knowing each other, without expecting anything in return. It will come back around (The twizzang effect!).
  • Say “Yes” to hyper-caffeinated, outgoing marketing types who randomly arrange early morning coffee tweetups ;)

What about you? Do you remember your first few weeks on Twitter? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Weekly Social Marketing Links: August 11, 2009

Each week, the members of Powered’s marketing, business development and product teams pick a news article, blog post or research report that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful. I’ve been a little behind in my updates recently so you’re getting a few weeks worth in one fell swoop.

Links are below:

Beth Lopez (Marketing)
I enjoyed reading the article, Desperately Seeking Personal Brand, which talks about how you can tell if a social marketing “expert” is really a true guru or pretender.

—-
Marketers Like Twitter More Than Consumers Do
Interesting stats between the different views of marketers and consumers re: Twitter. While marketers see Twitter as a platform that is here to stay, consumers either don’t have an opinion or think it’s somewhat useful or dead. Both marketers and consumers feel it’s not a good platform for advertising or promoting products, which is interesting considering we get a lot of questions about using Twitter for just this purpose.

I do agree with the article that Twitter can be useful for awareness efforts, but I don’t think that by promoting your business you will generate leads or new business from Twitter. Twitter is about relationships. It’s about connecting with people that you find interesting. It’s about people…not about businesses. And if consumers don’t know or don’t care about Twitter, then it begs the question – Are marketers wasting time and energy in trying to figure out how to use it to propel their business?

DP Rabalais (Marketing)
In doing competitive intelligence this week I cam across an interesting story about Passenger and how they’re helping Mercedes Benz tap into 20-somethings (some current, but mostly future customers) help shape their future product offerings. Definitely worth the read if you get a chance.

—-
Fortune 100 CEOs & Companies: Social Media Use & Statistics

Good article on how CEO’s at top companies use social media, and also how companies are using tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Twitter.

—-
I liked this post by blogger, Mack Collier titled Why Many Marketers Struggle with Social Media because it does a good job of succinctly calling out where traditional marketing and advertising is relevant vs. where SM is beneficial to companies. My favorite quote:

If you’re Burger King and you’re looking to influence whether I go there or not, use plain old marketing. It’s just fine. It’s the right tool for the job. So is advertising. You don’t HAVE to use social media for that.

But, if you’re Burger King and you want to understand me, to get what’s really going on inside my head, and know what we have in common, then THAT is where social media can be useful. Talk to me. Get to know me. Ask me about me and the things that aren’t about you.

Doug Wick (BizDev)
The danger of being an innovative start-up that is a little resource-challenged is that your innovations can be easily imitated. Facebook has been slowly learning from Twitter and incorporating their features while Twitter struggles with problems like infrastructure that Facebook solved long ago. This article does a nice job of showing where the endgame for Twitter might be, now that Facebook has acquired another sophisticated Twitter-imitator, Friendfeed.

—-
My article this week is Virtual Worlds are Getting a Second Life. Some interesting stats about the rebounding explosive growth of virtual worlds (especially among youngsters), and how they have been faster to develop revenue models than their 2-dimensional social counterparts like Facebook and Twitter. I would guess that is related to the fact that Facebook and Twitter ultimately deliver stickiness through the exchange of content (an activity that is complementary to our real lives), where 3D simulations can expand the possibilities for other social behaviors – such as commerce – more naturally since they do not complement, but instead emulate, our own reality.

Jay MacIntosh (BizDev)
Women are more relational and nurturing while men are more transactional…at least that’s the theory from a study by RapLeaf. http://digg.com/u3AQJa I’ve always been fascinated by how women and men think and behave differently. To see it in action, pay attention to the dynamics the next time you’re in a group setting (children or adults). You’ll likely see female energy more focused on understanding others and connecting with them by validating their experiences and feelings. On the other hand, male energy is usually more focused on being understood by others especially in terms of what we know and our past success. How do these differences show up in social media environments? Though I don’t have the data to support this…yet, I’ll bet women use “friending” features more than men, while men participate more in things like reputation management. Anyhow, something to consider when talking strategy with clients.

Bill Fanning (BizDev)

Bill’s been out doing some major sales stuff but time to get him back on the “article” wagon. ;)

Don Sedota (Product)
This is a good list from Jay Baer on 11 Timely Social Media Takeaways. It’s basically a short-list of 11 recent social initiatives or planned initiatives by companies/brands and a key takeaway from each. My favorite is the one on Lane Bryant and their recent announcement of a “Plus-Sized Community” for women. It’s a great example of striking an emotional chord with the customer for a brand that on the surface may not seem to be a great social candidate. Lane Bryant is also hoping to leverage member questions/comments for the purposes of product innovation which seems to be an increasing trend.

—-
In the spirit of interesting stats and prospective customers potentially finding Facebook Connect as an attractive demand generator, here’s a post from Brian Solis on up to date Facebook stats . Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention the source of his information but he says that the statistics will be used in his next book so take that for what it’s wo
rth. Anyways, some highlights that could be used to sell prospective clients on the attractiveness of Facebook/FBC as a demand generation source include:

  • More than 5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)
  • The average social graph equates to 120 friends
  • 120 million users log onto Facebook at least once a day
  • 15,000 and counting websites, devices and applications have implemented Facebook Connect since its launch in December 2008

—-
I found this article pretty interesting, Please Don’t Follow or Friend Me, posted by Steven Hodson on the Shooting at Bubbles blog. It talks about how the concept of “friends” is different across different social networks and whether being someone’s “friend” on one social network is an obligation to accept that person as a “friend” on all social networks. A good quote from the article that sums it up (and I tend to agree) is “The richness and value of the Friending Economy comes from the quality and closeness of your ‘friends’, not the number of them. By blindly reciprocating we dilute the value of our ‘Friending’ not just for ourselves but also for those people who do decide to follow or friend us.”

There’s also an excerpt to another thoughtful post in the article’s sidebar (near the end) called “What Have You Done for Me Lately – Keeping Score in Social Media” which is similar in spirit but speaks to the viewpoint that just because you’ve followed someone, re-tweeted their comment, linked to their blog post, etc. doesn’t mean you should hold them in debt until they return the favor. The payback will be eventual and long-term, and in the end everything evens out.

Engagement vs. Serendipity

Earlier this morning, my Twitter friend, Michael Calienes who is also the co-founder of The Conversation Factory, tweeted out a clip he did on video social network, 12 Seconds. You can watch for yourself but for those of you that prefer the written word, Michael’s question was “What if over the next couple of weeks you un-followed everyone who’s never engaged with you on Twitter?”

What I liked about Michael’s question was that it wasn’t an “eff you” kind of statement but rather a thoughtful one. His follow up question was, “Do you think it would improve the relationships you have with the people who do engage with you?”

http://embed.12seconds.tv/i/embed?v=200202
unfollowing the unengaged on 12seconds.tv

What I liked most about this quick video was that it got me thinking about engagement vs. serendipity, two things that are possible more now than ever via social media. The first concept, engagement, is obviously something that is high on any marketer’s priority list. The second, serendipity, is something that we love when it comes our way but rarely do we feel like we have much control over the phenomenon. To me, that is really the beauty of Twitter because it allows both to happen simultaneously.

But that’s not what Michael asked in his clip this morning. He wanted to know would paring down on followers that are essentially “dead weight” allow us to spend more time with the people that matter. In essence, this is something that I think we all grapple with in life in general.
So here’s my answer… as tempted as I am to pare down my 8,000+ followers, I never will. You know why? Because every day someone new who was in the list of “haven’t previously engaged with” crops up and adds value to my life. There are a few personal examples of how this has helped here and here It’s also been invaluable in my professional life helping me helping me drive leads, create partnerships, find podcast/blog interviewees, or even land speaking engagements.
What do you think? If you had your druthers, would you slim down the number of people you engaged with based on reciprocity? Or are you like me — willing to roll the dice based on the possibility of what might be?

Twitter as the GPS: Video from @JeffPulver’s 140 Character Conference

Last week, I was lucky enough to be asked by my friend, Peter Fasano, of Coke to moderate a panel called “Twitter as the GPS for the Greater Social Media Mesh” at the 140 Character Conference in NYC. The idea was to talk about how Twitter is helping businesses navigate in a “2.0″ world. Given the backgrounds of our panelists, we decided to focus on four different vertical industries: financial services, entertainment, advertising and CPG.

My fellow panelists were:

  • Brian Morrissey (@bmorrissey) – Digital Editor at Adweek
  • David Berkowitz (@dberkowitz) – Emerging Media Director, 360i
  • Hadley Stern (@hadleystern) – Vice-President, Fidelity Labs
  • Peter Fasano (@pfasano) – Principal/Lead Catalyst, Mass+Logic and Social Media Marketer at The Coca Cola Company
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYGLqA+YiSs]
This is only a twenty minute video so I highly encourage you to spend a few minutes listening in. If you have thoughts, comments or feedback that you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. I have my fellow panelists e-mails so I’m happy to ping them to try and get an answer.

Live Blogging the 140 Character Conference


Photo credit: Jill Hanner
Sorry, I never gave context for this post. I’m at Jeff Pulver’s 140 Character Conference in New York City and am trying to provide some running notes from this action
packed event. Today I’m keeping up. Tomorrow might be tricky (speaking at 9:20 AM and then in meetings on and off after that).
Link to conference agenda is here.
Link to the #140conf hashtag is here.
Tim O’Reilly CEO/founder, O’Reilly Media
  • realized that at times he was tweeting too much so started capturing/formatting his tweets in a text document. Later he would decide whether or not to tweet those updates.

Fred Wilson (venture capitalist/blogger)
  • Links are the currency of the internet.
  • Talking about how to make money from Twitter.
  • Links to blog coming from Facebook and Twitter are starting to eat into Google referrals.
  • One business model for Twitter would mimic the way Overture introduced “paid search”
  • Google currently spends a lot of time on environmental remediation i.e. addressing spam, phishing, etc. Twitter is going need to do the same.
  • Passed links on FB and Twitter are more “trusted” because they come from someone you know – as a result, they have a higher likihood to convert
  • http://tcrn.ch/3y0 (recap by E Schoenfeld)
John Borthwick - Founder of Twitter Search
bit.ly/140/ecosystem
General thoughts from Liz Strauss and panel with Brian Solis, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6 and Brook Lundy of Some eCards
Maegan Carburry – Political Blogger for Huffington Post
  • Recommends reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
  • Asks, “are we contributing original thoughts to socialsphere?”
[cont'd]
UBER Panel on Twitter as News Gathering Tool
Moderator: Robert Scoble
Panelists:
Ann Curry – anchor of NBC
Rick Sanchez – Host of 3PM Newsroom on CNN
Ryan Osborn – Producer NBC’s Today Show
  • Scoble is hammering Rick Sanchez, CNN and press in general for not giving more Iran coverage this weekend.
  • Scoble also asks if we are evolving the coverage mainstream news gives foreign topics because we now “know” some of the people in these countries and they are more human/touchable to us.
  • Rick Sanchez says that social media is pushing CNN to validate whether or not elections were real or not
  • Ann Curry (beautiful voice in real life btw, very melodic and soothing) talks VERY passionately about covering Iran. Said that people there were talking to reporters and people were 1) risking their lives to talk to them and 2) were asking if all Americans thought that they were terrorists. Ann also stressed the importances of reporters now treating people in countries like Darfur, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. like they are your mother, sister, brother.
  • Rick Sanchez/Ryan Osborn said it is tricky because trad’l news is held to standard of “it’s got to be right.” They are required to do more fact checking.
  • Ann Curry – was doing some real time reporting on Twitter recently because main stream news was covering. Had to be VERY careful to make sure she wasn’t passing along any information that was wrong.
  • Audience questions – frustration around mainstream media covering “fluff” pieces vs. hard hitting stuff. [NOTE: in theory, this is great but it's not what most people want to watch]
  • Rick Sanchez says that it’s imperative to use Twitter to have conversations with watchers – not to use it as a gimmick.
[cont'd]
  • Rick Sanchez notes that if CNN or other news disappears, it takes away a lot of the content that social content creators can talk about.
  • Scoble retorts to Rick, “you DID disappear on Saturday and we got along just fine.”
[Side note: had a fantastic conversation with Scoble, Jim Stone (camera man for
NBC) and Ryan Osborn after the panel. They agreed that this is a seminal moment in the history of social media and traditional media.]
Moeed Ahmad - Head of New Media Technology and Future Media Department Technology Division, Al Jazeera Network
  • First off, Moeed notes that he traveled 16 hours to get here. WOW! I will never complain
  • “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space”
  • “If it doesn’t fit in 140 characters, it’s not worth saying” – @riy
  • Now talking about Twitter’s roll in War 2.0 – cites hashtag use of “#gaza
  • Interesting because Al Jazeera team was skeptical about use of Twitter at first. Then @Ev tweeted a link to their site and traffic went through the roof. Now they get it. ;)
  • Able to run a page with live tweets with a column next to it that tells whether the news has been verified or not [brilliant idea]
  • Challenges: covering a party that is not popular on Twitter who wins an election (when party that lost IS popular on Twitter)
  • “Telling the truth is hard. Not telling it is even harder.” (see poster below)

Jeremy Epstein – Marketing Navigator, Never Stop Marketing

  • Interesting approach to Twitter. Only follows 140 people. Looks for:
    - Experts
    - High signal to noise ratio
    - Constantly looking to earn right to spend more time with people he wants to network with
Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak
  • Twitter is changing Kodak (not you
    r father’s Kodak anymore)
  • 60% of people at company are new
  • Looking for new ways to make connections with people
  • Worst thing you could say about Kodak is absolutely nothing.
  • Said people come on their blog and say “your product is f*cking, f*cking, f*cking, f*cking, f*cking not good” is okay because it’s feedback.
  • They are listening to their customers – want to make ink cartridges much more interchangeable.
  • Jeff is showing his humorous side – he is currently trying to figure out term for someone that is malicious on Twitter. Crowd consensus is “twanker.”
  • Right now, he’s calling out a particular competitor that was anonomously posting and taking shots at Kodak. Also expressing desire for Financial Times to be at 140 Character Conference
  • Jeff answers/triages tweets that people send when problems or questions arise. Said that this wasn’t possible even a year ago.
  • Big moment for Kodak/Jeff – one of Barack Obama’s daughters used a Kodak camera. People started tweeting Jeff like crazy. It trended and made the NY Times.
  • Interesting thought, what is the “cost of ignoring.”
For more live tweets from people beyond me during Jeff’s session, go here:
[cont'd]

Getting Started with Social

In a few weeks, I’m giving a presentation to a large company about ways they can be thinking about social media. I haven’t fleshed out the PPT yet but thought it might be helpful for other folks that are trying to find a “toe hold” in their companies (big OR small) to get started.

  1. What social isn’t:
    - One way conversation
    - Just another PR tool
    - Technology
    - A fad
  2. What social is:
    - Vehicle for Many-to-many conversations
    - Way to deepen customer relationships and create referrals
    - Great feedback mechanism
    - The phenomenon that happens when you bring content AND conversation together
  3. Uses for social within a brand:
    - Customer service (reduce phone/e-mail costs)
    - Marketing/sales (generate leads, deepen loyalty, lengthen customer tenure, increase referrals)
    - Market research (ongoing vs. episodic)
    - Product innovation (co-create w/ your customers)
    - An early warning mechanism (canary in the coal mine)
  4. Brands that are doing social well:
    - Zappos (Twitter, blog)
    - H&R; Block (Twitter, Facebook)
    - Dell Inc. (Ideastorm, blogs, Twitter)
    - USAA (Facebook, Twitter)
    - Best Buy (Blog, Twitter)
    - American Express (Open Forum community)
    - Allstate (Twitter, blog, Youtube, Facebook)
  5. Key considerations:
    - Create a strategy (make sure it ties in with existing business goals)
    - Pick an audience/customer segment
    - Start listening (Google alerts, Twitter Search, Get Satisfaction, Radian6, Cymphony, BuzzGain)
    - Identify executive sponsors (an individual or small committee)
    - Plan to “give before you get”
    - Measure, measure, measure
  6. Twitter
    - What is it?
    - How is it different than LinkedIn or Facebook?
    - Why is it gaining momentum?
    - How are companies using it?
    - List of top companies/brands using
    - Best practices (from Tim Walker of Hoovers)
    - Pitfalls
    - Who “mans” the account? Who needs to be involved? 

As always, additions/subtractions/corrections are welcome.

Photo Credit: Robert Scoble