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What is the Value of Twitter?

November 17, 2010 3 comments

I’m still amused when I talk to someone about Twitter.  Even this week I heard, “Isn’t that where celebrities talk about when they’re going to the bathroom?”  Sure, but it’s a place to get answers in real-time.

In the example above, I had a question that was answered by an industry pro within 60 seconds of me asking it.  Because of the person’s credibility, I didn’t even question it and went directly to implementation.  What’s the ROI on saving time?

Last week I asked a question about telephone tracking numbers.  Within five minutes a company that sold telephone tracking numbers replied with a link to customer testimonials – social proof.  Very smart.  I didn’t choose that company, but they may suit my needs better in the future as my current project grows.

Janet Thaeler wrote about her experience using Twitter to find a movie theater for an event she put together.  Because Jordan Landing responded on Twitter, they got the business, plus some pretty major local media coverage.  What’s the ROI on that?

Twitter is a lot of things, but the value I get from it is being able to find information in real-time and meet new contacts.  Sounds like some pretty good value for a business, doesn’t it?

Twitter Anywhere?

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Of the social media platforms, changes in Twitter have dominated the year 2010.  First we had Twitter connections showing up in search engines and on Monday, Twitter announced a new functionality called @anywhere.

Twitter anywhere allows web visitors to tweet the link to the page they’re on without having to leave the site.  It will be easy to add the new framework to any site just by pasting in some lines of javascript. 

When we’re ready to launch, initial participating sites will include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo!, and YouTube.

What this means for business is it just became a whole lot easier to talk about your product or service directly from your website.  Word of mouth marketing expert Andy Sernovitz preaches companies have to make it easy for their customers to talk about them.

It really doesn’t get much easier than this.

I keep talking to people about Twitter and they make statements like, “Isn’t Twitter a place celebrities tell you when they’re taking a dump?”  I kid you not. 

The simple action plan for anyone interested in Twitter is to go create an account.  If you’re a business, you’ll want to use your business name or selected keywords people find you by.  Unlike Facebook fan pages, Twitter only allows one user name.  That means limited real estate.

Once you’ve set up the account, search for your keywords and start following people who are talking about your industry.  You will learn.  Once you have a feel for it, you can implement tools like HootSuite and TwitJump to help manage and automate your tweets.

Twitter is changing the social media game and at a very fast pace.  Pay attention!

White House Using Twitter to Communicate

February 19, 2010 1 comment

For those of you who have businesses that are not on Twitter, here’s a clue; the White House is using Twitter as a communication tool.

That’s right, press secretary Robert Gibbs is on Twitter as @PressSec.  He just started this month and CNN reports:

Gibbs says he became fascinated with Twitter when he followed a live stream of reporters tweeting President Obama’s press conference in the briefing room on February 2.

The purpose of the account is to provide additional information the press secretary receives on a daily basis.  Gibbs explains,

“There’s a tremendous amount of information that we all get and have to read and go through each day,” Gibbs said. “This is certainly one way to get, on a rolling basis, to see a lot of that information in front of you.”

He follows journalists and pundits, i.e. his target audience.  That’s a pretty good tip!  Social media sites were blocked by the last administration and dealing with the Presidential Records Act when it comes to social media has been difficult, but it appears a policy has been created.

Government is rarely the early adopter of new technology, but when they do, you know that technology is important.  Press secretary Gibbs has done three things every business owner should do when it comes to social media -

1.  He figured out how to use it and then decided to employ it.

2.  He’s following his target audience to figure out what they want from him.

3.  He consulted with the proper technical and legal people to come up with a use policy.

Ok, now I need to start following @PressSec!

Social Media Challenge

February 1, 2010 1 comment

Today marks the launch of the 90 day social media challenge.

The challenge is to drive customers and sales using only social media sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  There is no website.

Facebook acts as the website and provides storage for videos and documents, plus a way for visitors to leave feedback.  YouTube and Twitter are used to capture attention and push visitors to Facebook.

Who?

Lisa Wise is a merchant account executive at First Financial and we’re using social media together to promote her credit card processing services.  We recorded about eight videos using my Flipcam just to show how simple the process is.  Besides time, the only money invested will be a few dollars for press release distribution.

Tracking

The biggest challenge I could see was how we would track traffic and results.  With Twitter we know the number of followers and Facebook shows the number of fans.  YouTube shows the number of views, but we won’t know what the traffic is.  That’s why we’re using bit.ly for our links, because it will measure traffic.  I was even able to create custom bit.ly links:

http://bit.ly/ccpfacebook

http://bit.ly/ccputube

http://bit.ly/ccptwit

The only challenge I’ve run across so far is one of the press release sites didn’t like those links, so I had to use the long ones.

I’ll keep you up to date on this blog (another social media platform) on the status, successes and challenges as they present themselves.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Using Twitter for Business Research

January 28, 2010 1 comment

I’m currently working on a client project to promote an author contest that runs until the end of March.

One of the suggestions I made was to use Twitter as a way to build awareness since the contest is open to anybody who has a published book they want to promote.

After doing keyword research, I set up some auto-follows in TwitJump and did a couple searches on Twitter.

The two biggest reasons I performed these searches was for business research.  I wanted to know -

1.  Who are the big Tweeters in this market vertical…

2.  Are there any industry specific hashtags I should be using in the tweets.

Just a couple searches for my highest traffic, relevant keywords gave me all the answers I needed.  I can now start following some of the relevant people that are connected to these big Tweeters.  I can also email or @reply to them with news of my clients contest and their press release.

Additionally, I know which hashtags are going to carry more weight and relevance to my tweets so I can be sure to add them for maximum effectiveness.

Note to self – do this for all your clients!

The Direct Message Dilemma

January 23, 2010 1 comment

For those of you that don’t know, there are three ways to communicate on Twitter -

  • the broadcast tweet everyone can see
  • the @ tweet everyone can see, but is directed at a particular person
  • the direct message or DM.

The honest truth is there are a lot of spammers on Twitter, but they’re pretty easy to manage by creating lists or unfollowing.  Direct messages on the other hand are a real dilemma.  I’m using a service to autofollow people based on targeted keywords.  That means I’m building a list of people to follow in hopes they will follow me back.  If they don’t within a certain period of time, my software automatically unfollows.

The dilemma is during the follow, I get sent a direct message and it pops up in my email.  Every single autofollow that has sent a direct message has been automatically generated or spammy.  People who use Twitter ignore direct messages.  I send them straight to the trash.

How can a marketer use direct messaging effectively if nobody reads them?  I don’t think they can.  So should we ignore this useful piece of technology?  Perhaps.

I know I don’t have a direct message set up.  I have seen a few interesting ones.  My favorite was the one that admitted it was a bot, but invited me to connect on Facebook.  I didn’t, but I still thought it was a good idea.

Matt Singley has a suggestion for Twitter, allow a separate controller for direct messages so a user can turn it off without unfollowing.

Please give your users the ability to turn direct messages on and off globally, and when on, give us the ability to select who can and cannot send us direct messages. I want to be able to follow people without them having the ability to send direct messages to me.

What do you think about direct messaging on Twitter.  Have you found an effective way to use it?  Do you know about it?  Do you read them?  Let me know in the comments.

Did Social Media Lose Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat?

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The big news in politics yesterday was the contest for Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts.  Kennedy held the seat for a number of decades, but the race turned out to be quite tight in the ordinarily “blue” state.

On Monday, the Huffington Post suggested it could come down to effective use of social media.

So it’s fascinating to watch Martha Coakley’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts basically ignore new media in favor of the old playbooks that elected Ted Kennedy to the seat.

Of course there is much more to the race: Politics and platforms and personal connections are important. But didn’t Obama for America teach us that the Web has the power to push a candidate over the top? Obama also showed the importance of young people (whose communications of choice is digital).

Much like I did the other day, the author credits Barack Obama’s win in 2008 to effective use of technology; particularly Internet based technology.  He went forward with some social media numbers;

As I compare the morning before election day, @MarthaCoakley has 3,520 Twitter followers compared to @ScottBrownMA with 10,214 followers. Coakley counts 14,487 Facebook fans to Brown’s 76,700 fans. Advantage Brown by more than three to one.

Brown didn’t win the election with a three to one margin, but he did win.  Now both sides are trying to figure out why.

Brown won 52 percent to 47 percent. Turnout was exceptional for a special election in January: More voters showed up at the polls Tuesday than in any non-presidential general election in Massachusetts since 1990.

The Huffington Post credits Brown’s social media campaign and points out Coakley pretty well ignored the opportunity.

How do college students communicate? Facebook and SMS of course! Yet these two forms of communications played absolutely no formal part in the rally. The brochure that was handed out had no web addresses or social media sites. At the rally, Coakley fans were asked to vote. They were asked to volunteer at phone banks. They were asked to talk to neighbors and friends.

But were the many college students in the crowd told to talk up the Coakley campaign on Facebook, the college student communications tool of choice? No. Were people at the rally asked to tweet? No. Were they asked to join Coakley’s fan page? No.

The Coakley campaign is underestimating the importance of social media and the new rules of marketing and PR.

That strategy looks like a blueprint for political social media campaigns.  Ask and you shall receive.

This is a valuable lesson moving forward for political campaigns of all stripes.  In Utah, Democrats are seeking to unseat a non-elected Republican governor and gain the statehouse for the first time in 30 years.  If social media is any barometer, Peter Coroon’s vibrant Facebook page is out polling Herbert’s ghost town of a page 2,368 to 219.  One of these candidates “gets” social media.  One doesn’t.  Guess who I think will win in November, despite the perceived odds?  If Massachusetts can elect a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy, a Democrat leading the state of Utah isn’t farfetched.

The rhetoric is heating up on both sides after Tuesday’s loss in Massachusetts.  In an email sent out today to Democrats, Mitch Stewart wrote,

Yesterday’s disappointing election results show deep discontent with the pace of change. I know the OFA community and the President share that frustration.

We also saw what we knew to be true all along: Any change worth making is hard and will be fought at every turn. While it doesn’t take away the sting of this loss, there is no road to real change without setbacks along the way.

On the other side, Republicans are crediting the win to voter discontent with the new Presidential administration and the healthcare debate.  I submit, it’s the effective communication of issues and platforms to voters and TV ads and robo-calls are not the way to do it any more.  Advertising is advertising whether you’re a small business, big business or political business.  If the old way of advertising is failing for businesses, it’s going to fail for you too.

People are fearful of change.  They don’t like change.  In today’s advertising world, change is social media.  Don’t be afraid of social media, embrace it.  They say Google is your friend.  I say Facebook and Twitter are too.

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