People who don’t “get” Twitter often ask me what it’s really good for. Charlie Sheen isn’t the only one getting some mileage out of the microblogging service. I tell people it’s a real-time search engine. If there’s one takeaway from this article for you, I want that to be it.
In the example above, I asked a question about something I didn’t know about. Within minutes I had an answer…from somebody I trust. While I don’t know this person in real life, I do know their expertise and found it to be trustworthy. I also received responses from two other people I didn’t know with a few other suggestions.
My biggest concern was finding a host with easy WordPress installation. I know what’s a competitive price for hosting and Dreamhost was slightly higher than what I’d been paying. I checked out Dreamhost’s site from a link in their Twitter profile and everything looked good. When I went to sign up, it asked for a discount code. I didn’t have one, so I Googled it. Within seconds I found one that discounted the price $97. For $22, I got a year of hosting with a one click WordPress install.
It’s not all the way up yet, but my new SEO website is at least presentable. That is the value of Twitter.
In what he claims was his first speech at a University, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke at Brigham Young University in Provo this morning. Along with Senator Orrin Hatch, Zuckerberg answered pre-selected questions for about an hour.
The format was pretty well suited for the large crowd of about 10,000, but to me seemed to be more about Hatch than Zuckerberg. Nevertheless there were a few good takeaways.
Zuckerberg was pretty humble about his success. He claimed though he is the public face of the company, nothing would get done if it weren’t for the other employees of Facebook. How does he do it? “Make sure everyone you add is really great.”
Though the service has 600 million users, Facebook is only composed of 2000 employees. Leveraging technology and an open source platform creates that kind of scalability. Zuckerberg said the company has a philosophy that “an independent developer should always be able to create something better than a big company.”
Regarding entrepreneurship, he said the biggest attribute any business person needs is to “love and believe in what you’re doing.” There are many challenges along the way and he concluded with my favorite quote, “No normal person would want to build a company.” Normal people wait for things to happen. Exceptional people make things happen.
There were some general questions asked about Facebook that I thought Zuckerberg provided some insight into. He said Facebook solved a human problem. We look at Facebook as a technical phenomenon, but the core of its success is it solves a human problem of how to connect with people we know. In Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, he said successful people solve interesting problems and that’s the key to keeping yourself essential in our modern economy. Mark Zuckerberg has done that.
He pointed out with Facebook, we can stay in touch passively with people and still maintain the connection. My personal experience supports this and I’ll bet yours does too.
Transparency and Change
Alluding to the political climate in the Middle East, Zuckerberg said “transparency would be transformative.” However his development of Facebook was clearly for business. “Businesses can’t hide behind a big corporate veil anymore.” Neither can governments, the media or any other public organization.
When pushed on the political aspect, he said the Internet gives everyone a voice. Additionally he claimed more connection equals more empathy and a project within Facebook is physically demonstrating a rising number of connections between people in Israel and neighboring Arab countries.
Hopefully Mr. Zuckerberg will be back to Utah and provide more insight. Thanks to Senator Hatch for bringing the Facebook founder to Utah.
He said, “We may be ahead of the curve right now, but our competitors are going to catch up. If we adopt your strategies, where will we be when the competition does too?” (Paraphrase)
I said, we’ll still be ahead. The reason is simple – we understand social media. The future of online marketing is people will no longer search for what they want to buy, they will ask their friends/contacts for recommendations or the needed information will naturally come to them.
I’ve been thinking and teaching this for a while…but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. Now I know how and the unanswered question is when.
made Microsoft, with its history of monopolistic bullying, appear marginally but noticeably less evil to the outside world, and especially to the independent software developers that are his core audience.
Frankly, I really went to see him, but Phil Windley stole the show. Dr. Windley is a top Utah technology blogger, CTO and co-founder of Kynetx. Basically Dr. Windley explained how relevant content would be instantly delivered to web users…without having to track user’s personal information.
The Kynetx version is called the “Live Web” and could bring consumers conveniences like knowing automatically when their refrigerated food is going to expire. (That data is already on the bar code.) How about automatically generating an expense report based on flight info and foursquare checkins?
Kynetx may not be the company that creates, defines or owns this market, but they’ve certainly got a chance. Regardless, someone will. Imagine only seeing online ads for things you’re interested in. No more spam!
How about news? Only see the topics you’re interested in. Never see another headline about (insert your least favorite sport, celebrity, politician here.) If you ever want to hear about that topic, you’ve got a friend on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn who is an expert and will share.
Now that we know the what and the how, the question is when. That’s exactly the question I asked Dr. Windley and Mr. Scoble when I got the opportunity to speak with them. Neither would venture a guess. That’s a fair answer too. It’s not about the technical ability, it’s about the controllers of the data/technology giving it up. The tech exists now, it’s a matter of coordinating it all.
Proprietary information is what creates value. However, we’re looking at a system where information yearns to breathe free, but businesses still need to make a profit. That’s where the delay lies. Until a profit model is demonstrated, consumers are going to be stuck in the current model of spam and unsolicited herbal Viagra ads.
Marketers are stuck in a sort of purgatory right now too. We know the old methods don’t work, but management insists upon using them. Forward thinking management wants to see a return on investment for their social media marketing dollars.
I’m of the opinion the smartest investment, whether business or personal, is in connecting with people. Connecting, not selling. When the Live Web or Web 3.0 comes around…and it will…sooner than you think…the business/person/brand with the best people connections will come out ahead. If you can manage that task cheaply and effectively through social media…it’s even better.
Last week Chrysler made a social media faux pas. They accidentally dropped the “F” bomb. Well…the social media company they hired dropped the bomb. Actually somebody at the social media company did.
What was the offensive tweet? (Fair warning, adult conversation with adult words is about to happen.)
@ChryslerAutos - “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.”
As a result of one word, the employee lost their job and a few days later, the entire agency was fired. Meanwhile at the Academy Awards, everyone thinks Melissa Leo’s passionate blurting of the F bomb was no big deal.
Ironically Chrysler’s new spokesman is Eminem, a Detroit rapper famous for his profanity laden rhymes. But the social media person is the one that got fired. They’re the one that didn’t meet the standard of
Chrysler Group and its brands do not tolerate inappropriate language or behavior, and apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this communication.
I don’t care. Most adults don’t. That’s the reality of social media. We now see things transparently. The stereotypical 50′s families like Ozzy and Harriet never existed. Clever Hollywood types presented this illusion of perfection as reality, but it’s not. Reality is full of curse words, alcohol, sex and all sorts of other things adults have proven over and over to be able to handle.
Chrysler is making a bigger ass of themselves by making an issue of this. If you’re going to fire this company, fire Eminem too. Transparency shines a light on everything good and bad.
In the transparent age, we need to be more forgiving. Not only is Chrysler hypocritical for firing their social media company, they’re hypocritical for firing them for a genuine mistake. How many cars does Chrysler recall each year for mistakes? I’ll bet it’s more than one!
We no longer live in a sanitized world. If we crave transparency, we have to accept everything that light illuminates. America elected a President with a DUI. We tolerated Dick Cheney’s off mic profanity. We’ll just have to accept an accidental F bomb from the car company Eminem reps.
Oh the humanity…
On my podcast in the summer, we discussed an interesting phenomenon in Europe…more visitors were using Facebook than Google. Back then, it was an interesting sidenote, but today that phenomenon isn’t exclusive to Europe. It’s becoming more and more apparent the future, indeed the present, of marketing is through social contacts.
90% of consumers online base their decision on the recommendation of a friend.
The online marketing industry is taking note. I was recently made aware of a multi-day conference where the entire subject is search/social convergence. Several recent articles I’ve read discuss social site results showing up on search engines. Businesses are rushing to create social profiles for the purpose of selling products and services.
Unfortunately, many of these businesses are going to step on some toes and incorrectly sell on social sites. When we engage on social sites, we don’t want to be pitched or sold. If we’re in the market for a product, we’ll ask! So why should businesses have a social presence for sales if people don’t want to buy? Several reasons.
1. Facebook is a far more effective sales platform than a website because of the potential to extend influence to friends of your customers. Activity on your Facebook page can be spread throughout the platform with very little effort. Social activity can also be added to non-Facebook sites.
2. Buyers want to stay on the platform they’re using. Why go to a third-party site when you can make your purchase on a site you already trust?
3. Searches for buying signals for your brand can be set up on Twitter and Google alerts. For instance if you’re XYZ widgets you can set up searches for “XYZ widgets” and “buy XYZ widgets” and “XYZ widgets sale.” Not only can you monitor your brand, but you can monitor people who want to buy your product or service.
I recently “asked Twitter” for a recommendation on telephone tracking numbers. Within five minutes a vendor responded. Of all the companies in that space, only one responded. Are their competitors missing out on business?
The worlds of search and social media are definitely colliding. As this new medium evolves I think we’ll see social media become more and more effective as a sales tool. Search sites must adapt or they will be left behind.
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?
My friend Janice at Pierpont Place asked me to help her put together a last minute social media blitz to help market her fundraiser/Halloween party. I have a few days off before I start the next phase in my life/business so I said, “sure!” I called Janet Thaeler because she recently put together a successful last minute event.
Here’s what I did:
You need a hub. Where are people going to go? In this instance, it’s Facebook…specifically an event page. Because it’s a fundraiser, there’s a potential media hook, so here’s the press release. I also paid to have the release distributed to local news people. Additionally, it was sent to several local bloggers who talk about the local social scene along with some photos from last year’s Halloween event.
I also used Twitter to promote by creating a Twitvite that is easily shareable and a hashtag for the event: #spookbash. During the event Visible Tweets will be showing, so people will be encouraged to tweet their location while they’re there. Attendees will be encouraged to check in on foursquare in hopes of getting a “swarm” badge.
Finally, I put together a paid search campaign for Facebook that targets people in Salt Lake with an ad for the event. I created a custom landing tab with the event flyer and 140 plus visitors have been sent to that page so far. The campaign will end tomorrow.
For me, this isn’t just about an event. By using Facebook, Pierpont Place will be able to get better traction with their audience since people are engaging directly with the company by “liking” their page. Janice will be able to send future events and news to people who actually want to hear about it.
For those of you who have never ventured into the comments, it’s kind of like venturing into a storm drain or sewer. You never know what you’re going to find.
The typical partisanship was divided over homosexuals, President Obama, illegal immigration and BYU football. Anyone who has ever ventured in there will attest to this statement.
While profanity was censored, ill will, bigotry and hatred wasn’t. KSL.com message boards were the Mormon version of 4chan. The new Mormon media empire is trying to put a stop to it. The harsh reality is they can’t.
I’m not sure which “side” the new policy was supposed to thwart. Common news stories would go off topic really quickly into racism and xenophobia. Forget about a topic that included guns or BYU football.
The value to wading into the cesspool would be comments by those close to the story who could add further insight. This is especially true when early reports on a story provided few details.
Later today, it was revealed that while the Deseret News wasn’t ending comments, they were certainly changing the policy to make it more difficult to comment anonymously.
In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Anonymous Internet writing creates a sense of freedom that doesn’t exist in reality if anyone could ever trace back what you wrote to a real human. As a result, some people act sub-human. While private businesses have every right to control their own property, what the new empire fails to realize is technology is their biggest enemy, not opinionated individuals.
Today, I received an opportunity to interview one of the Google engineers behind Google Instant. One of the questions I thought about was failed ventures like Orkut and Sidewiki. In reflection, Sidewiki offered so much promise, but seems to be a nothingburger today. Under online censorship, Sidewiki is an expression tool nobody, but Google, can control.
Here is the lesson whether you’re KSL, the DesNews, a business or anyone else online…the conversation is going to happen. It may happen on your site. It may happen elsewhere. Or it may happen on your site without your knowledge. Under which circumstance do you think will be best for your organization? It is foolishness, no matter your original intent, to think you can stop it.
Besides Sidewiki overlaying the original site, critics will naturally go to other sites to express their opinion. The story on the Salt Lake Tribune has generated hundreds of comments and tens of thousands of third-party sites like mine will also express an opinion.
The conversation can’t be stifled. It can be redirected, it can be overwritten, but it can’t be suppressed. The Internet, and I include all forms of social media within this categorization, allows absolute freedom of speech. If the Mullahs in Iran can’t succeed with censorship, neither can the Apostles in Utah.
So what’s the answer? KSL claims they can’t cost effectively monitor their boards. That’s probably true. Personally, I love the Facebook authorized commenting. Then when you say something offensive at least all your friends and family will know.
It’s a double-edged sword. The more difficult it is to share is the less likely people are willing to. Add a complicated registration process and a hard to read CAPTCHA and you’ll get few comments and look irrelevant. Ease it up and you have chaos. Facebook isn’t a perfect answer because it’s easy to create fake accounts.
What really needs to take place is a paradigm shift. If it’s online, we can’t control it. We can, however, take part in the discussion. That’s the point. Until Sidewiki, there was a chance we could move discussions we didn’t like. We can’t anymore.
The lesson to KSL.com and anyone else that attempts this policy, isn’t censorship, it’s discussion. I found myself looking at comments and soon deciding I didn’t want to be there. Don’t censor or delete, add to the discussion. Thoughtful members of your audience will automatically self-filter.
Leave it in the hands of the audience and don’t try to remove the discussion. It will happen no matter how hard you try to stop it.
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