Twitter execs: PLEASE start accepting ads

In case any of you hadn’t noticed, there’s been something of a civil war on Twitter over the issue of whether advertising should exist there. There’s a lot of finger pointing going on, and a lot of people who seem convinced that they possess the ultimate truth as to how Twitter advertising should work. As far as I can tell, no one will win, a lot of hurt feelings will result, and Twitter will lose some of the irreplaceable camraderie which has made it what it is.

This is why I’m begging, in all seriousness: Please, Biz, Jack and Evan, take this process over and impose an advertising format that works for all before people start rolling out cannons. You may not see advertising as the future of Twitter, but unless you impose some rules on the unruly, it will become the spam-choked Hotmail of new communications platforms.

Yes, I know Twitter, and the myriad of applications leveraging your system, have rolled out naturally and freely with a chaotic zest Timothy Leary would have admired. But now, things aren’t quite so new any more. And I’m telling youyour baby’s in danger unless you put the ad fights to rest once and for all.

Right now, I’d say there’s roughly three groups throwing snowballs at each other:

* First, there’s the Twitizens who believe that no ads should ever invade its sacred soil, and have sworn mighty oaths that they’ll “unfolllow” (the dread punishment of no longer reading a person’s postings) anyone who brings the commercial breath of Mordor to their land. (OK, I admit it, I saw some of the Lord of the Rings trilogy this weekend. But anyway…)

* Another group is at least tolerant of Twitter ad experimentation. (Perhaps they’re remembering how much experimentation it took to get Web and e-mail advertising formats worked out and cutting pioneers some slack?) These folks may not love the idea of being pitched in Twitterspace, but they’re not ready to boot anyone who tries, either.

* Then, there are those who want, at least as a market research experiment, to try out some ad formats on this amazingly well-connected, thoughtful and educated audience, and have no problem enduring what feels like spam for a time as we figure things out.

Some of us (and I consider myself such an experimenter ) want to see how the dynamics of new platforms like Magpie, Adjix and TwittAd actually work. Others, like @madmoneyblogger, actually seem to believe that they can accumulate some real cash this way.

While the various factions try to be civil, I don’t think peace is going to last much longer. So please, brilliant young men behind Twitter, accept that while open source models can work wonders–even in a social setting–sometimes you’ve just got to lay down the law.

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Who’s using Twitter? (And why?)

A quick commercial interruption tonight to find out how you specifically make Twitter work for you. (And a bit more…in a moment.)

What’s your take on Twitter use? Why are people addicted (or annoyed) by Twitter? After all, it’s burst into our lives faster than many a previous marvel, and seems to have much better prospects for survival than most.

So do something! Just take the State of Twitterverse Survey. Be heard, we want your input. It takes just 1 minute…really! (And please retweet. Thanks!) Just click here. Later, we’ll be sharing some important information on what we learn from the Twitter community. But until then, have at it!

Now, here’s my first of a series of commercial experiments using my blog and Twitter to see what’s worth doing commercially.  Rest assured that if I do any sponsored blogging, you’ll have no doubt it’s sponsored. And it won’t be about Sugar Pops or beauty cream, either…something relevant. That being said, feel free to ping me if you want to be a fellow experimenter; maybe we’ll both learn something.
 

Facebook video: Can it compete with YouTube?

According to blogmeister Robert Scoble, Facebook is now getting 100,000 video uploads per day, or enough to keep you busy 24/7 for 100 days. That raises the question as to whether a) Facebook has the capacity to handle the YouTube-like service levels and b) whether it’s going to compete with YouTube’s advertising and analytics programs for video.  Given its rather sketchy support for its PPC and pay per impression ad programs, I’d argue that b) is pretty unlikely right now. But hey, it’s way too early to write Facebook off in this market–and here’s why.

Sure, right now Google (including YouTube), has a 55.4 percent of video viewing visits to online video site properties.  Meanwhile, Facebook has a comparatively tiny 1.5 percent of video viewing visits, according to eMarketer. But bear in mind that that 1.5 percent (up from 0.8 last year) puts it on par with content behemoth Viacom and just below CBS Interactive. Actually, it’s in a pretty impressive position.

True, Facebook moves pretty slowly and hasn’t much aggressiveness in the ad space, but that can’t last forever if it’s going to keep growing.  Monetizing video, even by aping YouTube, is just something it has to do.

I’m also pretty sure that Facebook’s rate of video content accumulation will climb rapidly, giving it increasing leverage. After all, while YouTube tries to be friendly–and can feature some intriguing comments on hot content–it just isn’t the kind of community space Facebook is and doesn’t offer anywhere near the tools.  That gives Facebook a big advantage in building video visitor rates and putting the squeeze to YouTube.

Facebook, all told, has a real opportunity here, though it hasn’t yet shown signs that it cares. Let’s see if it wakes up and makes some tough moves to capture more video viewer market share.

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Fandango’s smart Facebook trick sells more movie tickets

Being that it’s Friday night, my thoughts have turned to movies (and since I’m too lazy to stick my nose out of the door, I’m writing about them instead. <grin>) Movies and social media marketing, that is.

Have any of you ever bought a movie ticket from Fandango.com? The site, which is owned by Comcast, pulled a clever rabbit out of its hat when decided to see the Disney/Pixar flick Wall-E for my eight-year-old and I. (I recommend you buy it or rent it pronto — it’s a killer movie written for adults more than kids.)

There I was, happily completing my purchase, when what should appear but a banner asking if it was OK if the purchase I just made showed up on my Facebook home page. Being who I am, I thought that was great, so I said yes. When I arrived at Facebook to check out what Fandango had done, I was struck by how powerful it was for something simple.

All Fandango.com did was place a small banner–how, I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out if you want to know–at the top of my home page. The banner, which was colored burnt-orange like the site, simply said “Anne Zieger bought two tickets to Wall-E” and provided a link for others to use to buy some too. It was also branded “Fandango.com.”

Now, since I don’t work for Comcast I obviously can’t offer analytics here, but my suspicion is that this approach sells a lot of tickets. Think about it…it offers a credible reason to buy the same tickets (your friend is seeing the movie), ease of purchase (the “buy” link’s right there), and what’s essentially a professional pitch where there usually aren’t any (in the middle of the Facebook home page).

In short, this my guess is this is an example of a social media approach which almost certainly would have justified its costs. Has anyone else seen smart viral techniques like this out there which seem likely to move product without a lot of fuss?

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Twitter broadcasts track season’s e-commerce woes

Now here’s a neat idea putting new-fangled Twitter to old-fashioned use. Our friends at smart insider retail IT publication StorefrontBacktalk.com will be launching a Twitter feed tracking major retail site performance problems—crashes, slowdowns and other glitches—starting Black Friday (Nov. 28). Sign up for the site’s feed at http://twitter.com/SFBackTalk ASAP before the hot news starts moving.

For those who don’t know the term, by the way, Black Friday is the unbelievably profitable Friday retailers usually see the day after Thanksgiving, fueled by a frenzy of Christmas shopping by consumers with time off from work.

StorefrontBackTalk will be working with at least a half-dozen of the top site traffic tracking fims from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, watching the largest retailers globally, with a special eye on the majors in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Since SFBT’s audience made up folks like the VP of e-commerce for Borders, this is red-hot information. Some consumers will doubtless be interested in knowing if they’re about to lose their carefully-picked shopping cart in a flash due to a server overload, too. So this thing could be big.

Sure, lots of sites are already pushing out their RSS feeds onto Twitter. But it will be interesting to see how it works to treat Twitter as, in effect, an old-fashioned wire service. After all, it still isn’t the easiest broadcast mechanism to use. In the future, perhaps it will be, in part due to demonstration projects like these!

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Will your brand be Twit-jacked?

twitter

Beware: a painful phenomenon from the Web 1.0 world is creeping into Twitter and other social media platforms. Opportunists of the same stripe that reserved Coke.com for themselves in the cowboy days of 1993 (hoping to make millions, of course) are beginning to try similar tricks with Twitter, Facebook and other Web 2.0 identities.

The twit-jacking phenomenon hasn’t moved as quickly as most people feared. Sure, there have been some incidents–about a year ago, for example, one questionable fellow tied up the Twitter versions of CNBC, MSNBC, Newsweek and Business Week–but I haven’t heard anything about a large-scale attack. I think you can be pretty sure it’s coming, though. Domain squatters may not be geniuses, but they’ll catch on soon enough.

Why? Publicity is peaking. Twitter (and fellow social media platforms) are reaching the critical mass of mainstream media coverage which attracts the predators in every business community. Once the coverage reaches them, they’ll be registering social media IDs like mad.

In the mean time, I’m recommending to my clients that they to a social media naming audit (write to me if you’d like our form for doing this) to make sure their core brand is protected on all of the major platforms. It’s worth probably analyzing and leveraging a few of the lesser ones, as well, as you want to hedge your bets.

I also suggest that clients do what they’re probably already doing in the Web 1.0 space, which is to reserve multiple spellings of their corporate name, keywords they consider important to their mission and personal names of their corporate executives. Be thorough, and be thoughtful; and remember that nobody though something crazy like an “URL” would make much of a difference in 1994. We’re at that point again.

Besides, it never hurts to think how your brand is positioned today’s hottest emerging media, and if you’re lucky, you may develop new ideas to reach these audiences as you dig through their layers of social participation. If nothing else, though, you’ll have protected yourself against Twit-jacking for the near future. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

Anne

P.S. This Network World editor has his own interesting take on the subject, including some interesting details on the extent to which Twit-jacking is already picking up steam

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Creating a Twitter explosion, or the FlyLady effect

Editor’s Note: Here’s our first report from new guest contributor Christa Bradney, on the ever-expanding Web phenom that is FlyLady. Christa, take it away…

If you keep track of the trending topics on Twitter, you might have thought that the #flylady channel came out of nowhere yesterday afternoon.  (Even more so if you haven’t heard of FlyLady, the Web-based domestic goddess whose keep-your-life-organized system has attracted devoted followers from around the world.)

Besides, in a matter of speaking, the topic did come out of nowhere.  Yesterday morning, FlyLady was not on Twitter.  Then, somewhere around nine or ten AM, she announced on her e-mail list that she had a Twitter account (@theflylady) and wanted to try it out.  Boom! Less than twelve hours later, nearly two thousand people had already followed her to Twitter-land. 

Of course, word is still out on how many of those 2,000 followers were already Twitter users and how many are new to the service, and it also remains to be seen how much more FlyLady’s presence on Twitter will grow. But this was a heck of a start.

So, if you were ever wondering what would happen if a brand with a devoted following puts a Twitter ID in the hands of its fans, look no further. Clearly, when a someone who a) has a strong Web brand name and b) frequent contact with its customer base spontaneously announces that they are joining a social media website, spontaneous Twitter combustion can occur.

P.S. By the way, FlyLady (and other Web celebrities who follow) may find that the rules for communicating with fans have changed once they enjoy more instant contact with a large portion of their fan base. After all, if FlyLady isn’t careful in mentioning small, third-party websites, they could be brought down by an accidental Slashdot effect, and most don’t take kindly to that.

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