Category Archives: digital culture

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.

Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!

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.
 

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.

Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!

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Measuring social media value–it IS possible

Make no mistake, we’re well past the point where social media marketing is optional–despite what some of our clients and bosses say.

The most recent evidence for this comes from The Society for New Communications Research, whose recent report notes that fifty-seven percent of this group of early social media adopters reported that social media tools are becoming more valuable to their activities. (The report is definitely worth a read.)

One major problem, however, is that the Internet marketing business hasn’t developed a standard way of measuring social media marketing performance which is accepted by its own top honchos (much less clients). So it’s time to pick some standards of our own.

The following is my attempt to come up with some principles, and specific metrics, we can use to decide whether our social media efforts are working to promote. I look forward to your suggestions! – Anne

Social media measurement standards

* Length of stay for visitors referred by social media

Visitors who come to your site through social media promotions may have a different profile than those who arrive through other means. I believe it’s important to find out how they differ from site averages, particularly in terms of length of stay (as a proxy for their level of interest).

* Number of followers/fans on various networks

I sort of dislike this one, as you can have tons of lurkers clicking through on your Facebook fan page or Ning group, while not having too many who agree to sign up. Still, it’s worth taking into account, not as a sign of whether you’re successful but a sense of how given community’s reacting to your message.

* Number of comments/questions made directly to the company rep doing the social media marketing

OK, if social media marketing involves talking with, not at, the audiences you’re hoping to reach, that involves joining a community. One very crude way of looking whether people see you as a member is how many comments and questions they’ve made addressing you.

* Extent to which your social media efforts have brought new assets into your business

If social media marketing is more joining a community (e.g. networking) than making a pitch, then such networking should bear fruit. In one project, for example, I found several potential business partners and a freelance contributor within a couple of weeks of putting it out there.

* Extent to which you’ve concretely raised awareness of your service/product within the community

If you’re on a social networking site, and you see someone say “I know about X because the company’s rep told me so directly on Twitter,” you’re definitely on the right track. You can be pretty confident that someone will visit your site and, if it’s otherwise in good shape, convert into a dedicated customer.

* Frequency with which your brand is mentioned on key sites

As with the number of followers/fans you attract, this is a very tricky way to measure the effectiveness as your marketing, as there’s a million offline methods by which people can discuss your site. Still, keeping track of comments (using, say, TweetScan for Twitter or general search for MySpace and Facebook) certainly offers useful context.

Next: Get more simple, powerful approaches to measuring social media here.

Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!

Twitter ‘spam’ threat leads to paranoia

Folks, I’ve tried to stay out of this, as I know my opinion isn’t popular, but I just can’t take it any more. Over the last few weeks, I’ve increasingly seen the term “spammer” used to describe some users on Twitter. That’s true despite the fact that you’ll never see a single tweet (post) unless you choose to follow that person, and moreoever, that nobody can even follow you unless you give permission. In my view, the whole thing is paranoid almost beyond belief.

Sure, it’s annoying to get e-mail notifications that someone is following you if you don’t consider the follower to be welcome. And yes, I can imagine a world in which we Twitter users (I’m @annezieger) are swamped with thousands of followers, which effectively translates into e-mail spam since the notifications land in our inbox. (I do hope Twitter’s management is prepared for that eventuality, and has tough enough security in place to prevent mass follows by creepy folks.) So I understand why people are concerned.

That being said, why on earth has a segment of the Twitter community decided that virtually any follows by corporate Twitterers (say, @JetBlue) constitute spamming?

What right has any one segment of the Twitterati to decide that they, alone, know how many people you should follow and how many must follow you if you’re to be a “legit” Twitter user? (What, you didn’t know that the Twitter clique plans to ostracize you if you follow too many folks and they don’t follow back? Well, guess what, they do.)

And how dare some self-appointed zealot(s) create a Twitter “blacklist” which purports to protect me from undesirables? I’m quite offended by the idea. OK, I realize that some people are thrilled to ‘make the list’ and dub it a piece of cheap PR for them, but I doubt the list’s creators had that in mind.

You know, we went through this whole thing almost 15 years ago or so when the Internet started being swamped by commercial interests. (Remember Canter & Siegel spamming Usenet in 1994?) People went insane and started turning on each other in much the same way we’re seeing today–and look how effective that was! E-mail spam disappeared for good, right? (Uh, not exactly.)

Haven’t we learned anything from the experiences of the last decade and a half? If the first wave of spam showed us anything, it taught us that you can’t change a medium by lashing out at people who use it in ways you don’t approve of–it’s a waste of time and often, changes the character of the medium in ways that do significant damage.

Please, please, let’s be smarter when it comes to Twitter? — Anne

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Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!

Do you deserve to be called a social media marketing pro?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a growing number of marketing pros tag themselves as “social media marketers,” but few stop and define what they mean by that. The question is, what defines a social media marketer, anyway?

Here’s my take on the ideal social media marketer:

* They’re people who are intimately familiar key social media communities (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter), with lots of real connections there and experience with a given service’s back channels.

* They’re knowledgeable about social network advertising options, including Facebook pages, apps and PPC-style ads, MySpace pages, video advertising on YouTube and PPC ad integration on B2C services like Flickr and Squidoo.

* They’re experienced at (or at least familiar with) Internet marketing in other contexts, including banner placement, e-mail, SEO, PPC campaigns, copywriting for the Web and affiliate marketing.

* They’re extremely current with Web 2.0 news, both traditional and bloggish, and can shift strategies on a dime based on what they learn.

The big question I haven’t addressed here is whether one can call themselves a social media marketer if they’ve never run a major campaign on these networks. (People who specialize in B2B, like myself, are particularly unlikely to have run such campaigns–our clients are not usually the early adopter type.)

Should we stay out of the fray until we’ve spent real money on this medium? Sounds good in theory, but that would pretty much shrink the profession down to a few fortunate folks whose clients/employers are way ahead of the curve.

OK, now it’s your turn. What core skills do you think marketers should have before they hang out the “social media marketer” shingle? Why? And do you think the social media marketing profession needs an association of its own?

Please feel free to comment or write to me at annezieger at gmail.com…I definitely don’t want the last word here!

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Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!

Twitter advertising models emerging, quickly

Well, it was inevitable–but I’ve got to say that I’m a bit surprised at how fast things are moving. While it’s still very early in the game, it looks like advertising and marketing activities are beginning to creep onto Twitter.

As regular readers of this blog know, I believe that Twitter can support advertising without ruining the experience. That doesn’t mean, however, that all models are equal. As in any other Net medium, spam is a pain, and reports are already surfacing of spammy advertisers following people. On the other hand, I do think Mashable‘s story, headlined “Twitter Spam Spirals Out of Control,” goes a bit overboard, as I, for one, haven’t attracted any spam followers yet.

More interesting than the spammers, by far, is the eBay auction by Twitter user @andrewbaron, who’s selling off his Twitter account and nearly 1,400 followers. With nearly a week left to go on the auction, Baron has already attracted 40 bidders. What’s more, the bids have now topped $1,500–valuing the followers at more than $1 each. While Baron doesn’t describe his follower list as a marketing opportunity, I’m doubting the people bidding on it see it as anything but that.

Then, you have rumors floating around that Twitter has begun testing out short advertising messages of its own over the past few days, allegedly within friend feeds. The company roundly denies this, and execs may be telling the truth, but it does seem likely that Twitter will need to try something like this fairly soon, as it’s currently not making money despite its smash success with users.

As for me, I’m enjoying the innocent, ad-free days of Twitter, but I’ll be OK with it when those days end. I suppose it’s possible that Twitter will monetize its users some other way, but advertising is so dead-on obvious a play that it seems inevitable.

You know, I never thought an ad medium would develop which makes PPC ads seem like novels. Writing for tiny Twitter spaces is going to be an art form all its own. — Anne

Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!