Category Archives: News

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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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

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Facebook is a local search threat

Let me preface the following by saying that while I’m not a local search expert, I did pretend to be one on TV for a while, while doing an extended marketing communications consulting gig for the cool local search peeps at Localeze.com. (Hi guys!)

Now, with that consumer warning in mind, check this out. Having poked around Facebook’s advertising options for a week or so, I’ve drawn the conclusion that they may be competitors in the local search space before you know it. Specifically, if you look at their free “Facebook Pages” advertising option, you’ll see that it allows businesses to offer as much information on themselves as many basic Yellow Pages or directory listings.

To see what I mean, visit my sample Facebook page, “My Business.” If you’ll check out the “Information” section, you’ll see that I’ve entered a dummy address and one set of business hours just to illustrate my point.  When I set things up, Facebook collected this information into a back-end database. Given this set-up, Facebook’s almost certainly capable of indexing local business data and spitting the information out in the way, say, Yahoo Local does when it’s ready. 

Don’t get me wrong, Yahoo Local and its ilk are way, way ahead of Facebook in this regard, as they’ve already developed beautiful local search interfaces, amassed tons of local reviews and integrated mapping, tag clouds, sophisticated business classification schemes and other cool functions. 

More importantly, to my knowledge Facebook entries aren’t currently searchable from the outside Web, which limits their current value despite the social network’s huge size and reach (69 million current reasonably engaged users at last count). That’s certainly a large obstacle.

Still, I don’t think a company with Facebook’s clout and resources will be held back by technical issues when they’re ready to fight for local business/search market share. All they’ll have to do is figure out how to monetize the pages effectively, and you know what, I’m pretty sure that they will.

Watch out, local search folks! Facebook’s a’ comin, mark my words.

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!

PayPerTweet not such a crazy idea after all

A few years ago, the marketing world was rocked–ok, at least nudged–when multimedia content pioneer and social networking entrepreneur Marc Canter floated the idea of paying bloggers to blog about specific products. The shock! The horror! People were aghast, or pretended to be, at the notion of bloggers writing for pay (while disclosing their affiliations and paycheck sources), violating ironclad journalistic principles.

One leading practitioner was content management system vendor Marqui, whose paid blogging squad posted buttons prominently stating “I get paid to talk about Marqui.”  

I think you can tell that I think the outrage was a bit misplaced, to say the least. To my knowledge, over the past few years this practice has become fairly common, with herds of low-paid writers churning out product information.  I don’t think anyone confuses it with “journalism” (in the paid-to-be-neutral Associated Press sense).

Now, ProBlogger author Darren Rowse suggests, in an April 1 post obviously intended to be an April Fool’s Day prank, that he’s organizing a “PayPerTweet” ad network which would organize heavily subscribed-to Twitter users to mention products and services to their legions of followers. He even introduces the notion of a Cost Per Thousand Follower fee structure. I know, funny stuff…or is it? Maybe not.

As I see it, Rowse has given us some nice food for thought, even though he may have had his tongue firmly in cheek here.  Think about it; if you’re a Twitter user, don’t you absorb a lot of new information by clicking on links supplied by others you follow?  And if that “leader,” if you will,  posted items now and then which were somehow tagged as ads, might you still not click now and then?  As with the paid blogging, leaders wouldn’t be forced to praise the product or service, only to mention and comment on it.  Seems to me that this could actually work in some form, even if the scheme Rowse lays out is mostly for fun.

Honestly, Tweetvertising sounds like a neat idea to me.  Hey Darren, sign me up for as many impressions as you can sell me at $10 CPTF?

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American Airlines launches Facebook widget to collect marketing info

Here’s an interesting tale of how a large company is using a widget to siphon marketing information out of consumers. American Airlines is has apparently launched a new market research tool “disguised as a Facebook widget,” according to MediaPost. (For more info, you might also check out AA’s press release on the subject.) The widget, which AA calls Travel Bag, lets Facebook friends share travel preferences and tips.  As users give away information on their likes and dislikes, AA hopes to use the information to serve up targeted marketing messages to the widget’s users.  (For example, users who shared information on Broadway venues and Times Square hotels might get a coupon on flights to New York City, along with a discount coupon.)

Interestingly, AA isn’t just relying on viral dissemination to get users onto Travel Bag; it’s actually advertising the widget within Hotmail.com and Windows Messenger, plus social bookmarking sites like Digg. Meanwhile, it’s also planning to set the widget loose on other social networking sites.  (Interestingly, however, it’s not advertising the widget on its front page. Wonder why?)

To me, if you’re having to advertise a widget, it stops being what Facebook widgets are (utilities) and starts being something else–call it an “adget” or widget-based advertising vehicle. But still, AA does seem to basically “get it” when it comes to encouraging conversations and sharing useful information. I’m keeping a close eye on this one.

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Dramatic climb in prosperous users on social networks

So, is your image of social network users a penniless, unshaven college student still bleary from finishing their mid-terms the day before?  Think again. While there may have been some truth to that stereotype in the past, today you’re far more likely to find prosperous consumers with a hunger for the nicer things in life, according to new research by The Luxury Institute, a research house which studies luxury consumption.  People with annual household incomes of $100,000 or above are a growing part of the Internet population as a whole, and a particularly large subset of the social networking world.

Between January 2007 and January 2008, in fact, the number of affluent social networking users shot up from 27 percent to 60 percent. These users aren’t just breezing through, either. Luxury Institute researchers found that affluent users belong to about three networks each, and have about 110 online connections.

In some ways, the explosion of well-to-do social networkers is great for marketers, but pitching this sector can easily backfire, too, according to Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. While less-established, less-properous users eventually forgave Facebook when it marketing system, Beacon, was perceived to violate user privacy, the affluent won’t let social networks off that easily, Pedraza warns. When it comes to prosperous users, soft selling that invites connections (rather than pushes through unwanted e-mail, for example), is an absolute necessity.

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