Category Archives: trends

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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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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Measuring social media value — more how-to ideas

As many of you know, a few days ago I posted an entry listing ways to begin measuring the impact of social media. Since then, I asked the same question–“How would you measure social media marketing?”–of some hard-core marketers on LinkedIn. I got some great answers, including some obvious ones I should definitely have considered myself <hand slapping forehead> including:

* Monitoring the e-mail signups and RSS signups you get, and look at trends in signups.

While small rises and falls don’t mean much, big shifts are obviously worth watching. Maybe you’ll want to do a retention campaign with your existing registrants if you’re losing ground. If you’re doing really well, meanwhile, it might point you towards a source of profitable relationships in the social media world.

* Tracking the prospects that come in through social channels all the way through to whether they convert into sales.

Given the diversity of assets circulating on social media these days, it’s important to track this in fine detail, down to whether a video, article, podcast or link took the reader to your site.

* Looking specifically at number of new registered users and pageviews generated by social media-generated visitors to your site.

Of course, we all know that page views and registered users are important. Still, not everyone is looking carefully at how standard measures like pageview generation and user registration rates differ between social media and other sources. It’d also be good to discriminate what results can be generated by specific social media sites (e.g. Facebook vs. MySpace).

By the way, a few LinkedIn-ers seemed convinced that social media was best thought of as a PR medium, which is a defensible position. As for me, though,I think we can go a tremendous way toward turning social networks and sites into direct response vehicles.

Now, here’s a question for all of you. Other than folks using PPC ads on social media sites (which almost always calls for a landing page) are you bothering to build landing pages to track social media clicks and visits?

Anne

Great idea for connecting with your Twitter followers

Now here’s an idea that makes sense not only for Twitter, but also for other forms of social media (including blogs, social networks and bookmarking sites). I love it — not only does it provide great information for the marketer, it also builds a sense of community in the process. Great stuff!

What’s got me stirred up is a site mounted by Eric Miltsch of car dealer AuctionDirect. The site, Tweet and Greet, challenges Miltsch’s Twitter followers to answer 10 quick questions about cars.

The results Miltsch gets are entertaining, revealing and most importantly, memorable. Not only that, the survey is likely to engage rather than frustrate users. As ProBlogger Darren Rowse notes, the odd thing is that people tend to be more committed to your product when you ask them to do some work.

Readers, what’s your favorite technique for learning more about your social media followers and fans? Have you ever built a campaign around information gathered from social media-based research? — Anne

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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!