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Ramblings on Twitter at a cross-road July 31, 2012

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This could get real interesting on how this is ultimately resolved. Twitter needs to maintain focus on their vision. This deals with more than sharing information. This can also set a precedent about where the line is to sharing responsibly. Twitter’s major value add has always been the ability to monitor events in real time.

Gigaom

Updated: Almost every day, it seems, we get further evidence of the dilemma at the heart of Twitter’s ongoing evolution from real-time information network into multibillion-dollar commercial media entity — and the latest is the furor over the company’s suspension of the Twitter account belonging to Guy Adams, a British journalist. As Jeff Jarvis and Dan Gillmor and others have noted, regardless of the details of this specific case, it seems like a defining moment for Twitter: the network that has bragged in the past about being the “free-speech wing of the free-speech party” now looks to be censoring journalists who criticize the company’s corporate partners. How the company decides to handle this incident will speak volumes about where Twitter’s future lies.

As my colleague Jeff Roberts has noted in his report on the case, Twitter says that Adams — a freelance journalist writing for The Independent

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Ramblings on Social Media Best Practices December 19, 2011

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Now that we have been practicing for some time, we are aware of good (and, bad) ways to employ social media. Opinions will vary about the ‘best of the best’. That is the beauty of the web, it always changes. From a book summary I read on social media, here are some of the best practices according to the author at this point in time. The full abstract about the book is available here. This is not an exhaustive, all inclusive list. The basics are covered and should align with your current techniques for using social media effectively.

There are multiple platforms* available for your content and they should be used relative to the target audience. Perhaps due to timing, one platform not mentioned is Goolge+. Having likeable content is a fundamental criteria for success. Get your customer to listen to you and then….

  1. Listen first, and never stop listening – You want to know what customers think. Ask and they will tell you. Next, the most important thing to do is listen. Closing the loop by acting on what your customers tell you will prove that you not only listened, but that you understand and can do something about it.
  2. Define your target audience better than ever – There are many tools that allow you can focus on your true demographics for your product/service(s). Define them and determine what will  make them ‘like’ your content.
  3. Think – and act – like your consumer – Remember, it’s about them, not you. Don’t sell them; instead, provide content this is of interest to them. Get them talking about topics of interest and find ways to integrate your wares into their lifestyle.
  4. Invite your customers to be your first fans – Word of mouth (WOM) is key here. The more likes you get, the better your credibility. Be clear about your value proposition and define what is in it for them. Remember, there is no value add if only your employees are interacting with your content.
  5. Create true dialogue with, and between, your customers – Related to listening and being genuine. Get them talking about you to leverage the WOM effect. When your customers share tips, tricks with others, it proves they are engaged. It also saves you from providing customer support directly. Help guide the discussion by acknowledging comments – and, correct where needed.
  6. Be Authentic – Get connected by being demonstrating an interest in your customers. Personalize it by including your name.
  7. Be Honest and transparent – You can spot a phony a mile away. Your customers can too.
  8. Integrate social media into the entire customer experience – Another fundamental for success and canot be stressed enough. Make sure everyone who interacts with your customers has the same message and is aware of promotions and specials. Regardless of how they find you, it should be consistent messaging. The last thing you want is a dis-connect among channels and mis-managed expectations from your customers.  If they are online, they can tell their network about you – the good and the bad.
  9. Don’t sell! Just make it easy and compelling for customers to buy – They already found your content and are engaged. Don’t insult them with a bland sales pitch. State the (relative) value proposition clearly and make it easy to ‘Add to Cart‘.

*Platforms range from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Blogs and specialized networks (e.g. – flickr, yelp, etc.)

Having a dialogue with your customers is easy using a social media platform. I would add that you keep in mind how you want to be treated. After all, we all are consumers in the end.

A look behind the tweet May 6, 2010

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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What’s in a tweet? Well, actually, there is a lot. There is the visible text of 140 characters, of course. But, you might be surprised to know that tweet text is only part of the information conveyed when using twitter. Behind each tweet, some of what is included is the tweet unique id, the author’s user id, his/her url, biography and the tweet creation date. Other tweet information includes time zone where the author resides, number of tweets, followers, favorites,  how long he/she has been tweeting, country and the application used to generate the tweet.

Partial Map of a tweet

tweet map screen shot

Most twitter users do not need to know this.  Analytic types and software developers can use this as a structure to monitor trends, verify applications, integrate with other social media platforms and so on.

A shout out to @raffi on twitter for documenting this. I found this via one of his tweets. You can view all the details via this PDF on google docs.

Another partial map of a tweet

screen shot of tweet behind the scenes

Did you realize all that was included in each tweet? Do you care? Let me know via a comment here, or send me a tweet! My id is @efr0702

Tweet on!

No more free lunch, now Twitter has paid Ads April 14, 2010

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The recent announcement that Twitter will soon be supporting paid ads brings to mind the cliche about lunch. You’ve heard it before, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.  And so it comes to pass for twitter with paid tweets. By offering a paid service (and thus, revenue), twitter will entice sponsors to pay for lunch.

It was always a matter of when, not if,  twitter would introduce paid services. While they have plenty of funding,  this is the first revenue bearing model for twitter and everyone will be watching it closely. Specifically, the service provides a way  to have “promoted tweets” at the top of some  search pages, clearly marked as ads. The tweets will appear using the same 140 characters and does not include use of  images. The difference will be that paid tweets will appear at the top of the search results. Hmm, we have seen this before with google ad sense. That worked out well and I expect success here also.

It is another step in the evolution in use of web 2.0 tools.  Promoted tweets will lead to creative ways for brands to interact with us. How soon will we adapt to promoted tweets? I expect it depends on what’s for lunch.

Regardless of what is on the menu, this new service will inititate a new round of creativity.  What do you think? Will  tweeted ads be a major driver for market advertising spend this year? Bet you didn’t see that coming. What does it do to your budget? Change your goals? Will this divert funds from other platforms? How quickly will major brands adapt and sign up? Does this lead to new business opportunities for you?

Comments invited and I look forward to your thoughts.

Connecting Twitter with SEO March 5, 2010

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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I just came across an interesting vlog that talks about using twitter with Search Engine Optmization (SEO) efforts. It is very timely and the vlog is fairly short. This is what makes working in this space so interesting and fun The vlog talks about using twitter as a research tool for SEO and is included in a series titled ‘White Board Friday’ by the SEOMoz group. As the title implies, each week, there is a video on a specific SEO topic. This week’s entry caught my attention as I use twitter and have been working on organic SEO for some time now. Watch the video here.

WBF video from SEOmoz

Video on using twitter for SEO Research

The main message is how to use information from twitter such as trending topics to determine the proper timing for your blog posts. The key is to post in the right window -not too soon, not too late. Another takeaway is in leveraging a Google algorithm based on content freshness. By posting within the window, you take advantage of the spike in real time search for a popular topic such that your blog post will be found using their Query Deserves Freshenss (QDF) algorithm. As that content is fresh and trending, your chances for getting indexed are higher and will be found sooner. Brilliant! Part of the same storm lifting all boats, to use an old phrase.

I have used twitter for quite a while and was aware of the trending topics shown on Twitter. Until watching this video, I did not make the connection on how to use this information.

What other tools can we use in combination to gain further insights into web traffic and behavior? Have any favorites you’d care to share?

Water mean bag ice? February 2, 2010

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In our modern digital age, we have many choices on how to communicate. Saturated with choice, in fact. What if we didn’t have unlimited choice? What if words were rationed? How would that change how we communicate? Which brings me to Anguish Languish. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of ‘Ladle Rat Rotten Hut’ – the most common example.

This is the story of Little Red Riding Hood re-told in the ‘Anguish Languish’ style. It demonstrates how important intonation is in spoken English. It also shows how versatile our language can be. It was written during WWII when many things were rationed to support the war effort. If words were rationed, perhaps, the story of Ladle Rat Rotten Hut would be common.  It is easy to understand how certain words are used in place of the original. Example – reading ‘Water bag noise!’ instead of ‘What a big nose!’ If you don’t want to read the story, you can watch the video.

I had read the story years ago posted in a newsgroup. Thanks to wikipedia, google and other available resources, lots of information on this topic is at our fingertips. Of course, we have no shortage on words.  However, we do use Twitter and SMS text messaging even with their respective limitations. Tweets are confined to 140 characters – we willingly accept that. Both Twitter and text messaging encourages acronyms, abbreviations and, at times, some creative spelling. We accommodate those restrictions to convey our thoughts as succinctly as possible. They are not the most effecient forms of communications but their effectiveness cannot be denied.

We all influence our language. It changes constantly and our ability to communicate will continue to evolve. Looking ahead, I anticipate using audio and visual images as easily as I can manipulate text today – a topic I have addressed previously.

Until then, have fun with words. “Water bag ice! A nervous sausage bag ice!” Say it aloud. Better yet, have someone else say it.  Know water mean?

Twitter – fad or here to stay? June 8, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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It is amusing to me the consistent number of  people questioning the value and longevity of Twitter.  Mixing metaphors, I find the focus here is between the preacher and the choir here while the congregation is on the sidelines. There is no need to convince the converted. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.* 

Mind you, the ironic part to me is these are posts on the Twitter site.  Tweet equivalents include :

  1. “Do you think this will be a useful marketing tool?”
  2. “Is it just the new thing until something else comes along?”
  3. “Why should I use it?”
  4. “What do I talk about?”

On several other sites, I have read blog posts about it, columnists have written numerous articles, and lately, the mainstream media pundits have discussed at length. I’m sure you have seen and read much of the same.

My answers :

  1. Yes! Where have you been (using my inside voice)?
  2. It is becoming a common and accepted business practice to connect and interact with  customers.
  3. See above.
  4. Talk about what you know and hopefully, something that others will connect with and care about.

Imagine the related ensuing discussion on another topic. For example, a conversation gearheads might have on the comparative automotive merits between Chevy and Ford. Potential quips from that dialogue (diatribe?) would run something like :

  1. “I’ll take a classic ’57 T-Bird anyday.”
  2. “Shelby Cobra Mustangs rule!”
  3. “‘The ’72 SS Chevelle is one of the all time muscle cars.”
  4. “Corvette is the only American made sports car.”

The difference with gearheads is they have the conversation standing next to the car, or whilst enjoying sustenance and an adult libation. Imagine then in the Twitter scenario the debate in merits of Fords vs. Chevy occurred while driving. Doesn’t happen, except maybe in  a  ‘B’ movie scene.  And that’s my point – that scenario is the equivalent of those tweets on Twitter.

I say “Enough already! Move on people.” At this point, tweeting about the value of Twitter is redundant and a waste of time. If you get it, you don’t need to ask. If you don’t get it, observe, absorb and learn. Tangent topics to assess value and measure such as Heisenberg Uncertainty principle come to mind also, but I digress.  Twitter is a good tool; versatile, flexible, quick and reliable. Certainly a powerful and useful communication tool for our time but, it is not a panacea. 

To be sure, I use Twitter myself and have refrained from comment about its’ viability. Referencing Gladwell again, I submit we are beyond the Tipping Point now. There are enough mavens, connectors and salesmen/women that espouse Twitter to agree that it is beyond a fad.  Going forward as the lifecycle moves beyond a fad, the metrics defined and accepted to assess and measure value will mature. We will learn and agree on how to commonly gauge success. Just like we did with measuring horsepower, compression ratios, wheelbase and 1/4 mile times. For me, the SS Chevelle always  was just out of reach, but, that is another story.

 

*For those who used the Internet (not web) back in the before time, this was the catchphrase for a regular contributor to the Newsgroup for movies. If memory serves, his moniker was BillyBob. His reviews were laced with good ‘ol boy humor and inserted that phrase from time to time. Disclaimer here as the years I read them date back to the early ’80’s.