Archives for posts with tag: Twitter

A few weeks ago, I started working with a new client, a mid-size business. They started using Social Media a few years back and, over time, developed presences on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, a blog, Facebook Places, Tumblr and just started on Pinterest. Their previous Social Media consultant operated on the premise: Businesses need to be on as many social media channels as they can.

Why? In this rapidly changing world, businesses never know where their customer is going to be, so a business needs to be everywhere.


Mr. Consultant, stand in the corner and write “I will never recommend something that insane again.” 10,000 times.

There are two reasons why consultants, experts or agencies would give obnoxious advice:

– They try to fleece customers.

– They don’t know what they are doing.

I won’t even bother with people that try to fleece brands. Ultimately, brands will see through it and end the scam prematurely.

I’m much more concerned with people that believe in the philosophy that brands should be everywhere. Should Axe advertise on each TV Channel, even the Hallmark Channel? Should PETA run an ad in the Hunter’s Journal? Should Obama advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show?

Social Media shows its immaturity when “being everywhere” is still an advice I hear every day. Just like traditional and digital media, social media needs to rely on research – for example a social media audit. Understanding demographics, psychographics, spend decisions, social network use, day/time parting – all the good stuff and more that helps you understand where you need to be, when you need to be there, and what you should be doing/saying while you’re around. This helps brands and their community not to waste anyone’s time, helps to achieve goals and measure results.

Don’t be everywhere. Just be where your research tells you to be.


10+ years ago everybody tried to build portals. “Stickiness” ruled the digital marketing world.

5+ years ago everybody started to build microsite. The intention was to capture a single-minded idea in one destination. Brand sites had become too complex and hard for people to navigate.

Some of the microsites worked well: If you were in the market for a specific car, the microsite provides you with the most relevant information to get your task done.

While some sites worked, the web quickly became a dump for bad executions, wasting billions of client dollars with nothing to show for. Microsites transformed into ugly hybrids of brand and single-minded idea sites, adding more content and clutter.

3+ years ago everybody started to dislike microsites. Nobody clicked on banners, traffic was too small to justify further investment and suddenly brands wanted to be where everybody else was: MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the others platforms with tons of traffic. Microsites became an afterthought. Marketers looked at the dump of failed microsites, shaking their heads and muttering: “Microsites don’t work.” aka “It’s you, not me.”

It was always me and not you.

Well-executed microsites still work and will work for a long time to come. They’re just as hard to find as a fan of Frank McCourt.

2+ years ago marketers fell in love with apps. They revolutionized the way we shared content with an audience, replaced the typical catalog website with a more interactive and innovative medium. Just like the microsite a few years ago. Each app has a single-minded idea and functionality. And, most importantly, functionality.

That was always the biggest problem with microsites: The only purpose was to convey an abstract message or to aspire to be some kind of cultural phenomenon/expression of technology prowess. “We hired the best flash developer.”

The end of microsites seems to be near. I still think they can survive and not be swallowed by the App Monster that’s taking over our media engagement time. They just have to serve a purpose, an extension of the product/brand, they should serve as a value add for the brand offering.

Maybe I should rewrite the headline to: “Long live the microsite.”

What do you think?


Do you suck at Twitter?

There are many things I don’t like about Twitter: the platitudes, the public handshaking and showboating, the Sisyphus-like race to follow and unfollow, just to follow again.

As an avid user of Twitter, the great outweighs the bad: The connections you develop over time, the amazing discovery of content and the immediacy of the platform.

You tweet too much. You don’t tweet enough.

While Twitter is a new platform made for pull marketing, it still pays to apply the basics of push marketing: be consistent, be in the market and repeat your messages. I tend to tweet 20 times a day, 3-4 times pushing blog posts. It works: I see clicks on the blog throughout the day, some people are more inclined to read new content in the morning, others are more interested late night. Add to it that almost 40% of my Twitter followers live outside the US and it becomes almost impossible to plan the perfect schedule for the audience.

One measure of success are the number of clicks to posted links and the amount of sharing in my social graph. The other impactful metric is the growth of a community: If you don’t grow, you’re destined to fail. Both measures of success tend to change the mindset of many people: They hunker down, tweet even more often, repeat their messages more often and be constantly around and in people’s faces.

Should you be great on Twitter?

Repeating your tweets and being in the face of your followers constantly makes you great at Twitter. But, does it benefit your business? You can cram your feed with content all day long and get the most out of Twitter. How does this impact your business, the bottom line?

You have to make your own use case.

You’re a fool if you want to be good at Twitter. You want to be good at your business. To be good at Twitter, you need tweet more, spend more time on the platform, be completely immersed. To utilize Twitter as tool for business success, you have to find a balance. Twitter is a great tool to connect, to find new opportunities, to showcase your thought leadership.

It’s hard not to get sucked into the numbers game. It’s easier when you remind yourself that most of the numbers are irrelevant. What’s relevant what you get out of your Twitter presence. For some it’s about numbers and shouting. For me it’s about quality and sharing.

Twitter is what you make of it.


My daughter is in an interesting phase: She can read but she can’t comprehend fully what she’s reading. A picture book with a few sentences per page is perfect for her developmental stage. No, she wants to read a chapter book without any pictures. She proclaims proudly: “I’m on page 55.” When I ask her about the content, the answer is very sparse.

When she gets her homework, she wants to get it done in a few seconds: “Easy peesy, lemon squeezy.” Once I note a mistake, she freaks out and never wants to touch any homework again.

Typical behavior for brands in the emerging marketing space

Many brands have not yet fully deployed all basic digital marketing tools. Instead of focusing on getting the fundamentals right, they rather develop a comprehensive Social Marketing strategy.

Others have deserted Facebook/Twitter/YouTube presences. Why bother improving these important platforms for their brand? Let’s just start a Google+ page.

The fancy commercial not matching the dirty store layout.

The radio spot not matching the horrendous attitude of your employees.

The list is endless.

We should strive for innovation and amazing ideas.

First, we need to clean-up the store.

Change the attitude of employees.

Get the fundamentals of marketing right.

Get the fundamentals of the business right.

Then, and only then, should you consider the newest platform aka toy.

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You click on a button on your iPhone and it immediately bursts into life, the blinking “slide to unlock” label hinting at the direction of the motion it wants you to make. That rich, lively screen just begs for your attention. Add to that the layer of notifications and you have no willpower left to resist. No matter what’s happening around you: a kid wanting to play with you, a book waiting to be read, a view that wants to be soaked in – once the iPhone wakes up, everything else in the room disappears; your attention’s been stolen by that burst of light. The iPhone (and the iPad, for that matter) is a needy, attention-craving siren that will enslave your attention by it’s amazing beauty at the expense of the world around you. It’s a temptress that constantly reminds you: “You could be on Twitter now” or “You could engage with your friends on Facebook now.”

The Dopamine release

When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring – you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get this little rush of adrenaline and, most of the time, you are disappointed. Sure, you get this little information nuggets, the location of your friends, the links they share, the inconsequential email but it’s doesn’t satisfy your craving for more. But when you don’t get this little alarms, you feel bored, you want that little excitement. You’re being conditioned by technology to check, check, check and check.

Information is like food. It nourishes us and we need it to survive in the 21st technology, to be a productive citizen. Yet, food has positives and negatives. As Fast Food Nation clearly showcased, a steady diet of fast food won’t lead to any good. Actually, it might lead to your quick demise. While we know to distinguish between Twinkies and Muesli, we still have trouble distinguishing between information red meat and information red grain.

The diminishing returns of noisy technology

Over time, we have created our information foundation: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Messageboards, Foursquare and other platforms that solve problems for each individual. We don’t have a lot of attention left in our life to add more information and platforms. Apps and destinations became more noisy to get our attention. Just like a gathering that started out as a small dinner party, developed into a party with loud music and now looks like this:


(Talking about Dopamine.) You can enjoy a rave for a few hours, maybe even all night and a nice sunrise. But it’s not a sustainable model. We can’t continue to add new technologies and new platforms, begging us for information constantly without hitting the wall. I would argue, we’ve already reached that wall and we’re about to hit it.

Nobody is saying noisy technologies will disappear. It’s just too intriguing and easy to blink, flash and beep to get the attention of people. But the returns are diminishing and people are starting to look for technologies that solve problems with out being a needy temptress.

In Part 3 we’ll talk about the emergency of calm technologies and their integration into the information ecosystem.


“(In the publishing business) the readers are the product, and the customers are the advertisers.” – Dave Winer

It started with Path last week, and now we learned that Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Foodspotting, Yelp, and Gowalla all either upload your contacts’ phone numbers or email addresses to their servers for matching purposes.

As the post on Venturebeat states:

“Some of these applications perform this action without first requesting permission or informing you how long they plan to store this data. Foodspotting is the worst of the bunch, as it appears to transmit your data over an unencrypted HTTP connection (in plain text), making it even easier for mischievous parties to intercept.”

It’s a sign of a major problem.

Tulip Mania. Railway Mania. Poseidon Bubble. Japanese asset price bubble. Dot-com bubble. Rice bubble. Housing bubble. Bubbles after bubbles. After the housing bubble, one would think we’d have enough of bubbles for a long time to come. Think again.

The dot-com crash had nothing to do with technology. It had everything to do with the business model used to pay for the technology, which was primarily either display advertising revenue or VC money advanced with the expectations of returns based on display advertising. Display Advertising was trackable, it would be more effective online than offline. The bubble burst, crazy valuations went away and the digital ad market boomed. Ad Networks, DSP’s and exchanged drove down the value of ad impressions. CPM’s went from $100 for premier placements to $10. And impression junk was and is still anywhere. Suddenly, new businesses that relied on advertising revenue to support their model had to pivot.

Welcome to the age of user data.

Massive assumptions are now being made based on revenue generated (or soon to be generated) by personally targeted advertising drawing on user data. Facebook has a business model but their valuation is based on future realization of user data. Twitter doesn’t have a sustainable business model yet but it’s worth billions of dollars.

Often, companies don’t even know what to do with this data, they just have it because one day it will rain gold. You can’t open your computer without reading of the promises of Big Data. Your user data, goes the theory, allows ads to be specifically targeted to you. Should you buy a big bag of dog food, you will likely receive more ads for dog products, sometimes coupons. You’ll be grouped in a segment with other “dog food buyers”, your age and location will be determined, and a data model of you will be developed. A very simplistic one-dimensional model of you is living in some data warehouse and that’s why you encounter all those online ads.

The problem is not with the use of data to make decisions – the problem is with the simplistic one-dimensional use of data to make decisions. And the other problem with this assumption is that it believes in the rational consumers. Targeted advertising draws on the idea of our observed behavior presenting a coherent and realistic picture of our desires and needs.

It doesn’t.

My spending behavior in 2010 bears no relation to my spending currently or in the future – economies change, circumstances change, tastes change, opportunities change. More importantly, we are social beings, not rational beings. We are more driven by emotions and our clique than anything you can find in our brains.

As we know, targeting works on a limited scale. It does lift metrics, it improves performance. But the user data dream that one day all served ads will be relevant and lead to immediate conversion is just that: a dream. I’m not trying to minimize the opportunities at the intersection of data and human behavior, as explained in “How companies learn your secrets.” from the NY Times. I just don’t believe the way to collect and use data right now will lead to a pot of gold.

Tulips have value. Houses have value. Data has value. But the value is not as high as people tend to estimate while the user data bubble is expanding. It’s highly questionable if even a small part of these valuations can be realized. At least, I haven’t see any evidence of that, yet.

Nobody wants to hear things like that, when everybody is enjoying the user data ride. Just like nobody wanted to listen to Nouriel Roubini when he predicted the financial crisis. Nassim Taleb the “Black Swan”. Or Dave Winer the end of the data bubble. But something is wrong here, very wrong.

VCs spend billions of dollars investing in companies based on the user data model. They even tell kids to leave college early to participate in the gold rush. “You can be the next Mark Zuckerberg.”

They fund companies that need our personal data to succeed, just like the mortgage bundlers needed the junk mortgages to create fictitious AAA ratings. One day, when reality sets in and the fundamentals don’t add up anymore, the bubble will burst. A lot of money will be lost. A lot of people will be hurt.

Out of the ashes, new companies will spring up that have realistic expectations about the value of user data. And, who knows, even give us control over the data. Now, that’s valuable. Correct, Doc Searls?


I get up in the morning, check my email first and then explore what happened overnight on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. My streams are littered with reactions to some software updates or a new app release, musings about social platforms and why they’re dead or half-alive, food posts, complaints about flight delays, snarky remarks about politicians or pundits.

It’s my fault. I created this virtual world.

These are friends, colleagues, acquaintances, thought leaders. I chose to follow them. I created this stream. Sometimes it seems silly.

We have so many problems in this world. Our institutions don’t work anymore. We have a crumbling infrastructure. Debt everywhere. People kicking cans down the road. I’m worried about our future. I’m even more worried about our kid’s future.

Social Media was supposed to change the world

We finally had a voice. We finally could speak out. But we tend to talk mostly about entertaining issues: TV shows, sports, weather.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just blaming myself. We’ve been given this fantastic technology and we tend waste it on trivial matters.

Since I called myself out…

Over time, I will try to make a meaningful effort to add more compelling content into the stream. And stop bothering people with the triviality of my existence.

The Arab Spring, the London riots, the storm in Los Angeles: Examples were Social Media was used beyond marketing.

Take this video:

A racist woman on the tram.  The viral video – named My Tram Experience – shows a white woman racially abusing Black and Polish people on a train from Croydon to Wimbledon.  The video, which is extremely uncomfortable to watch, sparked millions of tweets on the subject.  The hashtag #mytramexperience was the top trend one day and soon the video had been watched million of times.  Later, following outrage from the general public and many celebrities, the woman, later named Emma West, was arrested.

That is the power of Social Media. And we should remember it when we tweet or post the next time.


Or Twitter. Or any other social platform

Everybody has favorite brands. We have preferences when it comes to cars, restaurants, TV shows, movies, grocery stores, bands, authors, bloggers – you name it. You are one of these brands that people like and continue to purchase.


So, one day you decide to jump on the Social Media bandwagon and develop a presence on some social platforms. Let’s say your first choice is Facebook. And you start to market your Facebook page: “Please find us” or “Like us”. And they do.


Not really. Wonderful for some customers and brands. The small minority.

The majority of customers hate their favorite brand on Facebook.


Because you are only focused on the platform and not on the offer.


The majority of people follow brands because they want offers, are current customers or explore entertaining content that they can’t get anywhere else. People connect with brands because they want something and they expect brands to give them something.

Focus on less on the what. And more on the why.

The social space is littered with brands that never answered the question why a person should connect with them. Marketing on a social platform doesn’t work without the why. Brands need to define their own WHY before choosing a specific platform. Once you determined your why, you can create your strategy: Content to engage people, contests, polls, humor, discounts, coupons – your why has to be aligned with your brand promise and needs to be sustainable for the long-term.

Define your value proposition and communicate it.

Don’t just ask people to like you or follow you on Twitter. Tell them what they get in return, why they spend their limited time with your content, what’s in for them?

Being social is your primary goal. Being a marketer is secondary.

Nothing wrong with marketing on social platforms. Don’t feel guilty about it. But you have to be social. Create compelling content that keeps people coming back. The customers are really the king on social platforms. You’re the servant.


Facebook is a terrible tool to build communities outside of your immediate friends and family. It’s a good platform to maintain existing relationships. It performs badly when it comes to creating new communities based on shared interests. I’m still active in many forums and stats show they tend to build powerful, long-lasting communities.

The emergence of niche networks.

Big social networks have received all the attention in recent years but the real action happens in community forums. There are millions of these sites that have a combined audience comparable to Facebook. The one big advantage Facebook offers for marketers: Scale. It’s so much easier to communicate a message on a unified platform compared to millions of communities, often behind password walls.

In addition, you need to be passionate about specific topics: Unless you’re into Dubstep in Brazil, why would you ever know about forums discussing that topic? Or baseball forums in Germany. Sumo forums in Los Angeles. Bobblehead forums. These forums are surprisingly popular and extremely resilient because of their community bond. For every interest there is an online community to accomodate: fishing, hiking, TV shows, Rugby, Bakersfield fans – you name it. They live and grow every day even if you know nothing about them.

Real relationships

I joined a EDM (Electronic Dance Music) forum in 2000 and still participate every day. The conversation has transformed from sharing club experiences to political discussions, parenting issues, travel advice, general entertainment. I’ve never met 99% of the community but we’re a lively bunch and engage on a daily basis. It’s fascinating to experience this use of the Web and the untouchable strength of community.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage in niche networks

Facebook has become the Microsoft of Social Networks. It’s there, you can’t escape it but you don’t love it. We use it every day but we are really not passionate about it. I’m sure Facebook will be around for years to come, just like Microsoft won’t disappear. The real love and passion happens in niche networks. By integrating more social features into their forums, niche communities will soon begin to have their heyday. Soon means about now.

All this talk about Facebook and Twitter have distracted from one the most important strengths of the digital medium: bringing people together to form a community. The current Forums 1.0 will soon be transformed into more advanced and socialized forums.

Scale is important.

The bond and passion of a community is more important. And a much better playground for your brand.


For its annual look at the blogging world, Technorati interviewed 4,114 bloggers in 145 countries. The focus of this year’s report was on why and how they blog, how they connect with brands and the usage of Social Media.

The Bloggers

The majority of surveyed bloggers were hobbyists (61%) with varied frequency of posting. 11% of the surveyed bloggers post daily, 13% are hoping for extra income and only 5% are professional bloggers. The majority of bloggers are educated, married parents between 25 and 44 years old. The majority continues to be male (59%), we experience a slight gender shift from last year when 64% were men.

80% of surveyed have been blogging for over two years, and around 50% for over four years. They tend to juggle an average of three different blogs, last year the average was two years.

The Platform War

The term ‘blogosphere’ is hardly used anymore because it’s hard to define the line between a blog and another social network. Is Instagram a blog? Twitter? Foursquare?

51% of surveyed bloggers used WordPress, followed by Blogger (21%) and Blogspot (14%). Social Media continues to be biggest traffic driver (Facebook, Twitter, and new face in the crowd, Google+). The average number of Twitter followers for a blogger is 847, jumping to 1,674 when we’re talking about a professional blogger. Interesting to see how quickly professional bloggers jumped on the Google+ bandwagon to further syndicate their content. Still, this is not an indication that Google+ has any staying power.

90% of professional bloggers use Twitter to promote their content, 40% of them use automated tools to syndicate their content, 37% link their Twitter and Facebook accounts so they only have to post once. Besides Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn was the next most popular social platform followed by YouTube and Flickr.

The majority of traffic comes from Facebook and Twitter, followed by LinkedIn, YouTube and upstart StumbleUpon. Additional traffic is derived from tags, comments, Google, Technorati and SEO.

The Blogging Business

2/3 of bloggers post about brand, and a 1/3 do reviews. Brands are intrigued by the power of bloggers and they tend to aggressively court them. A third of hobby bloggers are approached by brands twice a week, while professional bloggers get approached an average of eight times a week. Some bloggers receive up to 1,000 pitches a week.

Still, bloggers feel undervalued by brands – 60% feel they’re not treated as well by brands as the traditional media. Often, brands don’t research the blogs well enough and they are not interested in building a real relationship with the blogger. Less than 25% of respondents said brands provide any value.

When bloggers sign a deal with brands, 86% disclose the nature of the paid post and 58% disclosed when they were reviewing a product they had received for free. (This is a disturbing number: Brands need to require bloggers to disclose their paid posts and free products 100%)

Who influences bloggers? Other bloggers. In 2010 only 30%, in 2011 68% of other bloggers influence them. The other influencers (in decreasing importance): friends, social media, print, family, major news sites and TV.

An interesting report you need to read in detail before connecting a brand with blogger.

Here’s the full report.