Does Twitter Dilute Media Brands?

For the past couple weeks I’ve been tweeting for the Reel-Time.com site under the Twitter handle “Reel_Time” and I’ve found some very interesting trends.  Most disturbing is that Twitter doesn’t really appear to be an extension of the conversations that start on my site, it appears to be something wholly different.  Similar conversations in a place where I don’t get any ad revenue.

As of yet, I’m not seeing this as increasing the value of the Reel-time.com brand.  Of course, while twitter may be hitting the mainstream, I suspect we’re still on the bleeding edge of Twitter in the saltwater fly fishing niche.  It just seems that where my readers used to find me, I am now trying to find them.  A horribly upside down delivery model it is when you’re starting out!

The Bad, or Not So Good:

  • Spammers – they apparently target new accounts – a good number of my initial followers apparently thought I wanted to pay for the “secrets of making millions via twitter”.  For the record, I don’t think there is anyone out there making THOUSANDS yet.
  • Mostly Shops, Guides and Website Owners – in a lot of ways its me and my competitors talking.  Honestly, that makes me want to share…less.
  • Haphazard Marketing – I’ve seen several shops or guides who don’t have a website or haven’t updated that website in over a year.  Yet they have time to tweet on a regular basis.  Tweeting is nice, but take care of your marketing 101 basics first.

The Good:

  • Fishing Reports – while my forum users macerate on the implications of posting fishing reports via Twitter, its already happening and there are enough respected industry names doing it that I can say with certainty, fishing reports via twitter are here to stay.
  • Immediacy – I’m a big fan of  “right the heck now.”  I hate to wait.  Twitter means I won’t have to wait.
  • New Enough That We Can Make This What We Want – I suspect the real gold here is in the hashtagging of reports.  If we develop a way of tagging that makes regional sense (most New Englander’s don’t need reports from Maryland) then we’ll all win.  I generally hate protocols, but this may just be what we need.  Something like #SWF-BOS for Boston area reports…then fight to keep it from becoming another Usenet.

The trial continues…

New Journalism in Action – Using Twitter as a Photoblog with the Iphone

The idea: to run a live Tweet stream from the varied events of the Sutton, Ma Chain of Lights, a celebration that happens at many different locations thoughout the town and its villages.  I used my Iphone with the Twitterlator Application that lets me post pictures direct to Twitter with pictures that I take on my phone uploaded right at that moment.  The tweets all contain the hashtag #suttoncol – short for Sutton Chain of Lights which make them searchable via the Twitter search function, formerly known as Summize.  You can check out the full tweet stream here.

Additionally we (my 9 year old daughter Mackenzie helped me with this) took photos at the events we attended with my Canon Power Shot A530 5 megapixel point and shoot camera.

Why Would You Bother: Sutton, like many small communities, doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the local paper, The Worcester Telegram, and substantially less from the television stations.  Even if they did send someone out to cover the events, they’d have gone to a single location, took a quick couple pictures, or did a quick standup talking to some happy kids, then they’d have been off to their next assignment.  Local events are naturals for crowd sourcing, and what better way to do it than live tweeting with a hashtag, posting a photo gallery, etc.

When I sat down last week to add pictures to the National Gallery and Gift Shop site to help publicize the event, I was surprised to find there were no pictures online anywhere from the Chain of Lights last year, save a few marketing shots by The Vaillancourt Folk Art Museum. Continue reading “New Journalism in Action – Using Twitter as a Photoblog with the Iphone”

Twitter’s Achilles Heel

Okay, maybe this isn’t the only flaw of Twitter, but it’s a good one, and I suspect, eminently fixable.  The problem is that we’re forced to drink from the fire hose when we look at our main tweet stream.  If you follow someone, you get everything they tweet, the good, the bad, the ugly.

As I posted the other day, I’m utterly sick of the ceaseless tweeting about politics, much of which would make Josef Goebbels blush.  Last night I’m sure many of my followers were annoyed with my incessant tweeting on the Red Sox post season opener against the Angels.

The problem is pretty obvious, hash tags have given us an easy way to group tweets by topic via search.  We also need the ability to exclude tweets by hash tag as well.  This is very easy to do, and won’t impact Twitter service as well, as we’d just have to ask people to tag their topics appropriately.  Thus I could have my Twitter client show me anything you have in your general or personal stream, plus anything related to #sm for social media, while excluding #pol tweets so I don’t have to unfollow you during the election cycle.

Tweetdeck is well setup to handle something like this, and I’ll be forwarding the suggestion to them later today.  As any Google power user knows, have of the magic of search is not the stuff you include in your search, it’s the stuff you exclude to help bring the things you want to the top.

As a side note, the #redsox tweet stream apparently brought Search.Twitter.com to its knees half way through the game.  Because Tweetdeck does it’s sorting at the client level, it kept on working without a glitch throughout the game.

(Update: Iain Dodsworth, the founder of Tweetdeck got in touch to say he was contemplating a filter at the bottom of every column.  I think this would be a tremendous killer app.  Especially if he made it so you could tweet and reply from the column so that you hash tag would be added much as a reply tag is added now.)

Shel Israel on Social Media Scalability

I missed this one last week and it’s the kind of post that I think most Social Media wonks will gloss over – “Social Media Scalability, the New ROI Question” from Shel Israel at Global Neighborhood.

Scalability is an issue for anyone who introduces something new online and wants to grow. It was true for the pioneers who predate social media like ICQ [LINK], for the Stanford start up team for a search engine called Google. It was true for the college project that is now Facebook and so on. The technology that you start with may not be right for large scale. The people that begin it may not be the right people to run it on a large scale. The costs you start with may not fill the petty cash box a year hence.

Wikipedia defines scalability: Continue reading “Shel Israel on Social Media Scalability”

The Big Blogging Secret – Linkbaiting

I was listening to This Week in Tech with Leo Laporte yesterday (Twit 171 – The Lemondrop Kid) which featured appearances by Jason CalicanisAndrew Horowitz, and Geoff Smith.  At some point Laporte asked Calacanis about his decision to stop blogging (he hasn’t really stopped, but he has drastically cut back) and Jason said he’d realized that being at the top of the blog food chain, the return on value wasn’t there for him.  (I am paraphrasing here, and not directly quoting him.)

The problem is attributed to linkbaiting (from wikipedia):

Link bait is any content or feature within a website that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites. Matt Cutts defines link bait as anything “interesting enough to catch people’s attention.”[5] Link bait can be an extremely powerful form of marketing as it is viral in nature.

For Calacanis, it became such a huge time waster, he had even posted “Linkbaiting Rules” in April of 2007. From his post: Continue reading “The Big Blogging Secret – Linkbaiting”

Great LA Times Piece on Revision3

I’ve said it before – they’re changing the way broadcast media is done…check out the LA Times piece on  Revision3.

nd so far, people are. Revision3 was started in 2005 by Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson, the guys behind Digg.com, the popular site where users vote on the best news stories of the day. Rose co-hosts the show “Diggnation,” a weekly rundown of the site’s top stories, which Revision3 beams out to about 200,000 viewers per 40-minute episode. He has become a model for the kind of smart celebrity the technology scene loves — people who are entertaining while the camera’s rolling, and enterprising when it isn’t.

“What’s working are these host-driven shows,” said Revision3 Chief Executive Jim Louderback. “The ones where you’ve got an engaging host with a proven ability to aggregate social networks around them online, and who are great at talking about their passions.”

I don’t miss a single episode of Tekzilla and Systm – great shows, and they work very well downloaded right onto my Iphone – I no longer fear waiting rooms.  They are there when I’m ready to watch them – utterly convenient, as opposed to traditional broadcast

The real thing to get out of this article is this: online video is the place to be right now.  The rules are being written and the frontiers are being explored.  Look at the stuff that Leo Laporte’s doing at Twitlive.tv and definitely take a very close look at Revision3 – this is the next wave and it’s happening now.

(Disclosure: Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback is a friend from college – but that had nothing with my decision to run this post, although I am extremely happy for him and the Revision3 crew…)

Twitter, FriendFeed and Overexposure of the Personal Brand

I’ve said it before, but this post especially requires that I state it clearly again: I am a New England Yankee.

That means that I possibly have a heightened sense of propriety and generally would consider a lot of things marketing-wise as crossing the line that some of you might not have a problem with.

I’m noticing lately that a lot of marketing types are spending a lot of time on micro-blogging tools such as Twitter, FriendFeed (the new darling), Plurk, etc. I’m sure many have convinced themselves that a lot of what they are doing is “creating social media brand awareness” for their products. The truth is that Twitter is more about branding for the personal brand, and as such I find in most cases, it creates a level of over exposure that’s downright harmful to your personal brand.

Think about Jason Calacanis, who was for a while offering all kinds of contests, giveaways, etc. via Twitter, trying to increase the awareness of the Majalo Search Engine (disclosure: I signed up to contribute when it first started, but honestly never did produce any results for them). For a time, it seemed that the Twitter stream I was getting was all Jason, all the time. “I’m going to have lunch with xxx here. Burritos, yum” or something like that. The signal to noise ratio was so high that I really began to dislike what Calacanis was doing. I didn’t even know him and I was starting to develop a strong dislike.

Jason mentioned on the This Week in Tech podcast this week that he has a lot of people who can’t stand his online persona, but actually become good friends when he meets them. And for the record, I really enjoy hearing Calacanis on podcasts, and I’m sure I’d like him if we were to sit down for a beer sometime. However the Twitterati Calacanis was, for a time, utterly annoying.

Similarly Jeremiah Owyang – he’s been a perennial link in my posts, but when Forrester did their conference in March this year, I had to un-follow him for the time being, I just didn’t need to know whenever anyone decided to go to the bathroom at the conference, or what specific CEO he was talking to.

On the other side, I see a lot of the Twitterati catering to prurient interests to build their following. Yes, sex sells, for the most part, you’re selling yourself here. Do you really want the interest that brings? If you’re even thinking about that, you might want to talk to Ariel Waldman, community manager at Pownce, who’s now got her own stalker, with all the fun that brings. Oh joy!

The problem we have is that so many of us are making the mistake off blending our personal and our professional lives. In business, I prefer not to be known for my ability to consume Mojitos…although personally I really like them. Yet, I blend my Twitter posts with a weird mix of both professional and personal information (yeah, do as I say, not as I do).

I think too many of the Twitterati are making the fundamental mistake of overexposing their personal brand via social networking, to their personal and professional detriment. Your thoughts?

The Shine is off Social Networking

Say it ain’t so, Joe! Over the past few weeks, it’s begun to look like Social Networking, the current darling of the conference and consultant set, might have jumped the shark.  I personally would peg the exact point where it went careening off track as the day that Waste Management (the guys that probably run your local honey truck) opened their own social networking site.

But it goes far beyond that.  Earlier this week Om Malik wrote a very interesting piece showing that social networking may have flattened out, or even may be decreasing. He notes:

Today there are numbers out from comScore that indicate plateauing growth for the big two — MySpace and Facebook — in the U.S. Last week, Revision3 canceled “SocialBrew,” an online video show dedicated to social networking. Meanwhile, Monster killed its Tickle social networking service (first reported in April by TechCrunch), following closely on the heels of CondeNast’s shuttering of Flip and Verizon’s decision to close up its virtually unknown network, which had managed to garner a mere 18,000 members. (Verizon has shifted its community to Facebook.)

And these just might be the tip of the iceberg, for there are way too many me-too networks out there failing to find the traction, and hence the volume, needed to grow their revenues. The lack of monetization will only accelerate this process.

I’ve also been detecting a subtle change in the “conversations” on Twitter lately, with some brave few actually taking a stand against the social networking Kool-Aid.  In one telling argument, it came down to a final comment from the prime Kool-Aid drinker that “You just never got Social Networking,” reminding my of my favorite line from a movie I dearly love, The Duellists, in which the lead character, D’Hubert, (a Napoleonic era officer who has served from Spain to Russia and back) is condemned with the single statement “You never loved the Emperor.”  Indeed, one might as easily be condemned for “Not being Politically Correct,” or whatever the actual flavor of the moment is.

Also, I find the current “Proactive Customer Support” wherein companies monitor social networking apps to create a two tier service network, in which the middle to upper income have a vastly different support experience than the lower middle to poor do.  Think about “Comcast Cares” on Twitter, a Comcast rep, who actively searches out support issues to help fix them.  I’ll bet he’s finding most of the problems are centered in Bel Aire, not in Compton.

Social Networking wasn’t invented by the current crop of Powerpoint wielding wannabes, and it’s been around a lot longer than most would suggest.  Honestly, I see it actually predating the internet, going back to the days of computer bulletin board services (Do you remember them?).  Most of the basic fundementals of Social Networking were really polished in online forums, on IRC, and in the first Instant Messaging Apps.  It’s not utterly new, in most cases, this is just a better presentation.

Some general Social Networking notes:

  • “Join the Conversation” – I’m growing tired of hearing this.  If you already aren’t talking to your customers, then maybe there’s a reason.
  • Just because Facebook says we’re friends, it doesn’t mean I will loan you money…
  • Why is it the GuruVangelistPerts on Social Networking seem to Twitter from bars or about going to bars so often?

What is new, is that there is now a widespread understanding of Social Networking and it’s overall importance in both web design in particular and marketing in general.  I realize many readers may be rather upset at my saying the Emperor has no clothes, but indeed, that is not what I am saying. I am saying it’s a waste of time to talk about the clothes, rather than the more substantive issues about the Emperor, like taxes, etc.  When the medium is the subject of the message, there is a problem with that medium.

I’ve said it before, I say it again here.  Social Networking and Social Media are not ends unto themselves.  They are aspects of good web design, and should be employed as such.  To use Social Media for Social Media’s sake is a waste of time.  There is a limit to the number of Social Networks I want to be a part of, and I personally would prefer to have more in common with my fellow users than simple ownership of a computer.  Niche communities are the way to go…as Om so brilliantly notes.

Revisiting the Implied Responsibility of Comms Providers

Regarding my post yesterday about the Implied Responsibility of Comms Providers, two things happened over night that bear mentioning.

  • Twitter again was down for a couple hours starting at 4pm EDT, or so.
  • Users were a lot less charitable in their comments.

I really think they’re at stage 2 in the matrix I provided, but I’ve seen the first signs that they’re moving from step 2 to step 3, which is a very bad thing for Twitter. Jeremiah Owyang tweeted this morning:

Hey are you on Friendfeed? It’s more reliable than twitter, and there’s a meta-conversation there http://friendfeed.com/jowyang

And that, my friends is how things start to go down hill.

(BTW, I re-read yesterdays post – I definitely would have benefited from more coffee and from a copy editor’s assistance. I may clean it up over the weekend…)

The Implied Responsibility of Communications Providers

Okay, I promise to go Twitter free next week, but for now, an interesting observation…

Yesterday, Twitter went down for about 3 hours. The general experience provoked a few thoughts. Firstly, I thought of the Twitter addicted, jonesing at their keyboards, hitting refresh endlessly in a forlorn hope the service will return.

But then I thought more on the idea of what happens when your communication means becomes a part of peoples lives.  I’ve been here before, since the Reel-Time.com Forum literally reached that level for New England Saltwater Fly Fishermen, who are, like most Twitter users, type A obsessive compulsives.  It’s a special kind of feeling to know that your important service has become a singular point of contact for many people.  That suggests that if it goes away, you’ve put those folks out of touch.

In my experience, services that provide such a commjunications will face a known, predictable response when are repeated failures:

  1. To begin with, everyone thinks of it as an abnormal situation and don’t push to hard.  Oh gee, there was an outage…
  2. Subsequent outages provoke concern.  Users ask where they can send get well cards.
  3. From there, we move on to anger.  You get phone calls…at night…on unlisted numbers, and they’re not utterly pleasant.
  4. From there, if the problems continue, the noise quickly subsides.  No more calls, no more emails from users.  You’ve reached the point that your users simply don’t care anymore, either that or you just don’t have any users anymore.

Th critical litmus test is this: people will not complain if they don’t care about you.

I’m generally concerned about using a communications means that’s provided by a single source, not knowing how scaleable their own infrastructure is.  They’ve also got a very open api that allows most users to access using tools other than the standard Twitter homepage.   That disparity of tools also creates a disparity in user experience.