If Twitter was 100 People…It’s Still All About You

August 2, 2009

Twitter100Just saw this great visualization on Flickr created by David McCandless. It displays a microcosm of what microblogging activity would look like if Twitter had only 100 users. The data is collected from a study completed by social media monitoring company Sysomos, and commented on by marketing guru Rohit Bhargava.

Essentially, it tells us that lots of people have created an account on Twitter but just as Twitter’s own Evan Williams recently stated there’s a long way to go for the enthusiasm to match engagement.

Rohit’s write-up provides great commentary on the conclusions presented in the study and is definitely worth a read to anyone interested in understanding what’s really happening in Twitter world.

Quick highlights:

  1. 21% (One Fifth) of Twitter accounts are empty placeholders
  2. Nearly 94% of all Twitter accounts have less than 100 followers
  3. March and April of 2009 were the tipping point for Twitter
  4. A small minority creates most of the activity
  5. Half of all Twitter users are not “active”
  6. Tuesday is the most active Twitter day (followed by Wednesday then Friday)
  7. APIs have been the key to Twitter’s growth & utility
  8. English still dominates Twitter

The study presents companies and brands with something to think about. What’s the value of Twitter, or really social media in general? I’ve previously posted that it’s understanding, strategy, and related action that determines business success in social media, and not simply jumping on the bandwagon of being ‘present’. The Sysomos study suggests that if you’re looking to connect with and communicate with your audience and consumers then you need to do what good marketing has always done; provide something valuable that people that people will love, enjoy, and share with friends.

Secret Sauce?

So what’s the secret to success of Twitter? It’s not a secret at all. It’s what works in any marketing medium:

A) Give something great to the world

B) Put your customers first

C) Reach the loud mouths and let them speak (just do A and B so they love you first)!

When it comes to getting your message across, the difference between social media vs. traditional marketing methods is really that you’re not in control of what responses the world will see. Plus, you don’t have to be present on Twitter or Facebook to actually be on Twitter or Facebook. People will talk about you and share their ideas with or without you. The only thing you can really control is your value.

So, don’t fret about your social media status. Have a presence, understand your audience, and know what the chatter is about,  but don’t get caught up in mass following, tweeting at 3am, or having lots of friends.  Concentrate on doing something great that people will love and you’ll be a social media darling whether you like it or not! 🙂

Twitter and Your Business… :) or FAIL?

July 25, 2009

Much has been made this week of Twitter’s 101 Guide for Business. With all the excitement around Twitter these past few months I’m glad Evan, Biz and team are leveraging the limelight to reach out and educate the enterprise on what Twitter is and what a valuable tool it can be for business. But (very big but!), Twitter, like every other tech tool is only as valuable as the corporate strategy and execution behind.

Here’s what Twitter says it can do for business…

So what does Twitter do for businesses?

Twitter is a communications platform that helps businesses and their customers do a number of useful things. As a business, you can use it to quickly share information with people interested in your company, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and other people who care about your company. As an individual user, you can use Twitter to tell a company (or anyone else) that you’ve had a great–or disappointing–experience with their business, offer product ideas, and learn about great offers.

Great! In a nutshell Twitter is a communications platform a business can use to connect to customers. It’s PR, Marketing, Customer Relationship Management, and Customer Care all in one! Of course not.

What Twitter (or really Social Media) Really Means for Business

Twitter is the latest and greatest method of technology to connect us. As such, it can be used for any and all of the above needs but can also be a huge waste of company time and resources, and lead to disastrous outcomes. Factor in a recent Harvard study suggesting only about 10% of users generate 90% of activity, and the audience mix, and it becomes very clear…as usual, it’s not about the tools, it’s strategy and action that matter!

Twitter for Marketing: is your audience on Twitter? Are they active? Are they receptive to brand messaging? How can you reach them and not sound like a pushy sales person?

Twitter for Customer Care: which tweets matter and which are rants of a negative attention seeker? Which messages require action? What action? Do you have a process to respond effectively?

Twitter for Customer Relationship Management: do you have the tools to find out what’s being said about your brand/company? Which metrics matter? Is there a strategy to follow up and act?

Wait! Before dumping your budget into the company saving Twitter plan, recognize this: a whole lot of pundits were saying the same thing about Facebook last year! It’s not your Twitter strategy that matters, it’s your Social Media strategy and execution that is the key. The Web gives us many ways to make customers happier and business more successful and all tools used effectively can have great outcomes.

So before you stake your business or budget on social media ask these questions:

1. Is your corporate culture ready for social media; a place where you don’t always control the message?

2. Do you have a good understanding of the tools to engage and measure?

3. Do you know if your audience is engaged and on which platforms?

4. Can you devote company time and resources to be successful?

5. Ready for a brave new world where people control the message not you?

6. Can existing company processes and systems be used to take advantage of these great new opportunities to reach, enagage, and learn from consumers?

7. If yes to all (or most) of the above…ready to get started?

Need help, we’d be glad to lend a hand at Sensidea!

Obama’s Message: The Web Kids are in Charge

November 6, 2008

change_badge1Tuesday November 4, 2008. A day that will go down in history. A man captured the imagination and hope of a nation to become the 44th President on the United States. A man who will be the first president of our generation that is not a baby boomer. His military reference is not Vietnam. The face of emerging America; he’s young, educated, socially conscious, and a minority. Amazing, the 44th president is an African American. Even more, he knows, respects, and loves the Web. He marks the day the web kids took over.

Barack Obama used technology like no one before him. BarackObama.com was launched very early in the Democratic Nomination campaign and it isn’t just a website. Others before him used the web to tell their story and raise money. Obama? He understood the power of the social web. BarackObama.com isn’t a website, it’s a social destination. A place you can get information, read blogs, watch Barack TV, connect on Facebook, MySpace or sign-up and have your own account on my.barackobama.com. You can even get music. Ya, that’s right, music from a once hopeful, and now next President.

Here’s the scorecard:


Why this Matters

Exit polls showed that Obama captured the vote of blacks, Hispanics, 18-34 year olds and new voters. He also won the female vote. Safe to say that it isn’t the baby boomers that pushed him to the White House, it’s us, the web kids.

When Clinton won the Oval Office in the 90s the web was a young dreamer. When W won in 2000 it was starting to blossom (Google had just recently launched). In 2004, Blogs were few and YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace weren’t household names. It’s 2008, the web has grown and our generation has grown with it. It’s a part of our lives. We don’t seek to understand technology, it’s native to us. We grew up with it and can’t imagine life without it. Obama understands this because when the web was getting started in 1994 he was 30 years old.

It’s our generation (Gen Y, Millenniums, Net Geners, whatever) that are starting to shape the world and Barack Obama is the first president that understands. He’s promised to use the same technology channels that brought him to power while in power. The White House is connected.

Will Things Change?

Call me a hopeful cynic. Many (if not all) promises made during an election fall apart once elected. Wahsinton D.C. is a complex place with competing agendas, lobby groups, and pressure to maintain the status quo. Will Obama grab hold of the opportunity to really deliver change? Will he challenge existing norms and the military industrial complex and work towards a more just society and world? Although Obama has some great advisors (Dr. Jeffrey Sachs for example), he also has a lot of the same old faces around him (Podesta, Volcker, Ross, possibly Indyk). The presidency is bigger than one man and it will take a real champion to continue to challenge the norms and deliver real change. I’m hopeful but I’m realistic. It sounds impossible.

But then again, a black president brought to office by a young, mobilized, and technically connected group was once impossible. It’s your show Barack and the web kids are watching.

New VC Fund: Canada’s Got Mobile Money!

May 12, 2008

Rick Segal posted a description of the shiny new VC Fund for everything mobile. This is great for tech innovation in general and Canada specifically. Some great companies have come from Canadian entrepreneurs but far too often they have had to move to Silicon Valley to get the support and funding needed to go big.

Not any more, this new fund isn’t simply another example of Canada’s Web 2.0 community following the lead of our U.S. counterparts, it establishes Canada in the lead for the wave of next generation mobile innovations. Yes, Kleiner Perkins has a $100M iPhone fund but this new fund constitutes the first ‘any platform’ fund (and it’s $150M so it takes the lead!).

So get those ideas out of your head and on your phone! Great job RIM, JLA, RBC, and Thompson.

The ‘Me’ Firewall

February 6, 2008

Being a digital media consultant I have an interest in how Web 2.0 can mesh in companies; Enterprise 2.0. Although it’s natural that companies (I’m talking non-Web 2.0 or internet companies) would want to take advantage of the great Web 2.0 products and services that have captured the imagination of consumers all over the world, there still has yet to emerge any assemblence of widespread adoption. Why? Because it’s not a technology issue, it’s about ‘me’.

Last year company execs wondered what all the Facebook fuss was about. Then they were told that people love social networks, they should have one for their employees, and that future employees of Generation Y will need one since they’re growing up on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc.

Well, I beg to differ. Much of what we’re hearing about the internet generation is what was said about hippies in the 60s – they’ll change the workplace! Well, hippies became yuppies, and yuppies are the CEOs of today…did the workplace change? Not really.

Work Life vs. Me Life

Some people spend almost all hours of the day and night at work, others pull a 9 to 5. Unless someone is in the enviable position of loving their job so much it doesn’t even feel like work, most people have a separation between work life and Me Life: what they like to do and are not asked to do because they’re livelihood depends on it.

Me Life is that less stressful time when you live how you want to live: T.V., friends, family, gym, surfing online, etc. It’s not work and you don’t want it to look, feel, sounds, taste, or smell like work. It’s a deliberate separation to keep you sane.

My theory on why hippies didn’t change the workplace, and why Generation Y won’t is based on a few principles:

1. Business is about the bottom line. The company has a way of doing things that made it successful. They like that way because it works. Billions of dollars can’t be wrong.

2. People join the company because it’s successful and they want to be successful at the company. They do what the company tells them to do to ensure success (evidence is the hopeful wide-eyes of university recruits during on campus job interviews; it’s almost sad).

3. Company outings are work. If given a choice, people don’t want to hang out at the company happy hour, it’s usually boring, fake, or both (even if the boss is paying). You go because you have to show you’re part of the team but you’d rather be at a happy hour with your real friends.

3. Most people have things they do in life other than their jobs. They can’t wait to get away from work so they can enjoy these activities (their Me Life).

People want to separate work and life. If there is no separation then everything feels like work and life is miserable.  To keep things separate and have some sanity we put up our Me Firewall – making sure our work life doesn’t take over and destroy our whole life.

The Me Firewall is a necessity and presents a huge problem for Enterprise 2.0. Sure, it would be great to bring the benefits of Web 2.0 to the workplace. People would be more social, collaborative, and happy. Problem is, Web 2.0 is Me time. People love social networks like Facebook and MySpace because you can do and say what you want and not get an email from your boss saying something is inappropriate (just don’t add him/her as a friend). You can blog and not have to worry about corporate guidelines. You can mash things up and not have to think about IT compliance. Follow me?

Enterprise 2.0’s Sweet Spot

People aren’t going to use a social network at work if they see no benefit in it (I’ve seen it fail). Promises of connecting with your colleagues, reading blogs of co-workers, etc. are doomed to failure because:

In Work Life people compete for positions, work with people they have to, and do things they need to .  In Me Life people connect with people they want to, do things they life to do, and compete for fun are personal rewards.

There’s a place for Web 2.0 inside the company. It’s not trying to take advantage of the social dynamics and needs that exist in Me Life, but to provide tools that make work life better; helping people work better, smarter, and faster so they can succeed at work and leave the office to have more Me time.

Tools that let you work from home, spread ideas, manage projects easier, work with others on tasks better – call them innovation and productivity tools – this is where Enterprise 2.0 can stake it’s claim as a true benefit to people at work, enjoying adoption because people see the value, and ultimately changing the fabric of how work gets done. Business likes them because they bring down cost and boost productivity, people like them because they give more Me time.

This is why I think solutions like Intel’s SuiteTwo will have a tough time while 37Signal’s BaseCamp will keep succeeding. There’s a lot of companies jockeying for position and all would do well to remember the Me Firewall.

Unleash Your Inner DJ

December 18, 2007

Most of the applications in social networks suck. But every once in a while a cool idea becomes along.  This time it’s Mixaloo.  If you’ve always dreamed on being a mix tape guru here’s your chance!

Mixaloo let’s you make your own mix tape, share it, or sell it and make money (just like when you used to tape off the radio…ya, I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s)!

It easy, fun, and works like this:

You go to the site (or add their app to your social network profile, yes they have a FB app!), select the songs you like to create your mix tape, and start promoting. In reality, people can only listen to samples of the songs, but Mixaloo puts a value on your mix tape and anyone can buy the full mix…making you money with a 50%-50% revenue split.

Mixaloo also offers has points system where users earn points for doing things like selling tracks, and recommending related artists. Enough points and you can redeem for Mixaloo merchandise and real audio equipment.

They’ve got more than 3 million songs to choose from, so go ahead, get your groove on!

Web Video the Way it Should Be

October 14, 2007

Soon, the video quality we currently expect from YouTube and other sites will be ancient history.  Adobe will soon be widely releasing Flash Player 9, and incorporating the H.264 codec – meaning MPEG 4 standard, high quality even in large screen, blissfull web video!

What does that mean? It means the same (or better) quality you see on Joost today. It means that web video will look as good (or better) than it does on your television. It means a lot more Internet TV services coming your way – and you can watch directly through your browser.  No downloads necessary.

Aside from the monetization challenges, in my view the major impediment to ubiquitous professional video content on the web is the diminished user experience.  With Flash Player 9 start-ups can promise studios the same quality as on the television (or their own sites) directly through the browser.

My browser may finally be my T.V.  I’d love to go to a site where each tab represents a channel, clicking on the show I want, and watching what I want, when I want.  All the inevitable social network, RSS, etc. functions will be a bonus.

But there’s still that ever present problem; there’s no money like T.V. advertising money. But if the user experience is that compelling, and user growth substantial, the advertising spend might grow to make it worth it for the start-up, studios, networks, and most importantly the consumer.