Tag Archives: Twitter

Ecommerce on Twitter. The rise of tcommerce?

pepsi twitter brand pageAdAge has an intriguing article about upcoming enhancements to Twitter brand pages that include sweepstakes, contests and ecommerce. The report is purportedly confirmed by multiple, unnamed Twitter executives. The commerce part is particularly intriguing, especially in light of Jack Dorsey’s dual involvement in both Square and Twitter. But what would ecommerce on Twitter look like? Is this the start of t-commerce? Is it the next wave of social commerce? Will it be as uninspiring as fcommerce (Facebook commerce?) Of course this is all speculation, but the nexus of mobile, frictionless payments and real time is a compelling area to explore a new way to find, share, promote and pay.

Here’s a bit from the article:

Launched in December, the pages show the brand’s Twitter feed and images, but Twitter plans to add experiences, including e-commerce, contests and sweepstakes, according to three executives familiar with the matter.

The product will allow app developers to build experiences on Twitter, much the way they do on Facebook. The features will be contained within the brand’s tweet timeline, a departure from the 140-character limit of a tweet or images and videos that can now displayed. While no date has been set for the release of the product, Twitter has been telling clients to expect it this year.

What Would Twitter Commerce (tcommerce?) Look Like?

Location

Location-based deals are nothing new, see Foursquare, Loopt and the rest, but Twitter has an audience orders of magnitude larger than those services combined. It’s not hard to imagine Twitter using your location to push out deals via your stream that are relevant to you from businesses near by. A deal from the local deli while you’re checking Twitter from the CVS next door could be just the motivation you need to pick up lunch while you’re out.

Deals are also a great incentive for users to follow brands on Twitter. The most successful brand pages on Facebook have far more fans than similar brands on Twitter. And there is plenty of research out there that shows that people follow brands on Facebook for deals and specials, so it’s not much of a stretch to see how deals could help brands build larger purchase-oriented followings on Twitter.

Real Time

Location isn’t the only opportunity. The flash-deal model also works with Twitter. And there are plenty of good case studies on how short-term deals work well on Twitter. The Dell Outlet Twitter account being probably the most visible/memorable. The ability to deploy ecommerce opportunities quickly and to a captive audience is a powerful concept, if executed well. It’s easy to see how Zappos could deploy a deal on the shoes that a celebrity is wearing on Oscars the red carpet. Combining a deal with a promoted Tweet around a popular hashtag is a way to reach a very targeted audience in a much faster and more relevant way than an email 24 hours later, when the moment has passed.

Frictionless Payments

The one catch of course is the payment gateway for all of this. Clicking from a Tweet to a payment page, to fill out a cumbersome ecommerce form is not going to get the job done — particularly in the mobile world. This is where a partnership with a company like Square and the wallet technology makes a ton of sense. Having secure, one-click-type payment ability will be the key to adoption and use of tcommerce payments. Being able to see a deal, and take instant action without the friction associated with typical ecommerce could be the thing that makes tcommerce really work.

What About fcommerce?

There has been a lot of skepticism around social commerce, particularly with the closing of several high-profile storefronts on Facebook. But there is little reason to think the tcommerce would suffer the same fate as fcommerce. Why? Because fcommerce was nothing more than ecommerce jammed into the Facebook chrome. As long as Twitter looks at the experience holistically and unique to the service there is no reason that it has to be as uninspiring as Facebook’s first attempt.

Twitter thinks about it’s platform in a much different way than Facebook does. Facebook is a utility, the plumbing of the social graph that anyone can build on, regardless of the effectiveness of what they build. Twitter is much more in control of the user experience and what is and isn’t allowed in the service. This control means that any solution is their solution, and mobile, real time and commerce are all areas of expertise for Jack and team.

Tcommerce revolution?

Deals and brand offerings are pretty superficial. What if we think bigger. Could Twitter replace Western Union? Could sending money be as easy as sending a Tweet? Could you donate to a cause through a trending hashtag? There are issues to unravel with these scenarios, but there isn’t any reason to think that they’re not possible at some level at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Of course, this could all be smoke. Twitter could just let brands promote the deals they have on other services. There could be no true tcommerce solution. An integration with Square could be years off, who knows. But it is fun to think about, and it could be a whole new mobile, real time, frictionless way to send money to anyone.

Image via AdAge.

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What No One is Saying About the New Twitter.

The new release of Twitter has, predictably, put the Web in an uproar. The Internet pundits have been focused on the new UI, with many rehashing two tired themes which amount to who moved my cheese, and utterly fail to grasp the bigger picture, which is a strategic shift in the product itself.

Twitter has shifted to a product posture that puts consumption ahead of production. With this release Twitter has made the leap from “micro-blogging” to discovery engine. You can see it happening with the reduced prominence and location of the composer box on the web version, and the increased prominence of the discovery UI. It’s an acknowledgement that many people who use Twitter don’t actually use it for expression, but rather information gathering. This is an important shift, and something that people who are the publishers will have to get used to.

When half of your daily users don’t Tweet, but just login to see what’s happening, you have to make that discovery easier. And I think this new release is a step in the right direction. As for the criticism? It’s myopic and self-centered and fundamentally misses the broader implications and use cases of the Twitter user base at large.

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Will Beluga and GroupMe be this year’s big winners at SXSW?

Beluga LogoThe SXSW prognosticating season was officially kicked-off by TechCrunch’s MG Seigler just the other day; and I’m ready to throw my hat in the ring with my picks for this year’s darlings. Of course, there’s no real way to predict this; and entrants are likely to come out of the woodwork between now and the start of SXSWi, but recent trends point to a few promising possibilities. In my opinion, the big winners are going to be the micro-social network applications and sites. Why? Because group texting services like Beluga, GroupMe, and others will help attendees cut through the noise of the conference and connect with those closest to them.

Why do I think that inherently non-viral products will catch on at SXSW? Recent history provides the best clues. The launches of Twitter in ’07 and Foursquare in ’09 are examples of how the interactive crowd embraces products that help them make a large, overwhelming conference seem more intimate and personal. Twitter and Foursquare, at launch, allowed users to connect in new ways; ways that leverage connections weak and strong, provide real-time, high-quality information, and help cut through the noise and clamor of a crowded environment. These tools and services gave people the ability to create a personal, custom experience for themselves in a very noisy and chaotic space. And while Twitter and Foursquare are much more open than Beluga or GroupMe, my picks provide the next evolution of delivering those same important elements.

Twitter broke at SXSW in 2007 and was widely used at the festival in 2008 as attendees surfed and Tweeted the #sxsw hashtag to find the parties, venues, impromtu gatherings and panels that were most noteworthy. In ’07, people used it as not only a communication tool, but as a networking and real-time information network. A network that connected like-minded folks with one another in a way that wasn’t possible before. And the rest is history as Twitter blew-up, becoming the preferred communication tool for the digerati and, with later help from Ashton and other celebrities spread to the early-majority crowd as well.

But as Twitter blew up, it’s utility for connecting at SXSW ’08 diminished. Too much noise. Too much pollution. It’s value as an information source remained; but the #sxsw hashtag became unruly and less valuable to help ferret out the best events. It opened up a new opportunity for Foursquare to provide that high-signal, that more personal, manageable connection that Twitter delivered the year before.

Foursquare launched and provided a similar noise-filtered way to connect with friends at SXSW ’09 and again at SXSW ’10. Interactive conference attendees used the service to find out where their friends were. And the SXSW-specific rewards only helped to make using the service more fun. With the Twitter stream polluted and the quality and ease of groking it for useful information diminished, Foursquare stepped in and provided a better filter on connections and information. We had gone from Scott “Laughing Squid” Beale Tweeting about being at a bar next door, to people just watching their friends check-in to venues and forming impromtu gatherings as those check-ins reached critical mass.

Last year, at SXSW, one of the best parties was not a planned party at all. Brian Solis and a small group of influencers checked-in at The Driskill Hotel and within an hour the place was packed. The word was out and the party swelled. After an hour you couldn’t move. The power and faults of a service like Foursquare were evidenced in one short moment. The service worked brilliantly, connecting members of those people’s networks and letting them know where their friends were without any additional coordination or communication. On the flip side, as the message propogated and grew, the event tipped from a small gathering to an all-out free-for-all. The utility of the service fell apart. It went from an intimate gathering to a ridiculously jam packed event. And, for the rest of the conference, many of those people checked in off the grid to keep a similar scene from repeating everywhere they went.

Robert Scoble recently asked how SXSW could regain the intimacy of the conference in face of the ever-growing crowds.

Me? I want to get more of those intimate experiences we used to have. I remember when the entire Web Standards Project fit at one picnic table. I remember having a fun conversation with a small group, all huddled around Craig Newmark in the rain at a BBQ place across the street. I remember being able to get into parties without being a VIP and last year the VIPs even had to wait in line at nearly every party. Heck, I remember when Scott Beale Tweeted in 2007 that he was sitting all alone in an empty pub and I joined him and had a leisurely beer at a picnic table with him and a few other friends. Those days are seemingly gone.

Scoble doubts that we can, because there is too much opportunity cost. I think he’s wrong. I think we can with better tools. It’s not that we’re attention-deficited people who can’t decide where to go and what to do (ok, we are,); but that the tools we have have become too bloated to be effective. Twitter and Foursquare have lost their ability to create those unique, intimate moments because we’ve bent them out of shape with oversized followings and over-subscription. I believe the next wave of services that succeed at SXSW will be those that bring that intimacy back – that allow us to navigate the crowded noisy environment of SXSW and give us a better experience because of it.

Scoble starts to get at it here:

It seems weird for me to say this, but I’m tired of going to big massive parties where you collect a lot of business cards but don’t have any good conversations to show for it. I now have enough business cards. I don’t need more. I bet many of you are in the same place. In fact, this year we’ve seen companies like Pip.io and Path come along and try to serve smaller “micro” groups. Path limits you from sharing photos with more than 50 friends. I’ve come to like that constraint, somewhat. It’s just that I wish I could share with many small groups.

So, how about this as a proposal:

Kill the big parties. Instead, follow Zappos’ lead. This year they hosted a bus. It could only hold about 30 people (it had its own bar, after all). But the time I spent on that bus is still my favorite experience at SXSW. Why? Because it forced a small handful of people to sit together and talk. Even if it was just for 15 minutes it was nice to have an intimate experience with a small number of other people.

And it’s Beluga and GroupMe that can bring that intimacy and limited connection to the table – and create the passionate followings that ignite services like these to broad influencer adoption and buzz required to tip one of these services in terms of awareness and users.

Out of the two I’m picking Beluga for two reasons. First, because you connect your account with Facebook you can see which of your Facebook friends is using Beluga and automatically send them a message or add them to a group.  This is going to help the viral spread of the service.  Second, the ability to add friends based on email address or phone, over just phone makes the service more early-adopter friendly and allows you to add friends who you may have connected with online; but are not necessarily friends with on Facebook or whose phone number you don’t have. This will allow more loosely-connected groups to form to make dinner and other plans at SXSW and then disband just as fast. (GroupMe also has expiring groups, which are very interesting for ephemeral groups.) Other groups will persist as back-channel mobile chat rooms that will be running as its own data layer on top of the Twitter feed, Foursquare check-ins and other conference noise.

The benefits of a limited circle are most obvious when we’re in high-density network situations like SXSW. Over-subscribed friend and follower counts limit the effectiveness of the tools. When you’re in tight quarters, when you’re looking for high-quality information over the noise, when you’re looking for that quiet dinner party with your friends, more isn’t better. Better is better. Beluga and GroupMe and others can help give us a better experience. Can bring the intimacy of SXSW back and will be the darlings of this year’s conference.

Update: had my Foursquare launch years off.  
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If Context Isn’t King Yet, It’s Certainly the Heir Apparent

Google announced at Le Web that they are working on providing search results without users needing to search. Path has limited your social graph to 50 people. Facebook is working hard on its groups, lists and messaging features. Google has tried to buy Groupon and Yelp. Amazon invested $175 million in LivingSocial. Twitter recently launched People Like You. Companies like My6Sense, Curated.by and Storify are popping up everywhere. Jason Kottke and Frank Gruber have two massively trafficked web sites, where they primarily link people to other content. What do they all have in common with one another? They all are an attempt to bring context to an ever-more crowded, noisy and cluttered world.

Context Restores Value to Connections

As the Web gets more connected and crowded, the concept of connections have diminished in inherent value, quickly become commodities. Not sure you agree? Here’s a quick test. Go to LinkedIn, find a co-worker, and ask them about one of their random LinkedIn connections. Chances are they can’t tell you where that person works or remember how they met them. Same thing on Facebook. In the race to connect many users have destroyed the value of their connections by treating them all the same (a limitation of the networks when we first joined.) And when we can’t easily distinguish one connection from another we run into all sorts of issues, from diminished connection with those we really want to stay connected with (I can’t tell you how many of my brother’s status updates I miss, replaced with a steady diet of random weak tie updates) to privacy issues (why can’t I treat my coworkers differently than my former fraternity brothers?)

Context helps to restore the value of these connections by parsing the important ones out of network. All connections are not the same, and should never be treated as such. By helping users provide context to their connections networks like Facebook are hoping to restore the utility of smaller, stronger connections that have been diminished by unwieldy, weak-tie networks that pervade social networking sites.

Facebook has been hard at work with groups. Which allows users to create smaller, intimate groups based on particular connection attributes (family, work, interests,) aka context, that creates more value and brings more utility to the network. I can now connect with and share things with my family members, like photos of my son, easily and privately within the group structure. Something I couldn’t do before very easily. By allowing me to add context to my network I’m able to get more out of it on Facebook.

Path takes a different approach on a similar dynamic. By limiting your connections to 50, they’re ensuring that your network consists of strong connections only. Strong connections create greater intimacy, privacy and add an immediate layer of context that governs how the service is used. My Path is two people right now. Me and my girlfriend. And that’s perfect for me. Because our Path is our photo diary. I don’t need to share it with the world. Path’s forced context creates a quiet, intimate space, much like the Facebook groups does. Path adds another layer of context via its primary functionality. Being almost completely app-based, Path combines the context of location and mobility with privacy and photos. Those layers of context create value for the user. Which leads us to location as an important context.

Context Drives Local Discovery and Commerce

The rush to local buying sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe and others heralds the arrival of the local context layer being successfully applied to the Web. Yelp was the early pioneer, building social elements onto the local context layer on the Web. Google, Amazon and countless other Web companies are dying to crack the local commerce nut. And now, by applying the local layer to the social web it seems like we’ve reached a tipping point of moving local commerce online. Google gets the importance of connecting social context to local context. That’s why they were happy to shell out $6 billion for Groupon. Amazon gets it too, which is why they invested $175 million in a company with only ~10% of all group buying web traffic.

The local and social context layers drive commerce because it finally connects where we live with what we do and who we know on the Web. And the results are staggering and this connectivity is only beginning. And it’s not just group buying, it’s what every location based service, like Foursquare and Gowalla are trying to solve in their own way too.

These context layers added to online commerce drive confidence and intimacy. It makes the universe of possibilities smaller, more relevant and easier to act on. The context is the key to local web commerce.

Context Drives Content Discovery

Information overload is old news. I’m not even going to rehash the problem; but suffice to say words like “curation” don’t get worn out in information-poor environments. We are swimming in a sea of content. The majority of content, even more so than connections, has become commoditized to a point of uselessness. The advent of publishing technologies has helped content explode, but the tools to deal with this over-abundance are now just starting to get traction. Whether it’s My6Sense which learns what is interesting to you based on your past consumption, or a tool like Storify which lets human editors pull out and arrange Tweets into coherent conversations and storylines, they are trying to serve a massive need for context applied to our content.

Twitter is also trying to up the value of your Tweet stream by pointing to people who are like you, that may up the signal in a stream that is hard to cobble together one connection at a time. I can tell you from experience that it’s hard to craft an inbound Tweet stream of value at any scale. This is a big problem that Twitter needs to solve to help grow the service and make it relevant for less sophisticated users who don’t have the expertise, time or inclination to curate a group of people they follow that gives them the best experience they can get on the network. Twitter is trying to bring context to who you follow and what your Tweet stream looks like in response.

It’s not just machines and services either that are applying context to the content white noise. The ability to curate content, to create and apply an interesting and consistent context filter, is becoming more valuable than the content creation itself. People like Jason Kottke, the folks at Brain Picker and Boing Boing (among others,) are known, and valued, more for their ability to filter, surface and bring context to the endless firehose of content than of their ability to create it. They are the new editors of the Web. While mainstream print and network news have lost relevance these new editors are picking up the reigns of their offline counterparts, and providing much needed guidance to an audience that struggles just to keep up with the torrent of content, good, bad, farmed and malicious.

In a world where we find our own news, we are now in desperate search for our own editors. The software, companies and people who can create context for us that was lost when we ditched network TV for the blogosphere and statusphere are the ones that are creating new value for us on the Web. We’ll see more software like My6Sense, more context-driven M&A like Google and Amazon, and more Jason Kottke’s and Frank Gruber’s as we look for better ways to apply important context to the content that continues to come, like a never-ending avalanche down the hill. It will be these people, software and companies that will thrive and that will win in the next wave of the Web. Because more than great content we need great editors. Content’s days as King are numbered. Context is the new heir apparent, and the overthrow couldn’t happen soon enough.

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Photos are the Love Letters of the Social Web

Instagram, Hipstamatic, Path, the list goes on and on. Photo taking, editing and sharing apps are gaining momentum right now as more and more people use quick photos to communicate with their friends and family. Years after Flickr and Facebook reinvented the photo as a shared, social object, these new apps are transforming how we communicate, from short text-based status updates to candid, interesting photos. Some people are wondering why these photo sharing apps are so en vogue right now, but I think the answer is pretty simple – people want more than text to express themselves. As the on-board cell phone camera technology has improved pictures have become a more viable and attractive way for people to express themselves online. With our new cameras and better upload ability photos have become the new love letter for the web.

We’ve talked about the “statusphere” since the dawn of Twitter. Short text bursts were our our only option if we wanted to participate in the social web. But they were lacking. Sometimes, words just don’t do it. Text is great for relaying information, facts, quotes, etc. but photos are a much more emotional. They not only serve an information need, they serve an emotional and phatic need as well. These facets are often missing in text form, or if they’re there, aren’t nearly as profound or effective.

So now, instead of typing what we’re doing, we’re sharing what we’re doing visually with these apps. Our phatic expressions previously text-based, are being replaced, and in a hurry. The rush to join Instagram and the rest of the photo sharing/taking apps is a direct response to this emotional void that photos fill that text just can’t touch.

For example, I share photos with my girlfriend throughout the day. We snap pictures of what we’re doing, our kids, our workspaces, our shopping carts, our friends, and more. These aren’t award winners and they won’t end up on the mantle; but they’re a powerful way to say “I’m thinking of you. I wish you were here. I love you.” A picture of my son coloring is far more emotionally engaging than a text message that says “we’re coloring,” and that is what makes the photo sharing so appealing to us as users.

But there’s another thing going on here. Because people could MMS well before Instagram came along and they could share on Flickr and BBS’s long before that. And I think the secret ingredient is the filters that come on these apps. Because when you take a photo you’re documenting an event; but when you add a filter to the photo you’re adding a mood and personality to the moment. You’re marking it for posterity. You’re able to add what the camera can’t see. You’re making each picture special. And that last step is what makes sharing so interesting. In some way, you’re able to idealize the moment, and that makes sharing far more interesting for both the sharer and the recipients. It isn’t just cold reality captured by an unforgiving, inhuman lens. Rather, it’s the scene as it appeared in your mind (to some reasonable approximation anyway,) and you’re able, in some small way, to share your life the way you see it.

And people love this. Because it’s their editorial touch on the reality captured by the camera. And it lets them put their voice into the picture. The picture and it’s alterations say as much about the person as anything else they share.

This ability to alter the mundane into something special resonates with users again and again and again. We see this behavior and rapid adoption whenever a company can add an extra layer of meaning on top of an everyday item. For example, it’s not Starbucks coffee, but what the coffee and logo say about the drinker and how it makes that person feel. It’s the design of the Mac and the aluminum casing and what that says about the person holding the laptop.

And now these photos are capturing and conveying that same idea. It’s not the photo necessarily, its presenting the moment the way we choose to represent it, and what that says about us and who we are and the life we choose to lead. The photos are love letters to the people we love and care about and to ourselves. They make the mundane significant and add importance to what we experience, big and small.

Idealizing these moments is what makes these photos the love letters of our time, and what makes these apps so popular.

There are important ramifications for this change in behavior from a business and social media strategy standpoint as well. As more people share and engage around photos brands will have to find a way to participate in this preferred way of sharing content online. The Daily Beast reported that photos and videos get more interaction on Facebook than text updates. Images and videos get more comments and likes than text updates (on average,) which puts them in more Top News streams and in front of the customers they’re trying to reach. How can brands adapt to this? By sharing more photos and video of course – photos with an emotional appeal that resonates with their customer base.

It goes beyond just social sharing though, and has much broader implications for product design and development. How do you let your customers express themselves in a way that resonates with them, that helps them depict an ideal/romanticized version of their world? How do you give customers lightweight ways that they can take the raw product and add their idealized filter to it to make it truly one-of-a-kind, truly theirs? How can you help your customers portray not just their reality, but the reality in their mind’s eye?

Increasingly we are able to share more about our lives via text, photo and video. And increasingly we can craft and present our lives to be displayed perhaps not as they are in the harsh light of objective reality; but in the idealized vision of our own emotional lens. And products, like Path, like Instagram, that give us the ability to capture that state and to share with our loved ones and the world that our life is filled with interest and wonder and love are the ones that will continue to succeed in the social space. They say photos are worth a thousand words. In an age when people proclaim that SMS, Twitter and status updates are killing our language, these photos show that expressing our love to those we connect with and care about is healthier than ever.

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Brands Beware: My Klout Score is a Farce

A lot has been made of Klout scores lately.  (update: good read from on how to fix Klout by Mark Krynsky, a funny Klout rant by Michael Sean Wright) Brands wanting to get positive word of mouth on Twitter are using the score to ID influencers that can help build buzz by sharing their experiences with their audience. Disney, Virgin America and Fox Television are just some of the brands that have tapped Klout as part of getting buzz online. The Palms Casino announced the formation of the “Klout Klub” which will use Klout to determine the type of treatment and upgrades you receive based on the amount of influence measured by the service. But brands need to be careful using Klout, because, most Klout scores are a farce.

Klout only measures the “influence” of the individual on Twitter and Facebook, and doesn’t, by definition, take into consideration the individuals true influence. Not only that, but the algorithms used by Klout to measure influence on those networks seem questionable at best. Klout scores are primarily a vanity metric, and their relevance, is at best, directional. But they definitely don’t tell the whole story, and brands that use them to deal with online influencers can find themselves blowing off people with extreme influence that just don’t calculate on the high end Klout influence score.

The problem is not that Klout is inaccurate. It’s not even that their tagline is misleading, “The Standard of Influence.” They’re a new web service after all, trying to tackle a near-impossible task of ranking every user on the social web as it relates to influence. The problem is the lack of sophistication that brands have when it comes to understanding the complex nature of influence online and connections across these networks. Klout being inaccurate is just like any other stat being inaccurate. It’s fine, until you start making business decisions based on flawed data. A brand who stakes building their reputation on Twitter using Klout as their guide is making a grave error. They’re paying attention to bad data, which can be more dangerous than no data at all.

As brands wade into the social web and look to influence conversations to the positive benefit of their business they must realize that there isn’t a tool or service that can actually do the heavy lifting for them. They need to participate, observe and (wait for it) listen to the conversations that are impacting their business. Only then can they be confident that they are reaching the true influencers that are relevant to their business.

To demonstrate the point, here are 11 people that have loads of online influence, and even tons of influence on Twitter, should they choose to use it, that have lower Klout scores than me. I’ve got a 63 as of the time of this writing. These folks all use Twitter frequently regularly, so the idea that use=influence, while flawed to the core, is even inaccurate in these cases.

On this list we have CEOs, well-known and respected authors and reporters, the founder of the largest social media organization on the planet, and the guy that started this whole social Web thing with The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Doc Searls – Klout 56 | Doc Searls’ blog

Co-Author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, founder of VRM, Fellow at Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, much, much more.

Doc Searls Klout score

Tim Street – Klout 56 | Tim Street’s Site

Tim’s founded one of the most influential online TV series with French Maid TV, and is the leading voice in online video and content creation.

Sarah Lacy – Klout 58 | Sarah Lacy’s blog

The author of two books, with writing and video credits including BusinessWeek, TechCrunch, Yahoo! and more.

Brett Bullington – Klout 46 | Brett Bullington’s LinkedIn profile

Respected investor, including board seats on Digg, Oodle, Next New Networks and more. Investor in Flickr.

Kristie Wells – Klout 56 | Social Media Club

Founder of Social Media Club, the world’s largest organization of social media professionals with more than 200,000 members.

Stephanie Agresta – Klout 49 | Stephanie Agresta’s Blog

EVP of Social Media at Weber Shandwick, and founder of TechSet, the popular event organizer at premiere social media events.

Ryan Holmes – Klout 49 | HootSuite.com

CEO of HootSuite, one of the leading social media dashboards.

Cathy Brooks – Klout 55 | Cathy Brooks’ Twitter Stream

Well-respected thought leader about the impact of the social web on business.

Bryan Elliott – Klout 50 | LinkedOC

Founder of Action Sports Network and LinkedOC networking groups with nearly 10,000 members. Hosts influential thought leaders in the OC with his popular events.

Mark “Rizzn”Hopkins - Klout 56| SiliconANGLE

Editor in Chief at SiliconAngle. Former writer for Mashable.

Laurie Percival - Klout 48 | Lalawag

Founder of Lalawag, influential Los Angeles tech scene blog.

Me

If the Palms or any other brand decided to ignore these people while paying attention to me (or treating them differently than me,) they’d be doing a huge disservice to their business.  It’s up to the strategists that are working with these companies to inform the business owners of the inaccuracy of the data, the value that they can place in it and the work they need to do to ensure that they’re reaching the people that really matter to their business – regardless of the score assigned to them by Klout.

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Becoming a Content Mill is Not a Viable Social Strategy

A revolution is coming, and it won’t be televised. This, according to Michael Malone’s piece in Forbes, which is based on his research for his latest book, “How Companies Win: Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You’re In.” Malone refers to an upcoming industrial revolution that America misses out on:

The biggest structural economic shift, the one Venky has discovered and which is the launching point of the book, is that over the last decade, the global economy has experienced a fundamental and historic shift from centuries during which supply and demand were roughly balanced, to our current situation in which supply significantly outstrips the demand available to absorb it. This is largely the result of the relatively new science of Supply Chain Management, which systematized the process of marshalling resources to bring products and services to market. The implication is that most modern business strategies are now obsolete, as the new competitive battlefield has now shifted from supply to that of finding remaining pools of profitable demand. (emphasis mine)

That alone is enough to provoke a radical change in how businesses are organized and how they behave. It suggests that most companies, including the most successful, no longer have a lock on survival because the ground has suddenly shifted beneath their feet. That, of course, is the recipe for a business revolution.

The article is eye-opening and has me thinking about the day that my son might leave the US to go work in Brazil, because “that’s where the jobs are, Dad.” But it also got me thinking about the here and now and our own information revolution that continues to shake the ground beneath our feet. Take the above quote and apply it to social media marketing, broadly defined as trying to reach consumers across the new publishing tools responsible for this flood of information, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I think the analogy of the global supply chain in producing manufactured goods applies nicely to the information economy as well.

Blog platforms, low-cost hosting, Facebook and Twitter are the Supply Chain Management pieces of the information economy. Before them, brining content to the marketplace was hard and expensive. This barrier to entry made information scarce and valuable. But the technology improved to make the supply of information to the market more efficient, turning information into, in many cases, a commodity. This isn’t news to anyone reading this of course, but it does continue to have broad implications for businesses and brands trying to reach customers on an ever-crowded Web.

And the reason that brands are having trouble is because the market of information continues to evolve rapidly. Companies are still trying to figure out how to contribute content to the marketplace so that they’re found in Google, so that they can drive thought leadership, so that they can be heard. The problem is, the market timing for that is past. The technology has made the creation of content so efficient and cheap that we’re swimming in it. Business models like Demand Media’s and other the other commodity content producers are making the content market more and more crowded and less valuable. And a traditional company can’t keep up and can’t win in that type of battle.

In a over saturated market, putting more supply out there is like pushing on a string. You can do it, just don’t expect anything to happen because of it.

While it’ll always be important as a company to communicate with the market, just creating content is no longer enough. When your social strategy is based on content creation, you’re sure to fail; because consumers aren’t looking for content – they’re looking for content they want.

This is where Malone’s premise provides insight on how to succeed in our new information marketplace. It’s not about adding to supply, it’s about identifying areas of the conversation that still have profitable demand. And that’s why most traditional marketing advice about reaching customers on the social web is dead wrong. It’s not enough to create blog posts, videos and infographics if they don’t address some remaining or untapped demand in the marketplace. And this is where marketers need to do a better job. As a marketer in the social web you have to look at areas where demand still exists, and if you don’t find any you have to test and probe until you find it. Because your company will only win when it finds and leverages that untapped demand.

So how do you find that demand? That’s the tough part, as often the market doesn’t know what it wants until it sees it; and as a brand you have to continue to test and learn to find it. But there are a few constants that always are in demand, in one shape or another. Looking at how your brand can aid people in achieving the following is a way to suss out potential opportunity.

  • Making people’s lives easier
  • Making people happy
  • Making people feel good about themselves
  • Making people successful

Those are the areas of continual demand in our information economy. As a social marketer you should be looking at your programs and determining if what you’re contributing is advancing the above goals of the people you’re trying to reach. If you’re not doing any of the above, it’s likely that you won’t tap the demand that will drive your business success.

The information revolution has brought us the technology that has made delivering content to the marketplace efficient, 140 characters-efficient, but too many of us are still seeking for success in a market which doesn’t have much room for stand outs. Instead of focusing on the tools and technologies we should focus on finding the untapped demand, putting our time and effort into creating the messages and products that will make people’s lives better, easier, happier and more successful. Only then will we find the success in our social marketing programs – viva la revolucion!

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Lexus Hopes for Another Social Media Fiesta

Lexus is the latest car manufacturer to tap influential Twitter users to promote their new line, the Lexus CT.  Car makers took note of the successful, Scotty Monty-led Ford Fiesta Movement campaign and are trying to replicate its success by tapping Twitter celebrities to help spread the word online.

Brands are smart to connect with these online influencers.  Even with the networks small size and their lack of mainstream visibility, these Twitter tastemakers can direct the brand sentiment on a network that thrives on being ‘in the know.’

As social media become a growing force at generating attention, marketers are increasingly turning to the less famous to help them pitch products. Auto makers and ad executives say tapping social-media stars can give a brand more credibility with younger shoppers than hiring high-priced celebrities.

“People trust people like themselves, and when we can tap into these people, it will sound less like Ford tooting its own horn,” says Scott Monty, Ford Motor Co.’s global digital-communications manager.

There are dangers, of course.  Brands have to invest in an ongoing relationship to see real results.  A few test drives and Tweets aren’t enough to sway the long term sentiment of the Twitterverse. An ongoing relationship with a genuine desire to win the hearts of those on the network is how Ford won with it’s Fiesta Movement.  And as more Twitter influencers are tapped as brand spokespeople, how long will it be until the Twittersphere is nothing more than one person shilling for this or that brand?  Dilution of message and results is inevitable.

via Car Makers Recruit Social-Media Savvy for Ad Campaigns – WSJ.com.

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Sandberg is Right: Email is Going Away

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg created quite the stir last week when she said that “email is probably going away,” and the results of this new study seem to suggest that she’s right.  What does this mean for marketers? I think it means that while it’s important to build and grow email databases and have a solid email marketing strategy that the time is now to begin to build other, permission-based marketing assets like Facebook fans, opted-in mobile subscribers, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers.

The online audience and communication channel will continue to fragment – the saavy marketers recognize this and realize that one communication medium won’t be enough – especially when trying to reach the Millenials.

via Study: College students adopt texting, shun e-mail – chicagotribune.com:

A new Ball State University study says text messaging has far eclipsed e-mail and instant messaging as college students’ favored way of staying in touch.

The findings show that 97 percent of students now send and receive text messages, while only about a quarter of them use e-mail or instant messaging.

Here’s Sandberg explaining why email is probably going away:

Read More:

Image via VentureBeat.

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