A Twitter Tale…From the Riverbank

No too long ago I was talking with Sean, at one of RemainComm’s great clients, about how to manage updates to Twitter. One of the strategies with this particular client revolves around thought leadership marketing. I wanted to share this analogy I used to explain how best to feed the stream with our relevant tweets.*

When thinking about how most use Twitter, consider this; A single tweet floats along the endless Twitter river while the follower sits calmly on the bank (at their desk or on the phone). Imagine if that follower happens to close their eyes for a short nap (works or takes a call). If you’ve posted three tweets in a short period of time, those three tweets floated by as they are blissfully slumbering. Of course, when they wake they can run down the bank (scroll through their feed) and look for what has already gone down stream, but they’re only going to run (scroll) so far. I believe there is a better chance of reaching them if one of those tweets floats by after they wake up (gets back to their feed). Then another floats by when they walk down the bank for home.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. For example, if you’re live tweeting an event or participating in a conversation. On those occasions the follower is sitting on the bank or standing on a bridge for the purpose of watching the river.
Bottom line: Spread out your tweets or use a scheduling function available on many management systems (Hootsuite, etc) to spread out the tweets. You spend the same amount of time posting but you get better results.

*This story inspired by Hammy and Tales of the River Bank

Will “Social Network” Play In Peoria?

The new Facebook movie is time well spent but will the non-geek enjoy it?

Thanks to Columbia Pictures and Social Media Breakfast MSP, I was able to check out an advance screening of the soon to be released “The Social Network”. The movie is based on the 2009 book “Accidental Billionaires”, the story of the rise of Facebook and it’s founder Mark Zuckerburg. (Leave it to a movie about a social network to get me blogging again after a long absence.)

What lured me to this movie, beyond of course my ongoing interest in Social Media, was the writing and cast. I’m a fan of Aaron Sorkin, known by most as the writer for TV’s “The West Wing”, and I was anxious to see this latest offering. I was also interested in the young cast, many of whom you may have never seen or known you’ve seen. I was particularly interested in seeing Justin Timberlake. From N’Sync to SNL and everything in between, this cat has proven himself to be very talented.

Since many in the audience secured seats through SMBMSP, this was a group of social media enthusiasts and expectations were high. We in this space tend to share everything that we do while we do it via Twitter and photo sharing. Since this was an advanced screening where the studio didn’t want anything to get out, we were asked to surrender our mobile phones. So the entertainment began early as many in the theater showed visible signs of social media withdrawal. Heck, many couldn’t even tell the time with out it. (One word: wristwatch.)

The Review

Both cast and writing did not disappoint. Jesse Eisenberg brought a real complexity to Zuckerburg. Between his handling of Zuckerburg’s anti-hero persona and the need to convey his almost autistic like behavior, he managed to portray a passionate asshole. Someone you can’t help but like and despise at the same time.

Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin provided a great counterpoint to Eisenberg’s Zuckerburg as a ‘brilliant in his own right’ room-mate that provided the root of what Facebook becomes. He is lovable and naive as one of the many jilted participants in the founder’s rise to brilliance.

I’m also happy to say that Timberlake impressed as the founder of Napster. He is the one who hypnotizes Zuckerburg with his confidence, arrogance, and vision of what the Silicon Valley lifestyle could be; an endless whirlwind of coding, drugs, coding, booze, coding, and babes. Oh yeah..and money.

“The internet’s not written in pencil Mark, it’s written in ink.”

I think you’ll also dig the performances of: Armie Hammer in his dual role as the Winklevos twins and Rooney Mara as the girl who pushes Zuckerburg to spend the night coding his revenge for her dumping of him over beers. Those parents of young kids will be happy to see Disney Channel star Brenda Song make the leap to the big screen as Facebook “groupie”. An though the plot twist is somewhat unnecessary, she becomes less than wholesome as she proves to be a bit whacked as Eduardo’s girlfriend.

Sorkin’s writing shines as his face-paced, sarcastic, and caustic wit works well in the telling of a story that is itself all of those things. He provides great lines for Zuckerburg that are funny and sad and cutting…all at the same time. He also brings out the telling traits of the Winklevoss twins as they establish themselves as a coders nemesis; the “suits” that are the business of the web. Oh…the music from Trent Reznor also seriously does not suck.

Hello Peoria

Speaking of that business of the internet…My question is, as the saying goes, “Will it play in Peoria?” The audience, with whom I shared the theater, were of the business or at the very least a participant in it, clearly enjoyed the film. I’m sure most would give it thumbs up, 5 stars, 5 tweets, or whatever. Will the average person enjoy it? Is Joe six-pack interested in the rapid rise of Harvard internet geek with a hoodie obsession to billionaire with access to an infinite number of bytes of information…with a hoodie obsession?

Obviously, time will tell once the movie is released October 1st. I find it difficult to detach myself from my own workings within the space. Being part of media makes it difficult to not critique it. (I    still turn up the radio when the music stops.) But, if you are into some fast-paced writing, clever dialogue, good character development and a dash of Animal House this is a movie for you.

Of course, if you are a fan of the lure of Silicon Valley millions, all night computer coding, actually believe that “the babes” love a successful geek, or are even a rabid Facebooker and tweeter, with a taste for Animal House, this is also for you…whether you live in Peoria or not.

Catching Up With Chris

On his recent visit to the Twin Cities I grabbed lunch with Chris Brogan. Chris, President of New Marketing Labs and a Social Media Rock star, enjoyed a Juicy Lucy and brought me up to date with his latest adventures.

There are a growing list of Social Media Experts out there, but Chris is the real deal when it comes to listening, learning, and doing. He also goes further than most in sharing and teaching and he remains very accessible and approachable.

Chris, thanks for clogging my arteries and filling my brain.

What Do You Expect From a Name Badge?

No matter what you or I do for a living there is always a convention, summit, conference, or workshop… or better yet…a heap of them, that will “better equip us” to do our job. Such is the case in my media, marketing and communication world. My question to you is: When you check in at the event registration, are they handing you a name badge that will get you access to what you expect or even want?

On my mind is a recent event inside the always buzzy world of Social Media here in the Twin Cities…but it could be any industry focused event.

Following an event to kick off a Reputations program featuring Social Media rock star Chris Brogan I noted a few comments in the social media stream (Twitter and Youtube) expressing a level of frustration with the event. No, I did not attend the event…though I know many who did.

The nature of the comments revolved around hearing the same message and seeing the same people at every event.

A blog post noted “the local social media faithful arrived to hear from one of its titans”, “social media is having a hard time growing up” and “There were few if any major company executives in the room yesterday. This is the non-existent elephant in the room.” The point being that there were plenty of people who believe and “get” the social media opportunities in attendance, but few if any who need to “get” it.

I also came across a video posted on YouTube a notes seeing “a lot of the same faces”, “I knew 50-60% of the people here already” as well as “it’s the same group of people getting recycled information.”

I’ve heard this from others too. Heck, I even noted an “echo chamber” existing here myself some months back.

Whether an echo chamber exists or not, my question is: What are you expecting when you go to an event? If someone wants to evangelize social media to non-social media actives, events like this one may not necessarily be the place to do it. The term “preaching to the choir” comes to mind.

If you’re in the social media biz, you know Chris Brogan. In this case, I’m sure the event delivered what was billed: “gather leaders and experts on the topic of building, managing and protecting reputations.” and “to bring local and national thought leaders together to discuss the intangibles around reputation.” Perhaps they fell short on delivering enough of those “business owners and key decision-makers in Minnesota-based companies” event organizers hoped “to inform, educate and inspire”. But don’t complain about the message.

I’m sure information about social media, social media marketing, case studies and everything else associated with it was delivered by a successful, likable, and sincere authority with the added cache of people knowing who he is.

Perhaps, Social Media “faithful”, you were in the wrong place! The many events that continue to deliver this social media message are doing just that, many quite well. You could approach it like Robyn pointed out in her comments on the YouTube video, “I still learn alot from my peers here, and almost always walk away having gained some value or new contact.” or not…but don’t expect these events to whip potential clients into a frenzy so you can swoop in at the post event cocktail party and sell them your or your company’s services. I’m pretty sure it’s more work than that.

If it’s your expectation is to spread the word to those that haven’t heard it, don’t go to an event that has people like you. Hunt where the ducks are and concentrate on choosing events that deliver who you want to reach. Or if you go to an event that appeals to you, maybe bring your own ducks! In this case how about taking those potential clients to the event.

In any business, profession or practice, there is plenty of opportunity to hear the same message again and again. Your choices will always be listen, don’t listen, or say something new!

Take a look at the next event. Why are you going? Will you hear something new? Can you add something new? Does it have a chance to meet your expectations?

You are only operating in an echo chamber if you choose to enter it.

Dave Does Digital: A Morning Show and Social Media

How a Twin Cities morning mainstay, The Dave Ryan Show, is using social media.

I admit it, I listen to commercial radio quite a bit…yes, even Top 40. I know this is hard for many to admit. There is this pressure that if you don’t listen to NPR all the time you’re some how less of a person. I have my public radio favorites and still love to dig for new and more independent music, but I like hearing the “hits”. It’s the way I was brought up. Whether they be current or more from my formative years, I listen to rock, alternative, country and pop stations and the “hit” music they play. Besides, with a pre-teen and teen in the house and car it’s pretty much a given that I’ll be hearing my fair share of Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.

It’s for that reason that I noted and was impressed with how one of Minneapolis’ local shows was using interactive and social media tools. What was also impressive was how they were integrating it into their on-air presentation. They often noted that more and sometimes exclusive content could be had online…a practice all too often avoided by stations and personalities.

As I have commented here on RemainComm, commercial radio as a whole has  been slow in adopting and investing in the new forms of media that allow the growth of relationships with their listeners. OK, some just plain suck at it. KDWB’s Dave Ryan Show is an exception. Dave and his cast have done some interesting things and I had a chance to chat with him about his interactive pursuits. [Read more…]

Here’s a Suprise…New Year Predictions!


It’s not really a surprise, but it is always fun to start off a new year looking into the crystal ball. I’m gearing up for the annual “prognostication podcast” with my colleagues at Minnov8 this Saturday and I thought I’d just share five that I’m offering.

Mobile, baby, mobile…laptop sales will remain high and though small screen netbook sales will hold steady in the short -term, they will begin to decline as the adoption of mobile platforms like Android proliferate. The mobile industry will see growth and opportunity in devising new ways of charging for services that are internet data driven not voice driven. Mobile providers may very well wake up and make it easier to switch devices, though I’m not sure how they will be able to address the subsidizing of handsets without a “minimum contract period”. The bottom line is that portable is where it’s at and consumers will be more open to accepting the screen size of a mobile device rather than purchasing a small netbook.

Twitter use by the masses will decline…though much of it wasn’t there to begin with. The amount of activity on accounts that aren’t associated with, and used by social media enthusiasts, online professionals, and junkies will fall even more dramatically as other services like Facebook, and mobile applications offer similar advantages. This is not to say that Twitter is over. It isn’t. Twitters core users, audience, and niche will become more defined. Twitter as an aggregation and sharing tool will continue to grow…perhaps endangering the future of services such as Digg and Delicious.

Marketers will (hopefully) begin to understand the difference between selling via social media and communicating with customers…Okay, maybe that won’t kick in completely in 2010 (in general, marketers tend to be bit slow in understanding intangibles), but we will see progress.  In addition, the future of more and more services (Foursquare, GoWalla, etc) is based on the need to deliver real value…not just ads…quickly to users. It’s too easy to drop a service, block an application, or ignore a campaign for marketers not to understand value to consumer. (Note: The heavy use of GPS and revealing one’s current location to the world will give mainstream users the heebie jeebies and hamper some adoption of this part of the service.) One more thing on this topic…Social Media and Social Media Marketing/Advertising are not the same thing. Ads are less effective than content that provides value. Those that provide value also gain trust and that confidence, both of which can be monetized if done effectively. [Read more…]

Using “Unfriend” In a Sentence

The fine folks at the New Oxford American Dictionary, known world-wide a ‘Lord of the Word’, announced their 2009 Word of the Year. Ladies and gentlemen, the word of the year is…

unfriend, (un-friend), verb: To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

Yes, thanks to the internet and the rise of social networking, the language of online introduces another word into the mainstream. With any new word I hearken back to grade school and the days of the teacher saying, “Use it in a sentence.” The word unfriend can be used in many ways…

Oxford’s example: “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

Matter of fact: “I unfriended the guy.”

Threatening: “Keep up the spam buddy and I’ll unfriend you.”

Showing concern for one’s feelings: “I hate to unfriend her. Can I do it without her knowing?”

Longingly: “Wow, I wish I could have unfriended this guy in high school.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to add the “un” to other words?

Healing: “I just unstubbed my toe.”

Wishful thinking: “Hey boss, would you please unfire me?

Realistic: “I need to unwaste some time on Facebook.”

Do you have some you’d like to add?

FTC Guidelines or Not…Check Your Ethics.

Whether you know it or not, much is being made of the updated FTC Guidelines governing endorsements and testimonial in the world of blogging and may other areas of social media. These FTC Guidelines as well as FCC rules and regulations stipulating the disclosure of “material consideration” involved have long been a part of everyday business in radio and TV. So it’s nothing new to me.

As you might expect, many that use the openness of the internet to freely express themselves fear any type of regulation. I would never fault anyone who seeks to be vigilant when it comes to any kind of control of one’s freedoms. However, I do scratch my head when some bloggers and social media types complain that something needs to be done about the many abuses of that openness, like pop-up advertising and spam, yet scream when they are asked to clearly disclose any compensation they may get for their opinions.

No matter where you fall on these guidelines, it’s really quite simple…be honest and be open. Then you won’t need worry about any of it.

With that in mind I thought I’d share this little excerpt from the BlogWell event I attended at General Mills not that long ago. Presented by the folks at GasPedal, the day long event showcased some interesting social media endeavors. It also gave Andy Sernovitz a chance to talk about ethics in the on line and interactive space.

My apologies for the audio quality. You’ll need to listen carefully, but I think it’s worth it.

Another Social Media Reality Check

Last year about this time I was preparing to lead a discussion at the newly founded UnSummit in Minneapolis. To inspire conversation about the realities of social media and it’s use I decided to send a brief survey to my social community. No, not the social media “crowd” I run with as part of RemainComm and other projects in which I’m involved. I mean my social circle. Those “real” people that live their lives much more off-line than on.

As the UnSummit became a year old and another event took shape this year, it seemed to make sense to revisit the topic. 2009, thanks to media coverage, saw the meteoric rise of Twitter and the domination of Facebook it seemed like a good idea to see if the everyday Joe had changed their habits. So, with a few modifications, I dutifully sent off the survey to the same group of friends, neighbors and acquaintances. I got darn near the same number of respondents (26 vs 27 last year) from which to crunch and analyze data. As I said last year. I’m sure my researcher friends could poke all sorts of holes in the methodology. The data should not to be construed as scientific. It isn’t meant to be. It is simply a vehicle to use to fuel discussion and I thought you might find it interesting. I’ll touch on some highlights here, but you can also download a PDF.

As I said, the age of my respondents was almost identical as last year with nearly 90% falling between 35 and 54 years old. Yep, still my peeps. There was also slight difference in computer access with a home some home computers being replaced by a laptop form year to year.

A more meaty graph shows the awareness and use of the many social media tools out there.

Note from year to year the increase in use of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Also note that while Twitter increases in awareness, it’s still not widely used. Of course, it had zero use last year, so it is making in-roads. I think we can chalk that one up to Oprah. Overall, these folks are starting to get involved but are not really enamored with the less literally social functions like bookmarking.

This year I decide to abandon the blog use analysis in favor of the mobile space. That is more a reflection of the audience I was sharing it with at UnSummit than any other reason.

I started with finding out what considerations people took into account when buying a mobile device. As an aside, I approached this question with the educated assumption that real people call them cell phones and are less hip to terms like Smartphone or hansdset. (See, not scientific) If it fits in my pocket and makes calls, it’s a cellphone. Text messaging, web access, email, etc. are features of that cellphone.

On a scale of one to five here is what was most important when it comes to buying cell phone.

Like me, you probably noticed that it’s all about the price and provider. In our discussion we came to the conclusion that “provider’ most likely implied coverage area. (Again, that non-scentific part.) You’ll also see that apps are not a deciding factor and video is the least of their concerns.

You can also see that this group is concerned about text messaging and that is confirmed in the amount of texting they do now. Those that send 20-50 texts a week more than doubled from year to year.

Finally, I was curious to see if my respondents knew their phone very well..like what kind it is. As an aside, less than a third knew the exact model of their phone.

You can see that though it seems like all you hear about is that the iPhone is sweeping the nation, ot everyone has popped for one.

So, as I said last year, it’s vital to remember that while you may be an adopter of social media and are watching episodes of Glee on your mobile device, most are texting on their cell phones.


Social Media: Keepin’ it Real

Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded that our busy lives are influenced by…what’s the word I’m looking for…buzz, spin, hype, BS? It’s no different for those of us who work in media and marketing. Even I, who considers himself ‘a voice of reason’, get intrigued by the latest new and shiny theory, service, or technology that comes down the pike…and believe me there is a heap of ‘new’ that takes up every lane of that pike on a daily basis.

At a recent Social Media Breakfast there was great discussion highlighting many theories on managing and marketing within social media, both business to business and business to consumer. The room was filled with comments and thoughts about what this new medium is all about, how companies felt about it, the tools that we can use to participate in and monitor it, and more.

Don’t get me wrong, we need do explore “what could be”. We need to talk in big picture terms, we must look forward. We also need to get giddy about new toys that, from a perch at a coffee shop with free wifi, allow us to reach our audience. (We all have audiences whether they be customers, followers, viewers, etc.)

What this conversation sparked in me was a need to remind myself, and perhaps others that work in marketing and PR, that our job is not necessarily to set the trends, make things popular, make the service a priority…that’s what our audience does. Our job is to follow their lead, not the other way around. If we are truly marketing to, building relationships with, or communicating in general with our audience we must do it on their terms.

With that said, marketers, I thought I’d list some of what I think are  realities. Here goes…

Social Media is two different things.

Social=relations, interactions, and communication between people.
Media=the channel to carry a message…nothing more. (By the way, that’s true of all media. It’s a pipe.)

People don’t like advertising.

Hard to believe I know, but people are not attracted to media because it offers businesses the opportunity to sell something to them. People know that being exposed to an ad is the price of admission for free media. Yes, they expect advertising, they tolerate it, but they would rather live without it and will avoid it. Witness the rise of Tivo and DVR.

Social Media is not “Advertising” Media.

The rise of Facebook, Youtube, even text messaging was precipitated by people wanting to communicate with other people. Not because they needed one more place to be sold something. If we as marketers treat this medium as just another way to shill, we’re going to screw it up and drive the audience farther away. Don’t try to advertise here…be social!

You audience has precious little spare time.

How dare we think that all our audience has to do is sit around and
type, search, click, and download only to be “sold to”. Answer the
question, “What’s in it for me.”

Only Facebook and text messaging matter…right now.

It’s that “They set the trend and decide what’s popular.” thing. Yep, Twitter is growing, YouTube is huge, blogging is great, but right now, the crowd is on Facebook to socialize electronically and are more than satisfied with text messaging as a way to stay in touch. These two are the lake…hunt where the ducks are!

Portable is vital!

Notice I didn’t say mobile. That would imply, it needs to be a
phone. I don’t think it does, though if you’re looking to deliver a
message to somebody, it makes a whole lot of sense to deliver it to them via something
that already have. But, if they can wear it, carry it easily, put it in their pocket…take it with them…you’ll get
their interest.

They can talk back!

If you can’t spend time listening and responding, stay the hell away from social media. This medium is about engaging in a conversation and a relationship. Make sure you’re ready to commit to that. No one likes to be invited to a party at your house to be ignored.

Some companies/brands/people don’t want to participate.

Conversation can lead to a greater depth of knowledge about all the participants. Some companies love the thought of learning more about their customers but have absolutely no interest in letting them know more about them. In fact, some people see absolutely no reason to share their “status” or share a video clip. That’s just fine. Please do your best to help them learn about this medium. But remember, the ones that “get it” can always better at it.

There are no rules.

Perhaps the reason many mediums are struggling is because someone at some point decided that “This is how you do it!” They made the rules, decided the proper etiquette, wrote the book and became the expert. Playing it safe and playing by the rules became the strategy of choice. I love the guys that say, this is what you can and can’t do with Twitter or should or shouldn’t post on Facebook. It’s a brand new medium, let’s wait awhile before we try to make it predictable. Find what works but also spend time finding out “what else” works.

So there are some realities that I see. There are plenty more. Aren’t there? What can you offer that will help all of us “keep it real?”


Did You Know…

…that 40 million people have been rick-rolled? Or that ABC, NBC and CBS combined (businesses that collectively have been
around for 200 years) receive 10 million viewers per month while Myspace,
Facebook and YouTube (none of which were around six years ago) reach 250 million monthly unique vistors?

No really, it’s true…as noted in the latest “Did you know?” video. This one was developed for the Economist and their upcoming Media Convergence Conference. (The original “Shift Happens” video, also developed by Karl Fisch and modified by Scott McLeod, went viral back in 2007. There have been few iterations since then.)

The Rise of Interruption. Marketing?

It’s been quite a week for those that seek to get attention by interrupting hasn’t it?

Of course, last week it was the clear break with decorum and most likely Congressional rules when Representative Joe Wilson (no relation…phew!) saw fit to interrupt the President during a speech to Congress. His “You lie!” is still echoing in Washington and across all types of media.

More recently, a well marinated Kanye West decided that Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s was a good time to profess his love for Beyonce’s latest video and proceeded to take the stage and the mic. This alone tested Twitter’s limits.

Both participants in these rude interruptions have addressed their behavior in varying ways. Wilson apologized to the President, but as of this writing, not to Congress. He has used it as a rallying cry for his stand on health care and seems to be quite comfortable being interviewed about it, though he admits that it was not the right way to act.

Kanye on the other hand, after being escorted from the MTV awards show, first posted a rambling and confusing blog post of an apology. He then took the opportunity to be even more apologetic and sincere during The Jay Leno Show premiere. (Jay stepped up with a great question about how Kanye’s late mother would have felt about it. Let’s talk dramatic pause.)

The reaction of the masses has varied for each incident. Joe Wilson, as well as his 2010 political opponent have seen huge increases in fund-raising. On the other hand Kanye has seen a huge backlash from fans and non-fans alike and I’m sure recognizes the potential harm to his career and sales.

But is this indicative of what it takes to cut through the clutter of so many messages and the 24/7, always on, always connected environment we find ourselves in? For better or worse, this exemplifies the phrase “Any publicity is good publicity.” So, if we are constantly being exposed to “messages” then perhaps we will see a rise in thought out tactical use of the “interruption” and a redefinition of interruption marketing. This form of marketing that really is an interruption unlike say, commercials that are now expected and pop-ups that are commonplace. If so, then beware the backlash.

What about the buzz? Yes, we are talking about these interruptions so they are creating buzz. But at the same time, in varying degrees, they are taking a toll. That toll is being exacted in many ways. Beyond the concept of “That’s not the way we do things in a civil society.”, which does have incredible validity, marketers run the risk of biting the hand that feeds them should interruption be the marketing of tactic of the day.

Now that social media is prevalent and the ability to share your feelings, especially negative ones, is so easy, the window of mea culpa is incredibly small. Time does not allow for the repair of a bad tactic. In the past the practice of airing too many commercials may have caused some problems for listeners but the ability to complain to friends about it was much more contained. Now, one ‘tweet’ will reach thousands…if not hundreds of thousands in mere seconds.

Interruption can get people talking about you…but it can also get them talking badly about you.