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

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…]

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.

Social Media Takes a Little Break

This morning both Twitter and Facebook experienced some trouble. Let’s just say, in layman’s terms, they were all hosed up. (I’d be even more “layman”, but this is a family friendly blog…kinda.) The problems were somewhat complex, and possibly not coincidental. Clearly the Twitter “crash” was much more substantive keeping the service down for some two hours.

While it was going on, I could imagine all of those Twitter and Facebook junkies wanting to tell somebody that Facebook and Twitter are down…but couldn’t…because Twitter and Facebook were down. You get the idea. I also started thinking, maybe this is chance for some extreme social media users to actually go outside and add some color to their pasty white complexion. (I know, a bit of a stereotype…but do use the SPF 35.)

I decided since there was a bit of a social media black out I’d actually call and talk with some of those that I follow on Twitter and ask “What are you doing?” Needless to say I caught a few folks by surprise and I couldn’t reach some. Which hopefully means they were busy doing other things and not curled up in a the fetal position babbling in short 140 character phrases.

Those I did talk with?

Steve Borsch (@sborsch)-Steve was actually hard at work tinkering away on WordPress and overseeing the plumber who was part of the crew finishing his basement. He did comment that he had received an email from a colleague that “Twitter is down!” At least email is somewhat handy as a Twitter substitute. Imagine if the US Postal Service was the only fallback. Two days later: Dear Steve, Twitter is down.


Tom Webster (@webby2001)-Tom did a vocal double take when I was just calling to ask what he was up to. After shouting to the room something like, “Twitter is down and Phil Wilson is calling instead.” he informed me that he was writing and listening to a bass/drum thing from a UK record label that he found help him to write.


Meg Canada (@megcanada)– Meg was at work at the Hennipen County Library. She sarcastically noted that she was “a bit shaky” without Twitter. She was one her way to grab some coffee before attending a meeting with the Web Services staff. The reason for the meeting to establish the time line for a new website for the Library. There you go…a little sneak preview.


Graeme Thickins (@graemethickins)-Graeme, my fellow Minnov8’er, was knee deep in a post for Minnov8 about Fanchatter. If you know Graeme you know he is not a man of few words. In a very untwitter-like manner, I got to enjoy a lengthy conversation about all sorts of topics including Facebook’s Twitter-like struggles on this day.

Talking instead of tweeting with these folks was great. Though many were surprised by the question “What are you doing?”, the very same that Twitter was built on, they were more than happy to chat. I can guarantee you that it was much better than a 140 character tweet.

That being said, I also was reminded of why I like Twitter to connect with these friends and colleagues. I get to virtually pick their brains more than once a day and from more of them. I often talk about the time social media can take from you if you let it. Imagine trying benefit from the knowledge of even this small group via phone or in-person meeting everyday. You’d never get anything done.

Let me make this suggestion. A few times a week, call some of your Tweeps (people you follow on Twitter) and talk with them. It will lead you to some great conversations…maybe with people you’ve never talked to before. The result will be a larger appreciation of all that they share with you via Twitter…which is back up and running, by the way.

Twitter Before the Internet…Honest!

This early version of Twitter…or the Notificator, as it was known then…proves that there have always been great ideas. They may just need to wait for the right medium…to be invented.


This glimpse of Twitter in 1935, really a precursor to Social Media in general, comes to us via Boing Boing.

Hear It From a Judge

Best Buy CMO, Barry Judge shares his thoughts on the importance of listening in this video. Pay special attention to his comments on how marketing through this medium is different from the more “simple” traditional media. “You don’t get to tell customers what they get to think anymore.”

On the Trail of Twitter’s Tipping Point

Elmer Fudd would say, “Be vewwy-vewwy quiet…I’m hunting Twitter’s tipping point.”   and as 2009 dawns I’m thinking the same thing. What is…was…Twitter’s tipping point?

In this case the “tipping point” I’m speaking of is that made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name. Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term: “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”

Tipping points are tricky things to identify. Twitter has been all the buzz in the social media and geek circles since it’s debut, becoming so popular in such circles that it couldn’t keep up with itself. This perpetuated the continuous shouts from the online crow’s nest of “Avast you lubbers, fail whale dead ahead!” and the growth of alternative services like Plurk, identi.ca and the recently shuttered Pownce. The mere fact that the service was able to overcome, or at the very least minimize, these technical issues and continue to grow could be labeled as the tipping point.

There’s the tipping point highlighted by it’s increase in users in April of 08 noted by Nick O’Neill on his Social Times blog….though this is most likely just a result of a pyramid effect caused by the continued adoption by social media and the related industries.

In October of 08 Claudine Beaumont discussed the “celebrity” tipping point of Twitter. That discussion centered around the concept that celebrities were now establishing Twitter accounts. As she points out, when Britney Spears, William Shatner and John Cleese (Claudine writes for the Telegraph in the UK) start tweeting then their legion of fans can’t be far behind. This is likely more the publicists of celebrities posting for them but still…

Barrack Obama brought attention to the service, along with many social media platforms, with his aggressive use of the medium in his campaign. This was also fueled by the related coverage of that campaign on every news outlet and led to the adoption of Twitter by some of those news outlets. Was this the tipping point?

Or did the point come as recently as this week as a rash of “phishing” scams hit Twitter like a ton of bricks. Clearly, though some signal this as the end of the service, when a service is worthy of being targeted and hacked by the “black hats” of marketing, it means you have a very big audience and you’re doing something right. (Besides, this might be the only way I ever get an iPhone…What?)

Perhaps we can say that Twitter will have reached it’s tipping point when they roll out the monetization plans. Or will it be when they make money? I have no doubt we will see soon because Twitter must make money.

As I mentioned earlier, some have doubts about the long-term future of Twitter. I don’t. Many have heralded the imminent demise of the service, on many occasions. The fact is that they have continued to grow even in light of the problems and the highlighting of those problems by the influencers of the social media space. (Strangely, those same people that were early adopters of the service.) They were the first in and have already outlived some competitors that they spawned. Plus, according to Hubspot’s State of the Twittersphere, they have 4-5 million users and 5-10 thousand accounts are opened per day. That’s a 600% increase in traffic over the past 12 months. Numbers like that don’t just evaporate.

Yet, they still aren’t Facebook…so I continue to hunt.

Has Twitter’s “tipping point” already been reached? Is there only one? Is this the year that we’ll see it? I invite you to join me in this hunting expedition. Have you found it? Where should we look? What do we do with it once we find it? Let me know your thoughts. I look forward to your comments.

I Won! I Won!

You know it’s gonna be a good week when you start your day with a win. No, I’m not talking about my fantasy football league. I’m talking about winning something much more useful…

Find more videos like this on Social Media Breakfast – Twin Cities

Julio’s book, Twitter Means Business, is a must for those wishing to look at Twitter’s growth and potential as a business tool. Grab it here, or here…it would make a great stocking stuffer! Look for more from Julio here soon!Thanks Julio…and Julio’s son…I’m honored that you included me in this project. Be sure and use the proceeds of the book to send that young man to college!



Watching Social Media for the Crashes?

I caught the recent story in the New York Times about Twitter feed, The Media is Dying. This is a feed that is dedicated to charting the employment status of PR industry professionals. According to the story the site was started to monitor “hirings and firings”. Be honest, like watching racing for the crashes, it’s about the firings…and there are plenty of them right now.

I can’t help but think this sort of use of social media is a bad idea. You might say “Phil, lighten up.”, noting that it’s no worse than the many gallows sites out there right now. Sites like stiffs.com, youbettheirlife.com and a host of others. And believe me, as the creator of ComicTwit, I have shared more than a few bits if humor that qualify in this camp.

This is different. To me it’s a bit more disconcerting. Aside from our morbid habit of seeking a bit of entertainment out of the suffering of others, no matter how unemployed, old, or dead, this one highlights and consciously or unconsciously, celebrates the struggle of an entire industry.

The media landscape is certainly changing, but I question if it is wise to act as vultures circling the victims of that change? As a radio broadcaster (The talk or radio dying began over half a century ago.) I can tell you that has a lasting impact on the medium and its players.

As one who is grateful to be part of Social Media, an incredibly young industry, I don’t want to be seen as dancing on any industry’s grave. I’d rather look for the opportunity to show what this new media can do to help traditional media and the people that are dealing with its rapidly changing landscape every day.

Social Media Reality Check

I’ve become more and more enamored with the concept of “social” media and the natural extension of it…social marketing. As I speak to groups, approach the subject with potential clients, or discuss it with colleagues in the social media world, I have to keep reminding myself to be aware of who actually uses this relatively new medium. Please note that the “media” of social media is the new part. The “social” has been around a whole lot longer!

To give myself a social media reality check, and to give me some fuel for a presentation and discussion at a recent UnSummit, I decided to ask my community about their use, or even awareness of social media. In this case, “my community” is made up of the people in my neighborhood, my social circles, and those I see regularly through my kid’s activities; the soccer and baseball parents I see…often.

Being the research geek that I can be at times I decided to put together an online survey of 10 questions, which I then sent out to about 50 people. I received some 30 odd responses to serve as the basis for my reality check. Okay, this is far from scientific. It’s a brief overview with very little screening involved. Anybody who got the e-mail could respond regardless of age, social standing, or tech savvy. You can download a one sheet of the results here if you’d like but remember, these tables are a basis for discussion. Let’s take a look…

First and foremost, the group is predominantly 35 years old and over…ahhh, my peeps, but also a good representation of your average Joe Six-pack.

[Read more…]

What ya been doin’?…The Debut of ComicTwit

So, I’ve been somewhat remiss in posting. Here’s what happened. (This is the part where the screen gets wavy indicating a flashback.)…This Twitter thing is cool…interesting thoughts, some cool links, some witty stuff… Wait a minute… Comedy+wit+Twitter. How about ComicTwit.”

There it is…in a nutshell, I decided to create and launch a new Twitter application called ComicTwit. Though more of a music/radio/media guy, being focused here on RemainComm and Localtone Systems, I really thought this would be fun to release into the ether.

Twitter is a fast growing service and I think, with it’s current focus
on addressing issues of scale, will emerge as the leader in the
micro-blogging world. and though there are plenty of joke sites out there…believe me I get to see allot of them now that I’m facing the need to “seed” ComicTwit, I’d like it to be a bit more than that. What my real goal is to encourage the Twitterverse, a group that is already adept at condensing their thoughts into 140 characters, to create or interpret jokes, anecdotes, and one-liners to help amuse those that follow along. It’s really that simple. Why not have a little levity pop up on your Twitter stream about every one to two hours. Hopefully, that will always leave followers wanting more…one of the cardinal rules of comedy, ya know.

check it out. I challenge you to come up comedy in just 140 characters. Sure, One-liners are easy but jokes are another story, one that has to be told in very few words. Though it doesn’t have to be original, fresh comedy is great so why not try out your new stuff before your next appearance on Conan…or at lunch with your peeps or staff meeting. If not, just make us laugh. It couldn’t hurt and frankly it may be more fun than some of the other ‘Tweets’ or another link to being ‘Rickrolled‘.

In the meantime, I’ll be back at posting here more often. Next, some tools for organizing your online world.