Twitter’s future.

April 9, 2009

One of the guys I follow on Twitter (sorry forget who) tweeted this article on The Washington Post‘s site re the launch of Twitterpartners.

The service, which launched this week, has 12 ad agency partners already including Unamis and Salesforce and says it is “building a suite of apps, tools and services to help brands, media companies, and celebrities harness the power of the Twitter ecosystem.”

I believe that this is the first, serious, coordinated attempt by existing advertising and media companies to define a structure which uses Twitter as a marketing message delivery vehicle.

The end of the beginning?

I believe that Twitter, and most of the social networking sites haven’t found their stride yet. It’s all well and good having gabillions of users but to generate revenue you have to be able to do something with them. For me that’s always been the fuzzy part of the social networking business model. If you build it, they will come but how do you make money when they do?

So, does the advent of this company mark the end of the beginning of Twitter. Will Twitterpartners model to use Twitter be the step that takes it from noise and chaos and introduces structure which allows it to blossom as a one to may broadcaster?

The beginning of the end?

Or is this the end of Twitter as we know it? Will the imposition of a structred, reproducable response to using Twitter as a marketing channel cause it’s demise?

A double edged sword

People want to communicate, they want to discover and learn. Social networking is a fantastic vehicle for collaboration, learning and making relationships. I don’t think that commercialiasation of the space is a bad thing, in fact I think it should be welcomed and encouraged. I think Twitter needs some more coherency and large organizations using it will help define and foster that coherency.

We don’t need another billboard

Having said that we don’t need another billboard. There are plenty and the the drop in ad placemenets and rates may be indication a saturation point in that particular vehicle.

The penetration of larger organizations, purposefully using Twitter for engaging and building relationships with customers, will only make a great form of communication more useful. However if those larger organizations treat Twitter like another billboard we’ll have to start another one, and keep starting them until the message gets through. We don’t like being talked at, we like talking with you.

The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? I don’t know yet but I’m interested to see how it turns out. How about you?

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Chris Brogan, fast becoming a favorite read on the social media world, posted a thought today that I felt was worth weighing in on.

This is really where it’s at: Twitter isn’t just that site any more, it’s a communications method

Chris’ premise is that the real strength of Twitter is not as a tool but the method of communication it has introduced. For me Twitter has been a tool searching for a purpose for a while now. This is true for most current social media sites but Twitter has shown glimpses of how it could be used. The Hudson River plane crash and coverage of the G20 protesters all showed that Twitter can be used to inform and broadcast as well as converse and publish.

Twitter, the smart pager

As a marketer, Twitter is great for gauging a buzz and researching a topic. It’s great for building a relationship and reading other perspectives. It should be more. It can be more. It seems odd to me that the concept of the pager has been resurrected in Twitter. Twitter could easily install tools which allowed different streams of Tweets to be viewed and organized in one user acct. Each stream could serve a different purpose and allow one to many broadcasting or paging.

So, here’s a few random things that I’d like to see Twitter used for.

  • Bus arrival and wait times
  • Parking space availability
  • Emergency weather alerts
  • Tickets on sale for Elbow gigs

There are many more, I’m already getting cycling commentary and results from Europe. Chattanooga has a vibrant social media network which uses Twitter to broadcast, comment and organize.

Yeah I can find it, but I want it delivered

I realize that all of this information is available on the web already but I have to look for it. The Twitter concept of a one to many broadcaster delivers it to me in one place. It’s beginning, but my gut feeling is that Twitter hasn’t found it’s sweet spot yet. I can’t wait ’til it does.

Build a fanbase.

March 4, 2009

Building a dynamic, involved and effective presence using social networking is a lot like building a fanbase for a band. Fans are engaged, passionate, loyal, quick to adopt and slow to leave. Isn’t that exactly what every business or organisation needs? I’ve been involved with bands for years and the lessons learned from watching bands grow are equally applicable, now, in how social media tools are implementated.

Have a personality – People buy from people not from entities. Develop a personal voice to your message, give someone a reason to interact. I decided that Knetwit should Tweet in the first person “I just sent 3 users $10”, “I just added notes to Physics 101 at Purdue”. I wanted Knetwit to sound like a fellow student.

Interact – When a user asks a question answer it. When they ask for information, provide it.

Communicate – Let people know what you’re doing, when and why. What makes something cool is normally not it’s cleverness, it’s almost always to do with it’s uniqueness. Don’t concentrate on being cool, concentrate on being you.

Be stable and solid – In messaging, vision, and action. Say the same things over and over again. Rinse and repeat.

Start small – Be the biggest fish in the smallest pond you can find. Then find bigger ponds.

I’m not a huge fan of the music of Creed but the strategy they used to grow their fan base is a good case study. Essentially they picked a number of cities where they had some friends and could get a small crowd. They turned up, played a stunning show even if it was to 5 people. Once all the cities had been covered they went back and started the circuit again. This time they played to 30 people, the next time 100, the next 700 and so on.

They became the big fish in a small pond. Building a fanbase is slow and hard work. Social media tools make it easier but it still requires pounding pavement.