17 posts categorized "Twitter"

05/08/2009 Social Media Makes One-Way Media Two-Way

That’s a quote of mine from a show on Vermont Public Radio this week. Jane Lindholm’s Vermont Edition talked about Twitter for about half an hour on Tuesday with a variety of people.  I haven’t done live radio in a while but the best part about it was that we were able to use what we talked about, Twitter, to make our broadcast interactive.

One of the points I made about why Twitter and social media are so exciting is that they have the potential to turn one-way, broadcast media two way. Whether its SMS, augmented reality or Twitter connected to outdoor, TV or radio, we have a number of tools to engage people with, well, everything.

So when we talked, we followed the #vpr hash tag and people piped in on what they thought was important. We talked about why we used Twitter and how we thought it helped us. And while we talked:

@jacksonlatka tweeted: a great example of Twitter to stop smoking http://qwitter.tobaccofreeflorida.com/english/instructions/

@sonnycloward tweeted: I’ve actually gotten jobs from his Twitter activities.

@wsenville tweeted: I’ve used Twitter to "attend" two recent conferences; great to get highlights of sessions & can order CDs of best sessions later,

@tombedell Tweeted: For journalists, it's sure a quick way to get research started--do a search, throw out a question, and it's off to the races.

@onthejump wanted to know the optimum number of followers.

While @taylordobbs wanted to know where we thought Twitter’s business was going.

And @vt2000 thanked us for getting her into Twitter (she thinks).

We talked and checked in on TweetDeck and talked some more. While there were only three of us in the studio, and some others who called in, it felt like a much larger discussion, thanks to the social media tool itself, Twitter.

That’s the real power of all this social stuff we’re talking about and it was amazing to be in the middle of it. People on the other side, listening and tweeting, got a kick out of hearing us mention their names from the tweets.

Start thinking about all the ways you can turn your one-way marketing into discussions with these tools. People remember it long after the event or ad itself. Thanks VPR, for a great conversation!

03/12/2009 Two Twitter Visualization Tools

There’s a great scene in the Peter Sellers movie “Being There” where Shirley McLaine’s character tries to seduce Mr. Chance. His response is “I like to watch, Eve.” She thinks he wants to watch her go solo. He means, “watch TV.”

I felt a little bit like Chance when reviewing two very good Twitter visualization tools. Both let you see what’s going on in Twitter in very interesting ways, albeit from a safe distance.

Twistori is a Web site that displays Twitter Tweets based on emotional category. A take off of the site “We Feel Fine” Twistori shows a rolling cast of Tweets using certain keywords like Love, Hate, Feel and Wish. What’s even better, Twistori has screensaver to download if you have a Mac.

I have to admit, it’s a little seductive to just sit back and watch, read and enjoy. One thing Twistori does not do is associate any Tweet with a specific or time spent. The tweets feel almost too anonymous.


Twittervision also lets you watch. The site shows Tweets on a world map as it moves around the globe. You get both picture thumbnails, Tweet, time sent and location. It’s very amusing and almost exciting trying to guess where the next Tweet will land. Unlike Twistori, the Tweets have no contextual relevance I could find, they seem to come up randomly in different places.

This does feel like watching TV. Both of these visualization tools want to make you go on Twitter and see if you can get your Tweet to show up here. My advice: Don’t hold your breath, you could sit there all day.


Twistori and Twittervision may be good tools for those who have heard about Twitter and want to see what the fuss is all about. But it would be much better to dive in to Twitter and participate. Start creating conversations and sharing thoughts and information. These two sites reminded me of my first time in Twitter, when a stream of random entries flowed past me from people I didn’t know.

Don’t make Mr. Chance’s mistake. It’s MUCH more fun doing than watching.

03/06/2009 Skittles' Agency Strategy

The Skittles social media bomb went off this week, when the candy maker swapped its home page for its social media presence on various platforms. I’m not going to debate whether it was original or a rip-off, whether it was gimmicky or brave, smarter minds than I have already expounded on those topics.

No, I simply want to tip my hat at Skittles' new business strategy targeting creative and marketing people who work in big and small agencies. Yes, amid all the hoopla, I believe Skittles smartly developed and brilliantly executed a plan to grow its business through candy and junk food dependent marketers, designers, programmers and their ilk.

Face it; every agency has some snack strategy to keep its worker bees working harder and more productively. Most have bowls of candy throughout the workspace, they reward overtime with pizza and more than a few have beers or kegs on tap. When these aren’t enough, agencies sprinkle vending machines throughout the office.


Skittles made a play to be the snack of choice for those of us in the creative and marketing world, and they did a great job. Whether the rest of the country noticed or not, we marketers did notice, and we Tweeted, Blogged, Facebooked and chatted like never before. General Motors approached bankruptcy and the stock market dived to scary depths but all we had on our minds was Skittles social media play.

Watching the power and the fury on Twitter this week reminded me of my own Skittles story at my former agency. We always had some snack on hand: gumballs that were hard as rock and may have been up to five years old, Hershey’s kisses, and Jolly Ranchers, among others. We all snacked on them, occasionally. Then our admin had a stroke of brilliance and started buying bags and bags of Skittles at Costco.

The first batch disappeared in 3 days. The second batch disappeared in 2 days. We ate more Skittles over the first two weeks than all the other candy combined over two months! I admit I was one of the worst culprits. Chomping down Skittles (and chewing up the in-sides of my mouth) I developed more Web strategies, online marketing plans and RFP responses than ever before.

And then it stopped. The big boss was willing to spring for candy, just as long as we didn’t eat too much of it. Things went back to normal, and the gumballs came back.

This is what I think Skittles is up to this week. As we follow trendsetter David Armano on Twitter describing his own Sour Skittles consumption, can the rest of the industry be far behind? Watch for sales results around Madison Ave, Chicago, S.F, Boston, Portland, Austin and other creative mega-centers for March.

As for the rest of the population, Skittles still has more work to do. Like actually engaging with people and providing a direction for the noise they create, rather than just watching the noise happen.

In the mean time, we should expect to see some amazing marketing ideas and creative campaigns over the next several months as our Skittle highs kick in.

02/20/2009 Is Twitter the new Usenet?

Sorry Twitter, that was probably the un-sexiest headline you’ve received in a while.The other day I was having lunch with my friend Jeff Rutenbeck, dean of Champlain College’s emerging media program. Jeff is as nice and smart as they come. As I was explaining to him about my Twitter obsession, he threw out the Usenet analogy and we both started waxing poetic.

I started using Usenet in my very early days online, before the Web gained speed. It was where I could find out about almost anything and, more importantly, connect with some great people. My cinematographer friend Anders decided he wanted to shoot his next film completely with a SteadyCam. In the early 90’s there were only two fairly good SteadyCam operators in Sweden and Anders didn’t like either one of them.

Rocky460“You do it,” he said. “We’ll pay for your training through the movie budget.”

Where did I start? Usenet. After getting some great recommendations there, Gordon Brown himself contacted me. This is the Gordon who invented the SteadyCam to run up the steps in Rocky to take one of the most famous movie shots of all time. Long story short: no movie financing, and no SteadyCam training.

The Web ultimately killed Usenet and replaced it with other things.

So why is Twitter like Usenet? The thing about Usenet was that it wasn’t really a place. You accessed it through a reader or e-mail. That’s what makes Twitter feel similar: it isn’t a Web site. MySpace, Facebook, and others are sites, destinations. You connect to Twitter but you’re never really there. Web, TweetDeck, Twhirl, Tweetie, Twittelator and others provide the “space.”

Twitter has that same flow as Usenet, the flow of a fast moving river. You jump in and out at different times; you can try paddling back, but usually not to far back. Where you jump in, and with whom, are up to you. That’s what Usenet felt like.

I guess that’s why I find Twitter to be so much fun. The feeling of movement and the ability to swim with sharks (whales, dolphins?).

What do you think?

02/13/2009 TwitterCoke vs. TwitterPepsi

I’ve seen a couple of questions this week asking people what software they use to Tweet.. It’s the Coke vs. Pepsi test for Twitter. Robert Scoble posted a blog on the TweetDeck vs. Twhirl question, but he’s not the only one.

Personally, I  always favor observation over research questions. Every time I’ve done Web usability testing, half the people say they hate scrolling, while they scroll energetically up and down the pages.

TweetDeck vs. Twhirl? Let’s see what some top Twitterers actually use, at least this week.

TweetDeck users include:
Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, Charlene Li, Gavon Heaton, David Armano, Matt Dickman, Liz Strauss and Julia Roy.
Brogan3 Scoble Guy2.0_normal CharleneLisquare_normal Yellow_Ribbon_normalArmano_beard2_normal  Mdickman LizstraussfromLK2_normal Juliaroy

A number of big Tweets use the Web instead of any extra software. This includes:
Valeria Maltoni, Jeremiah Owyang, Perry Belcher, Jim Long, Design Pepper and Pete Cashmore of Mashable.
ValeriaPhoto_normal Jowyang_normal Perrybelcher JimLong Designpeppar Petecahsmore_normal

A couple use Ping.fm including:
Chris Pirillo and Pete Cashmore.
Chrispirillo Petecahsmore_normal

Big Tweets using Twhirl?
Nada, zip, bubkes. At least, none that I saw.

TweetDeck and the Web seem to be the clear winners in what people use for Twitter.

Maybe Twhirl should start sponsoring some of these people, or create a team, like the Ferrari team in Formula One.

01/07/2009 Armano Raises $9K on Twitter

Last night, online guru David Armani raised $9,000 for a Romanian family through Twitter. You can see the action here. Armano used his blog and a donation widget called ChipIn to raise the money so the family could find some place to live.

Now David Armano has over 8,000 followers on Twitter and his blog, Logic + Emotion is one of the best. He showed the power in harnessing his followers through micro interactions, on Twitter and ChipIn. What’s most interesting is that rather than just talk and write about it, which he does, he actually did it.

And if you missed the news last week, Israel held a press conference about Gaza on Twitter. Short form, aimed at a lot of skeptical people and they answered questions from supporters and foes alike.

It’s a smart realization that if that’s where the people you want to hang out, find a way to engage with them, in small ways, rather than grandiose ways.

Marketers, take note.

12/03/2008 Do you Tweet?

I started using Twitter back when it launched in 2007, but it felt like I was talking to myself, and not having that interesting of a conversation. But you know things are hot when Facebook is looking to buy Twitter. Alas, that didn’t come to pass this time, according the New York Times blog.

In case you don’t know, Twitter lets people microblog, sending short messages of up to 140 characters through the Web site or via mobile phone. They have about 6 million registered users but far fewer use it regularly.

And yet…the Motrin example shows how powerful it can be, given the right focus. The terrorist attack in Mumbai and the Obama election gave glimpses into its potential.

The question is why more people aren’t using it. I’ve found that the people I know who use it are primarily urban, younger and joined at the hip with their cell phones. They are more on the go and, most likely, lead more exciting lives than I do, being a parent with young kids in rural Vermont. They have more to squawk about.

I’m finding, though, that I am using it more. It’s not quite IM, it’s more like “random acts of communication.” Some of it is pretty fun. But it’s still frustrating that more people aren’t on it.

I would recommend this strongly to two groups:

1) If you’re in online marketing at all, and that includes all of you Web designers and even account managers at agency, get on, if, for nothing else, the practice of micro-communications.

2) Companies should assign someone in their marketing group to Tweet about what your up to.  As above, you need the practice and you might even connect a group of micro-advocates who are into what you’re saying. It will also give you practice of keeping your ear to the ground in new online places.

So start tweeting, even if you don’t have an iPhone in the city.

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