Tag Archives: social media

How can Twitter be a viable marketing tool?

Is Twitter a viable marketing tool? Some argue in favor of it, and some argue against it.  I think it boils down to whether an interesting conversation can occur as a result of this. Are there interesting anecdotes that can be utilized to explain the brand story? Are businesses simply using social media for the sake of it? Upon further examination, the pluses and minuses of this approach will be discussed.

Some of the advantages of Twitter would be the design of the platform.  It is simple, scalable, and easy to develop APIs for Twitter.  These APIs are modular and can exist cross-platform.  This is also a “cloud” application, where storage of the information is not placed in the users’ computer, but on Twitter’s servers.  Mostly, the advantage is that people are able to organize around topics, events, companies and causes offline and online with real-time conversations surrounding these.  It is human nature to be curious to know what others are doing and thinking.  Twitter is also a viral platform for everyone’s content, and it provides context to people’s conversations.

On the other hand, some challenges for Twitter can include finding content that would be of interest to potential customers.  For example, if one’s client sold table salt, what content can be tweeted?  The target demographic, busy moms, probably do not have the time or the interest to follow a table salt company’s tweets.  It takes much time and energy for twitter campaigns, and in the end is it really worth it?  What meaningful conversations can come from 140 or less characters messages? With so many people tweeting, isn’t burdensome to read all of those tweets?

I think despite some of the challenges, twitter can be useful if the brand has a compelling story to tell.  Reaping rewards of Twitter for more mundane products/services (e.g. table salt or housecleaning) becomes a greater challenge for marketers.  If there is an exciting narrative that surrounds the brand, Twitter becomes an easier tool to utilize.

Using Twitter searchTinker and other search tools are very important to ascertain what people are saying about one’s brand; one’s industry; competitor products/services; brand’s product/services and the topics of conversations of one’s target market.  These could be complaints, compliments, uses of the product or service.  Also joining in the conversation between one’s company and the customer is very important.  A success story from this was when a customer was complaining about their Comcast Internet service.  This customer tweeted their complaint, and instantly, a Comcast customer care representative responded.   This built up relational capital between Comcast, that particular customer, current customers and any potential customers.  This example of quick customer service became viral across the internet.

Can Twitter’s business model be monetized?

twitter users.001

Twitter’s online growth has exploded last year. It is becoming more popularized with news organizations, celebrities, businesses and users. With the increase of users can Twitter’s existing business model be sustainable? Can it be monetized? This article from Wharton explained how the Twitter website increased its user base from 475,000 in February 2008 to over 7 million in February 2009.

Has this venture been monetizable?  It has not been so far.  Some of Wharton’s professors have argued that the service can be replicated by rivals such as Facebook, and question whether it is simply a fad (e.g. ICQ, Friendster and MySpace).

Part of its draw for marketers and celebrities is the ability to tap into conversations real-time, providing instant online commentary for an offline event and to join in conversations with consumers.  From a user standpoint, it is easy to track like-minded people, friends and celebrities.  Can data mining be used as a revenue model?  The social networks on twitter tend to be less meaningful than on Facebook or even MySpace, and thus, the information would be less value to marketers.  Facebook is a platform that contains more personal information about the user such as the conversations that surround the user’s offline and online activities (e.g. photo albums, interactive quizzes, etc.).

With the large increase in users, could Twitter charge for premium services such as being able to input more than 140 characters or even charging for advanced search options for twitter search?  There needs to be a balance between growth and earning profits.  Currently, the demographics for twitter are mostly with Generation X (people born between 1964 and 1979).  Compare that to Facebook, where much of the growth was with Generation Y (people born between 1980 to 1995), and it expanded to other age groups.  This clearly illustrates that Twitter’s growth maybe stunted.

I think there is money to be made with the development of the APIs.  As Twitter’s base expands, more developers will want to develop more applications for it.  As this occurs, the additional features will attract more users.  Once a critical mass is reached, Twitter can start to charge developers for making APIs on their platform.

What do you think?  Can you think of possible areas that Twitter can be monetizable?  Or do you think it is simply a fad?

Behavioral effects of Social Media Networking websites

Ever wonder why people post on the wall on Facebook rather than sending direct e-mail?  It is because people want to be visible and to be  recognized.  This is an example of online social grooming behavior.  Social grooming offline consists of exchanging pleasantries and small talk with people.  Social grooming amongst friends consists of checking-in (e.g. what’s up? what’s going on?, etc.)

On Facebook, there are applications such as online quizzes that reveal people’s interests to others, these are interactive, in which friends can comment and share the results to others.  These activities are mostly used by Generation Y as a way of self-expression.  The “about me” sections on Facebook and MySpace as well as the decoration of their profiles on MySpace are other examples of individuality and self-expression.  Generation X is the fastest growing demographic on Facebook, because of the need to reconnect to old acquaintances, and is driven by the curiosity about the status of former high school and college friends.  Gen Xers tend to use it as a social utility to communicate with the past versus Gen Yers who use it to strengthen with their current friends and acquaintances.

Ever wonder how some people on Facebook have over 500 friends? Is it even possible they have too many of them? It takes much mental computation to keep track of all of them.   There is a number called the Dunbar number, which states that most people cannot keep track more than 150 friends.  Even though we are more connected more than ever, it does not necessarily mean we have better connections with them. We continue to keep in contact with a select few number of friends.  According to this article in the Economist, the statistical breakdown for men versus women in the number of friends are the following:

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

An issue that may arise is if one does not want to continue to communicate with some acquaintances  online on Facebook, MySpace and other social media networks or offline.  The difference between online and offline friend behavior, is that offline, meeting people occurs in a short period of time, afterwards, you may not see them again.   Online once you add a friend, “unfriending” them becomes politically onerous.

What is TV’s future role?

I had argued how TV advertising is increasingly becoming irrelevant.   Due to content-on-demand as well as the emergence of mobile technology, TV will soon become part of the oblivion, or will it?   Is TV really going to the wayside?   Two weeks ago, I attended a PSFK Good Ideas Salon in Toronto.   There was a panel discussion about TV, Social Media and the future of various forms of media.

One of the panelists had an interesting perspective.  As much as TV can be dismissed, it is still a popular medium.  Case in point was the recent viral video success of Susan Boyle, which was made possible due to her exposure to an existing popular platform.   This article summarizes one of the panelist’s position clearly; metaphorically, TV as a medium becomes part of the chicken and the egg argument.  One cannot exist without the presence of the other and vice-versa.  In fact, in the case of Susan Boyle, the Britain’s got Talent TV show became more popular as a result of her viral videos online.

Go out there and manage your brand!

Yesterday, I attended a networking event.  The main lesson from this event was to pursue your passions, be excellent at it, and be full of energy and tie this with your strengths and be able to use this to help others. This lesson can be applied to an individual who is interested in building their personal brand, or to a business that is interested in developing their brand.  I came across this motivational talk by Gary Vaynerchuk some time ago.  I think he has a great message of pursuing your passions and stop doing things that you do not enjoy.  If you for even a second do not believe in what you are doing, get out, now.  He said “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask what do you want to do for the rest of your life, and pursue that.”  With these passions and patience, one can find a way to monetize it.

It is extremely important to build brand equity in yourself and in your business, too.  Finding methods to leverage one’s brand equity can be accomplished through a variety of social networks such as Facebook, Jaiku, LinkedIn, MySpace, Technorati, Twitter, etc.  Whenever, there is a social utility out there, take advantage of it.  You can be accessible anyhow, anywhere, anytime and as often as you can. Interactivity with customers is extremely important.  Building personal and company brand equity can be accomplished through conversation amongst the web users and spreading this message around.

The essence of this talk is that there is no substitute for hard work.  When people are coasting, that is the opportune time to work diligently to surpass the competition.  Gary at one point responded to 700 to 1000 emails a day, as a trailblazer in leveraging social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) to interact with customers.  Listening to customers is effective, but caring about them is much better.  Reading customers concerns, suggestions, ideas is listening, but responding to emails, interacting with customers through social media is caring about them.  Legacy is greater than currency.  Whatever output occurs, ensure it upholds one’s legacy.  This solidifies either one’s personal brand or business brand, and it will enable future positive returns on investment.  The best way to succeed is to be transparent, and your legacy is all you have.

I have written about the importance of social media in business here and here.  As individuals and businesses are increasingly using these tools, it is imperative to be apart of this.  Adapt or be left behind.  I agree with Gary’s assertions that passion, hard work, patience are keys to success.  The lessons from this inspirational talk were very similar to the networking workshop I had attended yesterday.

Advertising and Social Media

 

How are businesses marketing their products/services?  Are they still broadcasting at their audience? David Cushman, wrote an interesting article about the change from traditional method of advertising to being able to engage and listen to the business’s audience in the social media world.  As mentioned in a previous post, the internet has evolved, where many companies are utilizing and implementing web 2.0 tools.  As mentioned in a previous post, the web is increasingly being fragmented, where users are able to select the what, where, when, who, why and how of experiencing the internet.  Since the user is in full control of his/her experience, how does a marketer reach his/her target audience?

Mr. Cushman, has stressed users control the conversation made to/from them, and 70% of their purchase decisions were made through recommendations.  Websites such as Amazon.com display online reviews from various users as well as from experts.  Other than setting up online forums, questions/comments page, how else can businesses listen to consumers?

This post has a wonderful example of how Twitter is used to listen to what users are saying about the business’s brand. Going to search website that enables anyone to listen on any conversation about any topic.  Some companies such as Comcast, Zappos.com, and Dell regularly monitor Twitter to handle any customer-related issues.  

Mr. Cushman explains that widgets, which are tools that allows marketers to advertise their product/service, yet, allows consumers to share, discuss and collaborate using these tools amongst themselves.  Effective widgets need to have the following traits: 1) Marketers need to relinquish control of the marketing message; 2) These toolkits need to be user-friendly; 3) Allow users to be creative.

Since this is user-generated content, users are more apt to share and market this content among their friends. As discussed earlier, content is now owned by the user, he/she is able to generate conversation as a result of this.

The traditional broadcast model is still valuable, but, this emergence of the social media cannot be ignored. Companies need to adapt to be effective in embracing this form of advertising.

50 uses for Twitter for business applications

 

How does a business listen to its customers? Is it through the customer service department?  Call center operations? This is an interesting article about how businesses can incorporate Twitter as a web 2.0 tool.  I had discussed in an earlier post about the benefits of Twitter to enhance friendships, but this post will be about using Twitter to enhance business to customer relationships.  

Chris Brogan has listed fifty uses of using Twitter for businesses.  It is quite the insightful read.  Mostly, it is used for connecting business to its customers through its interests, its insights, customer service and customer opinions.