Ghost Tweeters

    Bullets vs. Tweets.


    Hashtag. A Universal Symbol of Change.


    Those who love social media surely are getting tired of ignorant commentators who publish that social is only used for sharing what one is doing.  Comedians, editorialists, and barflies love to hate on social media, especially Twitter, declaring it a means for sharing self-centered, self-aggrandizing bits of information — “I’m buying shoes on Spring Street.”

    Perhaps Twitter was this way the first month and no doubt people still drivel on a bit about their whereabouts and transactions, but Twitter and the hashtag are a very different animal than the one naysayers see. There was a gentleman in Pakistan, Sohaib Athar (@reallyvirtual), who was tweeting about Osama’s death well before the rumors hit the U.S.  This I learned from a Fashion Institute of Technology student, who wasn’t buying shoes at the time. Mr. Athar, though not thinking about it at the time was a citizen journalist. A global citizen journalist.

    When Syrian president Bashar al-Assad decides to hack the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page and change its content, it was intended to chance the course of history. When videos on YouTube show global atrocities in near real-time, that’s important.

    Marketers and investors are spending a lot to time trying to monetize social media, and that is taking our eyes off the ball.   Commentators are trying to gain contrarian props by telling us how frivolous social media is. But know this, the hashtag will change history. For good and in some cases bad.  It is a cross media, cross language symbol. Perhaps, the first such symbol or character of its time. Peace.

    Twitter’s Billion Users.


    My first tweet (, a fun application conceived by Noah Brier, contained a typo. That’s just about right. 

    Though not a 10 tweets a day kind of guy, I do love the app. Readers know I have great expectations for Twitter in the business world.  Twitter doesn’t have the users of Facebook and many still think it a silly web exuberance, but it really has only just scratched the surface of its potential.  My daughter who’s a Millennial just signed up and she didn’t get Twitter for the longest time.

    Yesterday I was in the locker room of a professional sports team.  Can’t say the name.  Outside the looker room in the hall next to the showers is where all pertinent team information is posted.  An 8 x10 memo on insurance, a notice that the barber will be on prem Friday, small laminated color piss charts encouraging proper hydration. Don’t forget to shower before you get in the whirlpool.  Next to all these little officious documents is a huge horizontal poster “Twitter Dos and Don’ts.” 

    Dos: Okay to say “great game” and “thank the fans.” Don’ts: no RT (retweeting) other peoples’ unsubstantiated stuff, talk about injuries or the game plan.   The list is quite long and modular so it can be expanded. It starts at eye level and is currently down to the waist. Athletes love Twitter.

    I once wrote a brief stating that a musician is never more in touch with his/her art than when staring into the eyes of the audience.  Twitter is not exactly the same thing but its close.  When marketers learn how to use Twitter to really listen it will become, as Dick Costello predicts, a billion-user application. Peace!

    I Smell a Twitter Revolution.


    Twitter’s soon-to-be-launched service @earlybird will transform marketing. @earlybird is a promotional service that posts participating companies’ specials and deals on a wide variety of products and services — a cut of each sale going to Twitter. It will generate billions in incremental sales for sponsoring companies and serious revenue basis points for Twitter. Such a deal!   

    No doubt they will find a way to organize these deals by category, e.g., restaurants, technology, consumer packaged goods and, more importantly, geography.  Think of it as but offering thousands of deals a day.  Someone commented about the service in The New York Times, thinking that it would gum up their twitter feed — deals flying across the screen every minute, but the beauty of Twitter is that you don’t have to follow @earlybird (I hope) you just have to visit the tweet stream. 

    Twitter will transform commerce well beyond coupons and customer service. And this 140 character promotional vehicle is just the beginning. The idea to have an idea.  I can smell marketers lining up. And small local businesses?  They’ll have an absolute  field day with this thing.  Oh the possibilities. Can’t wait. Peace!

    Spotlight On Social Media – Today and…


    Spotlight on Social Media was held yesterday in NYC, put on by the Participatory Marketing Network (PMN) and Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  There were a couple of important takeaways every marketer should think about. 


    Search is still important, no doubt, but it’s a little 2008.  Immediacy – what’s happening now — is the rolling thunder these days, so services like Twitter and Foursquare are the rage but the marketing future is something Rapleaf’s co-founder Vivek Sodera calls “intent driven” applications. Think of a suped up Four Square To Do tab. Facebook will certainly build an intent-based app and others in the VC pipeline will emerge, but just know intent+social+search+moblie is going to pay out lotto style. 


    I know, I know it’s not a word. But it’s a better word then unanonymize, which is the word that clanked like a dropped crowbar off Mr. Sodera’s tongue during his presentation.  Hee hee. That said, it’s a word that wonderfully describes what Rapleaf does. Rapleaf crawls the web and creates single records of an individual’s behaviors, activities and associations.  And surprisingly, it’s not that scary.  They do this using your email address and a cool piece of software. In email or direct parlance they append records using the social web. When I asked to be unanonymized, the Rapleaf software generated 100 of my web proclivities, the first of which was something called “Social Care” a membership I did not recall.  All the rest were spot on. 


    Facebook also presented at Spotlight and mentioned its 60 million daily logins put prime time television to shame. Sean Mahoney’s case studies of marketer successes were very impressive and prove that Facebook is the “new” digital. Its targeting capabilities are phenomenal.  There are specialty ad and marketing shops opening up just to handle Facebook-enabled selling and they’re worth looking in to.  It’s a cottage industry on the way to becoming transformational.   


    Other smart companies worth mentioning include Acxiom, a behemoth company that also transforms social data into social profiles (for targeted marketing), Cisco which has a neat B2B app in its NowVan program (like Kogi BBQ trucks for routers) and Air Miles a rewards program out of Canada, trying hard and having very good success. 

     Michael Della Penna of the PMN and Conversa Marketing and Neil O’Keefe of DMA deserve shout outs for empanelling a great program. together!

    Intelligent Clothes Tagging.


    Within a couple of years many newly manufactured clothes will contain inexpensive invisible data tags.  Much like a scanner tag you find on packaged goods these tags will contain brand name, style, store and price.  What will make them unique, however, is that they’ll be scannable via phone applications.  See a cool pair of shoes on the street?  Just point-and-click and immediately know what the item is. Think of it as a paparazzi for clothing thing.  Sure it will be annoying…but we’ll live with it.

    As this service gets more sophisticated and cheaper and the geo-location and privacy implications resolved, manufactures and marketers will be able to aggregate data and read that in Brooklyn, 200,000 people are walking around in Chuck Tailors on Friday but only 75,000 people on Wednesday.  We’ll know black tee-shirts outnumber red 2:1 on Monday and sundresses are really worn on sunny days.

     And don’t even get me started about clothing tags tied to coupons, promotions, search terms or Twitter codes.  I can’t even process that.  For that add two more years. Peace!  

     PS.  This is but one chapter in my worldwide inventory theory.

    Google is an Advertising Company.


    I’ve written before about Google’s “culture of technological obesity” saying I think the company is taking on too much outside of its core mission.  Phones, productivity apps, the list goes on and on. The reality is — the dirty little secret no employee will readily admit — is Google is an advertising company.  (Google Doubleclick.)  Eric Schmidt and his peeps know this but it doesn’t play well at cocktail parties. The technology badge is what they wear most proudly.

    Of the $6.78B in revenue announced this quarter, the lion’s share was ad generated.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love Google.  I’m not a hater. They need to succeed.  Google really is changing the world for the better. But they will Divest or Trivest at some point.  The company is a 3-ring business circus.  And because one of the rings — most profitable ring – is advertising, and because Google hasn’t been putting all of its efforts into providing innovation in advertising, it will lose market share. Ad revenue will still grow, but Google will lose market share. My bet is Facebook and Twitter will take share. Facebook is already doing it and Twitter has just begun.

     Advertising is about search, yes, but also about referral and context and point of sale (POS).  Twitter may have a leg up by combining all four.  To all the developers at Chirp…advertising still is da monies!  Peace!

    Is Resonance the Grail?


    My first encounter with metrics was when a friend at Ogilvy Direct (now OgilvyOne) explained how Vanguard Funds tracked ads to resulting investments.  Each ad had a unique code that found its way through the process and when money was deposited it generated an advertising-to-sales ratio. Ad creative, size, media could all be calculated.  This approach is why direct marketing, nee direct response, nee direct mail agencies were the digital agencies of the day in the 70s and 80s.

    In the 90s banner ads were the haps.  They were new and measurable and web advertising was ready to kill traditional. But as click-through rates diminished sales people told you banner were awareness builders. Display ads started to get bigger and richer and CTRs increased again. Then search became the new “new” and SEM/SEO shops multiplied like rabbits.  Search though, is a half nasty business — with a good deal of practitioners hacking their way to the top. (Are these the people who always talk about authenticity?)


    Today social media is the haps. And social companies are finally taking monetization seriously.  Twitter’s resonance concept is a great start. Twitter’s Promoted Tweets measure nine factors to determine resonance, which is used to determine whether an ad stays or goes and what to charge. According to the New York Times, three of those factors are “number of people who saw the post, the number of people who replied to it or passed it on to their followers, and the number of people who clicked on links.” Some say social media is not about selling, it’s about engagement. That’s like saying you go to a singles bar to make friends. It’s only a 5% true. Resonance tied to sales is coming. Who ever cracks that code will be the David Ogilvy of the decade.  Peace it up!

    Twitter’s New Ad Plan.


    It sounds as if Twitter’s new advertising program has been well thought out.  Sponsored 140 character Tweets, called Promoted Posts, will appear atop the results of key word searches.  If you search for Tacos, you might see a Chipotle tweet above all others.  Small type will let you know it’s a sponsored ad. And should you cursor over it the ad turns yellow. Twitter is stealing a page from Google by keeping only ads deemed relevant, i.e., that are clicked on, retweeted or direct messaged in reasonable numbers.  

    Twitter will charge advertisers on a CPM (cost per thousand basis), the way TV and print media are priced. (Read more about social media monetization here.) I suspect that in a while CPMs will be one price and clicks another, but we’ll see.  

     Next Phase of Twitter Ad Plan.

    Down the road ads are expected to appear in the midst of tweet streams surrounding conversations. The ads won’t result from searches but from the content within posts.  So if there are discussions about tacos Chipotle might buy its way into the conversation.  Whether these purchased posts appear in the stream or along side a la Google is still to be determined.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many other ways to monetize Twitter which we’ll all be reading about in the coming months and years.  I’m happy with the current approach – it is America after all – and I am happy that Twitter has tabled the in-stream advertising effort for a while. One bite at the apple at a time.  Peace!   

    An Unexpected Show of Caring.


    My wife does Yoga at Fitness Incentive in Babylon a couple of mornings a week and she just retuned asking if I would smell her.  The instructor, you see, had sprayed some lavender on her at the end of today’s session, saying something about its soothing properties.  This was an unexpected show of caring on the part of the instructor. 

    Marketers would do well to learn from the instructor and offer unexpected demonstrations of caring to customers.  Bob Gilbreath, chief marketing strategist at Bridge Worldwide, is building a brand and a movement around Marketing with Meaning.  Is an unexpected show of caring marketing with meaning?  Most certainly.  


    When leaving a store and someone says “thank you for shopping at ____” it’s nice, but not unexpected.  While at a restaurant with spoon to mouth and the proprietor sticks his smiling face in asking “Everything alright?” — this may be unexpected but it is not a real show of caring. While at Mary Carrol’s Pub and the bartender buys back after your third quaff, unexpected?  Not really. Good business, yes, but not necessarily a show of unexpected or caring. 

    Caring and thank you are two different things.  The latter requires thought; it’s a skill actually. Twitter can be used as an example of unexpected caring, used correctly.  A coupon dispenser is not caring.  Customer service is not caring, it’s the price of doing business. When Steve Jobs, as was reported in the news yesterday, answers an email to a customer it is unexpected. And it’s caring.   

    Let’s get on with it marketers!  When you leave the building each day ask yourself “What did I do to show a customer – not every customer – I care about them in a surprising way. Lavender anyone?

    Rubel, Facebook and Fruit Cocktail.


    There’s a pretty interesting debate going on over at Steve Rubel’s Posterous stream.  It revolves around his moving his stream (sorry, guys of a certain age) to Facebook.  He’ll continue at Posterous but feels Facebook gives him more visibility, a bigger audience and a richer discussion. 

    Mr. Rubel initially moved to Posterous because it was a place for him to aggregate his musings. Plus it was an easy and elegant interface.  (The aesthete in me likes the Posterous look better than the templatized Facebook frame.)  Sequestering most of his business and digital observations on Posterous and moving everything  else — business, personal, real time — to Facebook seems like a good strategy. But is it? Time will tell.


    In America and countries that look to America for tech and taste, specificity rules the day.  No one ever became president (of anything) being a generalist.  Let’s leave Mr. Rubel for a moment and use Ms. X as an example.  Say you’ve never met Ms. X but you think she’s a brilliant marketing mind. She may be a lousy partner, driver, dancer and cook but she can really mesmerize a room filled with marketers. You may be marginally interested in her meatball recipe but it is certainly not the driver of her attention.  The more meatball recipes in her stream, the less likely she is to be unique. By mixing all of her postings into one stream, Ms. X is not managing her brand very well. Her fame is diluted.

    Moving Toward the Middle.

    This is another example – common a couple of years ago when social computing companies were all trying to match each other’s feature sets – where everyone is moving toward the middle. It should not be. LinkedIn is about business relationships. Twitter is about real time info and immediacy.  Facebook is about friends and self and entertainment.  As Facebook moves to the middle, attempting to be all things to all people (brand fan pages included), it becomes like fruit cocktail — that can of fruit in the back of the cabinet where everything tastes like peaches. As quickly as Facebook is growing, I’m afraid it will mirror Google and turn into nothing more than an amazing advertising platform. (And then divest.) Peace!