My 11 Twitter Guidelines

So I haven’t blogged in a while because… I have been busy as all heck.

Many have blogged and twittered and videoblogged and webinared how to work with twitter. Some of the more egregious “click my junk”ers even charge users for the “inside information”.

I advise clients on strategies in integrating digital and social tools within their marketing architecture and inside the enterprise. Finding, implementing and using tools like blogging, twitter, video, wiki, etc is what I do. In the last 24 hours I have had 2 conversations around guidelines for working with Twitter (and a big thanks to @Micah on twitter and and who got me thinking about this). How to jump in, use it, not abuse it, get something out of it and connect with people. This isn’t a post about getting to 25,000 users (I only have 1000+) or making money with Twitter, or how Social Media saved my . Here are some tips I give clients about Twitter, and getting in the right way.

1. Be human. Have a real person behind the @name – even if it is a brand, you need someone there, a real person and preferably someone in the org and not the agency (ghost twittering isn’t authentic). BestBuy’s developer group has Keith Burtis, @Comcastcares, etc. are all real people. They talk about real stuff. Sure, sometimes it is more corporate, but its nice to see the human behind the curtain.

2. Listening, listening, listening – whats the point of having this live, 24/7 stream of distributed consciousness/conversation and dozens, hundreds, or thousands of followers if you dont bother to listen to the users when they mention you, your product, your brand, your category you are leaving money on the table. Pandora does a great job of listening, so does JetBlue (who responded to me via DM after an incident at the gate for one of their flights). Start with Summize or take a big-boy step up to use search in tweetdeck or go nuts with Radian6 or one of their competitors and really start paying attention.

3. Attention is a currency. Following back is a gesture. Retweets are a powerful way to say to your followers “I dig this” and to the person you are retweeting “I dig you”.

4. 50-50 rule, Pay-It_Forward, etc . Do you want fail at twitter? Talk about yourself all the time. Me, Me, Me, is Boring Boring, Boring. Spend half as many of your tweets on your followers and the people you follow as you do yourself. Spend the time to show you are listening by paying into the shoutout economy – celebrate what your users are doing, congratulate them for a job well done, or send your condolences when their dog dies. You can do this publicly w/ an @ or privately with a DM. If one of your followers says something interesting, profound, funny or worthwhile, RT (retweet it). Add value and then your followers won’t mind checking out your new blog post, or youtube video, or “hey guys can you take my poll”. My friends don’t ask me to “click their junk”

5. Consider following back other real people. Someday your ratio might matter

6. If you can’t commit to twitter its OK. Don’t force it. Don’t make the intern run the twitter feed. Don’t agonize over every tweet. If you are the agency, don’t drop this on the client as the next big thing without helping them understand it. Walk them through it, have them open their own personal twitter accounts. Even better, get their internal team on Yammer to use microsharing INSIDE the org first.

7. Make your tweets inherently “retweetable”. Brevity is the sole of wit and kindof a requirement when you only have 140 characters. Take advantage of a URL shortener, there are a bunch (and some are built into tweetdeck and the twtiiter architecture itself uses tinyurl). Supposedly has an interesting measurement capability if you want to see the reach of a tweeted URL – i need to look into it

8. Auto DM is generally bad. Especially if you have a “click my junk” in your autoDM. When you go on a blind date, do you start with a “free e-book offer”?

9. Fill out your whole profile. Make a background image with your URLs (linkedin, facebook, website, blog, etc.). Make sure your main URL is part of your profile so it is clickable.

10. You can leverage twitter if you build trust. @skydiver is on there a lot with urgent HARO requests, because he has paid it forward. Macheist recently did a giveaway for Devonthink software. You can ask your followers questions and they will respond – see #2 above

11. Rinse, repeat, make mistakes, learn from them, get better and don’t give up.

It’s there because it works…

Chris Brogan writes (in a great post you need to read here):

How much does one of those opportunities cost? It can’t be cheap to put up a billboard in an airport, right? That same amount would fund a social media project for an entire year, and you’d have clickable metrics for the effort. Wouldn’t that be a better return?

Did Chris remember the name of the company sponsoring the phone/laptop charging station (Samsung)? The Advertising worked (and got the fringe benefit of promotion on Chris’ blog)

Did Chris remember those Vending Machines in the airport (Apple and Best Buy)?? The Advertising worked (” fringe benefit” comment again).

Did Chris remember the 2 billboards before the Hudson News stand? How about the 2 page spread in the middle of this month’s WIRED? The 12 commercials that ran between when you sat down at Fox Sports Bar and when you got up?

Little Guy In The Subway With A Bag of $

Little Guy In The Subway With A Bag of $

The two examples he used (Samsung charging stations and the Apple or Best Buy vending machines) worked because they either provided immediate value (needing to juice up, a HUGE problem in most airports, or chargers, iPods, etc.) or potential future value. They fit within his/yours/my context. If my mom was travelling at the same time, she wouldnt notice who sponsored the power, because she doesnt travel with devices that need power. She might notice the Apple vending machines because they are novel/unique to her, but 5 years from now she will ignore them because they will be commonplace.

Billboards are a “shotgun” approach (with a ton of metrics behind it). The hope is, the right person happens to walk by who happens to have that product or service as part of their context (along with Direct Marketing phone, email, URL to let them find out more AND to let the marketer see effectiveness) or the creative in the ad connects with the user (for a brand campaign – the iconic APPLE ads are a great example of this). In the case of Brand ads, the marketer is paying for impressions (and they pay through the nose – those boards aren’t cheap). In the case of ads with some kind of direct component, the ROI can be (to a certain extent) measured. There are impressions and clickthrough rates to measure against. Is it personal? Nope.

Here is the thing: this stuff, these traditional techniques (print, radio, tv, out-of-home, ad banners, PR, etc.) aren’t going away. Sure, more of the budget is going to digital, but not all of it. There are more of them (less digitally savvy or complete luddites) than there are of us (people reading this, living this, sharing this thing of ours). Marketers still think of us in terms of CONSUMERS and demographics. The reason the old school isn’t going away, the reason we don’t have the advertising apocalypse is because of one thing – IT STILL WORKS.

While we keep saying Social Media is no longer an experiment, we need to keep the marketer’s context in mind. The CMO wants to be innovative, and the brand manager wants to change the world, but both have numbers (leads, impressions, brand value, etc.) that they have to meet to be successful, to grow their brand, get their bonus or in some cases keep their job (the avg lifespan of a CMO is currently something like 22 months). No one ever got fired for doing yet another Direct Mail campaign (where a 1% response rate is considered successful), billboard or tv/radio spot – they are part of the marketing mix. Even ad banners get clickthroughs and they are the “ritz crackers” (low value, not tasty or very effective) of digital advertising.

Small, growing and new brands can go all-in on Digital and Social because they need an edge, and the edge is reach and cost and hopefully shortcut the need for brand recognition and jump right to a relationship. P&G knows it needs Social and is working towards it for the long term (the same thing they did with radio and TV). Ford and GM know they need it, but have to work harder to connect emotionally and with passion (two things that are kinda requirements). If all you do is SELL SELL SELL, its kinda hard to “start a conversation” – you have to invest a lot (time, money, humility) to get respect and to get people to listen. That investment is happening now.

As the Social Media side of Digital grows and matures (and we get more news like the Dell metrics) it can make the case to take a bigger piece of the marketing pie. Digital is no longer sitting at the kids table when it comes to the Agency-Client relationship. Digital is getting more and more budget because it is effective and less expensive and has greater, time-agnostic reach. Sure, we might start shooting commercials for Hulu (or whatever replaces it) and we may see more immersive and experiential and integrated efforts in the future, but the Old School isn’t going away. An ad agency I interviewed a few months ago WILL NOT HIRE an account, strategist or creative without digital in the portfolio or CV. Its becoming that important.

But Social can be the “red thread” that ties the traditional and the digital together, make them more connected, connecting, relevant and responsive. Social (listening, outreach, participatory) can start changing the marketing mindset from campaign to commitment. But that is going to take time.

In 10 years we will have Marketers (CMOs and Brand Managers) who have grown up with Digital in their toolbox from the beginning. Thats when things will start getting weird (in a good way).


Like it? Hate it? Leave a comment below 🙂

New Marketing?

Originally intended to leave a comment… but kept writing and decided to post 🙂

Chris asks

What’s next? What do you think marketers on the web need to know more about? What do you think are the services that the new generation of marketing firms have to have, now that traditional marketing isn’t always getting the job done?

In the old days, clients would choose an agency because:
1. they had great creative – “we want the guy who did the Apple commercials”

2. their ability/experience with a market segment – “gosh, they did great work for Pepsi, that experience can be used for our new energy drink”

3. The size of their network, strength of their media planning and buying – “i want the guy who knows the guy who got the placement on that hit ABC show before it was a hit AND can get my daughter tickets to the MTV Upfront party!”

New Media Marketing companies have to keep a number of chainsaws in the air:

1. Context – belief and experience in Social Media and the cred/rep/war stories/and results to go with it – just because you build websites doesnt mean you “get” blogging or twitter or any other parts of the medium. Authority isn’t popularity. Telling stories that sound suspiciously like press releases = EPIC FAIL

2. Strategic Thinking & Integration – need to see the forest from the trees and the big picture for the Brand, product, business and space in both the communication space AND the other things a client is doing. A big part of working with clients is seeing the whole map and selling through the idea that Social Media can work in lots of places outside of just the blog or wiki… having an understanding (not controlling or running, but keeping an eye on the radar and ears open) of the big picture can improve the results/performance/relationships you are building, over time. In the same way that you need to have a high degree of empathy for the users, you also need to keep in touch with the other teams – otherwise social media is a campaign and not an effort (and this is as important for clients as it is for the agencies). Long term I see PR and Marketing coming more closely together BECAUSE of Social Media and its ability to connect more deeply with users.

3. Specialization – Would I hire a New Media Marketing Co. to help me connect with Moms and Mommybloggers and the people in their spheres of attention if they only work with the Digg/Slashdot/Gamer crowd??? Just because you “get” social media in general and for one community doesn’t mean you are effective with every community/tribe/family/affinity group/audience. New Media Marketing companies need to differentiate themselves by investing and embedding themselves in these spaces, commit themselves to being a good neighbor and making their day-to-day as user-centric as the conversations they are having on behalf of their clients. That deep understanding of a community doesn’t happen during a 2-week discovery phase – you need to live it. Small, focused, real and intimate. There is a big difference between being a strategic partner (which any large or small agency wants) and being a production shop (who the hell wants to work in a blog mill?)

4. Transformation – We aren’t replacing anything – we are growing something new. While traditional marketing is becoming less effective, that doesn’t mean it is going away any time soon or a major client will suddenly drop its TV budget for videoblogging or wikis – these people have targets, and numbers and share points to reach in order to get their bonus. Clients will still use agencies and as in the 90s, they will add social media to their overall communications mix the same way they added digital media. SOcial Media efforts, as effectiveness and ROI continue to be proven will become more and more prevalent and get more and more share of budget.

5. Flexibility – basically a keen eye on the landscape and trends and the ability to translate that into value for their clients. IWOOT (I Want One Of Those) is a problem regardless of sector or industry and a large role these New Media Marketing companies must take is that of teacher/sherpa – this is a new, scary world for them, challenging for us and downright boring for digital natives.

Energy (marketing) can’t be destroyed, it just changes form – and we collectively need to make sure our intentions (that this is something different) don’t get co-opted by business as usual.

My Thoughts – Starting a Social Media Strategy

Chris Brogan wrote one of his usual thought starters today (I feel like a slacker around the guy and I make the Amish look lazy) about starting a Social Media strategy. As usual (for him) it was a mix of simple and advanced concepts, ideas and challenges and will be a killer series to watch.

Dig it here –

Some killer points:

Begin with the End in Mind – Strategy isn’t the goal. It’s the path you plan to take to get there. So, let’s put some goals out, and then talk through how to build a strategy to reach them.

Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs and videos allow for negative comments, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.

Attention: learn how to build awareness and encourage relationships with the media you’re making.

As someone who has done this a couple of times, for big and small companies, it is hard to imagine any one way to do it. There is a huge palette to work from, with tons of options and features ranging from the simple to the complex. But tools and platforms and media types (video, text, audio) aren’t a strategy. You have to start with the basics:
Who are we trying to reach (Users – first and always)
Why are we trying to reach them (purpose for this – and it can’t be to create shareholder value or trick people into a CRM loop)
What are we trying to start (conversation, ideation, feedback loop, etc.)
Where are we trying to reach them (go to the users, where they live, in context, with strong respect for them and their space)

After the goals are set, you need to have principles, reasons why you are doing what you are doing. If you don’t set the bar for yourself, transparently and openly, the users will think you are scamming them (their shields are up whether you like it or not – get used to it). Principles aren’t just something to put on a deck slide, they are one of your checklists that live with whatever you are doing. Some principles from previous projects –
1. We aren’t selling anything
2. We are telling the stories of the people and history of this company
3. If it feels like a press release – DELETE it
4. We will take crap from some users, this is not a drill
5. It’s about them. Their needs, their conversations… we are a host, a guide, a facilitator… we dont own them but they can PWN us
6. The users have more ideas than any team can come up with in 5 years… work with them to set the editorial calendar (better yet – throw out the editorial calendar)

Some additional thoughts:

Listening has to be 50% of the initiative, otherwise it is a monologue not a dialog. But it has to be ACTIVE LISTENING. I once had a client who described the web, and specifically the social digital ecosystem as the greatest listening post for a brand in history. He was 1% right. If you listen and dont react/act/respond/show you are paying attention you are only getting 1% of the value.

Keep the User/Audience at the center of the strategy at all times. Dont let marketing/pr/IT/the front office/the consultant/the agency ANYONE with an agenda change that. Its the difference between talking AT someone and talking WITH them.

Outreach Outreach Outreach… a company/nonprofit/personal brand/whatever doesnt exist in a vacuum – no man is an island, and neither is your brand. You need to celebrate the people, ideas and stories outside of your four walls – even if they disagree with you sometimes. Do it because it is important. Do it because you want the users to see the things that you think are cool, do it because sending a link is a form of currency that actually MEANS something (your attention + your audience’s attention = value). Do it because you can answer or correct the record in real time.

Less is More, until you need MORE – Start small, be humble, ask questions, challenge the users. Do little things savagely well… and then build up on the strategy. Keep a backlog of all the things you want to do, but you dont have to do them all at once and you can get some things wrong – users will forgive you.

Bought this week


Comcast buys Plaxo (I couldn’t think of two worse companies in the word who so deserve each other)

Conde Nast/WIRED buys Ars Technica

OK… the spending spree has begun

No updates for a month…

Because I have been crankin on client stuff, twittering like mad (more on that later), facebooking, networking, trading tons of emails, working my neck off for my consulting client, planning one startup and launching the phase 1 of another…

And it has taught me so much:

  • Editorial is not an afterthought
  • Trust is earned
  • “Are we done yet” is not professional
  • Google Adwords, Google Adsense are magic (and Dave McClure is sooooo right)
  • There isn’t enough time in the day
  • Going to the US Open with a friend is more fun than watching it on TV
  • Pretty much going anywhere is better than watching TV
  • You have to be pretty hardcore to compare the NY Yankees to the Republican Party
  • Writing the perfect doc or deck is impossible
  • There is never enough time, there never will be enough time
  • I will be going to Gnomedex as long as Chris and Ponzi invite us
  • MadMen is the best show on television

More to come… couple of launches in the next couple months, interesting project for some of my friends, some travel, helping a couple of clients

Old School – Gold Rush In Cyberspace

In 1995, while I was working in a bar and playing rounds of twilight, I came across this article which pretty much changed my life and got me into the business.

Gold Rush in Cyberspace, a cover story written by Vic Sussman and Kenan Pollack in 1995 for US News and World Report, is one of the first big-media stories I read about the internet and how it would change everything. It is one of a few sources that convinced me to get into the game.

Some gems:

To many, this is the dawn of a radical new commercial era in which a single medium combines elements that used to be conveyed separately: text, voice, video, graphics. Countless firms will be transformed in the process, including publishing, banking, retailing and deliverers of health care, insurance and legal services. Predicts the newsletter ComputerLetter: “The Web will become the transparent fluid in which all of our personal, corporate and public data are miraculously suspended.”

Understand the medium. Conducting business on the Web, a phenomenon with no parallel in communications history, will demand new strategies in advertising and marketing. Unlike broadcasting and print, which are one-to-many entities with a passive audience, the Internet is a many-to-many medium in which everyone with a computer and modem is a potential publisher. Web surfers, for example, tend to be self-directed. They typically have little patience for “brochureware,” advertisements that are thrown up like so many billboards.

Loving this… Ringblender

Thanks to a Polyphonic Spree ad in Wired Magazine (who says advertising doesnt work) just found this:

This site allows fans of the band to take pre-selected tracks and samples and make their own ringtones, share them with friends and download to their phones.

DIY? Check.
Band that values its fans? Check.
Simple, well-done execution? Check.