Buying vs Earning Twitter Followers

Twitter logo as a blue square

I was an early adopter of Twitter, and yet, I’d failed to build a strong following. This was my fault, of course, since I was aware of the growing importance of the Twitter channel for social network engagement.

In fact, some of the people I’d helped to get started in Twitter were already miles ahead of me in building a strong following.

So, yeah, I was starting to feel like I needed to catch up. Fast.

I’d read a few interesting blog posts about purchasing Twitter followers, but I dismissed the concept. I mean, how good could these followers be, if they were willing to be bought and sold?

I was determined to build my followers the old fashion way: earn them. And then… Continue reading

Marketing: It’s Just Too Easy

A friend of mind and I were talking about how to first brand and then market his company’s brand. We had a long, rambling conversation about marketing channels like YouTube, Vimeo, blogs, Twitter, etc.

When he told me, “on Twitter, anybody can build up a massive following, so it’s not really worth doing,” he stopped me in my tracks.

Upon further clarification, he told me that on Twitter anyone can follow a bunch of people and then unfollow them to build of your following. That traffic building technique, he explained, was one of the reasons Twitter didn’t really matter. It just seemed too easy. That, and anybody can get 50,000 followers, if you know how to work the system.

Anyway, the conversation continued normally until my kids got hungry and began demanding dinner. So we broke off the call and went to our respective families.

My friend was being honest and candid as he talked about the marketing channels that he thought were most effective. This was due, in part, with his feeling that Twitter was too easy. Continue reading

Charlie Sheen, Guinness & Marketing

Guinness World Records

Charlie Sheen — the current celebrity obsession — has broken a world record for “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers.” And it was validated by the official Guinness World Records. (Is it even a “book” anymore?)

Through all of the hype and the amusing posts by @CharlieSheen, it’s easy to miss the marketing angle here. Specifically, Guinness saw a media storm and used it as an opportunity to promote their own brand. Not only that, they did it in a way that actually was relevant to their own brand. They validated a record. As of this writing, @CharlieSheen has only 30 actual tweets and 1,640,427 followers.

Seriously, when was the last time you actually thought about who held the record for anything? When was the last time (I’m assuming that you’re out of grammar school) you held the Guinness Book? Probably not recently.
Continue reading

TV Apps Kickoff – 3 Things You Need to Know

TV Guide TV app available through YahooThe 2010 Superbowl officially kicked off the Age of TV Apps. The technology has been around for a few years and is already available to many people. But Vizio’s TV app Superbowl commercial was the kickoff heard ’round the world.

So what are TV apps? In a most basic sense, TV apps are like the applications you download for your iPhone. Small, limited-use software that allows you to personalize your hardware.

New stuff that was once only available for your computer — and then for your iPhone — is now available for your television. If you have Direct TV or Verizon FiOS, some of this is already baked into your cable box. Obviously you can get TV apps on the Vizio TV, but also on many Samsung and Sony televisions as well.

You can already use things like Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook on your TV.

Here are three things you should know about TV Apps

1. The technical field is relatively open.
Sure, there are some key players like Yahoo who have already set themselves as leaders, but that can change.  Currently, Yahoo controls the application and administers the software development kit (SDK). Note: From our personal experience, Yahoo was somewhat slow in distributing the SDKs to developers. That’s unfortunate because that could irritate programmers who could create an open-source system that could render Yahoo’s TV Apps technology obsolete. If you have the desire to create apps (or even a completely new OS), the time is now. The tech is in place for you to build the next great widget, gadget, social network, or living room app.

2. TV apps will present design challenges.

Weather TV app available through DirectTV

TV apps will face several user interface challenges. The most notable is that most people don’t have a keyboard on their television remote control. Sure, you can pull one up on the screen, but as you can imagine, typing with a little remote-control button is a pretty poor user experience. If you’ve used a Wii remote to create a Mii character, you know how tedious it can be to type out a long name. Designers will clearly make the difference between apps that succeed or fail. The old design rules will need to evolve to take advantage and address the limitations of a 10-foot interface.

3. Content & marketing opportunities will need to evolve.
The iPhone and other smart phones forced content developers and marketers to rethink the way we package messages. Long-form had to give way to shorter, more relevant messages. If not for mobile communications limitations, Twitter would have never gained a foothold in society. Face it, a 140 character message fits better on a cell phone screen than, say, a PowerPoint presentation. People who mastered the Twitter format (including URL shorteners) emerged pretty quickly as masters of the medium. And the marketers quickly caught on with brand messages. That’s a long way of saying that the new language of TV apps is still in flux. If you want to create content or marketing messages for TV apps, try to figure out what works with this new interface.

If you’re already exploring TV apps, congratulations. You’re probably going to have a head start on this unique and exciting new communications channel. I look forward to seeing what you create.

LINKS, NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS:

Facebook Status Off Video

Y’know, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. This video captures the geeky goodness of our obsession with Facebook status updates.

Lots of us in this age online celebrity are obsessed with self-marketing and Brand You to the point of silliness.  I’m certainly guilty of trying too hard to be entertaining in my posts.

Anyway, watch this little viral video and have a laugh.

Of course, I’ll be posting this video to Twitter and Facebook.

Shorteners Getting Bigger

bitly-logoWhen smart companies all start doing the same thing, it’s probably a good idea to figure out what they know. If you haven’t quite noticed yet, there’s some sort of micro trend percolating in the biz of making web URLs shorter.

In the past few weeks, several important websites have created their own URL shorteners. You’ve seen shortened URLs, which make long web addresses much more manageable for sharing on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Among the most popular services are Bit.ly and Tr.im.

For the most part, URL shorteners are just an interesting utility, but it’s clearly something more powerful than most people realize. That’s a bit like search engines. In the beginning, search engines were important, but nobody could have predicted the massive Google empire. (Except Google, of course.)

Now, URL shorteners are shaping up to be a very interesting micro trend. Consider the fact that several important sites have announced their own URL shorteners in the last few weeks, including:

Will this be a big trend? Not sure. From a publisher’s perspective, there are certainly some advantages to having people use your shorteners, particularly since it gives them interesting data about where people are linking.

Several experts are raising security issues around URL shorteners, so this micro trend may have serious industry repercussions. Yep, shorteners are definitely getting bigger.

Is the world ready for a shorter URL for me? Like Bud.dy or Scal.ra?

Twitter for Marketers – A Brief Intro

Nielsen reports rapid Twitter growth in March 209

As Twitter has grown in popularity,  questions about how, why, and when to use it have skyrocketed. In advertising/marketing agencies, there is a responsibility (and pressure) to use new technology for branding.

According to Nielsen, Twitter is growing really, really, really, really fast. So, if you’re a marketer, you’re probably trying to figure out how to grab the tail of this comet.

For starters, you need to have something to say. I’m not kidding here. If you have nothing to say on a regular basis, don’t try to jump into the conversation.

Twitter is all about content. Messages, words, and insights. It’s fast, short, and fresh. If you or your brand doesn’t have something to share daily, you may want to sit out the Twitter craze. (Then again, most brands and categories have SOME industry news, so talk to your staff writer about info opportunities.)

Twitter content is legendarily short. Each message can run as long as 140 characters. Yes, you read that right, Tweets (a cute name for a Twitter post) are only 140 characters or less, including spaces, URLs, and line breaks.

(That paragraph actually ran 187 characters. Too much for a Tweet!)

There are plenty of tips and tricks for working within the constraints, community, and technology supporting Twitter. It’s a fun challenge for marketers, especially as the new opinion leaders begin to carve out their turf in this brave new technical world.

Future blogs will touch on how to leverage Twitter and some good examples of people who self promote using this “micro blogging” technology.

In the meantime, check out how I use my Twitter account to share ideas about content, marketing and technology at Marketing Buddy.

Converging on Convergence

As interesting new web technologies become available, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of sites I need to visit….just to keep them fresh. (There are some feeds and whatnot to streamline these services, but that just becomes another site to visit.)

Recently, I’ve been trying to leverage these services by incorporating features into my personal website. As web technologies pendulate toward the middle, I am one step closer to converging on convergence.

My goal is to make my personal website a little more compelling for people who come to check it out.

Examples:

  • This weekend, I added my Twitter feed to my personal website. It’s just a little piece of Flash code that I was able to drop right into my web template. Very easy and elegant. (Note: I tried to use the Javascript code, but it just kept breaking.)
  • I also added a Facebook “badge” to my homepage. It’s really basic, but it looks kind of nice.
  • Then I synched my Facebook with my Twitter. Sort of sounds dirty, doesn’t it? Anyway, now, when I post to Twitter, it automatically feeds into my Facebook “current status.” Nice.

You can check out my handiwork at: http://www.buddyscalera.com. Feel free to look at the code and see how it’s done. Very simple and easy to do, even for an HTML novice.

Eventually this blog will probably migrate over to my website too. I really like blogging here on WordPress, but I get frustrated when I can’t control my widgets or outbound links better. So, we’ll see.

Now, I am off to find new convergence tricks.

Twitter’s Magical 140

According to Wired magazine, blogging is dead. Sad that the venerable blog post…which broke down barriers of publishing…may be on the way out.

In some ways, it’s true. Blogging was amazingly democratic. Anyone could be a published author, just by posting a blog. For a little while, media giants reacted to the voices of regular people, some of whom became self-appointed experts.

Over the last two years, though, the media caught up. Many top blogs are part of the established media network. Professional journalists and media channels are using blogs to attract, well, us. Now, that democratic blog landscape is being claimed by mainstream media, decreasing the ability of regular people to become key opinion leaders.

Part of the problem is that the blog post…usually pretty short…is just too long. Our attention span is waning to the point that a few paragraphs is too much mental lifting. See Me Read Book.

The predicted replacement? Twitter.

So, if I seem a little long winded to you, check out my Twitter account at http://twitter.com/BuddyWeb

Twitter posts (called Tweets) are limited to 140 characters. That’s about the length of one long sentence. For me, that’s usually two punchy, short sentences.

So, if you like someone’s writing, you can subscribe to their Twitter. Their random thoughts can be posted to Twitter. In best cases, Twitter posts are sharp, interesting, or funny observations. In worst, it’s agonizingly dull people sharing their banal lives.

And, as marketers see this shift, they are discovering new and interesting ways of leveraging the Twitter channel. Or at least as much marketing as you can do in 140 characters.

All hail the short attention span. Just do it quickly because we tend to bore easily!

Which 1,400 search engines do you use?

Okay, sharpen your keyboards, and get ready to search. Which of the 1,400 top search engines do you use?

What? You only use Google? Pfeh! You mainstream, conformist, follower. (Use Yahoo? Don’t gloat, it’s not exactly “indy.”)

By industry estimates, there’s over 1,400 search engines floating around these days. Really. Here’s the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines.

And that doesn’t even include http://www.cuil.com, which recently launched.  (It’s pronounced “cool.” Yes, really.)

Some of the others have equally creative names like ChaCha.com, Twerq.com, Twingly.com, Famhoo.com, and Mahalo.com.

So why so many search engines? Well, most engines have highly specialized search parameters. That’s a fancy way of saying that they narrow searches to a specialized audience.

Again, so why so many search engines? Well, if you’re Summarize.com, it’s for profit. Twitter.com bought the Twitter-only search engine Summarize.com for a cool $15M.

Search is big business and it’s getting bigger. Hey, I have a great idea. How about a personal search engine for everyone in the world? I’ll make billions!

What? Oh yeah, they already have that at Rollyo.com.

That’s clever web-speak for “Roll Your Own.” Oh…how cuil.