Category Archives: Social media

Sometimes all those tweeting birds can be pretty dang obnoxious

An article today answered the question: who finds Twitter more effective, advertisers or consumers? With the relative absence of MOST consumers across most demographics on the short-format life-update (a.k.a. microblogging) platform, the answer seems to be resoundingly: the advertisers. Shocking, eh?

Here’s what the article has to say:

The research, which included surveys of US advertisers and Internet users, found that while 83% of advertisers were familiar with Twitter, only 31% of Web users were.

Naturally, younger respondents were more familiar with the microblogging site. Only 11% of 18-to-39-year-old advertisers did not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion on its value, compared with 20% of advertisers ages 40 to 49 and 21% of those 50 and older.

Among Internet users, 55% of 18-to-34-year-olds said they were not familiar enough to have an opinion, compared with 80% of those 55 and older.

In terms of Twitter’s effectiveness for promoting products and ideas, both advertisers and consumers were tepid.

I’ve got to say I’ve been pondering lately just who we’re all tweeting at, for, to … I follow countless media and pr gurus, other organizations, other publishers and non-profits, and a huge handful of friends. For the most part, I personally use Twitter to provide pithy (at least to my mind, thank you very much) life updates via my Facebook account, ask the occassional well-targeted question, or provide the occassional observation about my field, my social setting, etc. That’s me Tweeting as me, self, persona Gretchen. When we consider how to Tweet as an organization, we seem to change the tone; we become more broadcast oriented and less conversational. And I’ve not yet decided whether that’s a problem, or not.

I’ve also paid more than cursory attention to what I define as an effete snobbery by the Twitterati (typically in the media and pr categories), who often come off sounding a bit like the stereotypical junior high cool kid when they critique and generally put-down the average Joe’s use of the platform. Some in my peer group, it seems, have definitely determined that there’s a “right” way to use Twitter, which seems (in my mind) to actually dissemble the entire point of platform! And that has led me to really wonder: does it matter how all of the media and marketing communications experts think Twitter should function (billboard vs. conversation; status update vs. status “shaper”), or should we really be paying better attention to how the “normal” user is making use (or as the article referenced above points out, doesn’t even use) of Twitter, and adjust our message via the media accordingly?

This isn’t revolutionary at all. The concept – the media is the message – is as old as … well, as old as McLuhan was in the late 60s when he coined the phrase. And good communicators understand that you can’t use the media in a way that just doesn’t talk like the other people in the room, be it virutal or more staid and traditional (four walls, actual faces looking at you, you remember those days!). Case in point: one of our organization’s core products enjoys a very unique core customer — the volunteer suburban parent (typically mom). IF (and I definitely stress IF) we decide to talk to her via Twitter, we better use the media to talk with her in her language. If she’s accustomed to using the platform as a conversation, let’s give it a go. If she thinks it’s more useful as a savvy broadcast platform – better lead with that. The point is, as Brian Solis wrote in his early summer 2009 post, “Is Twitter a Conversation or a Broadcast Platform“, it seems it can be both. He writes:

In the meantime, Twitter will continue to flourish as a rapid-fire broadcast network until people learn how to communicate, understand how to participate and what to contribute, and eventually ease into a collaborative, two-way meaningful dialogue that represents Twitter’s greatest promise.

The point isn’t so much whether you are using Twitter “appropriately” to begin with, but are you using it as part of plain old excellent communication strategy — you know, using it to share, hear, respond, and explore real, meaningful dialogue with people you truly want to reach and know. And to get there, you’ve got to be realistic about how the people around you think Twitter (or Facebook, or the company blog) is supposed to work, and grow the cacophony from there.

The Evolution of Blogging (Start Talking Comfy)

On Copyblogger, there’s a great post by Brian Clark that explores the seemingly cyclical-rumor that blogging is dropping off in popularity as social media short-format options rise in “prominence.” Blogging is Dead (Again) is the catchy title, and Brian does a great job of suggesting that this is really not the case, and (to use his words citing Chris Brogan) elevates the real-story that while “snack-sized social networking content has its place, from a marketing standpoint it only works in conjunction with longer, more thoughtful content.”

“Whether you’re trying to build an online business, market your stuff, or promote a cause, those who seek maximum influence know that creating valuable longer content is the way to go.”

Ah, Brian – – you used a few keywords there that are music to my ears: thoughtful, and valuable.

Here’s what’s going one: the rise of Twitter and Facebook has actually allowed the casual-blogger to gravitate more easily to the communication format that best works for them. The more we play in the Webby-world of communication, the more and more we start to recognize that, much like real life, we just don’t all talk in the same ways. With the idea of Twitter gaining ground, the guy at the party who only has a few sentences to say can do so powerfully, succinctly, and easily – and that’s great. And frankly, probably makes his communications that much more effective because it’s more his style.

Clark’s piece was particularly interesting to me because just this week, a friend Twittered that she was done with blogging, “I’ve decided to stop blogging. I can only think in 140 character phrases anymore anyway.” Interesting. Good for her, too. We’ll see if it sticks.

This isn’t the death of blogging, it’s the evolution of thoughtful communication via the Web. We talkers can hold forth and continue to work hard to contribute thoughtful, valuable insight into the noise (at the aforementioned party, we’d be the folks tucked comfortably in the overstuffed sofas talking up the night over several rounds of drinks, no doubt), while our more restrained pals can move from blogging to talking and listening – and participating! – in ways that better fit their style.

And here’s another thought that takes this farther: the best bloggers are in all the formats, meaning that we are using the mode we want to support the message of the moment. (Ah, the media is the message … man, will that concept ever prove defunct …) When I have more to say, I blog. Quirky, simple, (or in my hopeful mind – profound) short outbursts: give me Twitter. Shared interaction and interplay – head to Facebook.

I love it.

Communication is a living, organic real thing. Whether it’s marketing driven, or being used to soapbox, or simply personal – there are certain concepts about how and why we communicate that are holding true even in this new online room. Blogging dead? Nope. Evolved.

Twitterati – It’s Not How Many Use It; It’s How It’s Used

There’s an awful lot to say about Twitter. Far more words than this little 140-word max micro-blogger would ever allow are being bandied about by a motley crew of observers in countless media forums, at corporate lunch tables, and from comfy coffee shop sofas. Whether it’s a fascination with what celebs are (or are not) Tweeting; or a conversation about why Gen Y remains conspicuously absent from the growing fan-base (and I guess I am old enough to be okay with the adult world venturing into a digital room without the kids for at least a little while!), or today’s hot political jabber (and related CNN coverage) about the influence of Twitter on the poli-social doings of the Iranian people and government, we’re all a’twitter (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself) with the possibilities, the limitations, and the speculations of this new way of interacting.

Most of the dialogue focuses on the numbers of folks using the application – the rate of adoption if you will. But the real intrigue of the story is actually not so much how many are on Twitter, but how the current Twitter-elite use this fascinating tool. Twitter allows influencers to converse and build consensus in a way that is not happening on Facebook. Whether or not millions are using the service, if the people who use it are using it to influence, to change, to invite conversation (and from the media buzz folks, clearly, it’s a workable strategy) then we’ve got something slightly revolutionary on our hands.

The Twitter Elite, an interesting concept. In our organization, for example, one of our designers just finished off the sleek new graphic design to festoon our CEO’s Twitter page and commented to him, “Welcome to the Twitterati.” And I had to laugh, because right now – those of us who Twitter, even if it links to our Facebook status, have a certain sense of “ahead of the pack” that intrigues me.

Where this all fits for public relations is (obviously) in the relationships that are being borne via this and other social media. And that has yet to totally pan out. For example, in a matter of days, I’ve already gone from following celebrated personalities in my professional sphere, to being their fan on Facebook, to being confirmed as their friend on Facebook. This progression of relationship is totally unique – and suggests a new way of engaging age-old ways of mixing and mingling, professional networking, and certainly influencing in the future.