Ten Cents A Tweet

I was talking with a buddy of mine, who apologized for not being very active on Twitter over the past few weeks.

The reason for his inactivity? Get this: He’s been busy.

I nearly fell off my exercise ball. I mean, really, what kind of excuse is that for not tweeting? How in the world can my friend build his personal brand if he’s not tweeting 50 to 100 times a day (on weekdays, that is, and 10 to 20 times on Saturdays and Sundays)?

Apparently, it turns out that my friend has a somewhat unique and novel strategy for building his personal brand. He intends to do it by….drumroll, please….by getting bottom-line results for his clients.

Well, good luck to him. That clearly isn’t going to work for the rest of us, is it? No way.

But building a personal brand through Twitter is no piece of cake. What to tweet? What to say that comes off as smart, witty, and contributing to the “conversation”? This is challenging for a lot of folks looking to build their personal brand.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that I can help.

Drawing on my deep marketing experience, top-notch writing skills, and world-class wit, I will tweet for you. All while you’re working on your real job.

And all for ten cents a tweet.

Here’s how it’s going to work: I will tweet 10 to 50 times per weekday in your name.  These tweets will be insightful, informative, and sometimes funny. We’ll have a preliminary discussion to define exactly what you want your personal brand to be.

You’ll be building your personal brand for as little as $1 per day. What a bargain.

In no time, you will have tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of followers anxiously awaiting your every tweet.

With just 1000 clients, I will be making a fortune (mostly because I will require a two-year contract, and will be collecting my fees in advance).

How much money will you make from this arrangement?

I have no idea, and quite frankly, I’m surprised that you’re even asking that question. After all, since having tens — or thousands — of followers seems to be so important to you,  I would have guessed that you figured out that part of the equation already.

Anyway, I’m here to help — all for ten cents a tweet. Call me. Oops, I mean tweet me.

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The Most Important Decision A Marketer Can Make

If you’ve checked your email inbox recently, then you know that you have a really important decision to make. After all, we marketers don’t have unlimited budgets and resources, do we? Nope. So you’re going to have to decide. Do you invest in:

  1. Viagra.
  2. Enhancing the size of your, um, asset[s].
  3. Boosting your Twitter follower count.

[Oddly,  I think there’s an underlying connection between all three options, but let’s not go there. For now.]

This decision just become even harder to make.

According to Advertising Age, uSocial — which will get you 1,000 Twitter followers for just $87 — is now offering to hook you up with 5,000 Facebook “friends” for $654 (7.6 cents/friend), or up to 10,000 Facebook “fans” for $1,167 (8.5 cents/fan). Apparently, this is a really good deal because, according to uSocial,  “since each Facebook friend or fan is worth $1 per month, buyers will make back their investment many times over in the first month.”

I’m sure that uSocial can back up this claim, unlike the folks who ran the Enzyte male enhancement commercials, who admitted that — gasp! — “the company made up much of the content that appeared in Enzyte ads.”

But it’s not the [potentially] bogus claim that bothers me. Because let’s face it: These offers wouldn’t exist if demand for them didn’t exist.

Here’s why this bugs me: Joe Pine and James Gilmore wrote a great book back in 2007 called Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want. Time magazine even said in 2008 that authenticity was one of the 10 ideas changing the world.

What kind of marketer pays for followers or fans to boost their follower or fan count? Not an authentic marketer, that’s for sure. I mean, how “authentic” could you possibly be if you’re willing to cut corners and buy followers and fans?

One of my favorite examples of this lack of authenticity is Washington Mutual (Wamu). A few years back, Wamu beat its chest in press releases that within 48 hours of launching a Facebook page that it had a couple of hundred followers (or fans or friends, whatever, I don’t know what you call them).

At the time, I snooped around and found that at least three-quarters of those followers were affiliated in one way or another with the ad agency that did the design work for the bank’s Facebook page. The irony is that not only were these fans not worth $1 per month each to the bank, but in essence, as a vendor to the bank, they cost the bank money.

So, dear marketers, you have an important decision to make. What will I do? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve ruled out option #3.

Off-Topic: Societus Interruptus

My wife hadn’t seen the first season of Mad Men, so we went to On Demand and loaded up Season 1, Episode 1. I saw something in that episode that you would never see in today’s business world.

No, it wasn’t the incessant cigarette smoking. Nor was it the blatant sexual harassment.

Instead, it was Don Draper closing the door to his office, laying down on his couch, and taking a nap. With nobody interrupting him.

That’s downright mind-boggling in today’s business world.

In the course of an email exchange with a friend recently, we bemoaned the seeming fact that so few managers think their way out of problems. As I thought about that some more, I realized that (for many) it’s not because they’re not able — it’s because they don’t have time.

Today’s managers face a never ending series of interruptions during the course of a day that just don’t allow them the time to sit and think. And worse, even if they did have time to do that, then either: 1) someone is bound to think they’re goofing off, or 2) they’ll feel uncomfortable because they’re not used to just sitting and thinking.

Personally, I’m very fortunate. I have a job that gives me time to think (in fact, it kinds of requires me to think). I couldn’t have it any other way — I left a higher paying job where I didn’t have time to think for this one.

It’s not that I’m not interrupted by things. I’m interrupted by plenty of things. But I’m very conscious about what I let interrupt me. Perhaps oddly, one of the things I let interrupt me are Twitter tweets. When a tweet pops up I take a look. And that’s why I’m picky about who I follow and agree to let follow me.

Generally, I’m more than happy to interrupt my train of thought to read what a Twitter buddy is thinking about, dealing with, enjoying, or frustrated about at that given moment. I don’t mind those interruptions at all.

But tweets that tell me what someone is eating, or that they’ve just arrived at their hotel/flight/work, or that they’ve just posted a new blog post (which I’ll find out about any way), are simply not interruptions worth my attention. They’re annoying, but I’ve endured them.

Until now.

Something has come along to shake me from my silent suffering. That something is called 12 Seconds.

So let me get this straight. When you tweet, you want me to stop what I’m doing to read your tweet. But when your tweet is nothing but a link to a 12 Second video, you’re asking me to read the tweet, click on the link, and then watch a video.

These videos may be nothing more than you telling me what you ate for breakfast. I don’t know. I’ve only watched one of them so far (it was McAlpine’s “I know who the CU Skeptic is” and I only watched it because I suspected that he would let time run out without mentioning the Skeptic’s name — and I was right).

You might dismiss all of this as just the grumbling of Mr. Cranky. Fair enough.

But I’m really trying to subtly and gently (which is really hard for me) make a bigger point.

In today’s business world, we all face one interruption after another. If you want your interruption to be noticed, then it has to have some value for its intended audience. Whether it’s a tweet, email, phone call, or a 12 Seconds video. This is especially true of the emerging social networking avenues. As new communication channels, there’s a sense of novelty to being able to “write on someone’s wall.” But the novelty will wear off real quick if these communiques are mindless expressions.

If, however, you still feel the need to tweet your breakfast, fine, I can live with that. Just as long as I don’t have to spend 12 seconds watching you eat it.

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If Only Twitter Worked (Better)

In October, I’ll be at Forum CU’s Partnership Symposium — not as a speaker, but as host. My role will be to conduct and facilitate Q&A with the speakers (each speaker gets 40 min. max presentation time, with 20 min. Q&A). Truth be told, I’m more nervous about pulling this off than if I had to do a speech or presentation myself.

Part of the reason for my fear is that facilitating group Q&A with 100+ people is tough. In too many conferences, someone is trying to run around with a microphone. Not only does s/he never get there in time, but — to be blunt, here — some people just can’t seem to get to the point when asking their question (I’m not saying that they ask a question just to hear themselves talk, but…).

Forrester pulls it off nicely at their conferences by having attendees write their questions on 3×5 cards and passing them to analysts who (select and) read the questions from the back of the room. This isn’t a viable option for the Forum Symposium.

So here’s the brilliant idea I came up with. I’d create a twitter ID that attendees could send tweets to during the speaker’s presentation (nearly everyone there will either be familiar with Twitter or sitting next to someone who is).

After I opened with a few questions, we’d project the questions that attendees tweeted onto the screen, and I’d pick the best ones (and I’m sure some attendees won’t be shy about suggesting which ones I choose). We’d not only avoid the awkwardness of someone running around with a mike, but avoid excluding that really great question that could get excluded when Q&A is done the old-fashioned way.

After taking a few minutes to pat myself on the back for coming up with such a great idea, reality set in. Is Twitter reliable enough to pull this off? No. In fact, NFW (and to think that Twitter’s CEO has the gall to talk about monetization — get your product working first, bud, then you can worry about monetization).

Oh well, for me it’s back to the drawing board.

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The Importance Of Setting — And Understanding — Customer Expectations

A while back I wrote about how understanding customers’ expectations and how well those expectations are met are among the most important things marketers can know.

The importance of customer expectations has reared it’s head again. Listen to what my Twitter-buddy Mike Templeton had to say on his blog recently in a post titled Twitter Is Taking Too Long To Respond:

It sounds like more and more people are getting frustrated these days. I’ve been spending more time on Plurk as a result. I’ve given up on using twhirl right now because the limit on requests is so low it just takes too long to stay up to date.”

My take: First off, I think Mike’s hunch that he’s not alone in his “frustration” is right on. But, based on the rest of his comment, I can’t help but think: My, how quickly we forget!

Do we not remember what is was like before Twitter? When we didn’t have any way of conducting real-time group communication?

But now, Mike — and presumably many other people — aren’t satisfied because, as Mike puts it, “twhirl threw off their auto-leveling requests to the Twitter API.” What’s really driving their frustration is that Twitter isn’t working as they expect it to.

Expectations have changed. If we had never experienced near real-time updates, 60 second updates might seem like a miracle.

And this is why I get skeptical when I see marketing campaigns like Berkshire Bancorp’s “most exciting bank” and WaMu’s “Whoo hoo!”

They set expectations that those firms might not be able to live up to. And I can’t think of a worse marketing sin than not living up to the expectations set by your advertising and marketing efforts.

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What The Social Media World Needs Now

Twitter is slowly collapsing under the weight of the growing social media world. That this should happen is no surprise. What will happen next shouldn’t come as a surprise either. The history of business repeats itself over and over: General, all-purpose products and services slowly give way to targeted, segmented offerings.

That’s why I see a migration away from Twitter to a number of new highly specialized “micro-blogging” platforms. The platforms won’t be oriented along traditional segmentation lines — i.e., type of customer — instead, they will specialize by type of message.

Expect to see the following micro-blogging platforms emerge in the near future:

  • Bitter: For those whiny, emo messages where you just have to complain about something.
  • Mutter: For those incoherent messages that no one can understand.
  • Jitter: For those useless, caffeine-induced “I’m at Starbucks” messages.
  • Quitter: For those messages that say “OK, I’m heading home now.”
  • Gutter: For messages that contain curse words.

I imagine that there will be a few more, but my strategy will be to hang around Twitter and wait for everybody else to leave.

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Twittiquette

Used to be, if you had a question about etiquette, you turned to Emily Post. But who do you turn to for expertise on Twitter etiquette?

I have some Twitter etiquette questions that I need answered. For starters:

How do you tell Twitter friends that their tweets are irksome, vexatious, nettlesome, and sometimes just plain irritating?

Maybe that’s not the right question. Maybe it’s “should” I tell these Twitter friends about how I feel in the first place? After all, they may have other Twitter friends who want to know that they’re currently spreading butter on their toast.

I know what you’re thinking: Just unfollow this person.

But it isn’t that just as offensive as telling them that their tweets are annoying? After all, for those of us who use Twitter to have conversations (as opposed to those Twits who seem to just want run up the total number of people that they follow, or worse — be followed by), the mutual act of following each other creates a kind of bond between two Twits.

In one regard, Twitter is a form of “permission” communication. By following you, I am permitting you to interrupt what I’m doing with your Tweets. And it’s the same when you follow me. Before I tweet, the unwritten/unspoken criteria for determining if a thought is tweet-worthy is “will this add to, or start, a conversation?”

I recognize that not everybody is going to use that criteria, and that I may have to compromise. But really, what’s going through someone’s head that makes them tweet every damn thing they do during the day? Are they that self-centered to think that somebody cares? Or just clueless?

And where is Emily Post when we need her?

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