Tag Archives: new media

Preserve Us From The Uncool

Twitter, the once esoteric microblogging utility has “crossed the chasm.” It is now popular, if not yet mainstream.


In case you missed it, last Friday, 17 April 2009, was “Twitter Day” on Oprah. And Oprah has shown she can move markets, if not mountains. Not only is she on Twitter, but at least for Twitter Day was tweeting live on her show. Oprah herself has in a few days gone from a standing start to over 300 thousand followers. If you want the current stats on the followers, visit her Twitter page and see the block in the upper right corner.

Actor Ashton Kutcher became the first to amass a million followers on Twitter. This was not spontaneous. Rather it was the result of well orchestrated marketing campaign, including — you guessed it — Twitter.

Many radio and TV shows accept or even solicit listener input via Twitter, while businesses and organizations are actively playing with it.

During the presidential campaign of 2008, one Twitter account dominated all others. As you may have guessed this was Barack Obama’s. His campaign understood and applied social media better than any competing candidate. He currently has about 887 thousand followers.

In these depressed times, meteoric success like Twitters cheers me up – all the more so, because it was so improbable. Who’d a thunk it? Initially the experience of most Twitter users, and I include myself, was not love at first Tweet. Gradually, we found ways of making this lightweight utility pretty darn useful. Each of us did this in different ways with different constituencies.

All is, however, not well in the Twittersphere. It is very likely that increased traffic will strain Twitter’s servers. There will be more temporary interruptions in service just as we had come to depend on Twitter.

Among certain quarters, the objections are more profound and profoundly less rational. That is, by becoming popular, Twitter will loose the cachet it had by being esoteric, counterintuitive, or to many just plain weird. As in one of Yogi’s bon mot “it’s so crowded nobody goes there.”

  • PR maven and Twitter user Steve Rubel posits the decline of Twitter because the geeks, who were its first patrons, will desert it for the next cool thing.
  • Technology analyst Jeremiah Owyang, expects a backlash as Twitter approaches mainstream.
  • While PC Magazine columnist Lance Ulanoff laments that “Oprah and Ashton will destroy Twitter.

I don’t think so. Email may be uncool, but it’s not going away anytime soon. Most of those who joined Twitter only because of Oprah may drop out, unless she starts Tweeting messages relevant to them. Those who find it useful will stay, no matter how they first got there.

When The Client Doesn’t Get It

Twitter, is a light weight online service. It is limited, like text messaging, to messages of 140 characters (called Twitters or Tweets). It has the potential to afford rapid two way messaging either broadcast or personalized conversations among customers and partners.

In two years Twitter has grown from nothing to an estimated six million registered users. Other estimates are half of that. Whatever the actual number, it has moved beyond technologists and early adopters and is mentioned in mainstream publications such ad Fortune, Business Week and the Wall St. Journal. Twitter has become a channel in its own right.

The service is free to both individual and corporate users and can be accessed through the Web, mobile phones, or computer software. The potential is there to inform, intervene, monitor and connect with far less overhead and start up costs than email, web, blogging, Facebook, or other social marketing tactics. Its rapid response and low bandwidth make among the ost immediate and compelling of a new crop of mobile applications.

Yet when I suggest Twitter to marketers, who are not already users, their responses range from indifference to rejection. They are seldom even interested in trying it. Why is this?
They ask for clarification – so, what is it? And that’s the problem. It has been described as:

  • Light weight social networking
  • Micro-blogging
  • Instant messaging
  • Many to many texting


Visiting Twitters home page and viewing the torrent of passing traffic isn’t compelling. Twitter messages, they can indeed seem like self absorbed babbling.

  • It doesn’t fit well in any established category
  • It seems at least as much abused as well used
  • It demands creativity and a degree of innovation from its users. Success will require experimentation and evaluation
  • It has the danger to degenerate into online drivel
  • Good business cases and “best practices” are just starting to emerge

Twitter’s business model has yet to be developed. It has yet to figure out how to make money. At present, that’s more Twitter’s problem than yours; but you don’t want to invest thought an effort into a medium if it is not like to stay around.

Our old friend ROI is hard to measure. Actually the investment in a Twitter campaign or marketing program can be trivial – no money and Much less effort than say a blogging or Facebook strategy. However it will take some thought, time, and inspiration. It you start a Twitter conversation, be prepared to maintain it.

Twitter is, of course, just one of many media. It has been used successfully by Barack Obama, but less so by Hillary Clinton, and still less by John McCain (based on followers and traffic). Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts use Twitter; Peets Coffee, Folgers, Maxwell House and many others in the category appear not to. Dell and HP use it; Lenovo, Toshiba, and Sony don’t.

Among marketers, technologists, and some media cognoscenti Twitter is cool. This of course is no reason to use it.

What to do:

See if your firm, industry, products or issues are actively discussed on Twitter by searching at search.twitter.com.

Track and follow discussions of those influential in your industry.
Respond, when you have something to contribute.

Even Twitter fans admit it may take some getting used to. It looks quite different after using it for a week or two.

Are a significant number of your customers, or those who might influence your customers using Twitter. If you don’t know, you should to try to.

If they do, Twitter is worth a try. You may gain valuable market insight, test a concept, or launch a guerilla promotion campaign.

Otherwise, you would do better to reach prospects where they are through media they are acquainted with. Leave the cool to someone with venture capital to burn. Even if you’re sure Twitter could be a useful part of the marketing mix, let it go. In the words of the late LL Bean, who left no opinion of Twitter, “Nobody ever won an argument with a customer.”

Marketer Of The Year

Marketing publication, Advertising Age, recently chose its 2008 marketer of the year. Finalists included such familiar and prodigious brands as Apple, Nike, and, for its turnaround, Coors. Accomplished as the contestants were, the winner overshadowed them. It grew his brand from obscurity to ubiquitous name recognition in the US and wide recognition globally.

We could dismiss Ad Age’s choice. What cannot be dismissed are the accomplishments of this marketer.

  • The product rose to category dominance over a dozen competitors, many of which were initially better known and funded.
  • A self financing MARCOM budget exceeding half a billion dollars
  • A dominant market share of 53% with November sales exceeding 65 million units.
  • A devoted group of product fans and evangelists.
  • A multi-channel affiliate network.
  • Integrated inbound and outbound marketing campaigns through families of web sites, blogs, text messages, newsletters and email. Online media were matched with massive national and locally targeted TV advertising (this may have appealed to Ad Age). Paid media coverage was dwarfed by news coverage of product development and launch.
  • Leading in every age category except for those 65 and over.
  • Mastery of new media, word of mouth and viral marketing as shown by having more than:
    • One hundred thousand followers on Twitter
    • 150,000 results on Flickr
    • 900,000 results on MySpace
    • 3 million supporters on Facebook
    • 400,000 videos on YouTube
    • 90 million results on Google

This brand is still in the early stages of its life cycle.

If you haven’t guessed already, the marketer of the year is Barack Obama

And The Real Winner Is…

This November Fourth, the most expensive product launch in history will end.

The campaign has been interesting to practitioners of non-traditional media of all political persuasions. Blogs, webinars, Tweets, ‘zines, established social networks such as Facebook, as well as special purpose online communities have enabled even obscure aspirants to become contenders. For example, new media enhanced and extended the candidacy of Ron Paul. With them, he could mount a boot-strap campaign becoming better known and then raising more funds in an increasing cycle.

There has been a marked difference in effort and effectiveness of employing new media among the candidates. Obama’s campaign has been far more active and effective than McCain’s. This has propelled Obama’s advantage in fund raising and via social-networking increased his online coverage versus that of McCain.

Obama has raised over $600 million and McCain more than $ 350 million[1]. What can you do with such a marketing budget? New media are so effective and efficient, that it would be really hard to spend it in that way. Thus the campaigns are buying huge amounts of airtime. This leads to the ironic result that the real winners of 2008 are old media.

[1] There are a number of other active candidates, such as Ralph Nader. According to Federal Elections Commission data, total amount raised by all other candidates is less than 0.5% of what McCain and Obama have raised.

Going Viral

As marketers, we usually have pay to say or show something. So we have budgets for advertising, promotion, PR, events, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could get others to do this for us. Not only would this amplify the reach or our message, it would increase its credibility. Those who spread our message are to some extent recommending us. Here’s where viral marketing comes it.

Viral marketing is not new (what in marketing is?), but new technologies make easier and can increase its impact. In addition to email, we have blogs, social networks, Tweets, and content sharing sites. They have the potential to launch an epidemic, which distributes our content farther and wider than we could, even if we had the budgets we wanted. It may be the latest embodiment of our eternal quest for the free lunch.

In its simplest form this means creating some communication so interesting, irritating, or attention grabbing that people will send it unsolicited and unpaid to friends and colleagues. If each recipient sends to multiple associates, you can get a hypergrowth, which resembles an epidemic hence the term viral.

Perhaps the best single example of a viral medium is YouTube. It is built to make sharing quick, easy, and free. Of course, this guarantees nothing. YouTube has not stated how many videos it hosts. Estimates are on the order of 100 million. If all you do is upload, an audience will probably not come.

Going viral is a long shot. As always, start with content. When creating something, whether for a local 30 second spot, a trade show, or a sales conference think about how it could be used or adapted as a viral communication. Reuse and mashups should be encouraged.

Marketing consultant and author David Meerman Scott cited the case of the Cadbury Gorilla http:// at the recent New Marketing Summit. David relates that Cadbury was able to reuse an existing commercial to the tune of over 3 million views on YouTube. The epidemic didn’t stop there. This video has spawned more than a dozen derivative videos, many of which have been viewed a substantial number of times. So there is a significant echo of the original message.

The video has no call to action – Cadbury can’t tell how many more chocolate bars it sold. The ROI is thus unknown. This could be a problem, but the cost of the program is negligible. In this case it amounts to the effort of monitoring viewership, links and references to the videos and to Cadbury itself.

To see what types of content are watching and more importantly sharing, consult video.google.com/videoranking

Not sure how viral fits your message and strategy or are generally uneasy about video production, you might wish to get started promoting something else. A number of firms are hosting contests. Draft a 30 to 60 second script or an idea on which to improvise and grab your home video camera. We hope to feature your video in an upcoming post.