Sunday, December 28, 2008

Twitter Authority Firestorm

As often happens during the weekends, another big debate is brewing on Twitter. Loic LeMeur wrote a post yesterday stating that Twitter needs authority based search, where the number of followers influences the search results, sort of like Google’s page rank. LeMeur says on his blog,

“We're not equal on Twitter, as we're not equal on blogs and on the web. I am not saying someone who has more followers than yourself matters more, but what he says has a tendency to spread much faster.”

And Michael Arrington strongly agrees.  Thus, tweets from high profile users like LeMeur (15,000 followers) and Arrington (36,000) will jump to the top and ours will fall to the bottom.  The whole issue started because LeMeur did not want to read all of the 7,000 tweets that were generated by his recent LeWeb conference.  He only wanted to read those of the “important” people.  I’m sure he had no problem taking the money of the unimportant that attended LeWeb.

Several notables have railed against authority based search.


And on the blogs:

  1. Bob Warfield first responded with “Let Them Eat Cake”
  2. Sarah Lacy wrote “Thank God Loic doesn’t run Twitter”
  3. And today Robert Scoble (with his 45000 followers) jumped in with “Mike and Loic are wrong with Twitter search”

I find it interesting that everyman Scoble strongly opposes others in the big follower club and references Warfield’s blog, one of those smaller voices that Arrington/ LeMeur don’t want to read.

Following the discussion, Jon Wheatley and an enterprising team of developers quickly created Twitority, an authority based Twitter search engine.  You can try it out to see what you think.

What are your thoughts about authority based search?  Do you think there is a place for it? Or is it just another bad idea?

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Trivia Contest

Did you play in Peter Shankman’s Boxing Day trivia contest on Twitter today? You may know Peter or Skydiver from the Help a Reporter Out program that he created to help provide credible sources for reporters.  As a result of HARO and his professional activities, Peter has over 18,000 followers on Twitter.  He also acquired lots of SWAG throughout the year which he chose to give away on the day of Christmas Eve. His contests were so popular that many sponsors contacted him to give away their prizes and lots of good stuff, like Oggio Travel gear, a custom Snow board, a Peek email device, and the grand prize, a Reno/Tahoe winter escape for two. All in all, over 50 prizes worth over $12,000. Peter asked all kinds of trivia questions and received over 6000 replies, the top @’ed person all day, according to Tweetstats. Brian Shaler joined Peter and hooked up a camera so that the contest was streamed from Peter’s living room.




As you can see, a pretty popular contest and a fabulous way to engage an audience on Twitter.  Brands, large and small that are joining Twitter should pay attention to this as it is a fantastic way to get visibility to your brand, engage with your audience/ prospects in a fun way and ultimately sell more products.  An excellent corporate use of Twitter and social media.

And the final trivia question:


The lucky winner:


Congrats to ThirdHyphen, Peter, Brian and everyone who played.  It was great fun and a real example of how brands can use social media in a fun way. 

So what do you think? Would a contest like this work for all brands on Twitter? What brands would you like to see participating?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I’ve got great friends

Earlier I wrote about the great support that I have received from my Twitter community since I was laid off last week. Now I like to share an update. The past few days have been a blur as I have been chasing job leads and talking to a lot of people.  Hopefully, I am moving closer to my goal of a new job that uses my online marketing and social media skills to make a strong contribution to a growth oriented, innovative company. I’ve had a lot of help from great friends in keeping busy and for that I am very grateful. They have been supportive, given great leads and connections, and provided wonderful advice. Here are some of the public ones that you may not have seen.

Peter Kim wrote an exciting post on his blog, Is Your Community Prepared to Help, in which he gives great networking advice on how to prepare in case of emergencies. I don’t know if I am the poster child for preparation, but I am certainly glad to have invested so much time in my network.  Rick Murray picked up Peter’s theme and wrote, Happy to Help, in which he not only talks about helping me, but also offers to accept Peter's challenge and go to work for you. 

The amazing Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell wrote How to Prepare for being laid off, the Warren Sukernek way by building up your social capital and cultivating an account of goodwill.  Smartest Man in the World, Saul Colt, wrote A few things to try if you happen to get fired/laid off this holiday season.  For those that know Saul, you know that he wrote a thoughtful, but humorous piece full of great advice. And finally, a new friend that I met through this ordeal, Jeff Shuey, who is going through the process himself, wrote Twitter for the Gainfully Available and Actively Under-Employed.

Each blogger offers great advice, using me as a poster child for the importance of having a strong network. I don’t think I want to be the “Rock Star of the unemployed” for very long, but I certainly appreciate the attention as it will bring more visibility.

How can you help?

Many people have asked how they can help.  Of course, any job leads or connections are very much appreciated. Please send me a message on Twitter or a DM if appropriate. But if you’d like to help, here are a few other things that you can do:

  • Tell some friends and contacts that may be in position to help.
  • Send my resume to your contacts and have them read Warren Sukernek’s social media resume.
  • Create your own post.
  • Write a LinkedIn recommendation regarding my skills, our relationships, whatever authentic work of mine that you are familiar with and can share. You can find me here.
  • Leave a comment here with your best job-seeking advice so that we can share it with others in need.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thank you for your support!

As some of you may know, yesterday was a tough day for me as I became a statistic, a victim to one of the many advertising agency layoffs. But in today’s social media world, our community on Twitter really helped me with their support and kindness.

brogan As Chris Brogan said, today with social media, we don’t have to be alone in our layoff moments.  Online communities give us the opportunity to share, grieve and recover. That was certainly true for me yesterday. For these kind words and so many more, I am grateful.


eyecube cdny



I will be writing another more detailed post shortly.  In fact a few of my friends, with very popular blogs have offered to let me post there, but until that time, in the words of the immortal Bartles & James ads from the 80’s, Thank you for your support.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is Twitter becoming Facebook

As Twitter grows and becomes more mainstream, it must appeal to those outside of the Social Media fishbowl. Four recent entrants appear to be doing just that.

Last week, we saw the debut of the Shorty Awards. According to the website, The Shorty Awards honor the world’s top Twitterers in categories as diverse as startups, design, business, sports and just plain weird. Clearly, the next “competition for the self-obsessed” Twittergraders. In terms of competition, there is the Tweetwasters, an admittedly useless site that will calculate how much time you waste on Twitter based on the number of tweets that you have posted. There is even a hall of fame!

And today, TwitorFit debuts. No, it’s not a site that helps you shed those 5 pounds you gained at the holiday parties, this is Hot or Not on Twitter as described by TechCrunch. The Twits (low scores) and Fits (high scores) are sure to take over in popularity. Once you join, Twitorfit will send a tweet to your followers asking them to vote for you. As David Petherick says in his blog,The Next Web, Twitorfit “is puerile, silly, and quite useless. But I love it”. There is even a blog badge for you to proudly show your score.


And last but not least, there is the OldSayingGame which also debuted this morning. OldSayingGame will tweet half of an obscure old saying every day. Then you send a DM of a witty statement to complete it. Then invite your friends to vote. Win votes to prove that you are the cleverest Tweeter!

Are these new games an indication that Twitter has jumped the shark? Or is it just another way to let off some steam as part of a busy day? And will we soon see Facebook’s Ninjas, Packrat, and Snowball throwing on Twitter? What do you think will be the next big Twitter game?

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Twitter: love having the brands, but I don’t have to know the person behind the brand

A very provocative post on Mashable today in which Mark Drapeau shares his thoughts about brands on Twitter. Mark thinks that brands should not be on Twitter, but that people ‘hide’ behind organizational brands, obscuring their persona and therefore reducing authenticity and transparency. Yes, it’s a subject that has been discussed many times. I’ve written about brands on Twitter and best practices many times. And of course, there was the survey that Peter Sorgenfrei and I ran in which 240 Twitter users were asked to give their perceptions on brands. Once again, three key points:

  • Not surprisingly, most users (89%) agree that brands should engage their customers on Twitter.The majority also have a better impression of brands that use Twitter for customer service (81%).
  • Proper usage of Twitter however, is paramount as almost 90% of users would frown upon poor or inappropriate brand use of Twitter.
  • The power of a relationship is extremely strong on Twitter. 60% of respondents would recommend a company based on their presence on Twitter and 80% of Twitter users will reward those brands they have key relationships by being more willing to purchase from them.
  • And you can find over 50 brands using Twitter on a Social Media Marketing wiki that Peter Kim is curating.

    Over 70 people have commented on Mashable today and the predominant opinion is that we like our brands on Twitter. Since Twitter is an opt-in community, I can choose to follow whoever or whatever brand I want. I was particularly impressed with Pete Blackshaw’s (author of Angry Customers tell 3000) comment, paraphrased here, Part of what’s drawn brands to Twitter has been the very enthusiastic reception of Twitterites (tens of thousands of them) who have been preaching company and brand “engagement” and “responsiveness” and “participation.” If anything, the Twitter crowd has flirted with righteousness in encouraging brands to participate.

    Christine Perkett of Perkett PR says in her Mashable comment,

    I think this is an interesting debate and - like anything - comes down to personal preference. That’s why I actually love Twitter - I can choose to follow, unfollow or even just save a certain brand’s “Tweet” that I want to remember.

    Obviously as a marketer - and one of the brands on Twitter (in addition to the numerous clients that we’ve helped kick start on Twitter) - I am a fan of such. However, I think more specifically, I am a fan of brands doing it right. And by that I mean - engaging and being personable as you suggest. Not just using Twitter as an RSS feed. Not just blasting your own news/agenda. Combining industry insights with opinions and news and, when warranted, even humor. And, identifying who is behind the corporate handle.

    Felix Leander of Burson-Marsteller, also gives a similar perspective on his excellent PR/ Social media blog.

    Does anyone disagree that brands should be on Twitter, but there is certainly a right way on how to do it? How would you help a brand to understand Twitter and do it right?

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    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    Around the World in 140 Characters – Notes from Ev’s speech to Churchill Club

    Evan Williams of TwitterImage by Adam Tinworth via Flickr

    We all know that Twitter excels at events, enabling us to connect with others, take notes, and report on what’s happening. But what happens to the notes after the event? But are they really helpful? Coherent? We never really look back at the notes and reassemble them into a full report. Hopefully, after you read this, you will believe that Tweeting at events is invaluable.

    Last night at San Francisco’s Churchill Club, Evan Williams was interviewed by Kevin Maney, Contributing Editor, Condé Nast Portfolio in a talk entitled, “Around the World in 140 Characters: Sound Bites on Twitter, the Web, and Surviving the Economic Meltdown”. Tweeters Shel Israel, Matt Perez, Marissa Coughlin, Cindy Waters, and the Churchill Club took notes and I’ve attempted to reconstruct the notes into an article based only on what was tweeted. You can find Shel’s insights as well as reports from Kevin Maney and the NY Times.


    The old biz model question. @ev of course won't say how, but vows they will. Advertising possible but not likely.

    We don't make money...yet! There's a lot of potential for revenue in the future."it seems clear to me that we can make money." We raised more money than we originally planned & they are hiring less. Is more cautious than he was before.

    But the company does not want to have to look for more financing in 2009. It's a bad year for that We're trying to get Twitter into a position where we don't have to raise $ in mid-2009. Revenue more of a priority now. If need be we can bootstrap. Confident but cautious. Since the financial crisis, Twitter has changed course. We will focus on revenue sooner. He had planned to wait until 2010. May be looking for revenue in Q1 2009.

    @ev doesn't see a big future inside enterprise. It's just not designed for internal use. Focus on global network. More likely they will offer corporate services. Also retail transactions. Marcom services such as Starbucks is using. @ev is excited about little things--the coffee shop down the street who post about a special, once daily.

    In Japan partnering with @joi ito & they use ads. They split rev. "It's OK but not a slam dunk. Japan model is not replicable in the US. Necessarily. Not focused on internationalizing yet. Undecided on partnering elsewhere. Consumer Internet companies need to be international by day 1, and will have clones by day 7.

    Our threat is people seeing the concept and thinking they can kick our butt. We're still tiny compared to the big guys.


    Twitter started out with the geeks but it's never been just a geek-centric interface. It has a broader appeal.No generational split on Twitter, essentially said there is no age skew. But the userbase skews older than people think. College age goes for Facebook.

    Election night was the peak usage for Twitter. But it was a plateau. Now that number is daily. twitter peaks for events. When CNN called Obama the winner was their biggest moment prior to that might have been the iPhone announce "we've evolved." @ev says @barackobama has the most followers, but he hasn't tweeted since elected. There are at least 200 newspapers on Twitter, pushing out feeds or providing original content. @LATimes lets you get specific topics.

    Disasters have been good for Twitter. People turn to us in crises like fire and earthquakes--but we are vulnerable to misinformation. @ev says Indian government asked them to shut down Twitter during the crisis last week when people were tweeting about it.


    The company had a lot of tech problems. Had scaling problems since Mar 07 until Jul 08. Last 4 mos its running OK. @ev says we have completed firefighting mode and now we can start improving and growing. Amazing we are doing so well considering these problems.

    User Experience

    @ev says no one understands Twitter, old and young. Big problem is people signup & don't know where to start. Focus on fixing. Helping people find FB friends on Twitter. @ev says that twitter will make it easier to let people "silo activities" so that they can have different conversations for family & business. we've removed more features from Twitter than we've added, We want to give people better tools but Summize integration IS coming. Search tool helped in #mumbai.

    Twitters new tag line: Twitter let's you find people, events, organizations you care about in real time wherever you are.


    @ev says that he learned from Google that focus is the most important thing. @ev has ideas for future. He's not good at seeing the future. @biz & @jack are more visionary. But we feel it through osmosis. @ev worked on Blogger for 6 yrs and Twitter will dwarf it.

    Ev said the company has found its groove & he sees no end in sight to growth. It comes down to execution. We sense it when we go to dinner with friends and Twitter is what their friends are talking about it. We are not driving the train. Trying to see where the tracks are going.


    Twitted first launched as @ev says he hardly ever blogs now that he's on Twitter because he usually tweets. Blogs and Twitter are complementary, Twitter just part of new ecosystem. BTW sold Blogger to Google very early on.If he had held... who knows.

    Great interview by Kevin Maney, excellent reporting by Shel Israel, Matt Perez, Marissa Coughlin, Cindy Waters, and now I feel like I was there.

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    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    The Invisible Twitter Man

    An interesting controversy on Twitter today. Matt Bacak, anyone ever hear of him? – Exactly - self released a press release calling himself, The Powerful Promoter, “First Facebook, now Twitter. The Powerful Promoter, Matt Bacak, has taken himself to the top of the social media networks yet again, this time beating out 99.9% of the fastest growing site's members”. As you would expect, the Twitterverse has not been kind. Scott Baird, describes the reaction in his blog, Matt’s press release states “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I actually prove that mine are,”. “The problem is that this type of ego really contradicts the the overall social media mentality which is basically “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community”.


    You can see the backlash through Twittersearch. Bacak has been called the Biggest Douche in Social Media and 232 people have dugg the article with 69 comments at this time. Jamie Scheu described the situation well on his blog, Promote Your Way to Irrevocable Personal Humiliation.


    As humiliating as this situation may be, it points out the problem with our obsession with keeping score. Matt Bacak wrote a press release because he got a high Twittergrader score.


    How does a guy who follows just 32 people with 1500 updates and most importantly, no one knows, get such a high score? As you can see, Bacak is so memorable that real Top Twitterer, Aaron Brazell, calls him Joe. Maybe the wizards at Twittergrader need to go back to Hogwarts. How can you give a person that no one on Twitter knows a 99.9! Aside from the grade inflation or algorithm problems, I think what the Invisible Twitter Man points out is the problem with ego and score obsession in social media. Hopefully, we can get back to Scott Baird’s point and let social media be about the overall community.

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    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    Who cares about Qwitter?

    I like to try new tools that augment the Twitter experience. Some have proven to be fantastic like Summize which Twitter eventually bought. For the past 6 weeks, I have subscribed to Qwitter. Qwitter is a tool that tracks when someone unfollows you on Twitter, and then sends you a notification along with the last tweet you sent before the unfollow. It is intended to let you know if you have posted some insensitive tweets and who has unfollowed. During my Qwitter tenure, 87 people have unfollowed me. You may think that is a large number, but more than 3 times as many people have followed me during the same time frame. Honestly, I see the Twitter community as a Learn, Try, Buy phenomenon. I may Learn about another user from seeing a friend respond to him/her. Subscribing is the trial phase and then sustained following is the Buy.

    There may be many reasons why I unfollow someone. Perhaps I don’t find the person interesting, perhaps they are a little too focused on their own stuff, too chatty, perhaps they don’t follow me back, or perhaps I am just pruning my list.

    Much has been written about Qwitter and unfollowing. Earlier this month Ken Burbary wrote a great post about the Sting of an Unfollow. Ken broke down motivations for unfollowing and the relative unimportance of being unfollowed. Aaron Strout recently blogged about Unfollows and Qwitter in which he shared his thoughts in an utter. Aaron talked about his motivations for unfollowing, understanding that you may not be someone’s cup of tea and the importance of following someone back. I agree with Aaron in that if you don’t follow me, I seldom feel the need to follow you. And most recently, Amber Naslund wrote a great post, The Fallacy of Qwitter. Amber rails on the obsession with knowing when someone leaves. She compares Twitter to Podcamp’s Law of Two Feet – “If you’re not finding value in what’s happening around you, get up, walk out. It’s nothing personal, it’s about creating a quality-saturated personal experience”. And as she says, “It’s impossible to please everyone. so don’t worry about it”.

    Similar to everyone above, I try to not to take an unfollow too seriously. I do have a couple of interesting stories though. When I first joined Qwitter, I sent a Spam complaint out about one of the notorious spammers. A follower sent me a direct message that I should use the direct message approach because seeing my Spam alert was somewhat spammy. I didn’t give it much consideration until I got 6 qwitters after my note. Now I send @Spam a direct message. This may be the only benefit of using Qwitter that I have experienced. By the way, I find it ironic to get more Qwitters over a spam notification than a Sunday of cheering for the Jets—Go figure!

    Then I got a Qwitter challenge (my only one) from Jeremy Epstein after I unfollowed him. it was delivered in an interesting manner, a Facebook friend request. At first, I was shocked to be challenged as to why I unfollowed him. For the record, it was because he never followed me back. Then I thought if the guy cares enough to ask and send me a FB friend request, I might as well follow him back. And so I did, and I even sent him to Ken’s post which you see below. An interesting aspect of this is Jeremy never followed me back. You can read Jeremy's post here.


    I think Lawrence Liu said it best, I think some people take this way too seriously.

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    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Shaq is keepin it Real on Twitter

    w:Shaquille O'Neal of the w:Miami Heat.Image via Wikipedia

    As Twitter has grown in popularity, celebrities have also jumped in. We’ve all gone crazy over Al Gore, Lance Armstrong, Dave Matthews, and Brea Grant and Greg Grunberg from Heroes. Earlier this month, everyone was excited that a Twitter account was opened to share the thoughts and blog updates from Britney Spears. However, as pointed out by Paul Glazowski in his Mashable column, Britney’s Twitter account was written by Lauren Krusk, Britney’s Social Media Director. Our celebrity obsession is so great that Eric Burke has even created a site to verify the authenticity of the celebrity.

    However, not one of these celebrities has embraced Twitter in the manner that we all use it everyday. Not one of the people mentioned above follows more than 77 people (Brea Grant) except for Britney, but that is just a publicist oriented account. As you can see below, some update very sporadically. Now, one would assume that a reason why these people have joined Twitter is to engage with their fans, yet there isn’t a lot of engagement going on, is there?

    Celebrity Following Followers Updates
    Al Gore 1 19,736 5
    Lance Armstrong 2 6,159 188
    Dave Matthews 3 9.032 1,128
    Brea Grant 77 3,486 671
    Greg Grunberg 10 3,076 413
    Britney Spears 1,555 8.970 42

    However, another big personality has joined Twitter and this one as befits his style is leading the way. You may have seen that Shaquille O’Neal has actively joined Twitter. In just 4 days, starting with his first tweet announcing his presence, O’Neal has followed 267 people, almost 10,000 followers and updated an average of 30 times/day which is equivalent to his scoring average in his prime.


    Much has already been written about Shaq on Twitter, from the NY Times article to Adam Ostrow’s Mashable article about how a skeptic was proven wrong with an actual phone call from Shaq. Can you believe that, he actually called a fan! And as we have come to expect from The Diesel, he is showing us his inimitable style, his personality, his candor, and his realness. He is responding to his fans, consistently as shown below.



    Shaq may say, “there can only be one me”, but as he said earlier today, “"most leaders r made. .wanna b sucessful, act like a leader”. Shaq is showing others how it’s done and he seems to be having a good time. Shaq is raising the bar for other celebrities to be real, be active, and actually engage with their fans. And it really shows the power of a passionate community like Twitter. Last week I wrote about how a league like the NFL can benefit by bringing its fans together with its players and now Shaq is leading the way!

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    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    When’s the G7 Tweetup?

    Inspired by Barack Obama’s success on Twitter and to a lesser degree, Gordon Brown, world leader’s are jumping on Twitter. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined Twitter last week. In fact, the PM claimed that so many followers joined, that his Twitter page crashed. Obviously, that seems pretty dubious in light of the fact that Al Gore joined Twitter and amassed over 5000 followers in an hour.

    The most recent entrant is former Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Party leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu tweets in hebrew, but a new cool Twitter feature in search will translate all of his tweets with a click. Netanyahu has even copied Obama’s website style, it’s colors, fonts, videos, and icons.


    Having witnessed the power of the web in the US presidential election campaign, world leaders are engaged in a high-tech arms race to win the hearts and minds of switched-on citizens. So friends to the north, where is Stephen Harper?

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    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Oy, I’ve got such a Motrin headache

    Jessica Gottlieb is a smart and very busy woman. She writes 4 blogs, one on sustainability at Celsias as well as Green Options, pop culture at National Lampoon and her own blog about parenting. Yesterday, this busy woman saw an ad for Motrin pitched to new mothers that rubbed her the wrong way and a viral movement started. As Jessica states, a few hours and several tweets later, MotrinMoms is the #1 search on Twitter, eclipsing SNL for the first time since Obama was elected.


    The campaign has certainly gone viral, but not in the way Motrin had expected. Katja Presnal, created a video on all the tweets that is getting lots of visibility on YouTube. She is also collecting links on her blog. There are currently over 50 blogs that have written about the #MotrinMoms controversy.

    geekAs Lucretia Pruitt states, pissing off your target audience is not a smart strategy. Jessica explains why the ad campaign had such a pronounced impact, “Don’t pick on the weak.

    New mothers are fragile. Motrin has proven, irrevocably that they don’t understand that Mothers are the ones in the grocery stores. Mothers clip coupons and build brands with discussion. Mothers get together and uplift one another.

    So when you pick on a few new mommies, you get all of us.

    The #MotrinMoms of Twitter will never buy Motrin again. Babywearing is best for baby and companies that support our babies get our dollars.”

    Laura Fitton blogs about the missed opportunity and how Motrin should have listened to its audience on Twitter, both before the campaign to understand their target audience and during the campaign to get a feel for customer’s reaction. They still have not responded on Twitter, any blogs or on any of the other social networks. Reputation Management guru, Andy Beal explains in his blog, Taking a look at the negative Twitter conversations surrounding #motrinmom demonstrates that Motrin is, in just a few short hours, facing a huge reputation disaster–initiated by the very audience Motrin hoped to target, “Mama Bloggers.”

    This episode further supports the research that we recently completed that Twitter members want to engage in dialog with their brands. Just think how quickly this issue could have been addressed and resolved, if Motrin had first listened to its target audience and then engaged with them during the campaign. Instead, they’ve got a headache that will require something much stronger than Motrin to fix.

    November 17th Update:

    The Groundswell continues….It seems like everyone on Twitter has written a blog post. The VP of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare issued an apology on Katja’s blog. David Armano has an insightful post looking at the impact on Google search results and offers great advice to brands that may be faced with a similar situation. Jeremiah Owyang’s post demonstrates the impact that the Motrin controversy has had using Twitter analytics and shares lessons learned. It will be interesting to see if there is more response from Motrin today or the issue just blows over as some are predicting….Stay tuned.

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    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Be Safe. LA

    Map of major Southern California area codesImage via Wikipedia

    As often happens during crises, Twitter is first to respond and provide updates about what’s happening. Here are some great resources to stay abreast of the wildfires in Southern California. Nate Ritter, public service twitter extraordinaire has launched Crisiswire, a site that gathers real time crisis information to help the communities. They are currently tracking Sylmar Fires and Santa Barbara Fires separately. Of course, there is the fabulous LAFD providing Twitter updates and also a blog.

    Unfortunately, the Red Cross has just one update on their Twitter account that is 24 hours old.

    The most common Twitter hashtags to use are:

    You can also find photos on Flickr and YouTube using the same tags.

    Thanks to Tracy Lee, here are two great maps of the fires, one from CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services and one from grizzlehizzle that is updated in realtime. 

    Be safe, Southern Cal and let us know of any other good resources to stay updated.

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    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Where was the NFL?

    nyj Last night we saw one of the most exciting regular season football games in quite some time as the Jets beat the Patriots, 34-31 in overtime. Twitter was rocking, as it often does during events. Between people tweeting about their team and the #patsjets hashtag, there must have been over 1000 tweets from football fanatics. Personally, it was even better winning a bet with Jim Storer and seeing him change his avatar to the lovely NY Jets logo. I am anxious to see all of the nice Jets related comments that Jim will be making (also part of the bet).
    I’ve written before about how much Twitter enhances watching a sporting event at home. it’s like watching the game in your living room with a few hundred friends. And that was certainly true last night. However, based on the Twitter brand survey that Peter Sorgenfrei and I just completed, I think there could be so much more for fans.
    How great would it have been if representatives of the Jets and Patriots were tweeting along with us? Especially if it was former players. Who wouldn’t follow @CurtisMartin or @SteveGrogan? What if the tweet stream was picked up by the NFL Network and displayed on the bottom of the screen like CNN and Current did during the election. The NYTimes live blogs on the Fifth Down during games. Wouldn't you like to see their tweets during the game? Or wouldn’t it have been great to have a dedicated page like the Twitter election page where all of the posts could be flying in, so we don’t have to keep a search window open? And I’m sure some of the NFL sponsors could get their message up on the chrome. I don’t want to focus on monetization ideas now, but this seems like a natural fit. Would the experience that I described, enhance your game watching/ Twittering? Which brands would you like to see engaging with you while you were watching the game and in what way?

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Do I Want to Follow Your Brand?

    A Survey of Brand Perception on Twitter

    Recently Peter Sorgenfrei and Warren Sukernek conducted a survey on Twitter regarding users’ perception of brands on Twitter. We surveyed 240 people with 6 questions regarding interacting with brands. The survey and results are below. A couple of key insights:

    • Not surprisingly, most users (89%) agree that brands should engage their customers on Twitter.The majority also have a better impression of brands that use Twitter for customer service (81%).
    • Proper usage of Twitter however, is paramount as almost 90% of users would frown upon poor or inappropriate brand use of Twitter.
    • The power of a relationship is extremely strong on Twitter. 60% of respondents would recommend a company based on their presence on Twitter and 80% of Twitter users will reward those brands they have key relationships by being more willing to purchase from them.
    • Influencers: More than 60% of respondents have 100+ followers and almost 50% of respondents have posted more than 1000 Tweets since they signed up for the service.

    Twitter Survey by @warrenss, Twittermaven blog and @researchguy, Sorgenfrei
    – attribution appreciated. Documents protected by Creative Commons License.

    I'd love to get your thoughts and insights. What did you think of the survey, the results, and most importantly, how companies can join Twitter?

    Q1: “I feel brands should engage with their customers on Twitter”
    89% of respondents answered favorably (agree or strongly agree) with just under 50% answering agree. Just over 10% of the audience disagreed with the
    statement. Thus, the respondents are overwhelmingly in favor of
    brands joining Twitter and having conversations with customers. This
    should not be surprising as the majority of the respondents are
    strong fans of the service.
    Q2: “I have a much better impression of companies that use Twitter for customer service”
    Eighty-one percent of the respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the
    statement. Just two percent strongly disagreed. Since several
    companies such as Comcast, Zappos, Dell, and HR Block have become
    notable on Twitter in using the service to resolve customer service
    problems, they have made a favorable impression on their peers.
    Q3: “I am interested in receiving special offers and coupons from companies on Twitter”
    40% of respondents agreed with the statement and just 15% strongly agreed. So although the group was in favor of receiving special offers, there was a very strong dissent. Over 15% of respondents strongly disagreed which was the highest percentage in the entire survey.Twitter users are wary of over promotion and being bombarded with offers and coupons. This is in contrast to Q1, where just under 90% of respondents were very favorable towards a company resence on Twitter. One can conclude that the Twitter community wants dialogue and relationships from their favorite brands, not broadcasted impersonal coupons.

    Q4: “If a company uses Twitter poorly or inappropriately, it would affect my overall perception of their brand”

    88% of the respondents were in agreement (strongly agree or agree) with this
    statement. This statement really resonated with the audience as it received the highest strongly agree score (50.5%) out of the entire survey. Correspondingly, strongly disagree had the lowest score in the entire survey for this question as well. The Twitter community wants to engage in conversation with their brands, but it will not tolerate poor practices from those companies. Although poor or
    inappropriate use was not defined in the survey, that is assumed to include broadcasting messages, lack of responses, latency in response, follower spam.
    Q5: “I would recommend a company’s product or service based on their
    presence/usage of Twitter

    60% of respondents were in favor (strongly agree or agree) with this statement. 16.7% strongly agreed. The strength of the Twitter relationship is such that it can positively impact brand perception and recommendations of that brand. Company Twitter usage and relationships has an impactful word of mouth effect. As seen elsewhere, offline word of mouth activities are affected by online recommendations and experiences.

    Q6: I would be more willing to purchase a product/service from a company that has a relationship with me on Twitter”

    Over 78% of respondents were in favor (strongly agree or agree) with this
    statement. As described in Q5, the power of the relationship on Twitter is very strong. In Q6, the relationship appears to have an even stronger impact than Q5. The audience is more willing to purchase a product than recommend it. Respondents are willing to reward company’s who engage with them on Twitter by purchasing their product or service.
    Demographic Questions

    Q7: How many followers do you have on Twitter?
    This question was fairly distributed with the largest (100-499) at 42% and the smallest (less than 50) at 12.1%

    Q8: How many tweets have you posted since signing up for Twitter?

    Interestingly, there was a tie for most popular answer between 100-499 and 1000-2999. The fewest respondents had <100. Based on the answers to questions 7 and 8, one can infer that most respondents are experienced Twitter users.
    Q9: What is your age range?
    Q10: What is your gender?

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    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    How do you feel about companies joining Twitter?

    Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseBrands are rushing to join Twitter. As we know, sometimes their execution is stellar and brands really get Twitter. Yet other times, some companies could use a hand on Twitter.

    How do you feel about companies joining Twitter? Working with Peter Sorgenfrei of Sorgenfrei Research, we have developed a quick survey. Please take the survey, How do you feel about brands on Twitter?

    Once the results are compiled, I will publish it here and Peter will publish on his blog as well.

    Thanks so much!

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    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Zappos: A lesson to be learned for all of us

    Image representing Zappos as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBasWe often talk about transparency and authenticity in social media as they are not just ideals but really the cornerstones of community and conversations. Too often in the corporate world, they are just buzzwords as their is often a conflict with company goals. Today, on Twitter, we saw that it is indeed possible for companies to be transparent and authentic.

    has often been discussed as a company that gets Twitter, connecting with customers and building word of mouth. CEO Tony Hsieh, an avid Tweeter has embraced Twitter like no other corporate leader. Today, Tony showed that accessibility, transparency, and authenticity are even more revered during bad times than good. Unfortunately, in an event that is becoming all too common, Zappos had to layoff 8% of its workforce today. Tony addresses the situation up front on his CEO blog, and on Twitter as well. The URL that he refers to is the posted link to his blog.

    The Twitter community has responded to Tony and Zappos with empathy, encouragement, and lots of support. A few samples of that are listed below.

    To paraphrase Brian Morrissey and Zena Weist together, Zappos has demonstrated corporate transparency at its finest by treating this unfortunate reality of business with humility. As my grandmother would have said, Tony Hsieh, you are a real mensch. We can all learn from you, on both good days and bad.

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