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?

Document may be downloaded
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit Creative Commons or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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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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The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Communicators

I found this fascinating article about Twitter today from Aaron Uhrmacher on his blog  today where he has put together a comprehensive guide to Twitter for PR professionals, but it will benefit anyone.  It includes:

  • Videos

  • Getting Started

  • Desktop Tools for Updating Twitter

  • Create Your Own Twitter Background

  • Applications

  • 90+ URL Shortening Services (via Mashable)

  • Listening/Finding Conversations

  • Twitter Directories

  • Tutorials

  • Twitter on other social networking sites

  • Other Microblogging Platforms

  • Case Studies

  • Journalists on Twitter

  • Following Conversation Threads

  • Statistics

  • Recent Articles/Posts Worth Reading

  • The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Communicators, Nov 2008

You should read the whole article.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Have you seen these cool Twitter videos?

Some great Twitter videos this week:

  • Ev Williams, Twitter CEO interviewed by Bloomberg. He says that Twitter will implement its revenue plan early next year, using some sort of advertising.
  • Twitter vote report: Rocketboom interview with the developers of the Twitter vote report.
  • And my favorite, from Julia Roy, a new series that she calls Tweet week, where she talks aobut news on Twitter for the past week. Julia describes some new Twitter programs like Magpie, recommends Twitter related blog articles all done in her energetic, humorous and captivating style.

Have you seen them all? Which one did you like the best? Do you recommend any others?
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Twitter's a force in the election

As the election approaches, I think we all can agree, regardless of whether our hearts bleed red or blue, that Twitter has had a significant impact on politics in campaign 2008. Of course, Barack Obama is the most popular person on Twitter. But beyond that, Twitter has had a dramatic impact on giving people a voice this year. Twitter implemented and it's been captivating. Tuesday night, the tweets will be moving so quickly that it will be hard to read, sort of like the stock ticker in October. Hopefully, with a better result for you.

The Twitter Vote Report seeks to monitor activity and protect from irregularities at all polling places. According to the vote report, "Millions of Americans will be voting this Election Day. Many of these voters will have terrific experiences and we’d love to hear about those. But many voters will experience voting problems that we have been hearing about for years: long lines, broken machines, and registered voters who can’t vote because their names aren’t showing up on the registration rolls.

Using Twitter Vote Report, voters will be able to share their experiences and resources with one another (e.g. “#wait:120″ meaning that the wait time is 120 minutes). These messages will then be aggregated and mapped so that we can “see” voting problems around the country in real-time."

This election season has seen the integration of Mainstream media with Twitter. Current TV will be displaying selected content from Twitter users who use the hashtag, #current, on air. In addition, their website will not only show the #current tweets, but allow users to vote for content, digg-style. We've seen how CNN has incorporated the Twitter feed into its coverage during the debates and hurricanes with Rick Sanchez. I am sure we will see similar coverage on Tuesday night.

Last week, Mark McKinnon of Internet Evolution wrote in Twitter's Role in Digital Democracy, how Twitter was filling an important gap in digital democracy by acting as the Town Hall and being an expressive medium for citizens to engage in our government. The article demonstrates how people have been given a real voice in the electoral process. All of these posts and sites can be found in my delicious political twitter tags, politicaltweets.

We get our news first on Twitter and Tuesday night, I am sure we will get election news first as well. Will you be watching Twitter and these sites to stay in the know?

Happy Voting!

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