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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