Within 24hrs of announcing his Twitter account, the Dalai Lama has amassed 13,450 followers… Surely that must have set a new Twitter record!
Why choose Twitter: “His Holiness thought it was prudent to make his office open and assessable to a more youth and technologically advancing audience.” So now there really is no excuses for anyone saying they can’t be bothered or don’t get Twitter!
BUT AU CONTRAIRE: This is a fake profile that was pulled by Twitter yesterday, click here for more info. Reminds me of the Exxon Mobil Corp Branding Jacking case I wrote about in my You Don’t Know Jack post. All the more reason for the Dalia Lama to have an ID Gator account!
Here‘s an terrific post asking the question, “Twitter vs Facebook: Should you choose one?”
I recommend reading the whole post, plus some of the comments make interesting reading as well, here’s the posts conclusion: In the end, both Twitter and Facebook are simply communication tools; both will continue to evolve and morph as users find new ways to extract value and either network may or may become a long term winner in the rapidly evolving social networking space. Ultimately, the fact remains to be seen whether either application has a profitable, scalable and sustainable business model or whether the exit strategy is simply to be acquired.
As we learned in the search space, consolidation will eventually prevail. Unless they can find a way to turn all those eyeballs into profits, social networks will lose relevance. It does seem obvious that the venture capitalists are betting they will not only continue to enjoy tremendous growth but will also successfully monetize all that traffic.
But, will either Twitter or Facebook become the next Google or will they fade into the rear view mirror of technological and social evolution?
I’ll admit that I don’t look at my blog stats very often (probably a good thing!), but when I reviewed my incoming links this morning one in particular stood out. It was from a site named Millenial Marketing by Carol Philips. So I hopped over there to see why I got the click throughs. Carol had written a great post about The Facebook Juggernaut and linked back to my “Time for Facebook to face the facts” post.
Carol’s blog is chock full of really useful and interesting statistics & advice on marketing & branding to Generation Y, it’s definitely worth adding to your blog list.
Carol is also the President of Brand Amplitude a brand research and consulting firm, they have a great selection of insightful white papers on their site.
While taking a break from my hectic morning schedule of making myself a cup of tea & finding some clean socks to wear I thought I’d check in and see what little bread crumbs my fellow Twits had left for me. Sure enough there were plenty, but one from Jaculynn stood out more than most “For big hearts. Please help. http://is.gd/eKbo Please retweet.” so I followed the link.
Glad I did, here’s a quick synopsis, a guy named David Armano, was asking for help, not for himself, but for a friend, a young woman named Daniela & her three children, whom were staying at his house, as she was going through a separation from her abusive husband. He was asking for $5,000, so Daniela could get her own place for her family and didn’t have to worry about a deposit or rent for a little while. David wasn’t asking for big donations, just whatever you could spare during these hard times, any amount would help & if you couldn’t donate directly then at least pass on the message.
Within 4hrs of posting the request on his blog & Twitter, he’d not only reached his target, he’d doubled it!! I think it’s safe to say that he was blown away by this, but what it shows is how much his followers & readers respect him.
So is this amazing success all down to blogs, twitter & social networks? absolutely not… it’s entirely down to David, and his skill in utilising the technologies to gain trust. He’s been writing his blog for 3 years & he’s amassed 8,000 followers on Twitter, but it’s taken him a long time & a lot of effort, but the payback has been worthwhile, as I’m sure 2009 is looking a much better place for Daniela & her family right now.
And this is all because David decided to make a difference and channel the trust he’s built to good use, or as Amie eloquently puts it in her comment to David’s thank you video “Absolutely incredible – not only have you helped a family in need, but you’ve proven again how powerful it is when just one person stands up to say, I will make a difference. You have. Imagine what else is possible”
Here’s a great blog article by Scott Drummond that expands upon what I said above, so get working on your Relationship Bank Balance! (that’s such a great analogy)
There are those that label a personal domain name as a vanity domain, but I disagree… having a personalised number plate is vanity, owning a personalised URL is foresight… what’s the difference? I’ll give you an example. In an interview, a young woman of 16 said, I want to more famous than Persil Automatic, that young woman was Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. There’s no doubting that she’s accomplished her goal… but what’s interesting is that she could have compared herself to “Madonna” or another well known musician, but she didn’t, she chose a washing detergent!?! I could go into this more, but I won’t as Jeremy Bullmore does such a brilliant job at explaining why here.
So coming back to my point, Victoria Beckham knew from a pretty young age how important her image, identity & brand were to her, and she set out to establish it. Now take a look at your own online fingerprint, are you really in control of it. You’re spread across the net on Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Google, Blogger, Plaxo, YouTube, TypePad, Hi5, Yahoo, Bebo, Slideshare, Vimeo, EyeJot, WordPress… I could go on, but you get the picture. Isn’t it about time you consolidated all of your online identity, isn’t it time you made sure no one was pretending to be you!? Yeah it happens everyday, normally to someone famous, but it can happen to you just as easily, a jilted ex, mates having a bit of a laugh etc
I registered my own name as a domain about 10 years ago, as things change, but my name won’t, my online identity is about me not the company(s) I work at or own, over the years I’ve owned 10 companies, merged & sold 5, each time my emails, contact numbers etc have changed, but my own personal website has always been a constant. But there’s more to it than that, I’ve been helping companies build & protect their digital brands for years, but it’s time individuals wake up to the fact that they need to protect & build their online Brand too. What does your Facebook profile say about you, photos of you with a permanent marker pen moustache drawn on you face as you lay drunk in a heap on New Years Eve? Or your boyfriend posts a video of you in your underwear while you work out on your “Wii Fit.” These may all appear as harmless bits of fun now, but they could be very embarrassing in the future when job interviews or promotions come up.
If you’re in the business of dealing with your clients Brand, Marketing, PR etc then what happens when they type your name into Google, if you can’t demonstrate that you can get yourself to the top of search engines, or more importantly, protect your own identity online, then how do you expect your client to trust you to do the same for them?
So coming back to personalised domains, for an individual Web 2.0 is all about making connections, creating relationships & building trust, and I see the next shift (call it web 2.5 / 3.0 if you want) will be centred around the “individual” aggregating their numerous networks, thus allowing them to leverage the trusted connections they’ve invested so much effort in building. So how better to do that, than to put your own name to it!
Think about it, Your Identity Matters!
Nick Burcher added a post on his blog about Facebook Usage Statistics for 2008 which made me think about something I mentioned a few weeks ago, as I noticed within Facebook’s top 21 only India & Hong Kong appear for the whole of Asia! Where’s China, Japan, Indonesia etc?
Nick’s stats are interesting, but they’re bikini statistics, nice to look at but they’re not revealing everything you may want to see!? So let’s add some population data & look at these figures a little closer, 32.7% of Canadians use Facebook, the largest country population % worldwide, closely followed by Denmark, but look at the other end of spectrum, only 1.3% of Mexicans use it, while 0.1% of Indians!!! Also, you hear all the time about how big Facebook is, and that everyone’s using it? Well actually no, as only 2.1% of the world’s population are on Facebook, so there’s still a pretty big slice of the pie out there for the taking. NB: it’s worth noting that Facebook ranks very low in Asia with other social networks being far more popular (I don’t have the stats to hand but I shall post them in the next day or so).
So why the disparity, is it to do with a technology divide, certainly not, we’re talking the likes of Japan & Korea here, who are light years ahead when it comes to technology uptake. No I think it’s something a bit simpler than that, language. I’ve asked Japanese friends before about Facebook and they’ve told me that it’s translation & implementation of Japanese sucks. I don’t know about India, but I’m sure the same is true for there. But in India there’s another issue, access to Facebook… the number of PC users is dwarfed by the number of Mobile phone users and Facebook’s mobile phone implementation isn’t great, so it’s not being used. So while Facebook’s position in the social network scene may appear dominant in the west, in the east it’s non-existent!
Now here’s another interesting set of statistics courtesy of Twitterlocal which shows how Tokyo dominates the Twitter leader board when it comes to city statistics, with a 25% lead over second place New York! No real surprise, as this is what you probably expect from the technology mecca of the world, but why Twitter & not Facebook? Well it comes back to my point earlier, Twitter’s Kanji implementation is good, but equally important, there’s no issue with ease of use, it works simply via SMS or smart phone. So once Twitter takes hold in India and they work out a way for users to register without needing an email address or access to the web, they’ll be no stopping it! Look and learn Facebook!
On New Years Eve 2008, an estimated 43 billion SMS messages where sent globally! Which was up 30% on 2007, but the rise wasn’t evenly spread… Portugal tripled and The Netherlands doubled. Developing nations are by far the fastest expanding mobile markets, India’s 220 million mobile subscribers sent over a billion, a 300% rise on daily norms, but the Phllippines outshone everyone, with 1.4 billion SMS’s from a subscriber base of only 50 million!
When it comes to SMS messaging the USA ranks very low, when mobile users were asked whether they have or would send a “Happy New Year” text message, all countries except the USA showed an increase:
U.S.A. 35%; France 85%; Germany 88%; Spain 90%; Italy 92%
For an example of how amazing all this electronic communication can look, have a look at this gorgeous visualisation of the SMS messages sent on New Years Eve in Amsterdam
As our time has become very precious and much more of a commodity to be valued, more & more of us are moving away from paper based communication during the festive season, brevity is king, but even voice calls only showed a moderate increase (guess they take too long and you can only speak to one person at a time), electronic communication via email, SMS & the likes of Twitter have increased dramatically, so it will be interesting to see how the mobile networks & Twitter cope in the next few hours… I hope Twitter have their fail whale primed and ready to go : )
So just in case I thought I’d get in early and wish you all a fantastic 2009!
If ever you needed evidence that web 2.0 is reversing the balance of power into the hands of the consumer, then check out these videos and the www.comcastmustdie.com website. I’ve posted previously how the tide is changing & how companies need to be in there engaging with their customers and protecting their brands, companies ignoring this strategy do so at their peril.
I was just reading a post “Jaw Droppers of 2008 – What they’d rather you forgot” on The Register where they recap the most embarasing moments from the past 12 months. The bit about an online community I’d never heard of before named Faceparty, and how they dealt out their customer service is priceless and a must read.
Social Network attacks own customers
Customer service has yet to hit Web 2.0, where you have to answer your own technical questions, wading through forums or sending emails to people in “support” who never reply. “Maverick” social networking site Faceparty went a step further, though, by rounding on users who dared to expect it deliver on its promises – in this case, free tools. Faceparty threatened to terminate accounts of “every single twat who moaned about their friggin’ free cool tools”. “Listen this is our HOBBY, not our business,” Faceparty said, helpfully reminding everyone it’s a “free fucking site” and not to expect anything.
Faceparty’s current homepage has a video on it that pretty well sums up their feelings for those that had the audancy to complain. (WARNING: Faceparty’s site & the homepage video are rated 18 & over. It’s a sexually explicit & rather alternative site, so if you’re easily offended or shocked, then please don’t go there!)
It’s 5am and the dawn chorus has started in my back garden, but I don’t mind, as it got me thinking (which is sometimes a bad thing), so I’m wide awake now!
The future for social networks is portability, I want the same freedoms online that I have in the real world, I want to be able to meet my friends where I want, I want to keep in touch with them how I choose, If we decide to meet somewhere else for a change there’s no limitations… but what’s all this to do with the dawn chorus?
Think how most social networks operate, locking in users to a closed network is the wrong approach, it’s akin to locking a bird in a cage, you let the bird out of the cage from time to time to meet other birds, but you only let them fly around within your aviary, the birds can’t get away. So the only way you can keep your birds alive & happy is to keep feeding them, making sure they have a nice place to live, and keeping those doors firmly locked! How do you pay for the up keep on the aviary? well you obviously can’t charge the birds, so you charge people to see the birds, you have sponsors that supply seed, you watch how the birds interact with one another and then profit from your research.
Let’s now think of it in a far more open way… if you put seed on a bird table in your back garden birds will come. After a while you attract more & more, they’re wild birds, they can fly away moment, yet they keep coming back. You don’t need a cage to keep them, as they’ll keep coming back as long as you respect & treat them well and give them what they want.
How do I pay for the seed or make money? the same way as before. With this analogy you could charge people to view your flock of birds, sell photos you’ve taken, you could charge users to feed the birds themselves, you could be sponsored & have grain supplied by a third party, thus promoting their product to your paying visitors, you could give presentations & talks or publish books about your experiences of running the bird sanctuaries, the list goes on.
Now imagine your neighbour does the same, he puts out a bird table, covers it with seed and attracts more birds, of course some of your birds will fly over to his table, but then some of his birds will fly over to yours, there’s no barriers, the birds can do what they want, they can fly back & forth. Then another neighbour does the same and attracts even more birds… until eventually everyone on your street has bird tables that are attracting birds from far & wide to your neighbourhood.
With this model the birds obviously benefit the most (which is great & exactly as it should be, because online, you’re the bird), the neighbourhood benefits as they get to see and study all the birds, not just the ones locked up in their cages. The sponsors benefit as they get to see which of their types of seeds are preferred & consumed the most. I could go on, but I think you’re getting the point.
If the only way you can pay for the upkeep of your caged birds & aviary is through visitors & sponsors donating seed, what happens when the sponsor stops supplying you, because they’ve chosen to supply your neighbours instead, because they have a lot more birds than you. Simple, if you can’t feed your birds, they die in their cages, unless you open the doors and let them out, they may have survived, but you’ve still lost.
You don’t want caged birds, so get rid of the cages, you want wild birds that are free to come & go as they please, if you give them what they want they’re come, and you’ll end up with a far greater result.
As with all businesses, be generous with you offerings & services, be customer focused, treat your customers with respect, give them what they want, because like a free bird they can fly off anytime they want and you’ll probably never see them again.
At first this may appear as an irrelevant press release, but upon reflection it’s actually very telling of how media relations are changing in light of social media & web 2.0 plus the effect it’s having on the live events industry.
Although Apple appears to rely entirely on it’s website & blanket media advertising for it’s official direct marketing (although I’m sure it feeds the rumour sites from time to time), I don’t know of any social networks or any other web 2.0 services such as Twitter, Flickr etc that Apple actively uses. But it’s followers are actively using these networks themselves & spreading the word for them, so Apple doesn’t need to waste its time & effort at large live marketing events as these do not show the same direct ROI as their own small scale events & webcasts, that utilises the rumour mills and the web to focus attention which leverages the most it can from the media & press coverage.
“Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.
Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.”
Full Apple Press Release
If you use Facebook, then you should read this article from the BBC about the Koobface virus that has been playing havoc on Facebook. Below is a snippet of the article, but follow the link to read it all on the BBC site.
‘Koobface’ spreads by sending a message to people’s inboxes, pretending to be from a Facebook friend.
It says “you look funny in this new video” or “you look just awesome in this new video”.
By clicking on the link provided they’re then asked to watch a “secret video by Tom”.
When users try and play the video they’re asked to download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
If they do, that’s when the virus takes hold and attacks the computer.
Interestingly this dovetails nicely with a post I made called “You don’t know Jack” back in August
I recently found my notes from a presentation I gave 13 years ago, unfortunately I no longer have the presentation (not that I would have software that could open it now even if I could find it). You need to remember that at the time a 56k modem was considered warpdrive access to that little known thingy-me-jig called the internet. Upon seeing the presentation, everyone I knew thought I was nuts, as the basis of the presentation was simple “All music will be available online.” Now that was bad enough, but I also went on to say, “it will be free, or so cheap that it might as well be” as the distributors and artist will make their money in other ways, concerts, t-shirts sales, merchandise etc (ie giving the audience what they want… mmmmmm sounds like tribe building to me, but that’s another discussion!)
OK, look at the music industry in the past 10 years then think about what I said back then, just how crazy was I? although I did say All music not just some of it (that’s still to come, and it will), but prices are hitting rock bottom, the labels tried DRM, it didn’t work (DRM free did), they tried to keep prices high, that didn’t work either, they were too slow to move with the tide. You only have to look at the likes of Jamendo to see my 13 year old predictions coming to fruition, entirely free, good quality, legal music downloads, if you like the music enough you can pay money directly to the artist through the site, but it’s your choice entirely.
The movie industry is doing the same, they think they’re safe due to movie file sizes, but they’re not, data speeds are going up, compression improving, portable players increasing… DVD’s have a 2-3 year life expectancy, HD-DVD & Blu-Ray was undoubtedly the last physical format war, everything will be online & instantly available very very soon!
As they say, “Shift Happens”, at the turn of the century the petroleum motor car replaced the standard mode of transport at the time, the horse & cart, did this end with the demise of the horse, far from it, it gave rise to horses having an improved quality of life, being used for sport & leisure activities only, rather than be flogged everyday to pull a cart. In fact the motor car gave everyone a better quality of life, if the motor car hadn’t been introduced to London it would have ground to a halt, as it was knee deep in horse manure and the stench unbearable. Now it’s the turn of the petrol based motor car, to be replaced by electric or more likely hydrogen based cars completely within the next decade, will this be the demise of the petrol car, not entirely, as enthusiasts will be able to use their treasured “classic” petrol based cars purely for leisure guilt free, in the knowledge that they’ll be using their hydrogen based car for the weekly commute to work.
The newspaper & journal industry is on it’s last legs, they appear to have forgotten what they’re really about, which is delivering “News” not paper, paper is merely the delivery mechanism, but it’s days are numbered, newspapers & books are a dying breed, being referred to as the “souvenir dead tree format”, there will be those that cling on to the printed page, just like those that still listen to vinyl (but they’re a tiny number, even iTunes alone, downloads more songs now than CD sales worldwide!). I know people argue that they like the tactile feel of real books & have a bond with them that they could never have with an electronic version, and I have to agree with them to a degree, but you have to face up to the tide of change. Plus this is only true when it comes to story books or novels, when it comes to manuals, reference books, cooks books, self help etc who has this same bond? Let’s face it, no one… are you really telling me you’re going to get attached to “Dreamweaver For Dummies”, no you’re not, plus you’d probably prefer an electronic version anyway, one that you can bookmark & search through instantly, plus contains electronic versions of code & examples.
So there’s a mindset shift that needs to happen with those that like to read paper now, but the next generation won’t have the same limitations, they’ll simply want whatever is most convenient and most up to date, no paper is the future. Another limiting factor currently is the hardware, reading on a computer screen or an iPhone isn’t great, eReaders that use e-Ink like the Kindle are so like reading paper, you hardly notice you’re not, plus they have numerous advantages. Some argue that because paper books are real tangible objects, they’re more permanent than their electronic counterparts, but actually the reverse is true, paper rots, it gets dirty, you can tear it etc. Corrupt an electronic file? simply re-load a new file and it’s as good as new, in fact it’s probably been updated with new content. I’m not dead set against paper, it has it’s place, but it’s time for the publishing houses worldwide to wake up, accept the sea of change, and prepare for it, otherwise they better be ready to move over when the flood happens & the new ePublishing houses appear on the scene giving the audience what they want (now where have I heard that before?)
So will eBooks, replace paper books? absolutely… but at the end of the day, does it really matter which prevails, as long as more people are reading & writing, who cares how it’s delivered, we’ll all be winners!
I got your press release, I wouldn’t change a single word… and that single word is on page 5!
Ouch! but in today’s fast paced attention grabbing media frenzy, you really have to get to the point in seconds or your reader is gone, there’s too many choices, yet too little time. Sticking your press release on your website hoping your audience will drop by & pick it up, is a waste of your time, as they won’t be dropping by, they’ll be reading what someone else has sent them directly. Plus writing a book every time is wasting their time, if they actually bother to read it that is!
Brevity is the way ahead, if the gist of your release doesn’t fit within the header of an RSS feed, you’ll get skipped over. Twitter limits you to 140 characters, but if that’s where your audience is then that’s what they want. The mobile platform is happening right now, if you’re not on it, you’re not being read.
So sending out press releases the old way isn’t cutting it anymore, you have to be pro-active to survive, you need to be opening up dialogue, and when someone does contact you, you need to respond to them directly. You need to focus on producing something they’ll want to discuss with others, and build a platform so they can!
For one answer click this link to the BBC dot.life article by Rory Cellan-Jones
It’s a good question to ask and anyone in a marketing or branding department should take note, as it’s not just gadgets that can be made or broken in this way, but services, reputations or even your brand!
There’s been a lot of press about the Obama Campaign utilising web 2.0 in the run up to the election, although it will be interesting to see if they continue to use Twitter & the likes as much after the campaign, odd’s on they don’t, but that’s a another conversation!
Social networks & web 2.0 services such as Twitter make the individual very powerful, and it doesn’t take long for an opinion or rumour to ripple out across a network, as per the Korean proverb “Whether it be a grain of sand or a rock, in water they both sink alike.” So size doesn’t matter as much anymore, what matters now is who’s talking & more crucially who’s listening. It’s important that businesses listen in on what is being said, plus essential they are actively in there themselves. Blanket marketing & advertising doesn’t work as effectively as it used to, we all place a recommendation from a colleague far higher than an anonymous advert, when the likes of Stephen Fry, whom is held in great esteem & is loved by his fans & followers (I’m one of them), gives an opinion on a product, we listen, because we trust him.
And there in lies the rub people, you have to be trusted, but trust takes time, you have to put in the effort and you have to be open & transparent in your opinions and take a genuine interest in what people are saying. You can’t fake it, Stephen Fry is no fake, he’s honest & open, plus he’s probably mortified that he has the power to make or break a gadget, but as “with great power comes great responsibility”, and I for one would trust Mr Fry with this power.
Here’s a link to Stephen Fry
In today’s 24/7 wired world of social networks, web 2.0 & mobile platforms, if you’re business is not networking then you’re not working!
Do you have a group or page on a social network such as Facebook?
Do you have a Twitter account?
Do you have a Blog?
Do you have a YouTube Channel?
Do you have an account on Get Satisfaction?
Do you run a Forum?
Do you have a mobile strategy?
Answer no to any or all of the above, then ask yourself why not? If you say it’s because you can’t afford the time or the resources, then find the time & the resources, as the cost to your business of not utilising these platforms will outweight your investment of time.
Answer yes to any of the above, great stuff… answer yes to all of them, that’s amazing! But remember simply registering in these places won’t mean anything if you’re not participating & engaging your audience on a one to one basis, plus it’s not just about getting large numbers. Having 5,000 people in your Facebook group won’t mean a thing if you’re not having direct two way communication with them.
It’s easier now more than ever for you to open dialogue & interface with your audience directly, but it’s also easier than ever for your audience to talk about you to others, you need to ensure what they’re saying showers you in a positive light. If you ignore the conversations going on, soon you won’t be in them anymore, as your audience will be talking about, and to, your competitors, and it will be very difficult to get them back!
A good friend of mine, Matt Francis, was discussing an idea he had to create an online independent music channel, but was looking for an easy way to create a forum platform. I suggested he use ning. Within a couple of days, Matt had jumped head first into ning and has created an amazing music website. To see what I mean check out www.beatcast.tv
Go on admit it, you know you jutted your lips out just then and said “mmm, mmm, mmm satis-fact-shun”
Well maybe you can now… if you have a niggle about something, or want to ask the guys that actually make the products you’re using, check out Get Satisfaction
What better way is there for a company to improve it’s products or services or head off disasters before they happen, than to take part in open discussions directly with their client base. Years ago you’d have paid a research company £,000′s to poll your customers, now you can do it online for pennies! Putting your dirty laundary on display by being transparent & open is the only way to ensure your customer loyalty and build their trust. But you have to become engaged, fobbing them off with pre-written FAQ’s won’t do it, invest your time to engage with them directly, as you’ll earn their respect & gain a follower for life in the process.
Well, basically it depends how much you want to spend… simply put you pay for marketing, while publicity is free! well free as far as you don’t give anyone any money, but of course it doesn’t just happen on it’s own, you’ve got to invest the time & effort, but it’s probably more fruitful than blanket marketing & advertising.
Invest your time building a dialogue with your audience, leverage social media sites & the web 2.0 revolution, find out what it is they want and give it to them. Don’t waste you time developing products then spend the rest of your time looking for an audience, invest your time in building your audience base, build a rapport with them, then develop products and services they want, stuff they will wax lyrical about to everyone else, thus in turn increasing your market share and exposure.
These early adopters become your publicity channel, continue creating products they want and they will continue spreading the message, focus on them, not the wider market, as they’re do your marketing for you, for free!