Sunday, 29 April 2007

Using Twitter For Marketing Part 1: Intro

Intermittently, over the period of a few posts, I'm going to address the potential of using Twitter for social media marketing. I intend to pick up and extend some of the existing ideas I've found around the blogosphere, as well as (hopefully) bringing a few new ideas to the twitter table. Needless to say, it's still very early days for this kind of social media marketing, so I'm sure ideas will emerge on twitter as I blog and twitter during the time.

As you can tell, I'm one of the people who find the Twitter phenomenon intriguing, and I do see a lot of potential and value in it (and other services like it). I do realise that there are many people who don't share my enthusiasm. I do encourage you to leave comments in either case.

A quick Twitter recap (but more than 140 characters):

It has been said that Twitter reached a tipping point at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas this year, and that "the buzz has now seeped from the blogosphere to more traditional print media". Newsweek has indeed reported on it, and more recently the The New Your Times has run a story. Incidently, The New York Times has also started to twitter.

Not surprisingly, Twitter currently has a big following among bloggers and people actively engaged in social media. This is no doubt due to the immediacy of live, group communication, and the opportunities it allows for directing people to other content. It's clear that Twitter is growing in popularity, but it remains to be seen whether it reaches a tipping point as far as mainstream popularity is concerned.

Twitter allows a great opportunity for groups of people to share experiences in real time. Tweets are also archived in individual profiles, and individual tweets can be found using Google. As I see it, these features offer quite a few opportunities for social media marketing...

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Homer Simpson On Google Earth

Here's another item related to the Google privacy issue :)

Google Tracking Your Searches

I'm in two minds about new Google Web History which launched about a week ago. The new feature lets you store your entire Google web history online.

I have been using it, and I must say that it's a pretty useful service, in terms of being able to find something you've searched for and didn't bother to bookmark, only to discover you need it later.

In terms of the privacy issues involved, Google says they encrypt all the data and that you're the only one who can access it. You can also pause the service at any time and delete items. However, the obvious question is: do you trust Google enough to give it your complete personalised search activity? When combined with Google Bookmarks, Gmail and other services, this gives Google access to a great deal of your personal information and preferences.

The future advantages for advertising are clear. Apparently Google will eventually layer on a tagging capability to enable individuals to categorise and share searches (in a similar way to existing social bookmarking sites I imagine), and then it will be possible to begin Tagvertising.

People do tend to tell their search engines some things about themselves that they probably wouldn't tell anyone else, or at least they might tell their search engine first.

It could be argued that, unless you have something to hide, the new features are harmless, and you can always choose not to use Google (if it's possible to do that online these days) or any of its personalised services.

What do you think? Does it disturb you to see all your search activity stored and displayed by Google, and that Google knows so much about you? Do you trust Google to hold and use your information in a way that is only beneficial to you, or does it hand Google too much power? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Top 10 Reasons People Unsubscribe

According to a blog survey conducted by ProBlogger Darren Rowse, these are the top 10 reasons people unsubscribe from RSS Feeds:

  1. Too many posts (the post levels are too overwhelming)
  2. Infrequent Posting (or the blog is effectively dead)
  3. Partial Excerpts Feeds
  4. Blog Changes Focus (too much off topic posting)
  5. Too many posts that I see elsewhere (Redundant, Repeated or Recycled News)
  6. Uninteresting Content
  7. Irrelevant Content
  8. The Blogger’s Ego - Too much self promotion
  9. Low Quality Content
  10. Too many posts that are too long

Let's see, how am I doing so far? I don't usually post every day, but I do try to post regularly (time permitting). I try to keep posts relevant, but sometimes I do get sidetracked. Maybe I do tend to post too much from elsewhere, including this very post.

I hope my content is interesting to my intended audience. I do try not to have an ego or too much self-promotion (but please don't forget to check out my video blog, flickr photos, Twiiter moblog and LinkedIn profile). I think I'm doing a fantastic job really. Oops, I'd better stop now before this post becomes too long, like the last one.

How are you doing with your, or your clients' blogs?

Saturday, 21 April 2007

More Twitter Speculation

There has been some recent speculation about the possibility of Twitter usernames being traded like domain names in the near future. I'm not aware of any that have been traded so far. Nic Cubrilovic raised the issue back at the end of March, and Steve Poland, author of Techquila Shots also picked up on it.

The issue has emerged because Twitter usernames are unique (what usernames aren't), so it could be argued that they could become quite valuable if the service is a runaway success. People may begin selling them to each other, especially some of the more desirable generic names.

Cubrilovic suggested that Twitter missed out on an opportunity by not reserving generic keywords ahead of time, to be auctioned as a way of providing a solid revenue model. He has suggested that it is now too late, as numerous services are being built and many speculative users have ’squatted’ (or is that squitted) on potentially valuable keywords.

It does seem to be the case that Twitter has the right to delete an account, or to take back generic keywords if it chooses to do so. No doubt this would be controversial, but still possible as usernames are not the same as domain names.

The question is, could keyword speculators go in and grab usernames in anticipation of the site becoming very popular, adding little value in the way of content and making the site less valuable that is otherwise would be? Clearly, many generic names have now been taken, with very little activity in most of the accounts.

However, other brand related usernames are already starting to be used. They don't have huge followings, but it's still early days:

On a side note, some well known bloggers have developed substantial followings already:

It is interesting to note that YouTube and MySpace accounts have not (to my knowledge) been traded between users or sold by the companies, but here are just a few examples of YouTube profiles being used in a commercial manner. Although I'm comparing apples with pears, no doubt we will start to see similar things happening with Twitter in the future, if it stays around.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Coke Launches Second Life Promo

With the help of new marketing company Crayon and design shop Millions of us, Coke has launched a Second Life promotion, Virtual Thirst.

They are running a competition to design a Second Life vending machine that dispenses "not Coca-Cola, but the ESSENCE of Coca-Cola: refreshment, joy, unity, experience". The winning concept will be built by SL developers from Millions of Us. Entries will be accepted through Second Life, YouTube and MySpace.

It'll be interesting to see how this new promotion is received by Second Life inhabitants, and the YouTube and MySpace communities. I'm sure many people will be watching this one closely.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

MySpace Gatecrashers

Here's a little MySpace generation anecdote about the local power of global social media. Recently, an English teenager invited 60 (yes 60) of her closest friends to a party while her parents were away for Easter (those were the days).

The thing is that she posted her party invite on her MySpace page, and a great deal more people than that showed up looking to do some serious partying. Some even traveled from out of town to attend. The family home was trashed to the tune of £20,000. The family is staying elsewhere while the repairs are being made.

Apparently, the teenager blamed cyberspace gatecrashers for hijacking her page and changing the original invitation from a mere 60. It seems that not many people believed the story and in any case, it surely wouldn't have made much difference.

It was a fairly silly thing to do to say the least, but you've still got to feel a little sorry for the kid that the story has spread so far and wide (but I'll still write about it anyway). That's online social media for you.

via bitemarks

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Google Buys Web for $2,455 Billion

I won't add to the numerous news items and opinions about Google now buying ad serving company DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion, after acquiring YouTube last year, and recently in-game advertising company Adscape Media. Instead, I'll just point you to this amusing blog post over at Google Blogoscoped. The blog is reporting a slightly different story (circa 2017):

Google Inc today announced they’ve acquired the internet for the astounding sum of $2,455.5 billion in cash...

...This is in line with our vision to make information more accessible to end users,” says Eric Schmidt. “With the acquisition, we can increase the speed of indexing as everything will already be on our servers by the time it’s published.”...

..In a conference call earlier today, Larry Page explained the strategy behind the acquisition. “We realized it’s not very cost-effective to buy the internet in smaller portions.” During the past two decades, Google had acquired YouTube for $1.65, DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, AOL for $12.5 billion, and last year, Microsoft for the record sum of $120 billion...

UPDATE (Monday 15 April) : The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google's rivals, including Microsft, AT&T Inc, Time Warner Inc and a few other companies are seeking antitrust scrutiny of the Google/DoubleClick deal. They are saying the deal would give Google a tight hold over the booming online ad market.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Annoying Chicken

Here's one of the reasons why people don't like advertising, and has more than a hint of desperation about it. This kind of advertising is only going to add to the woes of the ailing 30 second spot.

A very high pitched electronic screech has been added to this tvc when the product is shown. Supposedly, the sound can only be heard by people about 20 and under, but it's been enhanced in this YouTube version.

This is going to do wonders for the KFC brand don't you think? Annoying people into buying products is a fantastic strategy. Sure, people will notice it, and even talk about it - but what will they be saying?

It's doing just about as good a job for KFC as this PR disaster:

Rats Take Over KFC/Taco Bell

Nuff said, moving on...

via Beyond Madison Avenue

Thursday, 12 April 2007

HD Videoconferencing

Here's a really, really bad ad for the new Cisco HD Telepresence conferencing system, which will no doubt become a must have (or want to have) system for many corporations (despite the advertising).

Robert Scoble is doing a better job of getting the word out. Here's a far less embarrassing (but not as amusing) video demo he has put together.

Anyone who has participated in a frustrating videoconference will appreciate the advances apparent in this new system. The three screen version apparently comes in at around US$300,000, or US$80,000 for a single screen version, so it won't be for personal use any time soon unless you happen to be seriously wealthy.

via Scobleizer and Amnesia Blog

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

How Will Twitter Make Money?

TwitterMany people believe that Twitter is a flash in the pan and will disappear as the novelty wears off and people move on to the next new thing. One very similar competitor site ( has already emerged. For now however, according to Steve Rubel, Twitter has over 100,000 users and the size of the community is doubling every three weeks.

The main challenge for Twitter moving forward will of course be its ability to generate income. Rubel asserts that Twitter's most active users are quite influential (including him), and that many users voluntarily receive messages via IM and mobile phones. He maintains that if Twitter's parent company (Obvious Corp), or possibly a company that acquires Twitter, can think of a way to let the community opt-in to commercial mobile messages, Twitter could turn into a real cash cow. He points out that over 1700 users already opt-in to receiving messages from Woot on Twitter, so it's not mere speculation, even at this early stage.

Rubel makes some good points. It's true, many users don't seem to have a problem with receiving constant messages by IM and mobile phone via Twitter, although this could become quite selective as the number of users escalates, say to YouTube or MySpace levels.

I've noticed that a few well known news organisations including The New York Times, CNET News and BBC World Service have already started to deliver messages on a very regular basis, so the potential for a wide variety of corporations to use the site is obvious (so to speak). None of them really have a decent following at present, but it's still very early days.

What is significant about the nature of Twitter, is that a lot of users seem to be keen to tell others which products they use and trust, and where in the world they themselves are located. It will be possible for marketers to act on this information in various ways. This will have to be achieved in ways that are not intrusive, or the tech and media savvy users could be turned off.

Twitter could go down the route of displaying banner advertising and user profile branding on the actual site, which have become ubiquitous on YouTube without denting its popularity. There is always Google advertising, and Google the company to take into account. Could Twitter become another acquisition target for Google in the near future? Google is undoubtedly interested in the mobile space.

See you on

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Busiest Social Bookmarking Sites?

According to statistics eBizMBA has collected, this is a list of the ten busiest social bookmarking sites. The list is based on the number of unique visitors to each site per month, for the month of March:

As you can see from the unique visitor numbers, while digg holds the number one spot for the site most likely to drive traffic, it's certainly not the only site capable of generating large numbers of visitors to a site.

I don't know about you, but if these stats are in fact accurate, the fact that Netscape came in at number two is a bit of a surprise to me. If I were to hazard a guess at the results without seeing the stats, I would have thought the order of the top three would have been digg, and then reddit. You learn something every day.

eBizMBA has also put together a list of the top 25 Web 2.0 sites overall, again based on the amount of unique monthly visitors – and the winners are...
  3. YouTube,.com
  23. PicZo.comm

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Joost and Advertising

You've most probably heard about Joost by now. If not, it's an new (currently in beta), free broadband tv service. The entrepreneurs behind Skype and Kazaa are behind the new venture, so it carries considerable clout to say the least. It's currently the second most popular search on Technorati, so interest in the service is already high.

Here's a little promotional explanation from the Joost site:

"Joost is a new way of watching TV on the internet. With Joost, you get all the things you love about TV, including a high-quality full-screen picture, hundreds of full-length shows and easy channel-flipping. You get great internet features too, such as search, chat and instant messaging, built right into the program. Joost is completely free, and works with most modern PCs and Intel Mac-based computers with a broadband connection."

Here's a video of V.P. David Clark giving a preview of the service:

Joost's Advertising Model:

There's an article over at adverlab (yes again, great resource) describing Joost's proposed advertising model. Apparently Joost aims to have as little as one minute of commercial time per hour, if current projections are correct. As far a advertising itself is concerned, they say they're aiming for quality, not volume and frequency.

Joost's model apparently includes five to seven second ads that pop-up when particular videos are selected, and mid-roll ads in videos over five minutes in length. The proposed model aims to have one brand sponsor per program. Like interactive web banners, users can also click through for information, offers and long-form content from advertisers. This second step really amounts to on-demand advertising.

One of Joost's stated priorities is a backend that can pinpoint a user's location, viewing time, viewing habits and opt-in profile information in order to serve up extremely targeted and hopefully much more relevant ads. For example, this could mean that advertisers will be able to target particular people in a particular suburb (post code) watching a particular program at a particular time. This is the type of targeting that broadcast tv would die for, so to speak.

So the question now is, if the popularity of Joost (or other services like it) explodes on the web, could this bring us a lot closer to the much discussed death of the standard 30 second tv commercial much sooner than (many agencies have) anticipated? Could this begin to take us down the path of quality on-demand advertising that users can either choose to view and interact with, or dismiss at will? What do you think?

Is the time right for the success of interactive tv delivered over the web?

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Google In-Game Ads?

Back in February it was discovered that Google was buying Adscape Media, a company that specialises in advertising within games. Not surprisingly, it seems that Google has also been working on ways to collect specific information on the game user and to display ads relevant to them while they play.

Webpronews is reporting that Google has filed a new patent application in relation to this. It takes into account a user's interests and gaming behavior by monitoring their online gaming experiences. The Patent states :

"Information about a person's interests and gaming behavior may be determined by monitoring their online gaming activities (and perhaps making inferences from such activities). Such information may be used to improve ad targeting. For example, such information may used to target ads to be rendered in a video game being played by the person."

This is quite a significant development when you take into account the success Google has had with targeting relevant ads to users on the web!

Do you think gamers will easily accept this kind of advertising during game experiences, if it doesn't interrupt game play and the ads are relevant? If you're a gamer, how do you feel about in-game advertising?

Update: MIT Avertising Lab has spotted a new book called Advergaming and In-Game Advertising: An Approach to the next Generation of Advertising if anyone's interested in reading up on the subject. It's available on Amazon, but quite pricey.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

David Lynch on Product Placement

Here's what Filmmaker David Lynch thinks about product placement. Classic!

Interestingly, he doesn't like product placements, but he doesn't seem to mind directing cigarette commercials!

What do you think about product placement? I tend to agree with Mr Lynch's sentiment.

via miosite