- Twitter: Twits, tweener or t’winner? If you’re listening to the digital space, the deafening roar you hear in the blogosphere/ Twittersphere around Twitter could be a distracting buzz or the demolition of old ways. Per the headline, we’re weighing in on the latter, whether it’s Twitter that will be the beneficiary or some evolutionary expression of it. Discussions with others in the know include a healthy dose of skepticism, so I’ll try to share what’s got me all atwitter with this new form and why I think it’s a game changer for marketers/communicators. I’ll break it down by taking a quick look at how it’s defined, what people are saying, some digital marketing implications and cool applications already at work.
Twitter’s description: A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!
Wikipedia description: Twitter is a social networking service that allows members to inform each other about what they are doing and what they think. It allows users to send messages via phone, instant messaging or the Twitter website. Two SMS gateway numbers are available – one for USA, and one UKnumber for international use. Users can receive updates from other selected users via web, IM, or SMS. It made its debut in March 2006. It is an example of a microblogging platform…. Quoting the Wall Street Journal, “These [social-networking] services elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel ‘too’ connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they’re having for dinner.”
My description: Take all the ways you connect–Instant Message, eMail, SMS/Mobile, Web–connect them with your select network while also populating to the world, and keep it under 140 characters (this format is a big part of the function). Twitter is a social network of brief thoughts bound to expedite and influence taste, news, popular culture, perhaps even where you’ll dine tonight.
The Way It Thinks Travels Evolves and Relates
Seems almost all the hype cynics are crashing the Twitter party right now. Most blogs about its application will have a form of apology or disclaimer. Here’s an intro on the 901am Blog by Sharon Sarmiento which captures the sentiment:
To be honest, my first impression of Twitter was that it was for folks who had way too much time on their hands who narcissistically wanted to broadcast every random thought that crossed their brains.
It’s true, a service “answering one simple question, ‘What are you doing?’” sounds so-Generation Y, with a first-person world view and graphophilic enabled drive to be somebody. Scroll through a page or two of <140-character messages and the majority are navel-watching. But that’s just today and it doesn’t characterize how it’s evolving–just as a question like “who are you?” when practiced long enough can become a life’s work, “what are you doing” moves from temporal descriptions of the mundane to emotional and intellectual space. The magic comes from the one or two posts every 10 seconds that open up universals. And, that makes Twitter viewing like a human lavalamp for me. Every 5 seconds or so (today) someone around the world is putting something you should read out there. The point of this social criticism is that Twitter taps into something deeper than the moment, Gen-Y, ADD-attention span and social networks meets all your devices.
Given the Insight that this form taps deeply and is finding traction/velocity, the question every smart marketer seems to be asking: “Is there a ‘There’ there?” Briefly, yes, and I believe we need to catch this one by the tail before it runs away. Below are links to a couple of good articles which I’ll borrow from and build upon here.
The Communications Opportunity
Borrowing heavily in inspiration and summary from the 901am Blog, “The Top Five Ways Smart People Are Using Twitter,” here are some digital marketing implications for platform-independent, networked microblogs:
- Advertising and Marketing Communications. The operative word here is “Dialogue,” where the form gives life to continued conversations and engagement over time. At Real Branding, we define the role of media for advertising to Introduce, Engage/Dialogue and Remind. While Twitter hits the spectrum, it’s not broadcast-like in impact to widely introduce in the way most large marketers consider effective. Dialogue is where this lives.
- For Entertainment, Consumer Package Goods, Consumer Electronics and B2B Technology new product release as well as highly considered and affiliative categories, expect “Nano-Releases” by Twitter that tickle The Long Tail and maintain interest building to a trial or purchase event
- For Personality-Driven and Beloved Brands, look for wit, wisdom, clues and insider info delivered to the deserving
- For major sports and entertainment event marketing, expect the Twitter to get you front-row. Imagine the “Almost Famous” line that gushed “it’s all happening” delivered in 140 characters
- For Promotional programs, Twitter can deliver clues, locations, events, program updates and other gambits in richer ways that better account for how consumers are connecting
- Crisis Management–think about having a Twitter deployment strategy to address breaking events between the news cycles
- Microblogging. A killer application, like IM and SMS which may be part of its popularity. It’s the quick hit that’s easy on the producer–you don’t have to spell check or pain over your words–and the recipient–you know it will only take 140-characters of attention to get it.
- Expect the short-form to become an artform
- Write your headlines/subject lines to nail the idea in the first 7 words, whether you’re communicating with Mom or your consumer
- Match Making. Back in the early 1990s at Omnicom we came up with the idea for a Career Portal and launched the first one with Career Mosaic. The premise was based on a simple media dynamic we noticed that the Internet–at the time, mostly newsgroups, ftp and Gopher sites–was primarily organized through the lenses of Love (and every variation on the theme), Money (with Classifieds being the biggest draw) and Hobbies. Expect Love, Money and Hobbies to be connected in short-form and less formal ways through Twitter. More connect before an in-person meeting could pave the way for greater trust and quicker intimacy/trust (buyer beware on this easily exploited dynamic).
- Winners here will people practiced in the Art of the Schmooze. In fact, this could really change that Art, and could put a higher demand on substance. Again, think about sustaining a schmooze versus good first impressions
- Think networking on steroids
- Consider it a Friends & Family Roll-Call and alert system
- For interdependent, interdisciplinary teams, this could be a killer Client, Teams and Project Communication tool (“Alpha version on the staging servers!”)
- Someone already grabbed the domain name, Twitterbot, so I wasn’t the first to think this: seems like an AI engine could do a fakey Twitter with you pretty easily (kind of like what we created with Da Ali G bot).
- FASTER, STRONGER, BETTER Truths and Transparency. Anyone who got the Flu this year knows how good new strains are at beating our defenses. Same with these evolving platforms. Twitter will challenge the PR and Corporate Communications groups in ways that will make Blogs look like warm-ups.
- If you’ve got a closed work culture, consider it open. WIRED is covering the clash at Microsoft between its open developer’s Blog, Channel 9, and a culture that values secrecy as competitive advantage and survival.
- The Transparent CEO Story by Wired about Glenn Kelman of Redfin
- This is the crashing sound I was referring to in the intrograph–It’s the Berlin Wall of corporate secrecy coming down one chip/Flickr Shot/YouTube video/Twitter at a time.