Twitter Isn’t Really a Network Anymore…

In the early days or say the first year or so of Twitter’s life it really was a way to get to to know people. The motives were pure. Twitter provided a way to get to know people. You could build a network.  Conversations were abundant. As the number of people exponentially grew, the number of “real” conversations exponentially decreased. Sure people still talked to each other but the conversations changed.

Why?

Because the perception and usage of Twitter changed without anyone really doing anything internally to change it. First the perception changed by the notion that the more followers you had, the more relevant or important you were. So when perception changed conversations were altered. It became a race to add people and not talk to them. The network or the notion of a network was altered.

Second, the usage changed from  a vehicle or platform for dialogue, to a vehicle or a platform to talk at people. Call it the great migration of marketing to Twitter. Relationships were not as important as a RT of a link. A funny thing also occurred along the way as well. The early adopters also fell into this trend as well. In fact if you ask the developers of Twitter, they themselves will tell you that Twitter is a media consumption platform. We all use it to push content.

That’s too bad.

Though the people that I follow on Twitter is not that large a group (About 850) I would like to think that I know 100 of them pretty well and could call them, have a cup of coffee with them, or sit down to dinner with them. Could you say the same?

The Most Effective Social Media Strategy… That I Forgot About

Call it an epiphany. Over the past few days I have gone back to my roots and I feel better about it. It’s almost as if I’m reading Naked Conversations again. What is it that has reinvigorated me? A new tool? A new app? Nope, it’s even more simple than that. It’s right there in front of us and yet I think we’re getting so caught up in a perceived race of sorts that it has caused us to lose sight of a stark reality.

Here’s what it is.

About 5 days ago I decided to start reading “other people’s” blog posts that caught my eye. Prior to that, I read the faves of my peeps and moved on. I was just consuming. In some cases I commented on the new blog posts I read,  in others, I would point out to others that this person is worth following on Twitter. If not that, I reached out to that person either publicaly or privately, and just told them that I thought they were doing great things. Simple.

The effect?

It felt good for starters. I was giving back again. The essence of social media-talking to people. It’s why we gushed about social media in the first place. The connections. The conversations. I think all of us, me included, sometimes get caught up in the chase, or the numbers, or the push for discovery and we lose sight of the thing that made it so great in the first place-and still do, the variety, the freshness and smartness of other people that you meet and get to know.

This epiphany has also extended to using Twitter in a more conversational manner when I can. It’s really easy and convenient to watch the tweets roll by and click on links of interest and leave it at that. But far too many of us have preached to others about using Twitter to have conversations with brands and customers etc. etc. Well guess what? Try it. Try talking to people instead of just pushing info out. The effect has been nothing short of really cool again. Quit consuming so much and start conversing.

Somewhere along the way the conversation has been trampled upon. But it still has a vital and vibrant pulse. You will get more out of your experience if you go back to having conversations. Period.

Is Twitter really working for you? 10 questions

Have you ever thought about who sees your tweets?  I often do. I was reading an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine titled, “I Tweet, Therefore I am” in which the author Peggy Orenstein ruminates

How much, was I shaping my Twitter feed, and how much was Twitter shaping me?

She goes on to say that “The expansion of our digital universe has shifted not only how we spend our time but also how we construct identity”. She’s right you know. We tweet for others. Or do you tweet just to tweet? No, you tweet so that you can be heard by others…To have conversations, to network, to create business opportunities. But do you want to know something that might make this a losing proposition?

 The others that we tweet for, really consists of about 1% of the total number of people following you at any given time. In other words, if you have 126 people following you (which is the average) chances are when you tweet something, 12 of them are reading it or might read it. Let’s knock that number down further and say of those 12, 2 may respond.

Depending on what you say and when you say it, the audience that you are playing to, really consists of a minute few at any given time. Which means depending on your professional background for instance, what you tweet may truly be shaped by that small group of people that a) decided to follow you in the first place and b) actually decided to respond or aknowledge your tweet.

Consider this: According to Harvard Business Review study from last year  the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets which implies that the pattern of contributions on Twitter is more concentrated among the few top users which further implies that Twitter resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.

So if you have 126 followers,

  1. Who is really deciding what you tweet? 
  2. Are you being heard?
  3. If so, by how many at any given time?
  4. What is the net result of your tweeting?
  5. Does this mean that although we talk about Twitter being about quality, it is truly driven by quantity to be effective?
  6. Do we need to define or redefine what being “effective” on Twitter really means?
  7. What do your tweets consist of?
  8. What are you hoping to get out of what you tweet?
  9. If your 126 followers are for business purposes, is your Twitter strategy really that effective with such a small number?
  10. Since joining Twitter what have you gotten out of it?

It might be time to step back and evaluate what you are doing on Twitter.

Using Twitter to grow your business-Webinar

Using Twitter to Grow Your Business
Live Webcast June 23, 2 PM ET / 11 AM PT

Twitter describes itself as “a real-time information network powered by people all around the world that lets you share and discover what’s happening now.” And with over 75 million global users generating over 50 million tweets per day, there’s a lot to share and discover.

Small and mid-sized businesses have discovered Twitter and are using it to raise awareness of their business, engage and support customers, generate leads, drive sales and much more.

Presented by MyVenturePad and SAP, this live interactive webinar will explain how small and mid-sized businesses can quickly and easily get started on Twitter, as well as advanced tips and techniques for using Twitter to grow your business.

This free, one-hour session will cover how to:

  • Establish and build your Twitter presence
  • Use Twitter to engage and support your customers
  • Generate leads and bring in new business using Twitter
  • Use Twitter as part of your firm’s marketing mix
Featuring:

Brian Solis is author of the new book Engage, the complete guide to build, cultivate and measure success in the new Web. He is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune 500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. BrianSolis.com is among the world’s leading business and marketing online resources.

Marc Meyer is the Director of Social Media and Search at Digital Response Marketing Group in Naples, Florida. He frequently speaks, writes and evangelizes on the emergence and convergence of social media into our lives, and his blog is ranked in the Adage Power 150, the top 5 of all social media marketing blogs ranked by Post Rank Analytics. Marc is also a featured writer and member of his favorite “go-to” site, Social Media Today. In recent months, Marc was nominated as one of the top 100 online marketers of 2009, has won a Hermes creative award for co-creating a Tweet Town Hall on healthcare, and has been recognized as one of the top social media strategists to look out for in 2010.

Steve King, moderating for this event, is a partner at Emergent Research and a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Steve’s research is focused on identifying, analyzing and forecasting global trends and shifts impacting small businesses, including the growing small business role Facebook and other social media are playing. Steve is the blogger in residence at MyVenturePad.

Most Twitter users don’t tweet-Is that a problem?

Twitter COO Dick Costolo who was speaking at the Conversational Media Summit in New York City, offered up that Twitter is now attracting 190 million visitors per month and generating 65 million Tweets a day.

65 million tweets a day.

That’s pretty cool. But it’s this next sentence from Costolo that caught my eye. Most users, says Costolo, don’t Tweet at all, but rather use Twitter as a consumption media. The COO of Twitter just said that no one uses his product as it was initially intended.

Should marketers be concerned? Should those who are hoping to have conversations be worried? No and No. It’s actually good news for them and those of us that use ALL  aspects of Twitter that contribute to it being one of our primary tools for:

  • Networking
  • Creating awareness
  • Finding clients
  • Contributing to causes
  • Driving sales
  • Lead sourcing
  • Sharing content
  • Attending conferences virtually
  • Customer service

For those of you that are using Twitter strictly as a consumption media, you might be missing out.

17 Tweetchats for Social Media, Marketing and PR folks

Yesterday I threw out a tweet about 125 twitter chats worth checking out on Google Docs. I thought I might condense it a bit and focus not only on Tweetchats that I was familiar with, but also those that would benefit the Social Media, Marketing and PR folks out there, and which also had solid participation as well. If I have left any out, please drop me a line and include it in the comments section.

1) Hashtagsocialmedia-#socialmedia Of course I’m partial to the one I co-founded with Jason Breed Advancing the Business of Social Media every Tues noon EST. New topics & new industry thought leaders and A-listers host the tweetchats. Great discussions. all archived and easily searchable

2)#4change is a monthly tweetchat on how social media is helping to create change

3) #b2bchat is a weekly conversation for B2B marketers; Thursdays 8 pm Eastern.

4) #Blogchat is a chat on Sunday nights from 8-9pm CT that was started by @MackCollier to discuss blogs and best practices.

5) #Brandchat is a discussion between experts, strategists, and those interested in learning more about personal branding and managing their personal brand.

6) #Hcsm The Health Care Communication & Social Media community hosts a weekly Twitter conversation about communication and marketing practices by Health Care organizations, including use of social media

7) #Innochat A Tweetchat on innovation

8. #Journchat Conversations between journalists, bloggers and public relations folks started by Sarah Evans

9) #Kaizenblog Discusses using kaizen in *business strategy* Started by Valeria Maltoni

10) #pr20chat PR 2.0 chat for conversations about PR related issues and SM implications, started by Beth Harte

11) #SEO411 Weekly chat to collaborate with colleagues and other marketers about their questions and ideas about SEO.

12) #SMCEDU Discussions about Social Media / Higher Education

13) #Socentchat A monthly discussion on social entrepreneurship, focusing on a particular topic or field each month, eg. Mobile Innovation; Fostering Soc Ent at universities; Support Women; eHealth; etc.

14) #Socpharm Weekly chat on pharmaceutical marketing and social media.

15) #Solopr Open discussions that serve as a companion to the SoloPRpro.com blog, designed for independent PR and MarCom pros – and those who’d like to be. Active hashtag throughout the week, with chats taking place on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ET, Started and run by Kellye Crane

16) #TNL TNL is TalentNet Live. the #1 monthly hashtag chat for recruiters on Twitter that takes place the last Wednesday of each month at 9pm Eastern at #TNL. Login at RecruitingBlogs.com

17) #U30pro The chat that focuses on issues and trends surrounding young professionals.  All ages welcome and encouraged to join.

There is no point in using Twitter for your business. Wait, Yes there is…

Given some recent Twitter data that shows that most people don’t actually “use” Twitter-Why in the hell should we sit here and tell SMB’s to use Twitter to listen, to monitor and “be” where there customers are when a) Their customers might not be on there, b) They don’t have time to use it and c) Those customers or competitors that might be using it are using it wrong and d) There is essentially nothing there. So chances are, you may not see the point in using Twitter and I don’t blame you.

I can excuse SMB’s for claiming that they don’t have time, because I know of all of the things that sit on their plate, but to be honest, I can also see why they might be skeptical to use Twitter. Turn it on- and it looks like a sea of useless information.

I have a suggestion though and I have a reason why things are the way they are.

If Twitter is not working the way you want it to or expect it to, or in the way you were told it would work…

Change it.

If you’re looking at the state of the Twittersphere in your local area and it truly is pathetic, and it’s giving you cause to think that maybe it’s not worth your time.

Change it.

Be proactive. You start the conversations! Why no be the one to lead and to “make it work”?  You may have to add hashtags that matter. You may have to do more than just pimp your stuff.  But if  you were expecting to “turn on” Twitter and see this wellspring of opportunities and conversations and companies and customers talking about your company-Guess what? It still may be too soon. It may have to start with you. You may have to be the early adopter because there are just not a lot of people using it in your area or wrapped around your business, your product, and your company.

You may not have a choice. But that does not mean that Twitter does not “work”. You just have to work a little.

The free ride in social media is coming to an end

As Twitter continues to edge towards more of a business model that will offer something close to a premium level offering, something else caught my eye this week and it was this…

Ning announced that it was doing away with its free product and forcing its existing free networks to either make the change to premium accounts or migrate their networks elsewhere. They also announced that the company has cut almost 70 people —accounting for over 40% of its staff.

In case you don’t know what Ning is:  It’s a service that allows people to join and create social networks. Ning currently has more than 1.9 million Ning Networks created and 40 million registered users.

About 6 months ago, I mentioned on a panel that the free ride of social media had to end at some point. People need to make money with this social media stuff and hopefully it is not a model based on traffic/advertisers.

This is only the beginning.

Why Twitter Still Matters

Recently I read somewhere that the demise of Twitter is imminent and all anyone wants to talk about anymore is Foursquare and Gowalla, 2 shiny new LBS based companies that are reeling in new users by the bushel.

Sure I’ll talk about and use Gowalla and Foursquare, but that doesn’t mean that Twitter is no longer relevant though. In fact what this  simply means is that those 2 aforementioned companies have merely carved out a niche for themselves in a space that Twitter doesn’t necessarily play in, though they have added an LBS type feature as of late.

But let me cut to the chase. let me tell you why Twitter still matters. It occurred yesterday and I’ll break it down for you. Watch this quick clip and we’ll talk about it after the jump.

First of all, this is  NOT the first time this has happened where Moore has stepped up and “helped” someone via Twitter, but it’s magnified because it was Demi Moore and Nia Vardalos (another actress), but it could have been anyone who stepped up.

The point is, a life was saved because someone sensed that someone needed help and they took action, and they used Twitter to do it.

In today’s society a lot of us have become spectators to everything; and we prefer to keep it that way. Rubber necking our way through life and content not to get involved. Couple this with a general sense of apathy and what we have become is… a nation of desensitized onlookers.

So why does Twitter still matter?  because without it, this person might have ended their life if not for 2 people that cared to listen, got involved, and called the authorities. Oh and by the way, they just so happened to be celebrities. Twitter still matters because of it’s reach, it’d depth, it’s breadth and the potential of hitting it’s designated audience.

So what other ways is Twitter making an impact on people’s lives?

Oklahoma City uses Twitter to notify people of impending Tornadoes

The Red Cross uses its Twitter page for disaster and preparedness updates

The American Cancer Society tweets about cancer research, specific types of cancer news, and information.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provides information about blood cancer, research and events that readers can get involved in.

Share Our Strength is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry.

Without Twitter, these causes continue to struggle for visibility. But now, because of social networks, in this case Twitter, they’re able to have an impact and make a difference on the lives of thousands of people. I know this is just a handful of examples, but I wanted to point out to those that think that Twitter might not be relevant anymore, you may want to think again.