Is Twitter just a marketing tool?

Guy Kawasaki and me

Guy Kawasaki and me

My world has just been shattered. Ok, perhaps that’s a little too dramatic, but today I experienced what it feels like to have my carpet pulled from under me (during the first-half that is). One of my long-time Twitter follows @GuyKawasaki had defied my laws of Twitter use without remorse, but made up for it later with useful tips for business use.

This morning I attended an event at Imperial College London, organised by MIT Enterprise Forum of the UK, Twitter – weapons of mass construction with Guy KawasakiAlltop, Nick Halstead – founder of Tweetmeme, Mario MentiTwitterfeed) to discuss Twitter and offer some tips and tricks. Whilst I was getting over Guy’s devastating and cold disregard for my Twitter beliefs, he surprised me with loads of extremely useful tips that can be applied at work – using Twitter purely as a Marketing tool.

AlltopGuy opened the conference with an assertion that nowadays there are no excuses for not being able to run affective Twitter campaigns. He argued that all elements (people, Twitter, Marketing) needed are FREE:

  • free tools (Twitter) – to publish the message
  • people are free – to consume and spread the message
  • marketing (Objective Marketer) is free – to reach people

… all to drive traffic to alltop.com.

TweetMeme buttonAlso, at the event was tweetmeme.com which allows you, as a publisher, to chose one of four buttons (via a plugin) on an article. The button allows visitors to tweet the story directly from the article page. Planned for release soon is Tweetmeme’s report and tracking suite. The suite of apps will allow the account holder to track clicks and RT’s and better manage activity.

The tools Guy suggested using to run an effective marketing campaign to drive traffic to alltop.com include:

With ~150,000 followers Guy strongly advocates automation. Automation of as many services as possible – especially useful when he travels. Part of the automation process includes auto sending of tweets and ghost tweeting – tweeting using a false name.

Using Objective Marketer, Guy is able to schedule tweets, track clicks and RT’s and RT effectiveness. Guy claims:

“There is no better way to create, test, and modify Twitter-based marketing than ObjectiveMarketer. If you’re going to take heat for using Twitter as tool, you might as well do it well.”

Finally, when Guy constructs a tweet manually (yes, he still tweets manually when at his desk) he includes two link portions to a tweet – one directly to the story and one to alltop.com’s channel/section page. When users click on the links from his tweet the target url is framed with an Alltop.com leader to help promote Alltop.com more. Guy assured us that website owners should not feel cheated, but rather pleased that a tweet of his has directed users to their website.

As the event drew to a close I couldn’t help but wonder how I might apply his useful steps to a work situation. Perhaps I might see if it works with some of our product teams.

[I have not mentioned Twitterfeed.com in this post as I lost track of what was being said other than it’s a tool to auto send tweets out of your RSS fed blog posts]

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Creative Day at the office

A new marketing initiative started by our CEO (kudos to her) encouraged marketers to show case their work to the entire company. The idea is simple: share the creative love.

The afternoon was a huge success. Personally, I would have loved to see more of the creative process included: marketing’s process of ideation, brain storming through to mocks, comps and finally the designs I enjoyed.

My hope is this initiative becomes commonplace and spreads to other areas of the company too.

Social Media: my conference take-aways

Another day out the office (I attended Interiors Birmingham Expo last week) and this time for The Future of Social Media conference, hosted at The Cumberland Hotel, London. Social Media is something that has varying degrees of understanding. I’m sure even the the Social Media pros still debate the true definition. Rohit Bhargava summed up Social Media neatly in a couple of words – demystifying the often over-complicated versions:

“Social Media is where people are sharing information socially like comments, discussions, photos, music, etc (not just blogs, twitter, YouTube)”
Rohit Bhargava, SVP Marketing, Ogilvy

As usual I took notes, but in the end I’ve decided to write this post on *just* one of the presentations – actually a workshop – from the conference. Kevin Lawver, Chief Architect, Music Intelligence Solutions entitled: Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Here are some of my take-away’s from Kevin’s presentation:

  • Social Media is a “Silly Term” – all media is social, all media begs commentary
  • Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) – was a prophecy, not a manifesto
  • Social Media is about the all the conversation
  • Social Media is about: Following them , starting them and joining them
  • Every online community is a tribe
  • Feed reader – get it. It’s the fastest way to scan and track the right conversations
  • Google alerts – important
  • Twitter: The web’s dinner party
  • Constant partial attention phenomenon
  • Starting conversations: get a blog – validate humanity

On Twitter:

  • Don’t just broadcast
  • Be useful
  • Don’t follow everyone
  • Don’t be annoying
  • Do follow those who follow you
  • Offer support where you can
  • Follow: @garyvee, @zappos, @twalk, @railsmachine, @halcyon
  • Twitter’s not for marketing – it’s PR. Some argue that Twitter is Marketing and some argue that’s they’re both (My tweet and the subsequent responses from @EEPaul, @BenLaMothe and @kaigani)
  • Don’t inflict rules for bloggers in corporate environments – they’ll do their own thing.

The future:

  1. Reputation – biggest missing piece out there. Creating ‘Reputation Models’
  2. Aggregators – people love these. FB’s wall is interesting
  3. API Traps – need to make sure that they’re around for soem time – if they go down what happens?
  4. Activity Streams – slow uptake, but people love it.

The Presentation:

The Future of Social Media conference – January 2009

Last October I attended the Future of Social Media conference (FOSM) with my colleague, John Welsh (Digital Director, UBM Information), full of expectation. I was not disappointed. The content and speakers were good and found the practical real-life talks inspiring. After all, most social media-type events cater more for the technical geek-type audiences – not marketers actually going back to an office implementing Social Media (SM) campaigns.

Many questions like: what’s the ROI for SMM?, how does SM actually benefit our business? and commonly how do we actual measure SM success – is there a formula? weren’t fully answered in my opinion. British Airways – on the other hand – was particularly useful – managed to coach the audience through Social Media marketing campaigns like the Metrotwin one.

This years FOSM conference includes a music theme with Last.fm speaker Spencer Hyman in the line up. A question I’ll have for Spencer is whether the now not-so-recent redesign has had any effect on their audiences?

I’ll be writing up notes from the conference, but only after the talks. Here are the speakers from the conference:

Determining the future and maintaining the momentum in Social Media marketing
Andy Hobsbawn, European Chair, Agency.com

Counterintuitive new truths of marketing
Rohit Bhargava, SVP Marketing, Ogilvy

The new generation – reaching your audience through Social Media applications
Jackson Bond, Senior Manager Corporate Development, Xing

Understandign and leveraging future online communities
Mark Watts-Jones, Head of Innovation, Orange

Social Media marketing and social music revolution
Spencer Hyman, COO, Last.fm

The future of search engines – exploring how the future of Social Media will be incorporated into search
Cesar Mascaraque, Managing Director, Ask.com

A web analytics view of Social Media – the future and the measurement challenges
Vicky Brock, Strategic Programs Director, Web Analytics Association

Establishing tomorrow’s Social Media’s landscape
Hart Cunningham, Founder, PerfSpot
Kevin Lawver, Chief Architect, Music Intelligence Solutions

The full speaker line-up and agenda for this years show can be found on the FOSM website.

Blog Action Day: Poverty meets digital

Today is blog action day so I decided to blog about how digital has in some ways helped relieve poverty. When I refer to digital I’m referencing mobile digital. The two words ‘poverty’ and ‘digital’ are worlds apart and hardly ever used together – they’re certainly not synonymous with each other.

As a South African, who immigrated to the UK ten years ago, I know that in 1998 (when there was poverty in many communities) virtually no one had mobile devices. A mobile phone was a luxury. I recently went to South Africa on holiday where to my surprise I found real evidence of advanced mobile infrastructure

Boundaries

I read with interest (and surprise) how countries buried in poverty are using mobile phones en mass. In many other parts of Africa where poverty exists the take up of the digital mobile is driven by marketing and not through community efforts. The digital boundaries are breaking down – commercially and physically. This is helping communities directly (access to help) and indirectly (job creation). Mobile phones are now ubiquitous in many impoverished communities.

Costs

Mobiles come in so many forms – from cheap to very expensive. Ultimately, no matter how technical/expensive your mobile device is the content that is accessed is hugely valuable – whether it’s SMS, web pages or the telephone.

Real life examples

An example of mobile systems helping poor communities include the M-Pesa system.

It’s a system of phone-to-phone payments useful to people who don’t have a bank account or nearby bank – i.e. most people in rural Africa.

The information carried on the new networks spans public health, medical care, education, banking, commerce and entertainment, in addition to communications among family and friends.

All our lives are rapidly being transformed by digital. One of the most profound areas evident of this is the mobile phone. Kudos to commercial Africa finding workable digital solutions.

Clever marketing or silly idea?

The opportunity to fill up with petrol for free caused gridlock yesterday after hundreds of drivers queued for up to an hour to get £40 of free fuel.

Computer games publisher Electronic Arts took over a petrol station in Finsbury Park, north London, intending to give away £20,000 of petrol on a first come, first served basis during a stunt to promote Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, a game in which Venezuelan mercenaries fight for control of oil supplies.
the Guardian

Even though Electronic Arts‘s actual advertising stunt ‘failed’ – give £20k of free petrol away – the real/clever marketing has only just begun.

Think about it; they probably only pumped a fraction of the £20k petrol away – they had to abandon the idea; And, their stunt got them onto vitually every UK-based news website – driving a viral marketing effect across the digital ways plus boosting awareness and promoting traffic to their website. I bet the computer games publisher Electronic Arts‘s website traffic spiked with all the interest – searches for the publishers website

I wonder whether Seth Godin might label this a Purple Cow tactic or simply a silly idea?