Monthly Archives: October 2009

Customer Wooing Illustrated (And Social Media?)

One of the finest online journals around is @Issue, which usually deals with topics surrounding design but with strong forays into advertising, marketing, and branding. I make sure to check up on it periodically, because of gems like this:

This amusing graphic is from Marty Neumeier‘s book Zag: The No. 1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands (which I haven’t read yet but will be picking up on the strength of this post on @Issue — hey, social media marketing in action!).

The editors of @Issue note:

His book was published before social media caught on, so we don’t know how Twitter would fit into this comparison? Maybe a courtship between two emoticons.

So what would “7. Social Networking” look like?  Would it be any different from the six already here?  In some ways, it would be closest to #3 – Public Relations and #6 – Branding.  But there are elements that are missing; I’m trying to think of what those elements are.

Any thoughts out there in Notorious-Land? :)


One out of Five Americans Use Twitter?

From Twitter itself (h/t: @mathurrell) comes this amazing piece of news:

Nearly one in five (19%) online Americans now uses Twitter or a similar service to post and share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others, according to the latest survey data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

This figure represents a significant increase over previous surveys that reported on Twitter use. Research in in December 2008 and April 2009 from Pew found that only 11% of internet users preported using a status-update service, while a similar study by Harris Interactive in March/April of 2009 found that number to be even lower, at 5%.

Let’s assume that the research is valid and accurate.  1 out of 5 is an amazing figure in and of itself.

There are, however, two other even more amazing observations that can be made if we take the 20% figure as valid.

First, we may be heading towards a self-balkanized America with no common shared cultural touchpoint.

If 19% of online Americans are on Twitter, and some 73% of all American adults are online (this is from 2006, by the way, so the actual number might be higher), and there are 304 million Americans of which 227.4 million are 18 years of age and older, what we get is that there are some 31.5 million Americans on Twitter.

Well, the #1 highest ranked Twitter user in terms of number of followers is one Ashton Kutcher, with 3.88 million followers or 12.3% of the total Twittering Americans.  That’s it.  in terms of news or information sources, CNN tops the list with 2.79 million followers, or 8.8%.

The implication is that Americans have formed a bunch of small cells of their friends, colleagues, people they know on Twitter — there is no Twitter user/company/whatever that commands the majority of the Americans using Twitter for whatever it is that they use it for.

If social networks is the future of information distribution and communication, then we’re likely headed into a society without a defining common shared source of information or culture.  We’re going to make references, allusions, and jokes that will become increasingly “insider info”.  Gamers will instantly know what other gamers are talking about, while art fans will be speaking mostly with other art fans.  Micro-fragmentation appears to be something we need to think about.

Second, maybe none of that micro-fragmentation stuff will matter because Americans are just plain too dumb to survive in a challenging world.

Here’s the top ten most popular (in terms of number of followers) users on Twitter:

1.  Ashton Kutcher (aplusk)
2.  Britney Spears (britneyspears)
3.  Ellen DeGeneres (TheEllenShow)
4.  CNN Breaking News (cnnbrk)
5.  Twitter (twitter)
6.  Kim Kardashian (KimKardashian)
7.  Ryan Seacrest (RyanSeacrest)
8.  Barack Obama (BarackObama)
9.  John Mayer (johncmayer)
10.  Oprah Winfrey (Oprah)

Seven of the Top Ten (eight if you include Barack Obama, Celebrity President) is an entertainer/celebrity.  Some are celebrities that are famous for being famous — Kim Kardashian for example.

If this is what Americans want, then that’s what Americans want.  Just don’t ask me to think the future is rosy and wonderful on this evidence.


PS: Note that adult Twitter users are computer-literate, tech-savvy people over 18.  The supposed creme de la creme of our society, who “get it”.  Oh #*@(%@!

Why Social Media Might Be All Hype After All

Yo, FaceBook me homie!

Yo, FaceBook me homie!

In my Top Nine Things I’ve Learned at BlogWorld post, I wrote:

Many social media professionals talk as if social media is the future of media, then act exactly the opposite when camera crews show up.

I can’t forget the moment.  Due to some deadlines, I excused myself from a session to get some work done while everyone else was attending a session or a keynote.  I found myself at the cafe near the Convention Center, setup the mobile office, and started working.  The TV on the wall was tuned to something I can’t recall, since i wasn’t paying attention to it.

Suddenly, a youngish gent walks in, instantly recognizable as a BlogWorld attendee: thick black plastic frame glasses, some witty geek-chic T-shirt (like, “I Twitter, therefore I am” or some such), jeans, and a backpack.  He asks the cafe staff if he can change the channel to CNN — and they say yes.  CNN comes on, and they’re doing a segment on BlogWorld.  Ah ha!  That’s why this guy was so interested.

Some nameless anchor who I couldn’t pick out at a lineup is interviewing a number of folks, including one of the founders of BlogWorld, and the talking heads are going on and on.  And I found myself wondering… if a blogger had contacted the organizer of the Annual Conference of the American Society of Newspaper Editors... would one of them have dropped everything in the middle of the conference to get on a videochat with him?

Would any attendee at ASNE’s Annual Conference have stopped whatever he was doing to rush to a laptop because he had heard that The Bloggess was going to post an interview with the editor of some newspaper?

Actions speak louder than words.  And this, frankly, is why I fear that social media might be hype after all.

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Top Nine Things I Learned at BlogWorld

While I have at least a dozen longer posts I’m working on because of REBlogWorld and BlogWorld Expo, I thought I would do the popular “Top X Things I Learned from BlogWorld” deal as an advance peek.  But I’m finding it hard to be… I don’t know the term… earnest about it.  So if you want a real Top Ten list, I suggest heading over to Morgan Brown’s blog for his Top Ten Things I Learned at Blogworld.  It’s a great post; this one here… not so much.

My post is the Top Nine Things I Learned at BlogWorld, because I’m definitely less than Morgan in this regard, and because the last person in the world I want to emulate right now is David Letterman.

So here they are:

  1. Real estate is way ahead of the curve of every other industry when it comes to social media, because it turns out that social people do better with social media.
  2. Journalists have no idea where journalism is headed, because they don’t really know what the institutional competence of media is.  They’re not particularly interested in finding out.
  3. Social media needs a House of Medici, a patron who will demand nothing in return except creativity and art, because most of these guys produce incredibly cool shit that will make absolutely no money.
  4. BlogWorld is kinda like GenCon in terms of how friendly everyone is, except the attendees have fewer things in common.
  5. Many social media professionals talk as if social media is the future of media, then act exactly the opposite when camera crews show up.
  6. For a group preachin’ authenticity, there sure were a lot of people with all kinds of gimmicks, like dressing up as Vader, or puppets, or hugging strangers, or stage wigs.  Pretty sure that half the people I met weren’t people at all, but IRL avatars.
  7. Niceness is absolutely the coin of the realm in blogworld.  Whuffie is for real, at least until you have to buy a sandwich.  Then it’s not.
  8. Very few people in social media know how to dance.  I gather that nightclubs are not their native habitat. If you saw some dancing at one of the parties, chances are better than even that they were from the real estate world.
  9. It is extremely easy to spend $800 on dinner for six in Las Vegas, and still be hungry as you walk out of the restaurant.

Most of this list will find its way into one or more longer posts in the future.  But there you have it.  Apparently, I learn all the wrong lessons by looking at all the wrong places….


Reflections from REBlogWorld ’09: Branding in the Social Age

Holy Bloggers, Batman!

Greetings from Las Vegas — I’m not sure what time it is, even though I’ve been fully awake for, oh, a few hours.  But some of the discussions at REBlogWorld 2009 have been so great that I wanted to get something posted now.

One of the more interesting sessions for me personally was the Branding in the Social Age session with luminaries like Jeff Turner (@respres), David Armano (@armano), Todd Carpenter (@tcar), and Ian Lurie (@portentint), moderated by a luminary herself, Nicole Nicolay (@nik_nik).  I thought the insights were interesting, and the brainpower on that panel was impressive.

There was one point, however, which I suppose yours truly raised, that could use some elaboration and explication: multiple brand layers and how they function in social media.  I was genuinely curious what branding experts, especially those from outside our industry, like David and Ian, had to say about the issue — and I don’t know that they understood the issue.  Plus, the inimitable Bill Lublin (@billlublin) had his views on the matter, but I’m uncertain that he understood the context.  So the fault is mine for failing to set the stage adequately and explain precisely what I meant, and why I think this is an issue.

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