Twitter chats

There’s the infamous Saturday Night Live sketch with William Shatner appearing at a Trekkie convention and imploring them to “Get a Life!”.

I now feel the same way every time I poke my head into a Twitter chat.

Several years ago, I participated in several chats on Twitter, especially when I was starting to promote Brand Zeitgeist. There were (and still are) several chats related to branding, marketing, and media. I found them interesting and found several followers and people to follow.

But… Somewhat then, and especially now – I find them vapid echo chambers.

Several reasons why I feel this way:

  1. It’s the same ten or twenty people in every chat – echoing the same blurbs over and over. (I’m guilty too.)
  2. They are all experts on “personal branding“.
  3. There’s no conversation among the group – but may be side conversations that take you away.
  4. Some chats post questions every 2 minutes. Some chats take the 1st 20 minutes to do “introductions”.
  5. Sometimes there’s a “guest” who is supposed to be an biz or internet celebrity (or “rockstar” as the social media kids say). This is the worst as it’s just two people talking on twitter and everyone else watching. This is a chat?

Even in this social media blurb world – surely we can have meaningful discussions that are more in depth than this – or at least some new topics? What are your opinions on Twitter Chats? Is there a better way?

just a tweet

It should be obvious to anyone by now, but real time publishing is powerful. It can also be dangerously chaotic and unreliable. There’s a wonderful example of it today with the @AP twitter hack. A single tweet made the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge 140 points.

Incidents like this along with the recent Reddit witchhunts in the Boston bombings will cripple the development of new media journalism. There are archaic methods of checks and balance in traditional journalism, but how do you implement something like that across the crowd? And if you could, does it defeat the instantaneous nature of it? It’s a question I don’t have an answer for. Do you?

btw. The tweet should have been an obvious fake from the beginning because hackers don’t use AP Style. Mental Floss has a nice breakdown of that here.

AP twitter hack

one thing I hate about the Internet

Actually, there are many things I hate about Internet culture. Nearly all of them involve the way the web highlights and hastens the ignorance and decline of modern culture.

However, one in particular gets me everytime and a great case study to showcase my consternation just occurred. The very funny @badbanana just tweeted “Seventy percent chance Zooey Deschanel has a pet owl.”

In the @replies and in the comments where he feeds into Facebook, there were several retweets and likes. But there were also a few people who tweeted/commented “Who is Zooey Deschanel?”

I’m not mocking people for their lack of knowledge of Zooey Deschanel. If they’re that sheltered from modern culture, good for them.

BUT… In the time it took to type “Who is Zooey Deschanel?” into the Facebook or Twitter box, you could have typed the same phrase into something called Google (or even Bing!) and it would have told you who Zooey Deschanel was. There would have been pictures and links and videos and you would have become a minor expert about Zooey Deschanel.

But no. You took that time to shout your ignorance from the highest rooftops.

And I can’t figure out why.

And yes, I’m a grouchy old man. Get off my lawn.

(And before someone gets smart in the comments: Zooey Deschanel)

auto DM means you’re a snake oil salesman

Don’t auto DM people when they follow you on Twitter. It’s dumb.

What flashes of brilliance do you get from these auto-DMs? Great stuff like:

Thanks for connecting! You can also visit me on Google+, LinkedIn, my Facebook Page, etc. via my blog at {redacted}.

Advice like:

PLEASE take a moment to make sure you are using a SECURE PASSWORD–using UPPER & lower case, numbers & a symbol. DON’T GET HACKED! Thx.

And the very deep:

Thanks for the follow- Just doing my part to share whats going on in my head!

“But they’re connecting with you on a personal level in the way that only a social media connection can do!!” say the “ninjas” and “gurus” who gave the idea to these people to do this.

No, they’re not. They’re old school broadcasting a generic message to the masses. Several of these auto-DMs were sent AFTER I sent that warning tweet which means they never visited me.

And lots of people think accounts who still do this are dumb…

.

Before you sign up for any “system” dealing with social media, stop and ask yourself if the same thing could be done with a generic marketing medium. If it can, maybe it’s not a good candidate for social media. Stop auto-following people back, auto DMs, and otherwise automating what should be person-to-person communication channels.

twitter gets (more) political

Twitter has announced that they will begin accepting political ads. While anyone who has spent any time on Twitter knows it can be a politically charged environment, political advertisers need to be cautious with a media buy like this.

Currently 85 senators, 360 house members, 42 governors and all major presidential candidates have a Twitter handle.

Those numbers immediately cause me to think of a question with other numbers. What are 15 senators, 75 representatives, and 8 governors waiting for?

Twitter and other forms of new media are a good way to communicate with constituents and potential voters.

But most politicians are used to one-way communication. As they venture out into social media because some consultant told them to, a disaster is in the making for many of them. Usually when politicians wade into new communication waters, there are gaffes like email spam  or telemarketing scams.

Political media buys on social networks, especially Twitter, will be hijacked by the opposition. The buyer should expect this and plan accordingly.

the worst kind of tweet

The worst tweet someone can send on twitter is similar to this one:

sorry for all the upcoming tweets! about to enter #twitterchat to LEARN from others!!!!

Other than the excessive use of exclamation marks and the fake gushing about learning (which is an entirely separate post), this tweet is wrong because you should never apologize for your content. (on twitter or anywhere else)

If you’re about to post something and you feel the need to apologize for flooding the stream, then don’t post it.

marketing by committee part duex

A few days ago, I was participating in #b2bchat on Twitter. We were discussing corporate blogs and steveology tweeted:

I think ghost blogging can be okay if it is the CEO’s ideas on the page, but ghost tweeting is just stupid.

I responded that “Tweeting by committee is also stupid” which brought a flurry of retweets.

It’s something that I’ve always thought. One of the most popular and trafficked posts I’ve ever written was marketing by committee It struck a chord with many of my readers in the fledgling days of this blog.

It’s always been an issue with marketers. Old school marketing was (is) micromanaged and overthought. We’re seeing the same thing with new platforms.

Engage the team to help build the master marketing game plan. Then let go. Empower your marketing and social media staffs to make the right decisions and let them do it.

the part of marketing that marketing people forget

Starbucks hopped on the Foursquare marketing train early and came out with a great promotion. But Starbucks’ bold move flopped.

Why did they fail? The answer is simple. They forgot (or failed) to communicate their marketing plan with a very important group in the marketing experience — their employees. (It’s the same reason I get stiffed on free syrups when I use my Starbucks card.)

You can spend gobs of money, time, and attention on marketing to get people in the door — but the promises you’ve made with your marketing have to happen when those people come through the door.

Most of your brand is NOT built through advertising, PR, or any marketing message. The brand is mostly built through mundane daily customer experiences. It’s not sexy, but it’s true.

And the customer experience is almost totally controlled by the operational side of the business. If the marketers need/want to build a brand, they need to share their vision and brand strategy with the parts of the company who actually interact with customers.

This is true all the way from the master overall marketing strategy down to individual marketing initiatives. It’s important on all levels, but it becomes even more important when you’re using new and emerging marketing platforms like Foursquare or other forms of digital media. Innovators and Early Adopters are important groups. You want to make sure that employees are delivering superior customer experiences to people who will heavily influence WOM.

For example — The other day, a local sandwich shop tweeted that I could get 10% off if I mentioned Twitter when I ordered. I went there for lunch and mentioned it to the cashier who didn’t even know what Twitter was.

It comes down to the fact if you’re delivering messages to potential markets, you need to share the content of those messages with ALL the people in your organization. They are the ones who will make it work.

san francisco #140conf

Marketing author Chris Houchens will sit on a panel at the San Francisco #140conf about using social media to promote a business bookI will be on the book author’s panel (with Pamela Slim) at the #140conf in San Francisco on Aug 19th. This San Francisco version of the #140conf looks to be interesting as it’s a part of Connected Marketing Week.

During the panel, I will be discussing how I am using Twitter (and other forms of the real time web) to promote my book, Brand Zeitgeist.

What? You haven’t read Brand Zeitgeist yet?
http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Zeitgeist-Relationships-Collective-Consciousness/dp/1450206794

(btw – you can use this link  to get a 5% discount on a pass to the #140conf)