Why We Should All be Rooting for Twitter

Everyone hates the Patriots. OK, not everyone, but a lot of people. They don t hate them because they’re bad, though, they hate them because they’re the best. It sucks watching Tom Brady somehow find a way (Excelt for losing to Denver tonight!) time and time again. We all want to root for the underdogs… we want to get behind those scrappy teams that don’t have all the flash and glitz. The teams that we grew up on that are fighting.

That’s how I think of Twitter.

 I sent my first Tweet from a classroom computer at the School of Visual Concepts where Clay McDaniel and Andy Boyer taught me more than I’d known before about the world of social marketing. After that class, I told myself I’d be doing that as part of my job… I started working for Clay and Andy 5 months later (and then returned to teach that same class for three years).

  
Facebook is, by all accounts, the leader in today’s Internet – and don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook a hell of a lot more than I like the Patriots – and they earned it. They took down MySpace. They grew even as Google was biting at their heels and making plays. 

Twitter, though, came up at roughly the same time and, for all intents and purposes, had the same chances Facebook had to be the biggest on the block, but they didn’t – for a number of reasons.

But instead of LOLing at Twitter’s continued attempts to keep growing and to make products that bring more value to its user base, we should be cheering them on. Twitter, after all, is still where many go for “breaking” information. It’s where you can learn about a trending topic in an unfiltered feed of people you follow – sans algorithm.

Facebook probably wouldn’t be the Facebook it is today without Twitter. Their pushing and competing between 2010 – 2014 brought us more advancements and features in the mobile world than we’d seen the previous 10 years before that. Competition in the social space is just as important as competition in the world economy — it keeps innovation flowing.
The people I’ve worked with at Twitter are incredibly smart and laser focused on users and the brands that help make Twitter what it is.

Is it weird I miss this guy? #failwhale

A photo posted by Ron Schott (@ronschott) on Jan 23, 2016 at 10:44pm PST

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I made a joke the othe night about missing the #FailWhale — and I was only slightly kidding. The days when you’d get a #FailWhale were exciting because Twitter was growing so quickly and so many people were engaged around a single topic (usually) that the servers literally couldn’t keep up. It was kind of fun. I’m also a fan of the Robot who’s arm fell off.

As an advertiser, Twitter’s ability to target real-time conversations has always been an incredible draw for me. They’ve innovated quickly to bring new formats which aren’t just exciting for brands, but engaging and interesting for users. With the addition of Periscope, Twitter has an opportunity to tap into real-time conversations and situations that can put anyone from anywhere in the middle of the action.

So, I’m excited for what @jack and the team have in store. I’ve always been a fan, but I think more people have an incredible opportunity to see how awesome Twitter really can be.

Let’s root for the underdog.

Disclaimer: This post and the entirety of this blog are my personal opinions. Content included in no way is the opinion of my employer, Microsoft. I was not and will not be compensated for this post. I also like Facebook and Instagram — even YouTube… They just aren’t getting slammed right now. 

A Look at President Obama’s Last State of the Union Address

Just weeks away from the first vote for who will take over the White House, President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address – something he is required, by law, to do “from time to time.”

As I’ve done before, I wanted to take a look at the words used and their frequency. It’s unscientific, non-partisan, and completely quick (because done is better than perfect).

I look at these things through the eyes of a marketer and a writer – not as a politico.

In case you forgot how word clouds work, or have never seen one before (have you been living under a rock?), this little tiny gnome inside my computer looks at President Obama’s speech, takes his clipboard and makes a tally mark every time he reads a word. Then, that gnome files all the necessary paperwork with his boss and starts typing this words into the computer (this is all happening fairly quickly) and makes the ones with the most tally marks bigger than those with few tally marks. So, the more a word is used in the speech, the bigger the word. Pretty simple. No, gnomes aren’t real… yet.

Here it is:

Word Cloud SOTU

Pretty obviously, America/American jump out. I’m going to remove some of the larger words (like those) and years (as it’s not really a descriptive or active word) to take another look.

sotu word cloud 2

Removing those words actually gives you a real look at many of the key messages of Obama’s speech: Work, People, Economy, Change, etc.

Word cloud created at http://www.tagxedo.com/  via official White House transcript available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/12/remarks-president-barack-obama-%E2%80%93-prepared-delivery-state-union-address

UPDATE: 1/12/2016 08:05 PM PACIFIC

I managed to catch the last bit of the Republican Response, so I ran the text of that speech through the gnome-powered word cloud generator as well:

republicans

 

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Location: The Last Piece of Twitter’s Success Puzzle

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Twitter has been eating Facebook’s lunch recently – and I’m loving it. They’re moving quicker and breaking more things than the Facebook crew… and those things they’re breaking are barriers and ad revenue goals.

One thing, though, stands in the way of Twitter and true success in the ad space – Location.

They’ve Been Thinking About Location Before
It’s something the Twitter team dealt with even before Twitter was Twttr – back when it was a Jack/Noah/Ev concept. At that time, Dodgeball was buzzing in NYC, letting people drop notes to their friends, via SMS telling them where they were. Odeo was dying and Apple was gobbling up any podcasting goodness out there as the “status” idea started to morph into something.

Dodgeball, as we all know (or maybe not because I’m learning not everyone is a nerd like me) was eventually bought by Google – which them shut it down. However, it was resurrected as another playground game-named service as (you guessed it) Foursquare!

Location. Location. Location.
Since early on, Twitter’s mobile applications (and indeed its API) have let users share location data with Tweets. How much that actually is used varies depending on which report/study you read (and how they’re done). A USC study and resulting app says one in five tweets carry identifiable location data – either actively shared or in metadata. That number seems much higher than the previously assumed 1-3% that’s been discussed around the net for years.

That low number starts to provide a hurdle when looking to have an active part in that all-important proximity to point of purchase for Twitter.

The Mobile Holy Trinity
They’re already pushing hard in the mobile game with their MoPub buy (which will bring rich content experiences to the mobile Twitter feed soon – and holy crap it’s going to be awesome) and their opening up the ability to created Tailored Audiences, essentially bringing actual retargeting to mobile devices via data partners.

If Twitter could (and it’s going to take more than tech – a change in user behaviour) connect the three: rich ad units, retargeting, and location… you might as well just give them the advertising prize for a social network right then and there.

So, how do they do this?
That’s a tough question, and one that teams at Twitter are no doubt toiling with. Content that’s being targeted to users based on location now is only taking into account location data entered by users in their profiles – an imperfect targeting solution, but effective enough for brand campaigns aimed at increasing recognition and other “softer” metrics.

If Twitter wants to build confidence among traditional retailers and businesses, they’ll need to get closer to the register.

Change The Rules
While not ideal, changing the terms of service to allow Twitter to use real-time mobile device GPS coordinates to serve content is a way forward. The company is already testing a “Nearby” function that lets users see content being published in their vicinity. It’s only a short step from that to using the same location info for ads.

Likelihood: Medium

TwitSquare
Buy ’em. Foursquare has been struggling the past few years. The app is great – don’t get me wrong. They’re just not proving a great platform for brands to bet on. Crawley is trying his ass off and I think they’ll get it right eventually, but will it be too late?

If Twitter could buy Foursquare and get some of the “here I am” goodness from that platform to rub off on Twitter (not to mention all the local business recommendations, etc.) it could offer a whole new dimension to their platform.

Likelihood: Low/Medium

Get Physical, Physical

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I probably talk about these at least once a day, but iBeacons! iBeacons! iBeacons! If Twitter invested in this technology and linking it with their platform, push messages could be sent to users when they were browsing near products.

Likelihood: Medium

The Full-on Dream Sequence Scenario
This is how it’d go down in a perfect world, a literal combo punch of everything above.

It’s June 2014. Twitter, having just bought Foursquare in February is rolling out the latest version of their app – complete with Foursquare’s location-aware push notifications. John is walking near Regent St. and gets a push notification from Twitter: it’s a rich ad unit showing the nearest Gap stores to him (there are 3) and advertising their 30% off sale. John clicks he location that’s also right next to an Itsu because he is craving some sushi.

When John enters the Gap store, his phone vibrates, welcoming him to the store and reminds him that he was looking at some of the new 1969 Original Skinny Jeans and a cardi on the website earlier – then it points him to where they are in the store.

When John wanders over to the denim section, the iBeacon near the Original Skinny Jeans beams info on the jeans to his phone along with a special, Email subscriber only deal for an additional 10% off denim (because Gap knows John loves denim).

John goes to the register, pays with his phone (because I’m pretending we’ll all be doing that next year), and leaves the store. Since his digital wallet is linked with his email and store accounts for brands like Gap, H&M, JCrew and more, John gets a Tweet after he’s a block away telling him to drop them a Tweet about how the new jeans fit and linking him to a customer satisfaction survey.

At the End of the Day
We may be a little further off from that than I’d like, but right now Twitter is flying toward that reality at full speed. If they can crack the location issue, I think they make an incredibly strong case for being one of the most-important marketing tools of our time (even more so than they already have).

America Checks In (and Tweets) at the Polls for Election 2012

By the end of today we’ll (hopefully) know who will be leading our country for the next four years – along with a number of other important races/initiatives.

This year is really being considered the first “Social Media” election as both candidate and voter use of social to communicate ideas, intent, and to mark their participation is at an all-time high.

Facebook, with their ability to tap into a large percentage of the American population, has a data-rich, real-time graphic at facebookstories.com that updates whenever a users clicks the “I Voted” button found after logging in.

Foursquare actually has a real-time view that can be embedded in sites. Check that out below. right here. Seems like it’s not working well with embedding right now.

No matter which party, candidate, or measure you vote for or against today, remember that we’re all Americans and the very fact that we have the option to go to a polling place (or our couch here in WA) and cast a vote is pretty incredible.

Ours is a shared destiny and only through working together and for the greater good can we leave a legacy that we can be proud of.

God Bless America!

Social Media Awesomeness: UPS

The other day, I did something I rarely do: I stopped to let a pedestrian cross in front of me at a marked crosswalk that didn’t have a light. As much as it surprised me, it definitely surprised the UPS driver behind me…

Not only did he yell at me, he had a few choice words for me as well – probably nothing I haven’t yelled at another driver before.

Not really expecting anything from it, I tweeted about my experience.

Much to my joy (remember, I work in social media), UPS responded fairly quickly.

So, major props for catching the tweet and responding go out to UPS. Like I said, I’d never expect anything and certainly don’t think the driver was terribly horrible or anything – guy was probably at the end of his route and wanted to get home. I know I did.

The whole experience just reinforced what I tell clients day in and day out – people just want to know you’re there and that you give a shit about the experience they have with your brand.

While getting yelled at wasn’t rad, I’m definitely a bigger fan of UPS after the interaction with their social team.

#hashtagging the Grand Daddy of Them All? #NoWay

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When you wake up on Jan. 1, Whatever year it is you can expect to see the Rose Bowl (yes, except when the 1st falls on a Sunday). I remember watching the game with my dad just about every year – except for the two times we’ve been there with WSU.

This year, as I watched the game, I saw a couple ads from lead sponsor VIZIO. They were great ads, but the thing that rubbed me wrong was the hashtag shown at the end – #VIZIORoseBowl. Yes, we know you’re the sponsor… but did you really think you’d generate a ton of conversation around a hashtag that is tied to one of the most-nostalgic games in sport?

This is a prime example of how, to no one’s fault, simply pushing a hashtag out into the wild can flop. Granted, nothing is probably hurt from this (assuming they didn’t go buy a sponsored hashtag, etc.), but they’re losing out just by trying to divert conversation.

Take a look at the search brought back and decide for yourself.

Visual.ly Brings Infographics to the Masses

Infographics are everywhere these days, not just in the pages of USA Today. Visual.ly, recently launched publicly as a place to share, view, and post infographics. They even have a Labs section that lets you make your own: