Location: The Last Piece of Twitter’s Success Puzzle


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

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

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


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:

Building a Trending Topic

Trending topics are the holy grail of Twitter marketing/outreach. You can buy your way to the top, but how are those topics that aren’t paid for moved to the top of the list? HINT NUMBER 1: Have something to do with Justin Beiber… seriously.

For a more academic look at what goes into creating the trending topics, read this PDF:
Trends in Social Media: Persistence and Decay


via Gizmodo via Mashable via NYTimes

Does Relevance Translate to Resonance (and More Importantly, Dollars)?

When Polaroid appointed Lady Gaga, the meat-wearing, beat-dropping, gender-bending, pop star their creative director in 2009, I thought it was kind of fun. Sure, take a visible, creative person and give them some magical unicorn title and let the press salivate and type away for a couple weeks. That makes sense. However, at this last CES she actually paraded a number of products in front of the techy masses that weren’t half bad.

Now today, Intel announced that Will.i.am, the auto-tuned, dapper rapper, has become their Director of Creative Innovation. What he’ll actually do in that role is yet to be seen.

What I found really interesting was Intel’s statement about the deal (hire?):

“It’s imperative that Intel and our innovations are kept in front of the global youth culture that embraces new devices and new forms of communication and entertainment.” – Deborah Conrad, Intel

So, if this is about keeping their innovations in front of the global youth culture, why didn’t they sign up Justin Bieber to be their guy?

This really begs the question: is relevance really translating to resonance? Will this global youth culture see Will.i.am and connect the fact that he’s promoting the processor in their computer or mobile device? Will they even know what a processor is/does?

I hope this means every IDF will open with a BEP performance, or at the very least that “I Gotta Feeling” is playing every time Paul Otellini steps on stage.

Disclosure: I worked closely with Intel for 3 years while at Owen Media Inc.