How Twitter Might Be Shooting Itself In the Head

By Social Media, Uncategorized

Twitter APII just finished a very interesting article by Bloomberg’s Mathew Ingram covering two new and troubling moves the folks over at Twitter have made in the last few weeks. You can read it here.

The gist is that they have been cutting more and more original partners out of access to their API, which is the way apps like Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr USED to allow you to connect with Twitter friends. Those original partners drove a lot of growth in Twitter as users tweeted out what they were creating or reading with those apps. It made the apps better and more social. Now, it appears Twitter is starting to focus on developing media partnerships and driving revenue off of advertising purchased by those partners. In order to do that, it’s narrowing access to the API so that only these media partners (like NBC, who was the test case for this strategy during the Olympics) will be able to really take advantage of Twitter’s “follower graph,” a fancy word for the user data.

I totally understand that user data is the crux of Twitter’s value, and I totally get their desire to exploit that value. What I don’t get is why they are following the path that so many other VC-driven software companies have followed, which is to abandon the very thing that makes them great in an effort to get big and rich. By removing these API connections, Twitter’s relevance to users who remain loyal to the apps Twitter used to support will be eroded. Maybe Twitter doesn’t care, thinking their big media push will more than compensate for these lost followers. But in my experience, whenever a cool app that adds a real functional value gets hijacked by big media money, its relevance rapidly declines. It gets sucked into the financial and editorial vortex of its benefactors, watered down by quarterly reporting requirements, and quickly abandoned as another shill.

I hope I’m wrong. But when these things get too big and homogenous, users typically run away.


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What Social Data Really Tells Us

By Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Uncategorized

This is a VERY interesting infographic from the geniuses at Pivot, presented by that other genius Brian Solis.  It highlights what Brian likes to call The Perception Gap, or the difference between what marketers THINK their customers want versus what the customers actually TELL us they want. It’s a fascinating link worth checking out. While I wait.

OK, now that you’ve seen it, here is what I took from it:

Businesses, regardless of how much they blab about wanting to use social platforms to really get to know their customers, still operate from a blind spot oriented towards their own best interests. 

Which is to say, they OVERESTIMATE customers’ interest in things that are easy for these businesses to provide, like “product information,” and woefully UNDERESTIMATE for things that are more difficult or expensive to provide, like discounts and rewards and exclusive content.

What’s the upshot? USE THE DATA, MR. MARKETER!!! Don’t hide in the sand, own the reality and give them what they actually say they want, not what’s easiest for you! That’s how you’ll get them to become loyal to you.

Happy marketing!

How the Boy Scouts Blew It On Facebook

By Uncategorized

Are we really still discussing this? It’s hard to believe, but yes we are. Another example of lame-brained Facebook behavior from a large organization that can’t seem to get out of its own way. This week’s contestant? The Boy Scouts of America.

I ran across the exchange below in my Facebook stream. It seems Wells Fargo was celebrating their continued support of scouting with an event, photo opp, etc. and posted this on their Facebook page. All great. Predictably, the posting got a comment, highlighted in yellow below, decrying their exclusionary practices, which are well -known.

See below:

I have no problem with an organization making decisions about how they want to operate, even if I don’t agree with their point of view. What I have a problem with in this case is that once again, a large organization with a lot to lose when things go wrong got it VERY wrong on the social networks.

If you’re going to to engage on these platforms, your point of view is going to be front and center at some point. If you stifle discussion of that point of view, you appear to be hiding something or afraid of the interaction. You also raise the profile of the very thing you’re trying to avoid and open yourself up to bigger headaches. In this case, they have reminded a new group of Facebook readers of their exclusionary policies, lost a long-time supporter and fund-raiser, and appeared opaque and untrustworthy.

What do you think? Is Facebook an appropriate venue to discuss your brand’s philosophies? If not, why are you there?

How The Facebook Timeline Changes Destroyed an Industry. What???

By Uncategorized

So all day today I’ve been reading posts about how the changes to the Facebook business pages, wherein the tabs were de-emphasized and the timeline became a requirement, have destroyed an entire industry, namely that of agencies and design firms who charged a lot of money to build and maintain Facebook landing pages for their clients. Here’s one from Fortune, here’s another from Geoff Livingston.

This surprises you? Really? I’ve been a digital professional a loooong time (> 20 years), and one thing I’ve learned is that tools change. A lot. And often. And on a whim. Standards shift, strategies change, business models come and go. I cannot sympathize with a model that says you should build an entire business around the whims and trends of a mercurial software company, no matter how large. Developing an expertise in Facebook design as a component of the servies you offer makes total sense. Assigning an FTE to monitor, track, prepare for, and execute against evolving functionality makes more sense. Being experts in a particular technology is always good. But if your entire business is building landing pages around the Facebook Tabs feature, you’re gonna pay at some point.

Features change. If you hook your wagon to them, be prepared to be unceremoniously UNhooked somewhere down the road, and without your consent. To be honest, I’ve never been particularly enamored of building big marketing plans around platforms–you cede too much control over the success of your business to the purveyors of said platforms.

A Love Letter to Charlottesville

By Communications, Jaggers Communications News, Uncategorized

Dear Charlottesville,

I love you.

On Tuesday, I joined my team at your Chamber’s Spring Luncheon. We were a sponsor and Marijean said a little something about communications. People clapped. It was great.

I got a chance to chat with Rachel of Alison Partners about innovative business thinking and how her background in design has greatly influenced her company’s success in organizational strategy and development. This was followed by a booming, passionate speech by Mike London, UVA Football Coach. I nearly strapped on some cleats. The speech and supporting football clips did exactly what they were meant to, shook us out of our post lunch daze and made us sit up and listen. Finally, I had the privilege of sitting with Amos Gilkey of CleanWaveGroup. He was explaining to me how his company is a catalyst for inventors needing a business plan and technological ideas that need shaping and packaging. Their support translates into new revenue streams and growth into overseas markets.

Charlottesville, I love you. I love that this much passion and excitement dwells in a town of 100,000. I love that we could go to a winery, a presidential estate, and a talk on innovation in the same day if we wanted to.

Sometimes I think you get a bum wrap being compared to DC. You may be small. But you, my friend, are mighty.