why twitter is important to business

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!

Find Your Brand’s Cheerleaders

By Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Media, Social Media

Bye Bye BirdieI’ve been having some really interesting meetings today and my head is spinning with contradicting thoughts. Most of them have to do with the nature of “marketing” as we know it, and I’ll admit I find myself wondering if I can ever advocate for it again.

Most of my colleagues would react with something like “what, are you TRYING to get fired?”

But before we go too far, what I mean is that I doubt I can ever really advocate for it the way it used to be, when it was all top-down messaging from marketing departments flush with quantitative research telling them what to say and how to say it. Words like “convince,” and “convert” seem somehow antiquated, as if the era of command and control is just over.

“Dude, what is WRONG with you?” my friends will ask.

What’s wrong with me is that in this era of social software and ubiquitous mobility, a period of ever-present content and messaging has meshed almost completely with daily life. The inexorable move towards technology and digital footprints among even the youngest and poorest demographics means that content sharing is like talking. Hell, it’s REPLACED talking at my house. Some people are even convinced it’s maybe, sort of OK for computers to start doing the messaging without much input from humans at all!

I’ll pass, thanks.

So what’s my point? I firmly believe that in order for commerce enablers to continue to succeed, they are going to have to get human again. They are going to have to use all their smarts, tools, and capabilities to find groups of people who share their values already, who have personal reasons for wanting to consume or advocate for their offerings. They have to seek out and find their cheerleaders, their true fans, and deliver more than those folks expect on a regular basis. They are going to have to enchant them, because there are too many inputs all day long for anyone to give a brand a second thought unless they do.

Sure, the era of Big Data is just beginning. But to what end? My opinion is that it has to be to find those cheerleaders and make them happy, because the era of big marketing to folks who don’t share your values is on the way out, if it’s not already gone.


Why You Won’t See “Target Audience” or “Drive Traffic” on this Blog

By Communications, Media, Social Media

I am an impassioned believer in the culture of social media. I believe that social strategy works because of the culture and those that sidestep, shortcut or throw money at it to make it work will be sorely disappointed.

What is the culture of social media?

The culture is founded on shared information, transparency (before it became a buzzword), authenticity, real, personal experiences, (yes, Virginia, even in business experiences). The culture eschews the idea of TARGETING prospects and audiences. The beauty of blogging and subscribing to content via RSS feeds changed the way the world consumes information. We were given the power to choose what we take in; what we absorb. The onus was put, at last, on us, to opt in to the information we want and conversely, block that which we don’t.

The Currency of the Digital Age

Instead of TARGETING people (and that is an unfriendly, militaristic concept, isn’t it? Are they targets because we are shooting at them?) we, instead, create content that is genuine and interesting and in doing so attract those who are interested in the topic, the service, the product, etc. We pull in people who want to read, watch or listen to what we have to say. If it’s five or 500,000, it doesn’t matter, as long as the people who arrive feel rewarded, and honor us by paying for what we offer with their attention, the currency of the digital age.

Herding Cattle, Leading Lemmings

Look: I’m a small business person. I am an entrepreneur. I want eyes on my website and know that when those numbers increase, the warm leads I have grow and turn into new business opportunities. But there’s no cattle prod here. There’s no workaround that is consistent with the practice of developing authentic, solid business relationships. Any quick fix  that promises to “drive traffic to your site!” is not consistent with the values of those doing business today. It’s not a long term, big picture view of building a business that values people, their opinions and their dollars.

Decide what kind of business you want to be in, and engage accordingly.

Social Media Assignment #5: Find Your Tweeps

By Communications

I let you have a few days off; call them virtual snow days. Now, back to work!

If you’re not on Twitter, go set up an account at www.twitter.com We’ll wait.

If you’ve ignored that last line, still don’t have a Twitter account and yet are still reading this post (tough room), here’s the deal — you want a Twitter account in the name of your choosing yesterday. If you don’t grab your name, or the name you want it will be gone (if it is not already). So even if you’re not quite ready to tweet, grab your name (and make sure you tweet a little or you will lose it.)


You have a Twitter account and you’re following a few people; some are friends or bloggers you follow, others found you and you’re simply following them back.

Today’s Social Media Assignment: Find People to Follow on Twitter

Go to http://www.tweepz.com

Conduct a search using query tools, for example:

name: “Marijean Jaggers”


loc: Charlottesville, Va.

Use keywords to help you find the people you seek. Realize that, as usual, search is only as good as the information to find, so if people haven’t completed their biographical information, they may be more difficult to find. THIS IS A NUDGE TO GO COMPLETE YOUR BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION.

Ahem. Subtlety is not my strong suit.

Let’s see who we can follow, shall we?

For fun, I did a search for people with “business” in their bio, entering: bio: business.

Naturally the return was a huge number of users; more than 25,000. The next step when something like this happens is to refine your search by excluding extracted entities. Because I speak English, I start by excluding other languages, then I’ll move to excluding users who don’t follow anyone and so on down the line until I’ve created a more specifically generated list of people I want to follow.

You may be doing this exercise for yourself or for a client — if you’re generating this information for monitoring purposes, you can create an RSS feed to follow the search.

I hope this helps you develop new relationships via Twitter and you find it as beneficial as I have.

Social Media: A Shoe Story

By Communications

SCARPA, a boutique shoe store, well-known by women in Charlottesville, Va. and beyond, understands the value of social media.

Case in point: it was New Year’s Eve when SCARPA tweeted about a silver, sparkly pair of shoes perfect for fancy evenings out.  The shoes, pictured at left, were tweeted first by the store and re-tweeted, shared, and shared again by friends on Twitter throughout the area.

The Twitter community is strong in Charlottesville, so it was only a matter of time before a group of a dozen women or so decided to do a lunchtime shoe-shopping tweet-up at SCARPA. Via Twitter, the women, all influential local business women and active users of social media let the store know they would descend en masse the following Tuesday afternoon.

Amy Gardner, founder, proprietor and online representative of the shoe store prepared for the Tweet-up providing finger foods, Prosecco and generous goody bags for the mid-day party. (Thank you Amy!)

The resulting benefits of the in-person engagement with shoe shoppers continue far beyond the event itself. First, the store was able to introduce itself to people who had previously not shopped there. Amy’s relationship with her customers is a big reason her loyal following returns again and again; meeting a new crop of potential shoppers and solidifying that relationship with a positive experience is a gift that keeps on giving. For many of the tweet-up participants, it was their first time to shop and buy at the store.

The gathering (disclosure: I created the Twitvite to invite my Twitter followers to the event) resulted in further coverage with the weekly CBS-19 feature C’ville Plugged In sharing the story of the tweet-up, a post by fashion blogger Dana Hollar and, I suppose, this blog post as well. Add that to the tweets, twitpics, Facebook updates and of course, the women wearing their new shoes around town and telling the story of tweet-up shoe shopping fun with their friends and you have a customer loyalty and satisfaction story that has legs!

Follow www.twitter.com/thinkscarpa for shoe news and sale updates.

If you have a local business, consider the power of the social media community in your region; do you know how to reach and mobilize them?