I admit it, I'm slightly obsessed with Twitter. I was getting better... finding some distance, Tweeting only a few times a week... but then we developed this test program with Twitter and that got me all amped about it again. I'm pretty excited about this data coming out of this trial project, linking ads on the 4INFO network to Twitter. But rather than repeat myself, I'll just link you to the blog post I put up about it at iMedia. I think we will see interesting results from these test campaigns, and if nothing else, it's opened the eyes of several brands to both the value of the 4INFO network at driving Twitter followers, (and to how many unauthorized squatters there are, hoarding Twitter brand names!).
If you're reading this blog, you've probably already found me on Twitter, but if not then hit me up at @zawthet!
Oprah and Ashton tweeted on Friday (that’s my attempt at false glee)! I know, it’s everywhere- but for those of you who haven’t heard, it’s official, Oprah Winfrey sent out her first tweet last week. After that she and Ashton had a brief Skype chat about his CNN/Ashton-off of who could get more followers. Then we heard all about his efforts to raise money for Malaria nets in Africa. Whatever you think about the discussion, there can be no mistaking the fact that Oprah can single handedly move mountains. Mountains of viewers, supporters, fans, worshipers into most anything or idea she endorses.
It bears examination of how Oprah’s foray into the Twitterverse might actually, positively confer a halo effect over the entire social media continuum. In other words, it might bring us a bigger, newer audience. Look at Oprah’s sphere of influence. According to a May, 2007 issue of TIME magazine, presidential hopeful Barack Obama appeared on Oprah on October 18, 2006 and as a result, Internet searches on the Illinois senator vaulted 358% the week following his appearance.
BUT, does technology improve with volume? What happens to the “cool factor” and how important is form over function? Remember all the hype around Second Life last year? What about MySpace? To be sure these companies are thriving businesses, but they also share the distinction of having seen a ton of hype and then a dramatic fall-off in the months and years following. Considerations to be sure, but from my point of view and a lot of people who work in branding, bringing more people to the well is a good thing. There’s no question that Oprah can and will encourage the luddites among us to peek under the veil of Twitter and see what it’s all about.
The Naysayers among you may say, yes, but look at all the hype surrounding Oprah’s somewhat legendary endorsement of Amazon’s Kindle: Will Kindle Sales Spike Because of Oprah? – and the many inconclusive articles that ran a year latter suggesting that Oprah’s stamp of approval certainly helped move the needle but didn’t necessarily turn Kindle sales into the iPhone-like stratosphere. To you I say, “you’re right.” But Twitter is different. Aside from asking people to try a new way of communicating, she’s not asking fans to buy anything or even modify their behavior. In fact along similar lines, the January 14th issue of the National Journal reported on Skype’s performance and substantial growth in the last year after Oprah began consistently using the service to bring guests in for remote chat. “…one of the biggest weapons in its PR arsenal recently has been Oprah Winfrey. The company's CEO Josh Silverman told the Congressional Internet Caucus's State of the Net conference on Wednesday that the talk show queen is passionate about his product and uses Skype regularly on her television program.”
My point is this: the jury is certainly out on how much impact Oprah will have on the growth of Twitter; but dedicated fans who watch her, read about her, and subscribe to her online seminars are potentially ripe neophytes into the world of SMS and mobile, social media applications. For the tens of thousands of us who have ad networks, publishing sites, are brand stewards or are just tech nerds, the masses are coming and they’ll probably require some patience, clear instruction, and meaningful content. Who knows, with a few of these simple principles we may be able to keep this new wave of tech neophytes engaged and interested long enough to sell ‘em a Kindle or two…
It's the day after St. Patrick's Day and I hope nobody is feeling the ill effects of too much celebration! I was lucky enough to celebrate joining some agency folks to see the Lakers lose by a hair in the final seconds of the game last night.
This weekend I'll be at the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Florida, presenting at the Mobile Bootcamp and attending the show. 4INFO is all over the country next week, with presentations at OMMA and NXT Stage in Los Angeles as well.
Have you picked your brackets for March Madness yet? If not, check out the slick tools available at MySpace, http://www.myspace.com/myspacebracket - including 4INFO's live score and upset text alerts, brought to you by that staple of the 4INFO cafeteria: Vitamin Water.
One last thing on my mind... have you seen this? Blank billboards in Times Square. Yeah the economy is rough, but empty billboards are ugly and don't do anybody any good. They should throw a good mobile call to action up there, and see just how much those billboards are worth!
I'm blowing the dust off this blog once again, in order to share some of what I've been doing lately. The main stuff? I've discovered Twitter, and I think you could definitely call me fan. An addict? Maybe that too. Hit me up at @zawthet, or keep up with the latest from 4INFO @4info.
My speaking calendar has been very full. Next up: 4A’s Media Conference & Tradeshow - I'll be speaking the morning of March 6th on monetizing social media (without screwing up the consumer experience). On a mobile device, there's literaly no room to screw up!
I haven't had a chance to update this blog lately. Sorry readers, but I'm sure most of you didn't notice.
No bold predictions for 2008, I haven't had time to pull my heads out of the weeds at 4INFO long enough to think objectively about anything outside wireless and advertising.
I'll leave you with some quick thoughts on starting companies and entrepreneurship:
If you're going to read one book next year, read Bill Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management.
My biggest take-aways from Swanson's book:
When you ask for somebody to do something, also remind them why you are asking for it. That way if they hit a roadblock and you are not around they can come up with a creative solution.
Always ask for confirmation that people understand what you are asking for or what they to-do's are.
Paul Soros once told me: "Starting a company is easy, getting it to break-even is the hard part."
As a leader, your job should be to try and make yourself obsolete: that means you hired well and all the gears in the company are working...allowing you to focus externally and on big picture strategy.
Culture, culture, culture - this starts the moment you start a company and is never not important.
We just launched a cool referral program for 4INFO. As you know, all our real time SMS/text alerts (NFL, MLB, weather, stocks, etc.) are all free. Now, you can also get $5 in Amazon gift certificates for every friend you tell about 4INFO and our cool mobile services. Link to send invites is here: http://www.4infoalerts.com/referral/alerts/
Spread the word people! Help your friends stay in the know, on the go.
Interesting move from Google. I first read about this in Tech Crunch. I just saw one of these billboards in San Francisco, right on the 101 by the 4th/Harrison on-ramp.
Makes sense to me. Google is flush with cash and offline media (billboards, newspapers, etc) is the best way of driving mobile voice/text traffic since a person is not in front of a computer and needs the info right away! This Google service competes with Free411, which happens to be a 4INFO partner.