9 signs you’re an Over-Tweeter

addictThis is a post for Mr. Over-Tweet. You know who you are, but you probably won’t have time to read this. After all, you’re too busy enthralling us, 140 characters at a time.

But in the event you do find time to read this post. I have just one thing to say to you:

Stop.

I get that you want to embrace social media and that you probably have a loyal group of followers (i.e. the unemployed). But I think I speak for the majority of Twitter-ers out there when I say, “ease up on the throttle, big guy.” It’s not that we don’t find some of your tweets interesting. After all, we’re following you (for now). But inundating us with tweets doesn’t make you more compelling. In fact, it actually makes you less so.

Oh, and if you’re not sure you’re an Over-Tweeter, here are some telling signs to watch for:

1. You regularly fill the Twitter ‘home’ page with your tweets.
2. You’ve debated the merits of the bit.ly URL shortener vs the ow.ly URL shortener.
3. Your name is Guy Kawasaki.
4. You put hashtags on Post-It notes to emphasize points.
5. You’ve tweeted while driving / shaving / showering / jogging / dating / cooking or any other ‘ing’ that requires some measure of concentration.
6. You consider Tweeting to be your guilty pleasure instead of something actually guilt-inducing, like cock-fighting.
7. You’ve joked about naming your child/pet “@name”.
8. You’ve actually tweeted: “@mydamnwife at me for tweeting during dinner again” or
8.a @mydamnwife left you a while ago

And here’s the big one:

9. You tweet more than you read your followers’ tweets.

I don’t mean to belabor a point, Mr. Over-Tweet, but it’s called social media. Most people use it to create a dialogue between each other. When the conversation only goes one way, it kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? So unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal, Oprah or CNN, try something revolutionary the next time you log on to Twitter. Just read. Then, perhaps respond. You might find yourself in an actual conversation, and more importantly, more connected to society in general.

Until then, me and @mydamnwife will be watching.

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Social Media = car. Brand = gas.

social-mediaOnline Spin just released an article about succeeding with Social Media and how the answer isn’t in advertising, Facebook pages or Twitter profiles. To this statement I only have one thing to say:

Duh.

Online Spin has it right. But is this such a revelation? Why is it that so many social media ‘experts’ out there don’t understand the fundamentals of brand engagement? When people talk about your brand, or friend/fan your brand, or tweet about your brand, it’s because they have bonded with your brand, not because you simply exist. The principles of brand strategy and engagement have never been more essential today, yet these social media tacticians have many clients believing that they’ll reap financial rewards if they just set up a fan page on MySpace.

The only companies that do well in social media without clear brand support are the ones who innovate in social media. Companies like Naked Pizza who put up a Twitter billboard out front of their location to give followers special deals. The desired brand effect was a pizza for early adopters (go figure, the pizza is 100% organic).

If you’re living up to your brand promises at every touch point and creating advocacy with your customers, then your elevated presence in social media is assured. Not only will people flock to your social media sites, but they may even create their own fan sites as well. I recently flew Virgin America and loved it so much, I devoted a whole article to it. And I don’t even know if Virgin has a Twitter profile.

My advice is this: get your brand in order and build some loyalty. Until you do, your social media presence won’t do much for you. Think of it this way. Social media is the car and your brand engagement is the gas. Without people who love you, your social media ain’t goin’ no where.

Why it’s better to be with a virgin

virign logoFirst, my apologies to all you filthy-minded folks out there who are mistakingly reading this article.

My second apology is to Virgin America for not flying you sooner.

I rarely have good things to say about businesses from a service standpoint. Frankly, I think most companies are in business despite themselves, especially airlines. Which is why I had to write an article about my experience with Virgin America over Labor Day, and why, for the life of me, I can’t understand why other airlines simply don’t get it.

virgin check inRight from the moment we checked in with Virgin America we felt like we were in for an atypical experience. The check in counter was, for the most part, free from the clutter of bewildered humans wondering what to do next (automated check in, old school check in, etc.). In fact, it was relatively empty of customers altogether, which might say something about Virgin’s processing ability.

Anyhow, after a one-minute wait we were greeted at the counter by a smiling woman who welcomed us to Virgin and asked us about our destination. I have to admit we probably looked a little strange to her after staring, open-mouthed at her for about 10 seconds trying to process the fact that she was actually smiling. “Maybe she just got engaged,” whispered my girlfriend. When we got to our gate we realized that other Virgin employees had adopted this strange facial quirk as well.

virgin_planeOur experience into the atypical continued when we got on board. The interior of the cabin was bathed in a pink and purple glow, giving the entire aircraft the feel of a hip, boutique hotel. It’s a very cool effect if you’ve never been aboard before, and from the look of it, seems pretty easy to do. You replace white bulbs with pink and purple ones.

We were actually able to watch a bit of a movie on our personal screens before the plane took off, giving us something to occupy our time while waiting for the aircraft to board. And when we got airborne, we could resume watching our movie where we paused it.

And here’s the real kicker – it seems that Virgin is the first airline that isn’t just talking about WiFi, but actually offering it.

But here’s the real interesting thing about our experience with Virgin. We didn’t really know about Virgin through marketing or advertising before we booked our trip with them. Everything we knew about Virgin was through other people who have flown them before.

So it seems that instead of spending heaps of money on advertising, sponsorships and marketing, like their competitors do, Virgin America is spending money on making your travel experience better than the competition, and then letting you spread the good word to others.

Like I am doing.

And to me, this methodology emphasizes the Virgin brand, which is ‘forward thinking’. Don’t trust a commercial or ad to tell you about the benefits of an airline, trust your neighbor, or colleague, or friend, or social media site instead.

So to other airlines out there, stop talking to us about your differences (which are minimal, at best) and start doing something different to make us want to choose you above your competitors. Believe me, it’s not always about price when you can offer us a priceless experience.

Why is this the Golden Age of Twitter?

goldbirdFor those 50% of you who are “Just trying this Twitter thing out” (#1 most common tweet) before you abandon the tool forever, I just wanted to share with you why it’s the best time to keep at it with Twitter:

Because no one really knows what they’re doing, especially corporations.

Twitter is still a relatively new site, and hasn’t been properly monetized. So this is the best time to really enjoy it as a social media tool.

I thought I’d explain my rationale through an experience I had recently. I was thinking about taking my girlfriend to Portland, but didn’t know much about the city. So I went onto my Twitter account and tweeted: “Anyone know any good hotels in Portland?”

I didn’t get any immediate replies, but after a while a few people, as well as a few hotels, wrote me back and told me about some good places to stay in the area. Some of the hotels even offered me a Twitter discount. I tweeted back a few people and hotels to ask about restaurants/entertainment as well, and got some good responses from both. In fact I got good enough advice from these people on Twitter that I made a reservation.

Not bad, huh? Now here’s why that won’t exist a few months/years from now:

Soon, many companies will use automated software (like the impersonal automated direct reply messages you get when you start following some people), so that when you type in anything related to their business, like ‘Hotel’, ‘Car’, or even ‘Dog Food’, you ‘ll receive a slew of automated messages from them, begging you to frequent their business. Translation: TWITTER SPAM (or is it: TWAM?).

Today, when most businesses are reaching out to you through Twitter, it’s usually be a person who is genuinely trying to help you out. Sure, they still want your business, but they’re willing to put in the time and effort to cultivate you as a customer to make a sale, instead of letting the robotic software do all the talking/offering for them. Because the fact of the matter is that we (humans/consumers) are complex creatures and are generally motivated by things other than price. Sometimes we need to have our hands held during the wooing process.

And finally, because Twitter hasn’t been overrun by corporations just yet (you ain’t seen nothin’ yet), people still view it as a tool to communicate with one another. As soon as we’re all inundated with SPAM messages, we’ll turn off it and move on to the next thing.

And for those of you who disagree, just log into your old Second Life account and see how those cool company storefronts really ameliorated the social media experience, if you can still remember your password.

My computer told me to get married

hunchEver wanted to leave an informed decision up to someone or something else? Enter Hunch, the latest web sensation from Caterina Fake (from Flickr fame). Hunch is a web tool that learns about you and your preferences and then delivers you quasi-relevant advice in return. I thought it was just another flaky web initiative until it recommended to me that I drive the car I’m currently driving. Unfortunately, it then recommended that I sell it to buy a wedding ring for my long-term girlfriend.

In any event, it’s fun and ruthlessly easy to use. And while you may not follow its advice, it does pose questions that do make you think more abut who you are and what you do believe in before you make tough decisions. And it’s open to anyone who wants to contribute to it.

So give it a shot. I got a hunch you won’t be disappointed.

I’m NIKE! Or at least you think I am

swooshAuthenticity is going to be the new battle brands will have on their hands. With the rise of social media and its low barrier to entry, companies that don’t take steps to protect themselves by registering their names on the major sites risk allowing someone else to control their brand name.

Which makes me realize that there is going to be a market for these identities, much like there was a business for Domain Squatting in the late 90s. I wonder how much Nike would pay for the @Nike handle on Twitter (with its legion of followers), especially if Twitter continues its meteoric rise in social media.

If you haven’t already, my suggestion is to register on the following sites and ramp up your privacy settings until such time as your company is ready to move forward.

Twitter
Facebook
MySpace
Friendfeed
Youtube

Buy me a drink before asking for sex – a lesson for Twitter

sales-guyI’ve noticed that the majority of people on Twitter are only focused on building up sheer numbers of followers, regardless of quality. However there are a small minority who actually care about building relationships.

Those who genuinely want to start a relationship generally send me a personal, direct, non-automated message once I start following them. For example:

Hey Rodger, reply to me @richardr if you could recommend another fun and smart person to follow.

A nice touch. But there are also those who are sending me direct messages under the guise of relationship building, generally to build a business of some sort:

Thanks for the follow! Would you like to know How to Get 16,000 Followers in 90 days & Make Money?

You’re the ones I want to talk to.

If I’m following you on Twitter, I probably either find you:

A. Interesting (worth following/generating relationship with); or
B. Likely to follow me

Whichever one it is, it doesn’t matter how you communicate with me, whether it be through Twitter, the phone, or in person, one thing I’ve learned as a marketer is that no one likes the high pressure sales guy – no matter what you’re selling.

So even if you’re trying to build a business through Twitter, try working on our relationship first. Make me feel like I’m worth connecting to, then I might be more likely to check out your wares. When your first direct message to me is already selling me something, it’s akin to walking up to me and asking me for sex after merely catching my eye in a crowded room. It may work with a few people, but your conversion rate might be a bit better if you buy me a drink and get to know me first.