RT One reason why auto retweet is a fail

If you’re an avid tweeter, you’ve probably been invited to beta test Twitter’s new auto retweet function, which allows you to retweet anything to your followers just with the touch of a button. I like the initiative, but there’s no way it will work. Here’s why:

It doesn’t allow you to be… you.

Retweeting is great. It allows you to pass on a tweet to your followers that you find interesting, or that reflects positively on you. But the real benefit of a retweet, in my opinion, is that it allows you to add your thoughts to it, thereby giving you the ability to customize the tweet for your followers. You know, inject a little personality into it. The new auto retweet strips that from you. It automatically retweets without giving you that ability to change a thing. Where’s the fun in that?

I get that this new feature will allow some users to get their tweet total up very quickly, so there’s some appeal there (for narcissists), but the reason I follow people on Twitter is that they not only pass on good information, they also have an opinion on it. If they do nothing but blindly retweet information, then I’ll just follow the original source – because obviously they have nothing to say.

So here’s one person that’s going to continue to RT the old way. Because I’ve been accused of many things in my life, but not having an opinion has never been one of them.

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.

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.

I’ll take Biz Stone for $1000

jeopardyThere’s no question that social media is here to stay. Technology has given us a voice, and all signs point to us wanting to be heard. Twitter, the poster child for social media, has recently been valuated at $1 Billion, but so far we haven’t seen much evidence of how Twitter will actually make money. I can’t help but think that the route to riches for Twitter, in some form, lies in traditional media, like television.

So here’s a thought for you, Mr. Stone:

Create a game show.

Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already. Twitter and one of the TV networks should create a trivia-oriented game show where the contestants are all sitting at home on the couch. I mean, we’re all sitting there with our laptops anyway. We could answer questions by tweeting as quickly as possible.

Hey NBC, you sit in last in the ratings now. Why don’t you put the Seinfeld or Friends reunions on hold for a bit and concentrate on creating perhaps the world’s biggest and most prolific game show? I mean, if we’re willing to watch Howie Mandell counsel brave-hearted dimwits on opening briefcases, this ought to be a sight better.

And to you Twitter users out there. Would you be willing to log into your account at 8pm on Thursday nights if it meant you could win a few thousand/million dollars? And if you’re worried about compromising your social media integrity by participating, I’m sure you could still update your status during the commercial break:

Playing @twittertrivia right now – trying to win $ to invest in twitter stock

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.

I’m NIKE – Update

Per my last post on impostors in social media, I just got word that Twitter is now verifying the identity of celebrities using their service. All impostors will have their accounts deleted immediately.

To read the Twitter blog post click here.

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