A Year of Twitter

October 8, 2009

It occured to me the other day that October 1, 2009 marked a year since I began using Twitter.  I went back to my very first tweet, which was of course hopeful and abstract.  A lot has changed since that first tweet, both my perception on the concept of social media and its value and my preconceived notion that 140 characters was simply a useless amount of information.

I remember the first staff meeting when I brought up the idea of making our blog more dynamic, switching platforms (we were using a terrible self-hosted platform through our web server company) and setting up some additional accounts on social media networks….like, you know, Twitter or something.

The reaction, needless to say, was less than enthusiastic.  My boss seemed somewhat convinced but a week later after she began tweeting, she came back to the table uncertain of its value.

I didn’t know much, I will admit, about social media at that point.  But I had a gut feeling it was going to be important, more important than we were treating it at that time.  I knew it was foolish of us as an agency to present ourselves as cutting edge if we didn’t understand the current influencers in the new media space.  There was still a good 3-4 months of complaining and general cynicism around the table and I say this not to pat myself on the back for being right (though, I was…ahem) but more to point out that there are still people who don’t believe in the value or power of Twitter and social media in general.

Going through my Twitter feed last night, I was able to view my life, mostly professional but some personal milestones, connections I made and general growth I experienced.

For me, Twitter has:

  • Greatly expanded my contacts in the green and sustainable industry
  • Connected me to some influential editors, writers and analysts in my clients’ markets
  • Showed me some really fantastic stories I might have otherwise overlooked
  • Taught me brevity can be powerful and at times completely enough
  • Given me an outlet
  • Helped to gain expanded readership on both our blogs (here and Green Life Smart Life)

The list could go on and on.  I can look back on Twitter and see the first time I successfully pitched an NBC producer, the connection I made with a green editor at the New York Times, my acceptance to a PhD program, my first solo press event at Microsoft, the 3 (or 4) trade shows I attended in the past year, my triumphs and failures, the points where I had to make a big decision (and subsequently drink a lot of wine) – it’s all there.  140 characters or less, my work and life laid out in a nice little timeline.  1,590 tweets and 831 followers later – it turns out it’s not the numbers necessarily or the popularity.

Social media creates real connections.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

first tweet

Posted by: Ashley – who can be found on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ashleydano

Comments on Commenters

May 14, 2009

Awesome if somewhat cursory New York Times examination of the culture, rhythm and impact of online commenting.

The thing that amazes and worries me is that everyone knows the lion’s share of comments are generally stilted and that they come from a small and sometimes obsessive community, but they still are having a huge effect on how news and opinion is prepared and presented, and there’s a general resignation to the fact that for all the good this brings, the bad far outweighs it.

Feel free to comment and tell me how wrong I am.

Posted by Joe Paone

Twitter is dead

April 30, 2009

3291616685_9a9bf42b3b1Well, maybe not, but it sure ain’t sticky and it’s not looking like it has legs. According to this article, called “Twitter users not sticking around”, more than 60 percent of Twitter users stop using the service a month after joining. That eqautes to a 40 percent retention rate. At a similar stage, says the article, Facebook’s retention rate was twice as high. Same with MySpace. I have to say that I am one of those people who went Twitter-crazy for a month and then got tired of the limited functionality and never-ending glitchiness of the site and returned full-time to the wicked but loving arms of Facebook.

While it has some legitimate applications, on a macro level Twitter has all the makings of a fad that we’ll all laugh about fondly in a decade. Celebrity and newscaster tweeting has already become rote fodder for TV comedians. TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley, never one to pull punches, even implied the service was pointless and annoying during an in-show commercial Tuesday promoting TNT’s Twitter accounts. Back in the day, we’d have said Twitter has jumped the shark.

From a PR and marketing perspective, that doesn’t mean we need to abandon Twitter. Quite the contrary. We need to exploit its capabilities as much as we can. But we also need to keep in mind that its influence may very well have peaked.

From my view, Facebook is a much more effective play for all but customer service applications.

Posted by Joe Paone

Social Networking Trendchasers on Safari

March 19, 2009

So assuming you might have many, many better things to do, here’s the latest newsflash from the World of Web 2.0: Facebook launched a redesign last week that no one in the user community really wanted and not surprisingly, it’s risen to become an utter fiasco. Long story short, Facebook looks more like Twitter now, which is kind of dumb because if all you wanted to do was tweet, you’d, like, go to Twitter.

Meanwhile, there’s a rising backlash/fatigue with the remarkably overexposed and over-discussed Twitter.

With Facebook, there’s a sense of betrayal from users who genuinely loved the loopy, varied functionality of the platform. With Twitter, there’s a reaction against what some see as a dumbing-down and/or trivializing of societal discourse, along with a bit of pique about the vacuous TV talking heads babbling incessantly about it.

Social media networks have lifecycles, and I’ve seen them play out before. People discover them, fall in love with them, and then one day, they move on to the next thing. I’ve seen Friendster die of neglect on the part of its ownership. I’ve seen MySpace become a garish, tacky, pushy advertising vehicle. Heck, I remember the heydays and downfalls of Usenet newsgroups (flooded with spam posts) and listservs (too navel-gazing) and forums (too much traffic, too many alpha dogs).

Has Facebook peaked? Has Twitter peaked? What’s the next big thing?

Too soon to say. But we’re keeping a jaundiced eye on it.

Posted by Joe Paone (look for me on Facebook, but only after you scroll though a gazillion gratuitous status updates)

Gmail’s soft sell gets me every time…

March 13, 2009

While doing a little research on what began as social media, ended (link after link later) at this AdWeek article – “Nielsen: Social Nets Overtake E-mail”. The subtext noted that advertisers need to find new ways to capitalize on social networking sites because the “push” mode is no longer successful. Ironically, Caster’s team was having a similar conversation on Monday as it relates to PR metrics and delivering measurable ROI to clients participating in social media efforts. We’re all working on it.

Professionaly, I get it. Now, more than ever, we all need to provide measurable results. Personally, I cringed reading the article thinking that my guilty pleasure of FB (for personal use only – yes, I am that person who ignores even my aunt’s friend request) would be infiltrated with advertisements. Then it occurred to me…

Do you know what site, that I visit daily, prompts me to buy most of my online purchases? My Gmail account. The GENIUS targeted ads of Gmail. I’m sure you’ve all seen the AdSense program at work on Google.com, but the ads within my inbox are really what get me. Have you seen them? It is as if even the trained eye that moves stealthy around banner ads cannot seem to skip over them without a second consideration to click.

If you do not have a Gmail account, the Gmail service scans individual messages for cues, interests and then displays relevant links from Google’s endless index of web pages. The links are only displayed within that particular message and are “selected solely for their helpfulness.” For the record, my shopping cart find them “helpful”, my bank account, on the other hand, not so much.

It’s a soft sell. So soft, in fact, that when I’ve asked other Gmail users about the targeted ad links displayed on the top of each message and at least half of them had not even noticed! I don’t know how that is possible and I do realize that sharing that respondents have not noticed Gmail ads is not proving my point, however, I find these FREE ads FAR more effective than any other internet advertising programs I have encountered and even look for them!

For the record Twitter and FB, I would welcome this advertising method in any of my personal or business accounts.

Would love to hear what others think of these ads. Also, I hear that kshort@castercomm.com is a “helpful” link for editors covering home theaters, flat panel displays and mounts, or projection screens. I kid. 🙂

Posted by: katie | find me on twitter

Fwitters? Twakes? Fritters? Mmm… Fritters.

November 29, 2008

You know, whatever you want to call fake Twitter accounts, of which Shaquille O’Neal was a victim until recently.

Not so Martian.

Shaq: Martian. Greg Oden (not pictured): Not so Martian.

Well, now that Shaq not only is aware of Twitter, but is on Twitter, he’s infatuated with it, and his account is richly entertaining on so many levels. Please, if you’re on Twitter… follow the Diesel. It is so worth it. If you’re not on Twitter, join it just to follow the Diesel. Dude’s a bazillionaire athlete who nevertheless eats the worst chain food imaginable. Witness “ABOUT TO EAT DINNER, I PASSED UP 20 MCDONALDS TODAY. I COULDNT DO IT I’M ON A DIET,BUT MCDONALDS FRIES R THE BEST UM UM UM” and “I need help subway or schlotsskys for lunch, big game tonite” (hey, what message does this send to the kids from Shaq’s Big Challenge, anyway?). But he also dispenses some quick wit, some fascinating insight, a glimpse behind the scenes at NBA life and the NBA fraternity (“Last nite i told greg oden , “we r not the same, i am a martian”), a philanthropic urge that will make you go “aw” (“On my way to oklahoma city, gettin ready to send 2 million lbs of peanut butta to africa”), and the occasional tweet that makes you ponder what really goes on with Shaq, the world around him and our world in general (“Does anyone have the names of the 14 people bush gave pardons”).

Ultimately, the Shaq Twitter saga is about reputation management, about owning a corporate or personal identity, about brand protection. Even if your client or your company isn’t tweeting, it’s a good idea to check if somebody you don’t know is doing it for you and making you look bad or much worse.

Posted by: Joe Paone

So Twonderful

October 14, 2008

As Caster becomes more social network-savvy, many of us have found our way to Twitter. As a blogger who up until now as stayed as far away from Twitter (because it’s hard enough to stay up to date on blog posts, let along update what my “status” is every moment of the day),  once I learned the benefits it held for our business, I couldn’t get enough.

So here I am, MollyatCaster, twittering away.

Or Tweeting away, actually. See, there was something I didn’t know when I signed up for Twitter. Twitter has it’s own language. For example:

A Tweet is what you call your message sent out over Twitter. If I want to tell the world, “omigod, I’m getting married in 10 days!” (true story), I don’t post it, I tweet it.

Then, all the Tweeple who are following my posts can send out congratulation messages. (When we get more comfortable around each other, they’ll become my Tweeps.)

Excited, I write back “Thanks! Can’t wait for the wedding night, wink, wink!” Then automatically regret it, as I forgot that not only are my friends reading this, but so are people in the media that I would like to actually work with. Doh. What a total Mistweet. (Can also be considered a Twoops if I sent a private message out to everyone.)

Luckily, they find it funny, and based on my witty commentary ask if I’d like to get together for a drink. We have a Tweetup and I make some fabulous connections.

After our meeting, I rush back to the computer to check my Twaffic and see how many new followers I have.

I go to bed feeling really Twitteriffic about my day.

Man, this could go on forever. I feel like such a Twool.

Posted by: Molly