Twitter: A Fine Day To Start Again.

I was listening to Mark Schaffer discuss the update of his book The Tao of Twitter on Michael Stelzner’s podcast the other day and realized that I have been using Twitter all wrong for the past 6 years. Maybe I shouldn’t say ALL wrong. Twitter is one of my favorite social channels. I use it to stay connected with the latest developments in the industry and share valuable articles and resources with followers and via hashtags. I have even added it as required participation (#SocialMedia453) to my Social Media Marketing course at JHU.

Learning and sharing and finding are all part of Twitter, but the big piece I have been missing is real time conversation. No channel gets closer to real time socializing like Twitter. This is perhaps its greatest value and I have been missing out on it for 6 years! The closest I have gotten to this step is at conferences where I have had wonderful Twitter conversations with audience members of talks. I have found that the most meaningful professional relationships and opportunities tend to come from conferences where real time, in person conversations happen.

In Twitter I have had too much of a publishers mindset.  I have been viewing tweets as a set of blog posts that will be viewed somehow like a table of contents. I also worry about direct comments feeling out of context for others who see them. Now I am realizing that these thoughts are merely misconceptions. There are over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. A Twitter user on average has over 200 followers and follows over 100 people.  With this sheer amount of activity, rarely do we see someone’s stream in its entirety.

Twitter is not about more information or perfect information. Twitter’s strength is making mini one-on-one connections that can build up to more meaningful relationships. To do this we must cut through the clutter with real conversation. This is what Gary Vaynerchuk was talking about in The Thank You Economy. I know all these things. I’ve read the books. How did I miss it for so long?

As I have attempted to build up social media knowledge I have tried to be everywhere and learn everything. I have jumped on every new and old social channel and have tried to do it all. Do you do this too? Yet most of the social media experts tend to be experts in one or two channels. Generalists are few and far between. Community managers are hired to be active in one social channel. To be more effective and get greater results from what Mark Shaeffer calls, “The most popular real-time conversations in the world” we may need more of a focused approach.

Personally, this may mean letting go of some of the other channels for a while. For marketers this may mean cutting channels to the ones that make the most sense or dedicating people to individual communities. Really get to know what makes a specific channel tick and put that effort into each interaction. On Twitter, Shaeffer says it’s about “People sharing, connecting, teaching, and entertaining each other in the moment.” For Twitter tactics I turn to Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. He reports that 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour a tweet is sent out and he makes the following suggestions for success:

1. Find Influencers. Not all Twitter followers can amplify messages equally. Find the most influential followers and concentrate efforts there. Interact with them when you have something relevant and valuable to add to the conversation.

2. Repeat Tweets. Tap into multiple Twitter audiences throughout the day. Jay tweets posts 3 times a day with different headlines. Research suggests that the best times to tweet in general are 10am – 3pm – when most people are active on Twitter.

3. Test Tweet Times. Give yourself the best chance of being retweeted by knowing when influencers are on Twitter. Try different times, track response, and look for patterns. Or simply think about possible patterns in your audience’s day. Breaks between meetings, lunch, morning, night – when are they most likely to be on Twitter?

4. Manage Expectations. Only 6% of all tweets are retweeted. Don’t expect everything you send to get shared to the world. Focus on quality versus quantity. Build more one-on-one relationships that will build to more influence over time.

Shaffer says Twitter is the most powerful business networking system that has ever existed (via 140 characters) yet 60% of people who try Twitter quit after the first week. To truly get these benefits we must use the network the right way – the real time way.
For one last insight, Vaynerchuck’s latest book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook says, “link clicks do not create stories.” Real time conversation is about sharing stories. People are moved by stories. How do you use Twitter? Are you missing out on its greatest potential?

Why People Are So Angry On Social Media And In Their Cars And What You Can Do About It.

The other day I saw a woman verbally assault an older lady for changing lanes. The outburst was so loud I heard it driving in the opposite direction. It was also physically violent with shaking fists and offensive gestures directed at someone’s grandmother. Why can we be so mean and nasty when we’re behind 2-tons of steel when acting this same way in person would be unacceptable?

WebMD explains that road ragers don’t view other drivers as a person. Psychologist Ava Cadell says, “Road ragers don’t think about other people on the road as real people with real families.” We see this in social media as well. Research has shown that online anonymous commenting breeds mean-spirited and sometimes downright nasty attacks. People who intentionally post negative messages are referred to as Internet Trolls.

Why all the intentionally negative comments? A new study “Trolls Just Want To Have Fun” found online trolling can be a form of sadism. They post comments or messages to start arguments or get an emotional reaction from others. I’ve been telling my son, in the context of middle school, if someone calls you a nickname you don’t like, the last thing you want to do is get mad saying, “I don’t like that!” That will only make them call you it more! Apparently we can revert to middle school when we get behind the wheel or a smartphone.

Brands can become the target of all this hatred and it can seriously hurt business. Dimensional Research reports 86% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews and most of these negative reviews happen on online ratings sites. What can marketers do?

There are new online reputation-management services, but The Wall Street Journal says many are falsely claiming that they can remove bad reviews. Yelp warns to stay away from services offering to remove negative reviews or otherwise boost your ratings for a fee saying it can’t be done. Angie’s List agrees saying that bad reviews can not simply be wiped off the site. Instead, Google suggests reducing the visibility of negative content by publishing useful, positive information and not trying to game the system.

eInsurance gives us insight into dealing with road ragers that could also apply to trolls. They advise that it takes two to start a fight. So don’t confront or over react to highly negative comments. William Comcowich of Cyber Alert gives similar advice saying “Don’t Feed the Trolls.” Avoid the following types of responses to negative commenters:

  • Emotional responses. If a post makes you angry, wait an hour before responding. Once a negative response is out on the Internet, you can’t take back.
  • Wrong information. Negative commenters live to prove you wrong. Make sure what you say is true and up-to-date.
  • Lengthy explanations. Long responses trying to prove you’re right merely give the attention they want and provide ground for new arguments.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore legitimate complaints from customers. If you honestly made a mistake, acknowledge it in a short and friendly manner. Humility and fixing something can go a long way towards turning a foe into a friend.

Of course there are exceptions. Some have grown tired of the power of ratings over their business and are fighting back against the rating sites. Botto Bistro has started a campaign to discredit the restaurant’s Yelp rating. It is running ads encouraging its customers to leave one-star reviews for 25% off any pizza to become the worst-rated restaurant in the Bay Area. As you can see below, the one-star ratings do come with somewhat sarcastic negative reviews that leave an overall positive impression.

Whether you are dealing with an angry driver, commenter or middle schooler, it is best to try and diffuse the situation.

Before You Pronounce Traditional Advertising Dead Check For Its Social Media Pulse.

People love to pronounce things dead. In fact, the phrase “is dead” returns over 226 million Google search results. However, most media and marketing that has been pronounced dead, doesn’t actually die, it just changes into something else. Radio was pronounced dead when TV came along. Instead radio became a valuable local and promotional medium. I still have the cover of WIRED magazine hanging in my office that pronounced Apple computer dead in the 1990’s.

Many have pronounced traditional advertising dead as digital and social media have increased in usage and influence. In 2013 a Harvard Business Review article said, “Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” The author’s evidence? More people find information about products/services on their own through the internet and social media. CMO’s lack credibility and can’t prove business growth. It doesn’t make sense to hire 3rd parties to try and sell your products for you. (I have paraphrased Bill Lee, please check out his arguments yourself).

From the evidence I gathered I see a different story. Instead of death, social media seems to be giving traditional advertising new life and this new life is growing evidence for the importance of integration of marketing methods. Instead of replacing the old, we should be including it. Even in my Social Media Marketing class focused on social media, I make it clear that it should never exist on its own. It is not a replacement for traditional marketing, but should be integrated into traditional efforts. But perhaps I am biased because I received my masters degree in IMC (Integrated Marketing Communication) so lets look at the numbers and you can decide for yourself.

According to Ipsos research released in 2013, the number one way to create awareness around new brands and products is still with TV ads followed by friends and family and then the Internet. Nearly a third of consumers also turn to magazine ads (31%), social networking sites (25%), entertainment (TV shows/movies; 22%) and direct mail (21%). Even in the younger 18-34 group, the Internet becomes the primary source of discovery (59%), but TV is still third (48%).

Nielson data reports surveys of online consumers indicating the more influential forms of advertising (ones they always or sometimes take action on). People I know and opinions posted online are number one (84%) and two (70%), TV comes in at third (68%). Ads in newspapers are still number five (65%), magazine ads are eighth (62%) and billboards are just out of the top ten (57%). These charts say “integration” to me, not “death.”

Brands that are integrating are seeing better results. Deloitte research reports Some 86% of US consumers (aged 14+) claim to always or almost always multitask while watching TV. Almost half of Millennials this year say they use a social network while watching TV. The brands that know this are acting on it and benefiting from integration. For example, combined print advertising with online has been shown to increase intention to take action by 85%. And combined use of Twitter has also delivered greater results for traditional TV by increasing awareness, favorability and intent.

I am still a social media fan and highly suggest that all brands need to jump into social media marketing. But in your enthusiasm for the new, don’t leave behind the old. Traditional advertising is still alive and kicking and gets a boost from social media marketing. The best marketing efforts combine both in IMC fashion. Do you agree or do you see a flat line for traditional?