Archive for the ‘crowdsourcing’ Category

Try not to lose your voice

June 30, 2009

voiceI have been pondering this topic for a couple of weeks now; it’s been like a splinter in my mind. What brought this on was one of the liveliest exchanges I had ever had with my Twitter followers. Here’s some context: in the wake of the Iranian election, a lot of people on Twitter chose to change their pictures to green or spread a green overlay on top of their avatar. Don’t get me wrong, I support democracy as much as the next gal. In fact, I can appreciate it a lot more than some others do, due to the fact that I grew up in a repressive Communist society, where freedom of speech was nonexistent, snitches were plentiful, and Siberian camps were full of “dissidents.” As much as I consider what’s happening in Iran a travesty, I consider veiling your avatar in green a non-genuine, lazy and conformist attempt to follow the latest trend. So to stir up some discussion (because that’s why I am there: to discuss, express myself, and form relationships), I asked Twitter why they chose to do it. I wasn’t doubting the authenticity of all the green avatars, but because everyone seemed to do it at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder if only a small portion of those people actually researched the cause. Of course, there are exceptions: there are some people with family and friends over there who are quite well educated on the issue or feel passionately about it. I am not stating that no one is passionate about it, I just seriously doubt that *everyone* is passionate about it.  Moreover, it strikes me as a half-assed attempt, done because you feel like doing something, but don’t have the bandwidth to do anything meaningful. If I was an Iranian blogger, I do not think that seeing an overlay or changed coordinates would do much for me. However, people raising money or another act of actual activism (alliteration intended) would go further.

Moreover, I think that such a display of conformity was a slap in the face of democracy. By trying so hard to fit in, without really understanding what you are doing, you are undermining the definition of democracy. Democracy is about choices, not following the herd mindlessly (that’s what they did in the Soviet Union). If you choose to follow the crowd, please make it a choice that you made. I think  exchanging actual thoughts on Iran and banding together to raise money go so much further than changing your avatar color. All it does is take away your voice and make your followers’ Tweetdecks look like they are “covered in Leprechaun droppings” (per my friend @toddhavens).

spamSocial media gives us all a voice. Unfortunately, a lot of times, it makes people lose their voice. This episode is not the only display of conformity on Twitter and other social media. Unfortunately, Twitter is home to more herd-like behavior. Case in point:  Follow Friday. When used sparingly and thoughtfully, it can be a valuable source of discovery, even though I think other sources, such as (thoughtful) RTs and @ replies, are better, because they offer more context and substance. If someone I respect and interact with suggests people to follow, I will at least take a look, although I have to admit, I have never followed anyone based on Follow Friday recommendation. Follow Friday was OK when it started, but like most trends on Twitter has been bastardized and spammed. Seems that every week I drown in mindless RTs of my friends’ Follow Friday recommendations. One friend includes my handle in their recommendation, then it gets retweeted by 10 spammers with zero context, and voila! my @ replies pane is full of non-relevant regurgitations of one meaningful endorsement. My question to people who do that: do you even read what you retweet? If you must participate in Follow Friday, please use your own head and give your own recommendations. I am not undermining the viral quality of social media, which is essential to all of our success. I am just asking you to think.

As with everything, I urge you, whether you are an individual or a brand, to think before you speak: online and offline. Really get to know the medium and interact with it in an authentic way. If you don’t understand why people do something, just ask. Whatever you do, please don’t follow the trend blindly; if you make a conscious choice to follow the trend, then go for it. Just promise me you will think about why you are doing something. What you put online is forever part of your brand, part of your legacy. Please don’t forget that.

Please share your thoughts: do you have any other examples? How do you develop your voice? How do you stand out amongst so much noise?

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LEER: Listen Engage, Empathize, and Respond

June 19, 2009

(this post was first conceived 1.5 weeks ago, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete it until just now, due to my heavy blogging commitments at the Good Wine Journey blog, which I as part of my application to A Really Goode Job by Murphy Goode).

Last Sunday night, I went shopping for two airline tickets to Russia.  After I found my desired flight, I was all ready to check out. I input my credit card, and was one happy camper until… my card got rejected. What?? It certainly wasn’t my credit limit or the price of the ticket. “Ah, it must be because it shows up as a foreign vendor, and Bank of America (my card company) just wants to make sure that I  am cool with this transaction,” I thought. After receiving horrendous customer service online and via phone, and unable to unlock my account, I ended up losing my airfare deal. Within 30 minutes, the price went up, as is often the case, and 3 hours later I still couldn’t get BofA to unlock my account.

twitter_headerWhy am I telling this story and why should you care? While all of this was going on, I tried to find BofA on Twitter, but wasn’t successful. So I sent out a couple of tweets mentioning BofA, hoping that anyone monitoring Twitter from BofA would find my rants (note to readers: that is a practice of the best community managers). But no such luck. What did happen amazed me. I was tweeted and retweeted around 50 times, until someone pointed me at the BofA twitter handle. What amazed me was how quickly other tweeps jumped in with their negative sentiment of BofA and we formed a conversation around it. If BofA was watching these exchanges, they would know that they need to spend some time getting back to these disenfranchised customers, because there was quite a bit of dissatisfaction out there. And because the brand wasn’t interacting with us, we formed our own “BofA hate club”.

listenAs I am writing this, I am sitting at the 140 Characters Twitter Conference produced by Jeff Pulver. An earlier panel was discussing how brands are working with their consumers on Twitter, and how great customer service is the new marketing. Just take a look at the following customer service accounts from some of the most beloved companies: @zappos_service, @jetblue, @askseesmic, @comcastcares. These companies are so well-loved on Twitter because they provide excellent customer service and they have their “ear to the ground and “finger on the pulse” of the Twittersphere. If you are on Twitter, it is not enough to just broadcast your company news and blast all of your followers with product information. Twitter is not the right channel for that. Rather, Twitter is about creating and encouraging a 2-way conversation. Because word or mouth spreads virally and lightning-fast, it’s imperative to establish delightful experiences for clients by discovering conversations, taking part in them, jumping in with helpful answers when there are questions, addressing issues and making upset customers “whole” again, as well as rejoicing with happy ones. The truth is, your customers are out there talking about you, not necessarily to you, and it’s up to you to join the conversation in an authentic, empathetic and non-spammy way.

As a voracious student, observer and participator in social media, I am always watching how companies are responding to these customer service issues: are they turning the possible liability into an asset and are they doing it in a way that’s authentic, helpful and empathetic? Just today I was lucky enough to listen to and capture conversations about this very topic at the #140Conf, including a keynote by Gary Vaynerchuck (or @garyvee as he is known on Twitter). The resounding bottom line that Gary drives home is that you need to listen, you need to care and you need to engage. You need to stop obsessing about the number of followers and focus on the quality of the conversation.

So what happened with my BofA episode? Well, I sent a @ message to the BofA twitter account, and they eventually responded the next day (during normal business hours of course), and the only reason they responded was because I @ replied to them, i.e. they weren’t actively monitoring the sentiment. A true community manager would be able to pick up these rants via Twitter search tools and would respond to “tweeps” beyond the ones who send a direct message or an @ reply. Moreover, a good community manager doesn’t tweet between the hours of 9 and 5; a community manager is on whenever people are talking about their brand, all over the world.

cotweetFor some companies, there is so much twittering that has to be done, that they may need to hire an additional person. Do it! It’s worth it! Especially with tools like CoTweet, you can have more than one person “listening” and tweeting on behalf of your brand. As a rule of thumb, any brand that wants to be successful in social media, must listen first and talk second. Just like  individuals, businesses should act as if they have 2 ears and 1 mouth. But first, you need to make listening part of your corporate culture and provide the right infrastructure for your employees to be effective community managers.

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Importance of transparency

May 19, 2009

transparentCompanies can no longer afford to not communicate the reasons why they are doing / not doing something to their users, or to not communicate fast enough. Not to beat a dead horse, but this was very apparent in the Twitter @ replies episode from last week. Biz Stone of Twitter took the time to explain why the changes were put in place, but unfortunately it was too late. People had started talking about it, and before too long, tweittersphere had heated up to epic temperatures. Users were angry, and since they didn’t have information to help them understand what was happening and why, they took it upon themselves to fill in the blanks. Turns out that technical scalability issues, as well as reduction in noise were the primary reasons (you can read Biz’s view here).

Where Twitter went wrong, in my opinion, was the lack of communication to its end users on the reasons why this was happening. Twitter has successfully created this amazing communication platform, but in its first iteration it’s very much like drinking from a fire hose. Fine-tuning to reduce the noise and increase relevance is the natural next step, and I welcome it with open arms. Twitter is fine-tuning now by giving us options in which we can produce @ replies (to be seen by some or by all of our followers), as well as reducing the noise from the people we follow (by fine-tuning how much of each person’s @ reply stream we see – this feature I wanted since day 1!). But even though all of this is done for our (users’) benefit and with the long-term vision in mind, things can go very askew if you don’t take the time to educate and communicate upfront. Because of how virally sentiments spread on Twitter (especially when they are about Twitter), preemption and anticipation, in a very transparent way, are key to managing sentiment and expectations.

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How much should you listen to your customers

May 14, 2009

The recent upheaval in the Twittersphere regarding the new Twitter update dealing with @ replies has got me thinking over the past couple of days (in case you are not familiar with what the new Twitter update does, please read @whitneyhess’s blogpost which does a great job explaining it). Even though I am not going to rehash the details of the new update here, I will briefly mention that as a result, Twitter no longer shows you @ replies directed to people you don’t follow, even though you follow the writer of the tweet (this only happens when the handle of the person you don’t follow is the first word of the tweet).  I am not sure why Twitter did this; perhaps they were helping us reduce the noise that is produced by following everyone’s @ replies. However, this makes little sense, as you can adjust your settings from inside the site. What Twitter should’ve realized that a lot of users find @ replies beneficial to discovery of new users to follow. If someone I respect and engage with replies to someone else, I will take notice and at least click through to that person, and if I like him / her, make a decision to follow. Yes, there are ways to still explore these tweets via setting up a search in TweetDeck and other tools. However, by having everything come to my main feed, it was just that much easier. By taking the option away, Twitter has taken the ability to decide from its users.  If you give me an option to adjust what @ replies I see via settings tab, why take the decision away from me?

The above example shows that Twitter wasn’t particularly listening to its users and how they use the site.  Some companies pursue their strategy without paying much attention to what its users want. And sometimes it’s for good reason. This @ replies episode reminded me of a talk by 37Signals Jason Fried at last fall’s Web2.0 conference in NYC. Jason talked about how each product person / company needs to be a curator, carefully reviewing user suggestions for improvements, while implementing only those that make sense given the company’s strategy. This makes complete sense, especially as a company grows and acquires more users and thus more user feedback. And secondly, users don’t even know what they want most of the time. When they say they want something, sometimes it’s just a symptom of a larger problem they have to solve. As a business, you must figure out this larger problem and solve it, instead of solving by implementing piecemeal modules.

So the question still remains… When do you listen to your customers and when does not listening translate to anger (as in the Twitter example) and possible attrition?

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small is the new black

April 20, 2009

Seeing the STREB show a couple of weekends ago, and discussing it several times with my friend Josephine, has got me thinking about the changing business models, and the reason they are changing. Let me explain.. What I forgot to mention in my previous post is that STREB is using an innovative platform of “10 second dance”. In exchange for a $10 donation, you get to co-produce a 10-minute dance, which will be presented at the next show. This does 4 things well, in my opinion:

  1. Creates a stronger community around STREB, giving all co-producers more “skin in the game”, and allowing them to be your ambassadors and telling all of their friends about it
  2. Allows everyone to participate by making the threshold so low ($10), illustrating the power of the “power in numbers” concept.
  3. Appeals to human vanity (oh c’mon, we all have it 🙂 – in my opinion, you need to be somewhat vain to want to put your life out there with social media like we all do, and imagine that others may and will care about it.
  4. Duh! raises money!

Seems that more and more things are getting processed in bite-sized pieces. There is microlending (,, and of course, microblogging (Twitter and other platforms). Seems that small is the new black. Even the Web2.0 conference this year was themed “The Power of Less.”

I think this reach for “less” is happening due to a confluence of several events, caused by the evolution of our society.

Firstly, and more gradually, our society (online and offline) has gotten inundated. Offline store shelves are packed with brands and brand extensions, with each brand extension in several flavors, colors, smells, textures, etc. Most innovations that corporate America parades around, are actually not that innovative, but rather are updates to the same-ole-same-ole.

There is a lot of noise. Consumers are lost and overwhelmed, and manufacturers feel like they are drowning among noise.

Online, a similar thing is happening: with the “Web2.0” bubble, there are more websites than eyeballs (seems like, but please don’t quote me, I don’t have the actual statistics), and more and more are created each day. Unfortunately, most fail to differentiate themselves. A successful solution that can cut through this noise will have to successfully build around the user, wherever the user is (mobile + twitter + web), and not make the user go to its website (this is an entirely different topic that merits another post, so I will stop here).

Secondly, in addition to this overwhelming quality of online and offline “stuff”, the global economy crash is causing us all to rethink how we spend, how we save, what we value and how to course-correct the mistakes we have made so far. I think this process is a vital one, as it will separate the companies, processes and people who add value (education, where addition of skills downright changes lives) from those that don’t (repackaged toxic assets, where no value is created). Again, this is fodder for its own blogpost.

So because of this economy of “more”, followed by a downright economy crash, we seem to be embracing the concept of “less” and basking in simplicity and authenticity. Who knows, perhaps it’s this yearning for simplicity is what is propelling Susan Boyle to such astronomical heights of popularity.

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Do You STREB? You Should!

April 15, 2009

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of experiencing the most amazing show I have experienced in a while! I was lucky enough to win free tickets on my friend Mike Davis‘s blog. To enter the contest, all you had to do was sign up for Mike’s YouTube show – he will have more contests, so you should definitely join. Not to mention, Mike rocks!

I had never heard of STREB before, but I had read the description on the web, and was immediately fascinated. I didn’t know what to expect, but all I knew was that it looked like urban Cirque du Soleil. My friend Josephine had seen STREB shows before (Elizabeth Streb, by the way, is the choreographer who has given life to the PopAction genre), and had mentioned to me that it reminds her of a more powerful, and slightly more violent, version of Cirque du Soleil. Josephine had mentioned to me before the show that the dancers would be slamming into each other and into walls, which left me utterly confused. Elizabeth’s bio on the site states that PopAction  ” intertwines the disciplines of dance, athletics, boxing, rodeo, the circus, and Hollywood stunt-work. The result is a bristling, muscle-and-motion vocabulary that combines daring with strict precision in pursuit of the public display of “pure movement”, and I find this the most eloquent and terse description that fits perfectly, so that I couldn’t add anything further.

I find myself reaching for words to describe STREB accurately, because it’s something so extremely original and unprecedented. A group of extremely toned dancers with beautifully muscular bodies, present various dance numbers, in which they use their bodies to tell stories with top-level precision and power. The show starts with dancers slamming into a large plexi glass in the middle of the stage. It sounds bizarre, but looks amazing when two dancers slam into each other from two different sides and look like a mirror image of each other. Josephine and I discussed this number afterwards, and found it very symbolic of our time. We are wanting to make a difference, connect, but are frustrated with external (economic or otherwise) factors. Another favorite number of mine was the trapeze dance against the wall (pictured below), where dancers danced with their feet on the wall, strapped into harnesses.


It was so beautifully synchronized, and required such precision (and freakishly strong ab muscles!) to pull off in a completely horizontal position.


Another definite highlight was the “hamster wheel” (pictured below). It starts out with one dancer spinning inside the wheel, making it rotate by walking inside of it at a constant and controlled speed


To my amazement, more dancers started hooking onto the wheel and doing various pirouettes inside, under, over and every which way.


What a mind-blowing exhibit of synchronicity, extreme precision and control! One wrong move, and not only do you hurt yourself, but you also hurt your teammates! (none of the dancers were harnessed).


The entire show was a true tour de force of a human body. In everyday life, perched behind our MacBooks, we forget of what a tremendous instrument we were given (for free!) and what our bodies are really capable of. Everytime that I see something so incredibly powerful and precise, I bow my head in respect and admiration. See below some more examples of the nimble amazingness that is STREB:


When the show was over, Kim Cullen, the Producing Director of the show, reached out to Josephine and myself to chat about the show and social media. I was extremely happy to hear that STREB was considering integrating social media into their current marketing mix. I just love meeting people who “get it” and are open to these new channels of engaging new consumers, because they realize that this is really the future of communication. This type of performance really lends itself well to the virality of social media, because as each social-media-engaged viewer sees the performance, he / she is going to share it with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, write and comment on blogposts, post pictures to Flickr, videos to YouTube. Through the power of narrative and experience sharing, the word spreads; and this really was an experience worth spreading. I will definitely be going back to take pictures with my good DSLR camera (Nikon D60), and hopefully a video device (anyone care to lend an HD Flip?) – these iPhone pics, although a good start, do not do it justice


You can see the rest of my photographs (apologies about the quality; iPhone is not the best at capturing motion) –

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Wisdom of Crowds

February 18, 2009

Today I realized that I hadn’t posted a blogpost in a while. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, Twitter has spoiled me. With Twitter, as soon as I have a thought, I can just put it out there and get immediate feedback / start a conversation.  There are so many random thoughts each day, and they are so disparate, that it would make little sense to either: 1) pack them into one giant post that would ramble, or 2) have several drafts going at the same time. So what ends up happening is inaction: I wait to collect enough thoughts under the same umbrella, then write a post that’s too long, and then don’t write for a while. I psych myself out with writing a long, carefully crafted blogpost, then put it off, and nothing happens. It becomes an ordeal, to the point where I have to schedule some time to blog – and who has time for that? Blogging on command inevitably also leads to writer’s blog, which also contributes to inactivity. So I am trying out something different: writing short posts with higher frequency – something between a tweet and a full blogpost, literally 1-2 paragraphs. Perhaps Tumblr is a more suitable platform for that, even though I couldn’t figure out how to turn on comments.

I am not trying to be a professional blogger or make any money with this blog. My reasons for blogging are simply to force myself to explore a topic more deeply, to chrystalize ideas, develop my voice, start a conversation and eventually have all of the above contribute to the building of my personal brand. And, to be honest, I simply enjoy writing. I consider myself a creative person, but since I have been devoid of any artistic ability, I have always found solace in verbal expression. The only way to achieve the above goals is to, simply, ummm, write! So I want to try this higher frequency approach.  Besides, readers prefer shorter posts; they are more fun to read, and we are all so crazy busy and ADD anyway. In Russia, where I am from, we have a saying “Brevity is a sister of talent.” I think that today is more relevant than ever.

So my thought for today is around crowdsourcing. Having used social media on a personal level, I have discovered many cool tools. However, the next step is to streamline, separate the wheat from the schaff. Application of social tools to business (anything from a small nimble startup to a large global organization) is tbe next natural step. Having worked for both, I am going to attempt to navigate the landscape and figure out what works for what type of organization.  Crowdsourcing is fascinating (crowdsourcing, if you don’t know, is the process through which a business / individual can take a pulse of a market / segment / country / world / twitterverse / whatever unit interests you, around a particular issue / product / brand / whatever you are measuring). Now that we have all been putting out a ton of user-generated content out there via a variety of social tools (blogging, soc nets, microblogging, social bookmarking, etc.), we need to make sense of all of the produced content. We can leverage 2 types of content: 1) already produced content (via tools like Twitter Search and others like it), as well as 2) stimulate new discussion.

Today, a friend’s tweet about prompted me to think about the latter. It’s a cool tool by which you can create a temporary chatroom, tweet it out and start a discussion around a topic. It’s like any multi-user chatroom, but optimized for Twitter. Several participants in this exploratory chat noted that this is a perfect extension of Twitter, because crowdsourcing / discussion on Twitter has 2 major limiatations: 1) 140 characters, and 2) inability to direct a thought to more than a couple of people at once. Very very cool. This is a winner. So easy to use and with a laser focus on doing one thing, and doing it well. Moreover, your ability to leverage others’ participation is directly related to your reach on Twitter; tinychat isn’t very useful if you don’t have a lot of followers.

What are some other tools that are effective at quick’n’easy crowdsourcing? I tried ask500people, which was another tool suggested by someone in that same tinychat session. I created a simple question, just to test it out, created a link and threw it up on Twitter to see what happens. Immediately a friend contacted me saying that he needed to login in order to answer my poll. Well, that’s a definite downer. Making people sign up to use your service is a serious user experience issue, and a point where you stand to lose the most users, as we all know. So using a service like that for crowdsourcing is not very effective, as your universe of potential respondents shrinks to the point where it’s challenging to get any meaningful results.

So above is a quick and dirty review of just a couple of tools that work and don’t work. Please share your wisdom and experience in the comments below: what has worked for you?

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

October 30, 2008

As many of my social media friends would agree, ever since Twitter burst out onto the scene a couple of years ago, communication has never been the same. In the circles of the tech elite, the communication paradigm has been completely upended. I am neither the most popular twitterer (expressed in number of people following you), nor the most prolific (expressed in number of “tweets” – short messages of 140 characters or less), nor the most long-time twitterer (I only started this summer). However, since I started using it, and started relying on it more and more every day for communication.  I think I do more communication via Facebook and Twitter combined than I do via e-mail these days. Twitter is how I find out about news, talk to my friends, do market research, spread my message, microblog events, make social plans, etc. The uses are endless, and I will continue to explore it in several posts, because it’s way too much for one post.

Let’s back up for a second. For those that don’t know, Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows you to answer one question, and one question only “What are you doing?” – it’s like the status update on Facebook. There is a catch: you need say whatever you need to say in under 140 characters (genius! we could all use a tad more brevity in our lives). Twitter does one thing and does it well (after they seem to have surmounted their downtime issues, that is), it is genius in its simplicity and has a clear brand and a focused marketing message. Huge turn-on for a marketing person like me!

How does it work? You enter your tweet (status update) and everyone who follows you gets your tweet in their stream. You get the tweets of all those whom you follow. You can reply to anyone’s tweet by placing an @ sign, followed by that user’s handle. Your tweets and @ replies are public, and you can also send a direct message to someone by typing D, followed by the user’s handle. Direct messages aren’t capturedin the public stream. You can tweak your settings to either receive the “statement” tweets from folks you follow, or to receive their tweets AND @ replies. This choice is going to be driven primarily by the reason you are on Twitter in the first place.

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation I had with a friend this morning about relative volumes of tweets that different twitterers produce. He tends to be of the school of thought that less is more. And I agree, if your goal is to share a few gems of wisdom and make those gems stand out, which would be hard to do if you consistently pump out mediocre tweets: even for the most brilliant of us, it is very difficult to make every tweet a gem. I don’t put out a ton of volume, unless I am microblogging from an event, but I do use @ replies quite a bit. And that’s because what Twitter has become for me is a rich conversation platform. When I decide to follow / not follow a person, I look at several indicators of their Twitter behavior (let’s coin a term “Twitterhavior”: you heard it here first!), one of which is the ratio of their tweets to @ replies. I am not going to have a very rich experience with someone who talks AT me, not TO me. When I first joined Twitter, I had no idea what I wanted from it, but as I started to make it my own, I have formed my own Twitterhavior. As a sidenote: my friend’s offline personality does not stand for “less is more”. He is definitely more than more, talking over others and feeling the need to dominate each conversation. I am the opposite: much more demure and appreciative of a collaborative conversation. I suspect that your online identity is somewhat complimentary to your real-life identity, helping you fill gaps and become a fuller person. Your online self is, or at least should be, an extension of your offline core values and belief. Now that everyone “has a microphone”, development of an authentic online self is key. If you aren’t authentic, your message will get lost and dismissed. While extending yourself from offline to online in an authentic way, we also seek to fill in our real life shortcomings. I think this is key.

So as far as reasons to be on Twitter, we have discussed a couple so far:

  1. To share what you are doing, in hopes that someone reading is doing the same thing and will join you. This is the social element that will only get enhanced by further developments in the mobile GPS arena. Although, the privacy issues and stalker potential scares me a bit. Network effects kick in here, and for this to work, your friends need to be on Twitter too.
  2. To share your wit and wisdom without nurturing a conversation, talking AT people, which is neither wise nor witty. In my opinion it turns people off. There are a couple of those types I used to follow in the real estate industry (my startup MeetMOJO is in the real estate space); their streams rarely show @ replies. These types heard of Twitter, decided to add it to their toolbox of promotion, without really understanding or internalizing how to nurture the Twitter ecosystem. As a result, they come across unauthentic and not much different from a TV ad, talking AT you. I will focus several more posts on this point, because one of the missions of this blog is to marry traditional marketing to social media, I do hope that marketers will find this useful. As business units enter Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) for business purposes, they must be exceedingly careful to not disrupt the authenticity of exchange on these platforms. One business person that does it well is @zappos, the CEO of Zappos, a mail-order shoe company.
  3. To share your wit and wisdom in hopes of starting a conversation, talking TO people. I put myself in this group, although I use reason #1 quite a bit as well. Starting authentic conversations is key to establishing your brand, whether your brand is just you, or your product, or your company. As a business unit, you could tweet for market research / to gain input on what’s important to potential users. Or you could provide a customer service tweet-line, allowing people to vent and proactively fixing issues. You can make it do whatever you want. But don’t put a tweet out and ignore the @ replies that come back to you. People will stop trying to talk to you. If you care and if you talk back, your announcements about new products will be received with more open arms than if you used Twitter one way. I have even met strategic partners on Twitter. Create a community, ask for feedback, make people feel appreciated. You should do this online and offline.

I will stop here. There are more uses that I am only learning about. Twitter is a living, breathing thing. The more we use it, and the more of us that use it, the more tools that get developed around it, the more uses we will find for it. One thing is clear, it is a culmination of the online conversation paradigm shift. Web 1.0 talked at you. Web 2.0 lets you talk to it and other people on it. Now we have all this information, all this user-created content. Web 3.0 will be all about making sense of this stuff we created in 2.0, as well as creating new stuff of course. As someone commented on Fred Wilson’s blog (I read that comment weeks ago, and can’t get out of my head still) – “Twitter is the railroad tracks for communication in the 21st century”. That sums it up. It not only allows for conversations to happen in real time, across geographies and industries, it also allows for community creation, as well as leveraging the richness of conversation for a business goal. Whatever you reason to join Twitter, you can certainly make it your own. Just remember to be authentic, in 140 characters or less.

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A New Blog is Born

October 22, 2008

I am excited to introduce my new blog to the world. I have been blogging fairly prolifically (some months more than others) at the company blog of my startup MeetMOJO.  I felt the need to start my own personal blog that would deal with anything from my views on the world, technology and social media, which I have come to learn and love through building my 2 startups, to marketing and general business, which I studied extensively in undergrad and MBA.

I used Twitter to source the name of the blog, and one of the suggestions really struck a cord with me. This person recommended that I take advantage of the fact that my initials are M.O., which also stands for Modus Operandi. I thought it was very clever, and decided to adopt it.  “Web 2.0” fascinates me, as it allows you to have so many conversations with so many people at the same time, or asynchronously. Being able to reach out to all my friends on Twitter AND Facebook and tap their collective creativity for a question / issue I am exploring is priceless. Individuals, as well as companies, must take advantage of these technologies to initiate conversations that are more than 1-way or even 2-way.

I look forward to sharing more of myself and my thoughts.