I've ben using twitter for about a week now. This makes me nowhere near an expert, but gives me the insight that only brand new toys can provide, after all: first impressions count.
Here's the list of random observations:
- I wouldn't lasted a week if it wasn't for twhirl. The little tool is a must-have if you want to use twitter at all.
- There certainly is a very high noise ratio. That being said you can never know when a meaningless discussion can turn into an inspiring exchange of opinions. That is probably the one thing that might hook me permanently into twitter: the sheer randomness and expectation of the moment when a great thread might start.
- I don't know how some people can keep up with following 1000+ fellow twitters. Man, I don't know how Guy Kawasaki keeps up with 10k+!!! My own limit of people to follow will probably never go beyond 200. I'm at 68 at the time of writing this (and 43 followers).
- You get first-hand insights into breaking new technologies. More on that in a post soon to come.
- Once can easily get distracted and absorbed into twitter.
- I don't know how to measure anybody's success in twitter. Followers mean little (although people will follow other twitters who tend to say smart or previously unsaid things). The only way to know if someone is worth following is by reading a good bunch of their previous tweets. (note to self: my very own message history in twitter is worth nothing)
- I still don't know how twitter makes a living (suspect it has something to do with SMS text messages, but can't be sure).
- The platform needs stability and reliability Seriously.
- I know I'll regret posting this because spam follows me everywhere like a voodoo curse, but I haven't got a single piece of spam so far.
Bottom line: Is twitter worth something? yes. Will I keep using it? for the time being. More posts on this in the near future for sure.
Off the phone with my ISP. They have "technical issues" with Google. I need a panic Button.
Whenever I try to use the search, iGoogle or many other services I don't get a server not found or a timeout or any error, just a blank page.
Although I have to work on Google I welcome this if it does not last longer than a couple more hours. I need to work on other areas, and this gives me the perfect excuse to get my head off the gadgets and stuff for a little while.
[With an old man's voice] Web ain't what it used to be.
The projects I've been involved with in the past months have been quite eye-opening in a lot of different ways. Only 4 or 5 years ago (or less) the usual business model used to revolve around a centralized web experience. The behemoth model relied upon building a sturdy web site that people would come to and look for what they were after.
Nowadays, to have a successful web strategy you can't just rely on having a centralized web page, but you have to split your presence all around through social sites, blogs, advertising, forums, aggregators and all sorts of different deployments and approaches in order to draw traffic, engage in conversations and reach out to customers.
Of course there is nothing novel in what I have stated so far. What could, potentially be a novelty is a model where the main website is little more than a placeholder to save a domain name and provide basic information on where you can do business with the company. We have reached the point where a sale could be quite easily happen on an iGoogle or google-social gadget. The "sensitive" part, of course, would end on a trusted site (such as pay-pal or google checkout... I wonder if there's a good way of integrating gadgets with google checkout over an ssl connection), but all the product searching and configuring could take place on a gadget.
I wonder if that can be the future for (some) on-line advertising. An eye catching banner that then loads products and configuration, and you end up buying on a small ad-box while you read the NYT's latest news.
Commerce is just one of many things that can be decentralized, one I haven't seen quite developed so far. What we've witnessed already migrating is the reach out part of conducing business. Ads are some way of reaching out, but not a very good one, since people are growing numb towards them. Blogs are one good way to reach out more; forums are another, yet they both rely on people going to a site. There are ways to bring those things closer, like RSS and gadgets; but people still have to actively do something to reach the company and not the other way around.
When in Rome do as the Romans do, right? So, a good Marketer needs to do a behavioral study of their prospective customers. Do they lurk around MySpace (or, is your average customer a teenager?), FaceBook, LinkedIn, Orkut? Do they use iGoogle, MyY? Do they use Social Bookmarks? Basically, you need to learn what they do while sitting in front of a browser.
Based on that knowledge disembarking on those social sites is the next logical step. There are several ways that this could be done, depending on the type of business you run. A "support booth" on FaceBook could be a good initiative on FaceBook, for instance. It would act as a low-cost first line of defense, turning people to know solutions for common problems or directing them to phone or email support with some feedback on the case loaded into the systems already.
Pre-sales guidance and tutoring is another aspect that could take serious advantage of the Social Media Marketing approach. Setting up a space on sites such as FaceBook where peers can assess other on their own real-life experience with a brand's products is a proved way to help give credibility to the otherwise vane marketing messaging and, ultimately, help make a conversion.
One of the side advantages of such kind of approach is that the results are more measurable than in traditional mass media advertising. It is still not an excact science, there is a considerable grade of uncertainty, but it still can be trended much more accurately than, say, a TV spot. And don't get me started on the cost and ROI side of things.
I will elaborate more on the decentralization concepts I introduced here on further posts.
I have very recently commented about my involvement on Lenovo's Olympic Podium. It is a very complex project, full of different angles to work with. One of the core drivers will hopefully be the gadgets.
As a regular iGoogle user, my iGoogle Page has 9 tabs with all sorts of different stuff in them; and being of the geeky sort I was quite familiar with the concept of gadgets. At least from the end-user perspective, not quite so from a "driver's seat" perspective.
What makes a gadget cool? what makes it stay on iGoogle or other portals? what makes people share them?
Over and over again the word "live" hit my mind. This is no static page. No written-in stone HTML. What makes a keeper in the case of gadgets is never-ending freshness. The reason anyone has iGoogle, myYahoo, windows live or any similar system as their default homepage is because the frame is the same, but the content is always changing. A gadget that stays still will, most certainly, get removed.
The live nature yields another question: identifying good data sources. Fortunately things have shifted in the past years and any good site provides RSS feeds. On the grim side of things you have what people (or CMSs) do to RSS and Atom. That dreadful ![[CDATA tag is probably one of the worst things ever to happen to XML, and it is quite contrary to the original and founding concept of "just content". For those not on the Technical side of things what CDATA allows is to insert all sorts of HTML rubbish inside XML.
Striping off all that other non-content stuff to be able to massage and present data as intended is just painful, not to mention the additional bandwidth required to retrieve things that will, ultimately, not make it into the final view.
I would suggest to all content owners to provide both "rich" and "basic" feeds.
Before anyone points it out: yes, this blog abuses CDATA as well... I promise I'll fix it!
Today... or during the course of this week I'll embrace a task only matched by those of Sir Francis Drake, Columbus or Magellan.
Well I'm exaggerating, but it sure does sound good.
Before you jump into it with your cool, fancy and new iPod, let me warn you this runs only on the first 3 generations of iPod. I'm cool with that since I have owned one of those since 2002 (go ahead, make the math: it's a first generation...)
The only thing that kind of makes me doubtful is that I'm reluctant to make backups of... well pretty much anything, and I'm not too much into ripping all the CDs I've tossed into the small gadget over the past 4 years yet again.
Shall I be brave and daring? I'll let you know the outcome of such adventure later this week.