Breaking the habit of broadcast media

UK newspapers by franckdethier on Flickr (CC Licence)

UK newspapers by franckdethier on Flickr (CC Licence)

It’s only when you try and break a long held habit that you realise how much we’re all influenced by the way we’ve always done things. Since starting my efforts to cut down and stop smoking, I’ve managed to get to the point where I only have the occasional cigarette once the family has gone to bed – but it’s the hardest one to drop. And when I get writers block, my intake rapdily goes up because I’ve spent so long finding inspiration by getting outside and getting the hit of nicotine while my brain kicks into gear.

And I’ve also started to try and challenge the broadcast media habit of trying to get the biggest audience with the least work. For years we’ve focused on audience figures to suggest that by doing the bare minimum, you’ll reach the biggest audience.

Whereas in the modern world, we need to work harder than ever at making as much of what we do remarkable, and to pursue as many opportunities to the maximum as we can. Otherwise we’ll keep finding someone else that does!

It reminds me of a post I read earlier today, which sadly I seem to have misplaced, commenting on the problem facing the A-List of blogging. Namely, the fact that people like Robert Scoble, Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk are finding it hard to scale to respond on an individual level to every email, post and tweet they receive, and in effect, become mini-broadcasters.

The simple answer is that they still remain increasingly popular because they put in a huge amount of effort to stay more accessible than mainstream media. They don’t have to make time for everyone, but by attempting it as far as possible, it gives hope to those who don’t grab their attention at a particular time. It’s why I count myself fortunate to have had messages from the likes of Chris Anderson and Hugh McLeod, but I don’t bombard them with emails, or suddenly thinkg they’re my best friend and will respond to everything I do – they’ll do it if what I say is interesting and they have the time available.

The other option is to scale it, and for them to find someone as similar as possible, or someone they can trust, to work alongside them.

That’s where broadcast media should be. We still have far more resources than the top bloggers, so why not scale back on the coverage that everyone else is parroting, use link journalism, and focus on becoming closer to the spirit of individual response that blogging has fostered.

After all, it’s what we laud Zappos, Dell and Comcast for doing.

But there is a habit of resisting the idea of putting in that much effort for what will be less profit in total. Despite the fact that everything so far has shown that it’s harder to get similar levels of profit from online audiences as you would in print, radio or TV, and that the only way to really be successful is to aggregate lots and lots of individuals monetisation.

Annoyingly, the great David Armano summed this up far more succinctly.

The Corporate Social Media Curve by David Armano (http://darmano.typepad.com/)

The Corporate Social Media Curve by David Armano (http://darmano.typepad.com/)

At the point before the curve starts to dip, we need to put in the extra effort to keep that line climbing. Now if only I hadn’t needed a cigarette to think of all this!

Twittertise improves measures for corporate Twitter accounts

Twittertise

Twittertise is billed as a method of advertising on Twitter, but personally I see it more as a tool to measure the Return on Investment for corporate Twittering – something which arguably has a lot more value than a basic advertising tool. Owner and creator Jon Steinberg got in touch via Twitter, (@jonsteinberg), but it took me a little while to get some questions to him, and I’m glad it did, because this post now coincides with a new release which answers some of the questions I had about the value of the service.

In it’s simplest terms, Twittertise is a free service which builds on Bit.ly url shortening to offer some statistics on referrals through to your website – but the latest release starts to go further than the Bit.ly tool by offering some useful graphing capabilities for overall referrals and individual messages – and graphs are always useful for corporate reporting!

Jon was kind enough to answer some questions about the thinking behind Twittertise, how brands including Comcast, Nortel and the American Cancer Society are using it, and how you could be using it for your company:

Twittertise and Whalewhisdom are both applications by Thursday LLC – can you tell us a bit more about the company, where it’s based, and how many people are behind the applications?

“Whalewisdom and Twittertise are completely separately.  I intermingled a Vimeo account by mistake.  I’m an investor in Whalewisdom.  Twittertise is wholly owned by me via Thursday LLC.  I hired a developer named Gearoid Morley in Canada to build it as a fee for service project.”
Twittertise is powered by Bit.ly – what’s the relationship between the teams behing Bit.ly and Twittertise?
“I just use the bit.ly API.  I am friends with the people behind bit.ly and it is a wonderful team and product. But I have no business relationship with them. “
Twittertise offers scheduled posting to allow Tweets to be written far in advance of being published – how do you see this being used for a medium which often leads to conversation?
“For this question, I’d point to this blog post: http://jonsteinberg.com/post/48188357/why-i-created-twittertise-i-had-twittertise. “
The website mentions Comcast as one of the major brands using Twittertise. Presumably this is in addition to human channels like @ComcastCares? Do you see brands using it for more corporate messaging etc, with human channels supplementing it?
“Yes comcastcares has used it. I envision brands using a single account that they feed with both real time tweets through the web or a client and then supplement them with Twittertise.  This will enable them to time and track important messages and notifications that require clickthrough tracking. “
Initially Twittertise combined scheduled posts (possibly based on Twitabit?), with the stats available from Bit.ly. Now the latest release has taken things beyond what was readily available with the graphing tools, have you seen a rise in sign-ups and usage?

“We never used twitabit.  The scheduling engine was completely built by Gearoid.   Today is the first big push with graphing, so I’m hoping that blogs like 140char can get out the word.  But we’ve seen pretty steady upflow throughout.  I think graphing was a necessary piece the next step in a cleaner UI.”
With the increased economic pressure to show a Return on Investment from time spent using microblogs (and on social media marketing in general), do you expect to see an increase in people using Twittertise to broadcast offers and events without investing as much time in conversation?
“The beauty is that Twitter requires a counterbalance from its corporate users.  Corporate users who simply broadcast without responding and engaging in conversation will find themselves with few followers.  The right to use Twittertise while simultaneously maintaining your followers is almost something that is earned by a corporate user.  The real time conversation tweeting by a brand is what earns it the right to track important communications where you need to show an ROI on Twittertise.”
Twittertise is free to use at present – are you aiming to monetise by developing the service and offering a subscription-type model?
“At this point, I’m honestly just trying to develop the right product for brands.  Once we do that, I think revenue will follow.”
What do you see as the next steps/developments for Twittertise
“Improve the UI and continue to try and onboard major brand users.”
Has there been any examples of a hugely successful message or use of Twittertise so far? Anything that has surprised you, or shown a particularly unusual way of utilising the service? Obviously you’ve highlights some on the Twittertise Blog (http://blog.twittertise.com/)

“I think comcastcare’s use during huricane Gustav is my favorite.  Timely messages that needed to be spaced.
http://jonsteinberg.com/post/48213746/comcastcares-using-twittertise-to-send-out-gustav
http://jonsteinberg.com/post/48214167/another-shot-of-comcastcares-using-twittertise

Nortel has also been a consistent and solid user for communicating corporate and product related information and tracking it.
http://twitter.com/nortel
On the non-profit side, I’m proud to see American Cancer Society using:
http://twitter.com/americancancer.”

Thanks to Jon for taking the time to answer a few questions, and I’m definitely planning to follow Twittertise and future releases in detail. One of the biggest problems in social media and social networking is tracking a return on the time invested, and this is one of the tools that will start to make that job easier.

It’s also interesting to note that Jon advises using Twittertise in conjunction with real human tweeting – I’m not a big fan of just plugging in an autofeed and letting it run – it could be really useful to ensure important messages don’t get forgotten or phrased badly in the rush of conversation. And it could also be useful to retweet your most important message when you’ve finished posting for the day to ensure people in different timezones might see your most important messages.

If you liked this post and want to keep up with the latest articles, news, Twitter tools and interviews, why not subscribe to the www.140char.com RSS feed?

And if you missed our earlier interviews why not catch up with them now?

An interview with Blippr founders Jonathan C and Chris Heard.

An interview with Posty creator Cesare Rocchi.

Buy my Twitter background for $50…

I’m a big believer in trying out things you want to comment on. Especially if it could contribute to the hosting costs for 140char.com.

Therefore, you can now buy the background of my Twitter profile page for 7 days, for just $50 on Twittads, which I wrote about at length on ‘Is Twittads just a fad?’.

(For the record, I’m followed by 1245, and following 1254 – and just posted by 4071st update at the time of writing).

What I’m interested in is finding out whether anyone is willing to shell out $50 for anyone over the 1000 mark, or where exactly the price point evolves to, and I’m really interested in seeing which advertisers are signed up and using the service and what their method is for seeing a Return on Investment.

Will it convert me to thinking there’s a bright future for Twittad?

Consumers and bosses…

Apologies for the slightly cryptic and unexplored post yesterday – a reminder that sometimes an idea needs a bit more fleshing out before clicking the Publish button!

What was foremost in my mind is something that is vitally important to my current role, and social media/community as a whole. And that’s the fact that, despite the growth in Web 2.0 technology, and adoption of community techniques – it isn’t half as widespread as you might assume from within the tech/blogging bubble. Plenty of people, even within the digital world, find it hard to see the reason for investing time in social networking and how it applies to them – and outside that area or department, it’s even more of a leap.

And what has come out of my work, attending valuable gatherings like Measurementcamp, and reading great blogs such as Web Strategy by Forrester Senior Analyst Jeremiah Owyang, or KD Paine’s PR Measurement blog, is that it’s the reporting, measurement, and justification of any community work is as vitally important as doing it in the first place.

And being able to show the measurable aspects of community/social media work, and explaining the direct and indirect effects on the bottom line is absolutely essential in changing the way companies think – particularly the larger, more institutional companies.

If you need a refreshing reminder about making things clearer for the rest of your company, and particularly more senior management, bosses, and CEOs, Avinash Kaushik has some good posts on Occam’s Razor which can feel like they pour a bit of cold water on the evangelical aspects of community and social media – but actually really help clarify the most useful methods of making things simple and effective – rather than relying on enthusiasm, buzzwords, and what it’s easy to assume is the inescapable logic of enagaging communities. Particularly this one, and this one!

I certainly don’t have all the answers – although the benefit of facing these challenges to varying extents in my day job means I’m slowly understanding more of the solutions – but what really interests me is how other people are tackling the challenges, what case studies people are willing to share, where people have found value, and what levels of commitment companies, particularly larger institutions, are actually committing to community engagement – is anyone finding the returns and solutions that make community pervasive through their company – or are large companies forever destined to limit it to experimenting via the fringes of what they do? And how much real effect does that have? And is technology – targeting adverts, engaging via Twitter etc, actually moving further ahead of where the biggest value is?

Personally, I think there’s a balance between using the tool of community marketing, and traditional digital and offline marketing. And that the trick is to be ahead of the mainstream by a small amount in order to establish and experiment in a space to ensure you’re on the right track before the crowds turn up – but what views have you got?

So are you in a large or small company? Or working as an individual?

Are you attempting to convince others – particularly management of the value of community and social media?

And are you targeting the early adopter communities right now? (e.g. Twitter, Plurk, Seesmic etc), or are you going with more mainstream efforts? (Facebook, Myspace, Digg, Stumbleupon).