A great Twitter campaign or just a brand campaign?

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Some Twitter campaigns from companies and brands are outstanding and become brilliant case studies. This one from a Turkish telecoms company keeps users engaged on the micro-blogging platform by using most common Twitter features. Just by removing post-it’s for a chance to win the phone, Twitter users spread the word around the new technology with 56,000 Tweets around the competition over the 3 days that the activity was run. The „crossword puzzle like“ competition ended with users trying to get a celebrity to Retweet them to win the phone. Nice idea…!

However, there are some questions that arise from this Twitter campaign case study for me…
Are such campaigns only possible with heavy Twitter and mobile users?
Is this campaign buzz getting out of the inner circle of the heavy social web users?
What is the long lasting ROI effect this creates (if at all it does)?
Are such campaigns more efficient from a branding perspective than using PR briefings?
I am sure you can think of many more questions…, right?

If this is an outstanding social media case study, then it would be good to hear what makes this campigns so compelling? Wanna watch the video and give me your views? Really looking forward to it…

„We have effectively created a two-way direct dialogue“ – World Economic Forum & Social Media

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The World Economic Forum will host its annual meeting in Davos from 26-30th of January 2011. Year on year prominent business people and politicians discuss at the event the state of the world from economics to political issues up to environment topics. In 2008, I have written about the first Social Media approach of the WEF. It became the most read blog post until today, probably as of the event’s popularity.

At the end of last year, I met Matthias Lüfkens at the LeWeb10 in Paris and I wanted to get some input on their Social Media learnings.

About two years ago, I have written about the World Economic Forum and your open social web-strategy. How do you think about your approach in 2008 today?
I think it was the right decision to engage the World Economic Forum on social networks. We are present on the key networks and now have 15.000 fans on Facebook, 13.000 subscribers on YouTube and 1.4 million followers on Twitter. We have shown that our engagement on social networks was not a short-lived PR operation but is a continuous effort to participate in the conversation.

What are the main achievements of your social web activities?
Beyond the number of friends, fans and followers the main achievement is to have given the general public a voice in the Forum. For three years running we have invited citizen journalists to attend our meetings. In 2010 Julia Lalla-Maharajh from the Orchid Project won the YouTube contest and had her own panel in the programme addressing her cause, the fight against female genital mutilation.

Where do you see the difference between PR people and bloggers from today’s point of view?
Social Media has blurred the lines between bloggers and PR people. Today anyone can have his voice heard through blogging or micro-blogging: the consumer, the blogger, the PR representative but also the CEO directly. If there is citizen journalism, there must also be room for CEO journalism, a new more transparent and engaging form of public relations.

What will be your highlights of the WEF 2011?
My highlight is to see how much Social Media has become part and parcel of our events. At the Social Media Corner participants are encouraged to reply to questions on YouTube and Facebook. Many are actively using Twitter to share their thoughts about the meeting. It will be interesting to see how many will check in on Facebook Places and Foursquare.

What is the value of the social web and active social medians for an event like the World Economic Forum?
Social Media has opened up the World Economic Forum events. We have effectively created a two-way direct dialogue between our participants and the general public.

Thank you for your time, Matthias!

Study shows, Twitter is a real buzz-generator

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It is undoubted that the Twitter users are the most influential crowd of people. A recent research by ExactTarget discovers now the outreach of the influence that these people have. It goes well outside the micro-blogging platform into blogs, forums and even the living room.

In it’s fourth study of their „Subscribers, Fans and Followers“ research series, ExactTarget takes a deeper look at what makes Twitter users a special community crowd compared to other online channels. The study shows that the news that the users grab from the micro-blogging platform don’t stay on Twitter.

The news are spread via the following communication channels…
– 72% publish blogs at least monthly
– 70% comment on blogs
– 61% write at least one product review per month
– 61% comment on news sites

„While the number of active Twitter users is less than Facebook or email, the concentration of highly engaged and influential content creators is unrivalled – it’s become the gathering place for content creators whose influence spills over into every other corner of the Internet.“ Morgan Stewart, Principal, ExactTarget’s research and education group

Spot On!
The study also provides insight that daily Twitter users are six times more likely to publish articles, five times more likely to post blogs, seven times more likely to post to Wikis. For business it has to be stressed that these daily Twitter users are three times more likely to post product reviews at least once per month than non-Twitter users.

Interested to know if Twitter users really create so many reviews and ratings? What’s your view on this topic?

Study: Twitter users not as social as they seem?

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A new report by Barracuda Networks on the company’s newly launched security research portal unveils a truth that was already found in this Harvard study some months ago: Twitter users are not as social as they might seem.

Although Twitter is probably the fastest growing social network, most of its 50 million accounts seem to follow other users – instead of posting their own messages. In some way this sounds positive, as it shows that we are not living in a pure self-referential world.

The Barracuda study states that in December 2009 73% of Twitter accounts have tweeted fewer than 10 times. Only 21% of Twitter account holders are „true users“ as Baracuda defines them. The „true user“, according to their definition, is someone who has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people and has tweeted at least 10 times. Now, we may argue differently about that, but it definitely shows a trend.

Paul Judge, author of the report and chief research officer at Barracuda, thinks that Twitter is becoming more of a news feed channel than a social network. That indicates that most Twitter users „came online to follow their favorite celebrities, not to interact with their buddies the way they would on Facebook or MySpace,“ said Judge.

The follow-only trend might be part of the is part of Twitter’s „red carpet era“ when celebrities pushed their microblogging account into the mainstream during the six-month research period of Barracuda.

From November 2008 to April 2009, some celebrities, like Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey and John Mayer, joined Twitter. In these days the micro-blogging service grew 21.2% in the month of April 2009 alone.

Spot On!
The question remains if Twitter will be able to get more of these followers activated to become „true users“ and to start tweeting themselves. Or if security risks will keep users away from becoming the active Twitterati. In combination with news about sites like Pleaserobme.com people have scared of users not to tell to much about their real-time privacy. In my eyes Twitter should be making the main benefit clear to their potential users and show some monetization strategy for companies and users. Why should someone use a platform that does not show a valid business reason?

Twitter: BBC Interview with Evan Williams

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In London the talk of the town in the internet industry and in bars yesterday was the BBC interview on Newsnight with Twitter founder Evan Williams – the first interview that he has given in the UK. And it is no wonder and not surprising that there was so much buzz around this interview. The UK loves social networking…

On Facebook profiles the British country is the number one in Europe. Every third person in the UK is registered on Facebook (16,4 mio. people). And now London is also leading on Twitter accounts. On Twitter accounts the UK in general is coming in second place – just after the US. Even Williams cannot give an answer on the hype around his micro-blogging service, neither for the UK nor in general.

But he had a good answer on the latest critic around Facebook and Twitter from the arch bishop Vincent Bishop who has been blaming the social networks as „dehumanzing communities“:

„I wasn’t aware of that. I think it is kind of silly. (…) It’s about humans connecting with each other. And often in ways they couldn’t otherwise.“

Spot On!
It is a bit of a shame that there was no question on Twitter’s monetization strategy or their verified or business accounts plans. Or some more information on how he sees the Nielsen study on Twitter demographics. Sometimes it is more important to celebrate a status than focusing on good journalism. Somebody standing next to me in the bar said to his friend: „Who is that trying to be my friend on Twitter. Just got to know her by accident. Anyway, she looks nice… Added!“

In the bars the people were celebrating a lot yesterday. If this was because they are the social networking leaders in Europe? Anyway…

Long life to the Queen!

Is Twitter a sales tool?

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twitter-dollarIn a lot of talks and meetings with clients I am asked if Twitter is a sales tool. Now, what would you say? The university professor might answer with a Solomonic answer: „Well, it depends how you see it…“. Being a member of the Twitterati it is one of these questions where you have to hold on to your horses in order not to be too excited. The best answer is probably: „Yes, it is… and No, it is not!“…

The why for „Yes, it is“…
Looking at the latest development in the „Twittersphere“ it can be said that the micro-blogging service can be used as a push tool for sales promotions meant to generate an upside in revenue. The best examples are accounts from companies like Dell (selling re-furbished IT for 3 mio. USD), Threadless (selling shirts – no numbers released yet) or Zappos (selling shoes – no numbers released yet).

Although we don’t know see any revenue figures of Threadless or Zappos, seeing the follower numbers alone offers the option to sell through the indirect way to this new „distribution list“ by keeping up the conversation with new thoughts and ideas gathering engagement – or direct via ‚extraordinary‘ offers. Just take a look at my sales statistic or metric, I summarized on the Dell Outlet account and you can evaluate your sales options.

Especially, the aviation industry has used the power of pushing their offers through this new media channel – thus uplifting their revenue figures. Some airlines like JetBlue (called „JetBlueCheeps„) and United Airlines („twares“) offer cheap seats Twitter sales promotion programs (also for unsold tickets). The companies push their announcements via Twitter and the user -hopefully- listens to their Tweets and needs exactly the route offered.

In Germany Lufthansa has also started with sales promotions via Twitter – and obviously after this test the worldwide Twitter offering is „coming soon“.

The PRO view…
Yes, Twitter is a sales tool as there is no limit in terms of target-group, industry sector, the costs of the product or the product and service itself. Use it as a sales tool if you think your customers or your desired target-group is open-minded, loves last-minute offers or is ready to be engaged via social media.

The why for „No, it is.“
Nevertheless, the way how companies use Twitter to address their target-group with their sales promotions appears like some kind of old „watering can“ marketing principle. Is this really time-to-market sales? Can this be called „targeting“ which is the modern form of receiving sales promotions? One thing is for sure: Forecasting on such sales push activities is nearly impossible… the proof is in the test. But: once started, there is no way out. Sales promotions on Twitter are relying on the „hope“ factor by offering an additional sales channel called „SomeTwitterAccountByOurCompany“.

And sales strategies go against the means of social media anyway. Sales philosophy is „We know what you want and here is your customized offer!“ – social media is „We listen, learn and share what our customers want to buy from us!“.

From the airline examples we can learn that the offer is not just positive extra media promotion. It is limited in its sales power in a way that consumers need to be flexible and last-minute offer driven. Sounds a bit like the ebay way of selling…

So, Twitter sales promotions are relying on the „hope“ factor by offering an additional sales channel called Twitter account. Some follow as they are just listening to the company or product development, some as they learn from the tweets and some as they want to share common knowledge. Not all followerrs really want to buy something. You are in good company when your company does not want to aggressively buy followers in order to go down the good old spam route.

The CON view…
No, Twitter is not a sales tool but more a customer service tool with the positive side-effect that you can sell indirect by giving good service, helping your customers and solving their problems in real-time. Don’t use it when you think your customers are bound to traditional cliches, rarely take the advantage of accepting fast shopping opportunities and don’t know what social media can do for them.

Spot On!
Generally speaking… – From a followers point of view (in this case meaning customers), there is a positive argument about Twitter sales promotions: Interested customers will follow (=read) the sales push tweet – uninterested won’t, they will ignore it. And customers don’t even have to delete the message like a spam mail. It is dying with the followers timelife stream…

Advice
The Critical question to ask are… Do we have a long-time social media strategy or do we just want to „drive“ a short-time sales push? What have we done in the past to push our sales revenues? What worked out well? I am sure, if you ask yourself these questions, some more questions on your web strategy in terms of sales achievements will follow…

Am I right…?

How to attract more visitors – The 10 most important visitor resources for blogs

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How can you find a lot of users for your business blog?

How can you find a lot of users for your business blog?

Is there a secret, why corporate blogs and business blogs have more success than traditional corporate websites? Is it the modern architecture of blogging systems? Is it the exiting and exhilarant spelling style of bloggers? Or is a conspiracy of the digital natives against the internet retirees?

Nothing of it! Blogs and bloggers are simply using some very effective methods to attract visitors.

The 10 most important visitor resources for blogs:

  1. Feeds – Blogs are read via feed reader predominantly, not via browsers any longer. Well-known blogs have more than 100.000 feed reader per day. On a normal day in Germany, there are some blogs with more than 10.000 feed reader.
    Highlight your RSS feed on your blog and take advantage of a feed service like Feedburner
  2. Google – Visitors through search engines are the second largest visitor group of blogs. Bloggers use always methods of search engine optimization (SEO) in order to achieve good rankings with important key words.
    Write in a search engine friendly way. Use Google’s Webmaster Tools and install a SEO plug-in like wpSEO!
  3. Pingbacks and Trackbacks – Links don’t just offer a value-add for your own users but also backlinks and numerous new users.
    Link all directions as often as possible and learn to use trackbacks in a proper way.
  4. Twitter – with the micro-blogging service you can approach users faster than with your blog. News with real add-on information are spread via Twitter the „viral“ way very fast.
    Work on broadening your Twitter follower base. Promote your Twitter account on your blog and vice versa. Twitter your blog postings at the right time!
  5. Social Networks – Promote your important blog postings on XING, Facebook or LinkedIn.
  6. Forums – Are you an accredited expert, for example a wine blogger?
    If you see in a forum the question: What are the most expensive wines or the 10 most dry French ones? Write a posting on your blog and post only the link in the forum.
  7. Blog directors and RSS feed directories – Just some selected directories (Technorati, Blogoscoop, Bloggerei, Wikio) generate new visitors. Especially, if you are ranking well in these directories.
  8. Your comments on other blogs – Make yourself heard on other blogs as a constructive business partner – far and foremost in not well-known blogs. This will result in new visitors. Beware the free of sense comments! This will damage your own blog reputation in the long term.
  9. Comments of others on your blog – This is the secret of well-visited blogs:
    Be responsive to comments – You will win permanent visitors!
  10. Guest writers – Invite readers/users, other bloggers or „VIP’s“ from the offline and online world to write guest posts. Every guest author will be talking to others about it or link directly to this post.
    Your creativity has no limits: travel agents blog about journeys of their customers, hotel managers animate guests to write about their vacation resort, … Your customers don’t want that? Ask them if they want to publish some of their holiday pictures on your homepage! You will be surprised seeing the reaction…

Did I forget something? Is your ranking of visitor resources different? Where do you see options to attract more visitors for your blog? Looking forward reading your comments and reading your ideas and thoughts!

Guest writer Karl-Heinz Wenzlaff is the German expert and consultant for business blogging. He knows the useful tips and tricks, and is specialized on professional company blogs, product blogs or employee blogs. Some month ago, he helped me migrating from Blogger to WordPress in order to set up a magazine theme.

Thank you for being one of my guest writers, Karl-Heinz.

Personal Branding – how to build your career 3.0

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Personal branding is the way to stand out of the crowd and being noticed in some special way in the business world which makes you unique. It is your value proposition for the future of your career. In a session at the webinale09 I held a speech about ‚Career 3.0 – split between personal branding and productivity‘ and gave some projections on the relevance of social media activities and how these affect your career development.

Today, we want to learn from Dwight Cribb, founder of his successful recruitment agency, what professional recruiters think about personal branding and what is the relevance for personal branding. You can follow his offline and online thoughts via his Twitter account.

Q: What is the first thing you do when somebody is being suggested as a perfect candidate?
Dwight Cribb Of course I will first probe what the relationship between the candidate and the person suggesting him is. Supposing that the recommendation is made during a phone conversation, I will in parallel check the candidate’s profile on Xing. If that does not provide the information I require I will probe deeper with people search engines.

Q: Let’s imagine somebody is not doing anything for personal branding. This person is not blogging, micro-blogging or social networking. Does this have a positive or negative impact on your perception of that person?
Dwight Cribb This largely depends on the type of position I am recruiting for, both in terms of seniority and discipline. I would normally expect someone in a directly client facing role or someone who communicates directly on behalf of a division or company to have at least some presence on the web. It is, however, true that not being on a social networking site is today more of statement than being on one. A few years ago one could be forgiven for thinking of people who had not yet discovered Xing, LinkedIn and facebook as being somewhat backward or conservative. As it is today largely impossible to not have noticed these networks flourish, we must assume that those not on them have shunned them on purpose. This may be a good strategy if one relies on others to communicate with clients and the public, especially as a senior manager. A C-Level executive will through his utterances on social networks have a severe impact on the brand communication, it thus needs to be 100% in line with the other communication, if not it will cause at best confusion and at worst it will undermine the credibility of the brand.

As for blogging, I think that is a very personal decision and I would never think badly of anyone who did not blog. I may, however, think badly of someone who blogs badly or in a manner inappropriate to his or her position. So overall it would not reflect badly if I found out nothing about a person online, it would just peak my interest and make me more curious to receive other information in the form of a CV or a recommendation from a third party.

Q: Will personal branding and the individual online reputation replace the traditional CV some day?
Dwight Cribb I doubt whether it will replace the CV, it is more likely that it will continue to augment the CV. Online reputation is a fantasy product. We each spin our profiles in a manner which we feel supports the image we want to convey. It is self marketing. A CV is more strongly based in chronological fact and provides a picture which comes closer to the reality than the pictures which get drawn in communities.

Q: If everybody has a strong personal brand, don’t companies fear these people could get chased by some competitor and recruiters? Or that employees just work for their own career purpose?
Dwight Cribb Most successful employees work for the own career advancement. But in the long term they will only achieve this by delivering results to their employers, because people are very good at spotting meaningless self marketing and will not fall for it for long. Good employees have always had a strong personal brand (also called reputation). It has been true in all areas and across the ages, if you do something well you will be admired by your peers and your reputation will spread. This means that others will try and employ your services, sometimes via a recruiter.

Q: What is your advice on how companies have to handle personal branding of the employees in the future?
Dwight Cribb Let people define themselves what they are comfortable with. Give them a clear guideline what company resources and what company information they can use to build their reputation and to what extent they must make clear what is their opinion what the company’s.

Q: What do you think of the personal web managers vision?
Dwight Cribb There are instances where this makes perfect sense, but I belive they are far and few between. This is a role which has precedence in the offline world, many high-profile business people, politicians and celebrities employ someone with this brief. Whether they do their job online, offline or in both really does not make much difference. We have come to expect that the picture we get presented of these people has been scripted and planned in detail. We even often admire the way in which they craftily manipulate their image. But I think we would be less inclined to condone or accept this level of abstraction in communication in our closer environment of colleagues, family and friends. A facebook status update from a friend loses relevance if I know that it was posted his or her personal web consultant, who was busy making them be liked by their friends and acquaintances.

Q: Give us 3 tips how to create a personal brand, please.
Dwight Cribb Be yourself, be honest, laugh at times.

Thank you for your time and your advice, Mr. Cribb.

Study: Twitter used as a learning tool – not for ego-boosting

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According to a recent study by the research firm MarketingProfs in early and mid-April, the main intention to use Twitter is learning in more or less real-time, then comes social networking benefit or pushing the ‚digital ego‘.

The results of the study revealed that almost…
– 100% of the respondents said they value „getting information in a timely manner“ and „I find it exciting to learn new things from people“
– about 80% like to be connected to lots of people.
– 70% answered „I find it gratifying to have people follow me,“ and „I want to generate new business.“

The question that divides the Twitterati population is if a large number of followers makes you more respectful, or not. On this statement…
– 39,9% strongly or mildly agree
– 45% strongly or mildly disagree

Seeing the large number of followers as a perception of intelligence was tested with the question „People who have a large number of followers are smarter than those who don’t“…
– 81,7% strongly or mildly disagree
– 5.9% strongly or mildly agree

In the eyes of Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, the benefits are …

“Twitter lets people know what’s going on about things they care about instantly, as it happens” (…) “In the best cases, Twitter makes people smarter and faster and more efficient.”

And yes, Twitter is turning around the media world if we look at the eMarketers summary ‚Twitter tally‘.

Spot On!
But, hold on… One question makes me think about these results of the MarketingProfs study in combination with the authenticity of the answers and the first idea of the micro-blogging tool. The question „I feel bad when I tweet something and nobody responds“ was answered as follows…
– 52,7% strongly or mildly disagree
– 24% strongly or mildly agree
– 23,3% neither agree nor disagree
Now, if Twitter is like a mobile phone for text message dialogues, meant to communicate with followers we like and rate, is this communication not going back to being a monologue then? So, are we really sending out some kind of information just for the sake of informing others? Don’t we await an answer if we send a text message with a mobile phone? If we tweet ‚I am in the tube‘ or ‚Just got breakfast‘, then probably nobody expects anything. But not if people are writing scientific papers of 500-750 words – and then tweet the headline and the link. In my opinion Twitter is moving from a communication tool to some kind of personal branding tool. Otherwise, we might ask: Why do people spend an average of 2¾ hours per day on Twitter (average using time for Twitter according to study!), instead of being productive, picking up the phone or meeting up with clients for lunch or in the bar? This is real communication, and not limited by 140 characters. And if someone has written the scientific paper it is on the web, it’s public, so if people are interested, they will find it. But Twitter spreads the word much faster. And is not this the reason why people love and use Twitter?

Studie: Twitter bei deutschen Jugendlichen unpopulär

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Sie lieben SchülerVZ, Facebook, MySpace oder studiVZ – aber Twitter läuft bei der Web 2.0 Bewegung den Jugendlichen noch hinterher. Dies zeigt eine aktuelle, nicht repräsentative Studie aus Deutschland hinsichtlich neuer Trends bei der Webnutzung von Jugendlichen. Die Nutzung von Social Networks und Instant Messenger-Software steht im Vordergrund.

Eine aktuelle Online-Studie des Jugendreise-Veranstalters RUF Jugendreisen mit über 3400 jugendlichen Teilnehmern zwischen 11 und 21 Jahren zeigt, daß bei mehr als 90% der deutschen Jugendlichen der Micro-Blogging Dienst Twitter unbekannt ist.

Zur Kommunikation genutzt werden von den meisten Jugendlichen im Internet ICQ, MSN und schülerVZ. Lediglich ein Prozent der Befragten nutzen laut der Befragung mit dem Micro-Blogging Dienst Twitter.

„Dass Twitter bisher überhaupt nicht bei den deutschen Jugendlichen angekommen ist, hat uns sehr erstaunt“, sagt Dirk Föste, Vertriebsleiter bei RUF Jugendreisen. „Wir hatten angenommen, dass die Kids als erstes auf den Zug aufspringen und Twitter vom Kommunikationsbedürfnis der jungen Leute profitiert“, so Föste.

Die Ergebnisse der Studie sollen in den nächsten Wochen veröffentlicht werden.

Spot On!
Interessant wäre es, diese Befragung mal aus dem Blickwinkel zu betrachten, warum twittern Erwachsene überhaupt? Was ist die Motivation? Selbstdarstellung? Der Drang, Medienmacher sein zu wollen? Community Building für eigene Projekte? Bei mehr als 200 Followern ist das Folgen eh schon schwierig und wenn die Jugendlichen die Zeit dafür nicht haben, warum sollten berufstätige Erwachsene diese dann für Twitter haben?

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