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While Mark Zuckerberg slept in his Harvard bed dreaming about the future of Facebook, do you think he ever wondered if it might be big enough to impact a national presidential election?  I’m guessing not. But he may have.

I was at a start-up called Zuide.com when Zuck had 18M users. Both web apps allowed users to build their own website, but with Zude you used objects. Facebook was database driven. In my dreams, it was understood that social networks could be used for good and evil.

Social network can and will be abused. Even journalistic instruments are abused. When “the people” are in charge of content you have to know fake and manipulative information will happen. So when Twitter, Google and Facebook went to capital hill yesterday, no one should be been surprised spankings would be meted out. Not yesterday, not 10 years ago.

Mr. Zuckerberg should have known it would happen.  Perhaps not to the extent it did. Not to the point where the world’s leading democracy would be soiled…but he knew. And now we all must fix it. People must be responsible too. Just as we now can detect phishing schemes in our email, we must learn to root out false information.  

Shouldn’t have taken so long. Shame on Silicon Valley.

Peace.            

 

 

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No one has done more for the medium that is Twitter than “The Donald.”  Listening to a snippet of the president elect yesterday, it made me feel as do many of his sound bites. I get the sense someone feeds him a disruptive and memorable sound bite (or he comes up with it himself) which he repeats 3 times. Sans evidence or support. Then he moves on. These sound bite are what hit the news. The approach is perfect for this Fast Twitch Media world.

In social media, sound bites can become memes. Memes get passed around as fast as jokes and news. And they can certainly last longer.  I built a consulting business around brand and marketing memes.

Have you ever gone to concert and sung along with the artist, but only able to sing a few of the hook lines? On the web, the memorable lines are the memes, everything else is flah-flah-flah content.

So, the social media tip is: “Know how to build memes.”  Memes that point back to you or your company.  Memes that others will replicate and share. Google reads the web every minute. And you can’t buy off Google.  You can sometimes trick it, but it can’t be bought. Memes create traffic.

If you are good at creating memes, endemic to your brand, if you use them and own them, you will win in social media. Just ask “The.”

Peace                                                                                            

PS. For more social media tips, Google “Social Media Guard Rails” (a meme).  

 

 

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I help companies help themselves. Brand strategy isn’t a tool.  It’s an organizing principle for tools.   The thing about brand strategy is, if you don’t believe it and follow it, it’s worthless. If you don’t enculturate it into the company to truly drive innovation, experience and customer facing communications, you’re not in compliance. Effectively you are driving the car with no destination.  Or a destination of “make more money.”

I see lots of consultants on Twitter who start their profile descriptions saying “I help companies optimize their quack quack quack…”  Brand strategy puts the keys in the company hands, not the consultant’s. Stakeholders who understand this are the ones who succeed.  

When you sign up for a new website or app you have to read and acknowledge the disclaimer.  As a business practice, I should have customers sign a disclaimer statement that they will actively comply with the principles of the brand strategy.

Hmm. I like it.           

Peace.

 

 

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People often ask me how I use the different social media properties. My answer: Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn for business network, Instagram for pictures and my artier side and Twitter, well, Twitter it’s just “me.” It reflects my personality. What does that mean? Honestly, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, it’s about my personal brand.  The total me — reflecting my unadorned personality and complete life interests.  As a brand planner, I can often get to a person’s persona fastest thru Twitter.

Point two.  Twitter is up on the shopping block, with many names bandied about as possible buyers, but one name is missing. There is one social play that remains happily on the sideline. One player who will benefit the most if Twitter gets absorbed into something else – screwed up by another owner who tries to monetize and grow it beyond the current 330M users. And that’s Facebook. If Twitter starts to suck and becomes something it shouldn’t be, Facebook will win by default.

Twitter is important. It’s not for everybody, but it is for everybody. You can’t watch TV or read a paper without some reference to Twitter.  Nations and wars will be lost and won because of Twitter.

Peace.                  

 

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Twitter needs to start charging for its service. I don’t like to pay for anything but Twitter is something I’d happily go to the old dusty wallet for. Especially if it keeps out some of the riff raff. Twitter should not sell to another ad-focused company with an intent of getting bigger. It should charge and be more profitable. And stay smaller.  (As if 300 million custies is small.) And with a smaller, paying customer base, the advertising product would likely be better and extract more margin.

So then the next question is “What would people be willing to pay for Twitter?” How about $20 a year? That’s two chicken wraps with cheese per month. Say 40% of users drop out — you’d still be booking $3.6B in fee revenue.

Twitter is part of our media world. It may not be for everybody but it is a world-flattening necessity. Don’t sell it off like some underperforming service company. That would be crazy short-sighted.

Massifying free web services is only for low-value properties. That certainly doesn’t describe Twitter.

Peace.

 

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Twitter is an important company. When Iraq took back Ramadi the day before yesterday, prime minister Haider al-Abadi, took to Twitter to make the announcement. In real time. A few years ago when China underwent a massive earthquake, the world was notified on Twitter. In real time. The Arab Spring took place, in great part, on Twitter.

Twitter isn’t ready yet for Facebook size masses. It hasn’t settled. Maybe it’s currently stuck at a couple hundred million users. (Am I listening to myself? Did I say stuck?) Shareholders and Wall Street want Twitter to be a bullion user application. And it will be, but right now people need to chill. Twitter is important in ways we haven’t yet figured. I have my own beliefs about Twitter’s place in the social ecosystem, but they are not shared by everyone.

Twitter is the Google of conversation. It is earth flattening. It will do more to create one global language than any other product.

Twitter is in the news for a number of reasons: leadership, growth, diversity to name a few. Let’s fix the diversity-in-the-corporate ranks problem, then take a breath. And let this gangly adolescent grow. Peace.

 

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Fred Wilson VC from Union Square Partners and a blogging hero of mine was quoted today on AVC as saying “…it hasn’t been that easy for a seller to be creative on social networks. Posting a link to their shop on facebook, or tweeting or pinning their latest item is fine. But doing that over and over quickly gets boring for everyone.”

Social networks are template based mediums. You know what else is a template based media? Broadcast advertising: TV and radio. And they tend to suffer a similar fate. So how do advertising agents break the broadcast template? I think we try to make it twitch-able. (A twitch being a media move from one device to another in search of clarification.) Shazam is something that can do this. Twitter too. But no one has done a great, breakthrough job with these technologies in broadcast yet. It’s coming.

So what’s the Idea? Send me your thoughts (steve@whatstheidea.com) so we can break out of this broadcast boredom cycle.

Peace.

 

 

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I’m sure Jack Dorsey is superman. But this whole dual CEO thing makes me a little crazy. Not a fan. It’s hard enough to run a prosperous company as a single person — but to split time between two companies with one public and under intense pressure and scrutiny? It’s not a recipe for success. Mr. Dorsey must know this. Perhaps it’s an ego thing. Even if his brain is two times bigger than the average executive, he’d be better off focusing his full attention on one company…as he did as when helping found Twitter. Leave Square to someone else for a few years.

Twitter is way more than a technology company. It’s a learning company. A news company. A comms company. An earth flattening company.

Part of the problem today for Twitter is earnings. That’s what happened to public technology companies. As an advertising medium Twitter is average at best. It wasn’t built for advertising. Imagine shutting down the emerging America railroad system before it crossed the country because it couldn’t sell enough ads on the sides of trains to pay for the rails.

Let’s all take a breath. Rushing Mr. Dorsey into accepting half-a-job and putting pressure on him to deliver revenue before its time is a mistake. The outcome won’t be pretty long term. (Hope I’m wrong.)

Peace.

 

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I love Twitter. It is what it is. As with human lovers the attraction is different for everyone. Chris Sacca, an early investor and dude who is away smarter than me. Okay, way way smarter, suggests the way forward for Twitter and soon to be new CEO is to focus on live events. Farhad Manjoo a NYT tech correspondent agrees. If that happens, I’m afraid the app will revolve around a behaviors that are no doubt powerful and bursty but that will remove the serendipity of Twitter. 300M people are using Twitter just fine thank you. Learn to live with it. Allow it to mature and follow user instincts. Don’t gorge on what I once called the Google’s “culture of technological obesity.”

For me what is so special about Twitter – and this is just me – is that the app truly reflects an individual’s complete personality. It’s not about friends. It’s not all business. It’s not a public picture book. It’s life from every corner.

As a brand planner, when I do homework on a consumer, I’d study his/her Twitter feed. I may look at original posts first rather than retweets and curated OPC (other people’s content). For users with more than 1000 tweets this is a wonderful visage – a view into their soul. It’s a look at the total person. You get to see happy tweets, sad tweets, angry tweets. Indignant tweets.

If we follow Mr. Sacca and Mr. Manjoo’s advice, that visage will be stunted. Please don’t try to fix Twitter. Let it fix itself. It’s alive.

Learn to be happy with who you are. Live within your means. You are changing the world. Peace!

 

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A Twitter account is not unlike a thick magazine. One buys a magazine for the writing, the subject matter, pictures and opinion. As the magazine grows broader in its content, as ads are added and more ancillary content printed the book gets heavier. And more sloppy. And cluttered. To me, that’s what happens when you fill your Twitter feed with too much prattle. Everyone loves the randomness of Twitter and the ability to learn from others, but how is that going to happen when you follow 6 thousand people? The chaff hides the wheat as they say.

Top brands tweet 20 plus times a day to break through the noise. I follow 1,500+ people and a single tweet disappears under the fold in a matter of seconds. For people who follow thousands it’s probably milliseconds. I know there are lists and filters but I don’t use them; if there is someone I want to click up, I click them up.

So I’m selective. I review people’s tweets before I follow. I make sure they are Posters not Pasters. I read what they care about? Is it interesting? Entertaining? Can I learn something? If not, I don’t follow or follow back. And I don’t cull the herd too often, but it’s not a bad idea. Keep the people you follow at a more manageable level and Twitter becomes more powerful. My 2 cents. Peace.

 

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