Twitter Shrink

January 20, 2010

tweetpyschWhy pay a lot of money for a psychologist when TweetPysch can do it for you?  TweetPysch provides psychological profiling by looking at your last 1,000 tweets and running them through two different linguistic analysis algorithms (RID and LIWC.)  Obviously, this tool works best on accounts that have a high volume of tweets and are executed by a single user.  Results show the user’s average propensity (compared to other users) to tweet about topics such as money, media, control, sex etc. and what this might mean, psychologically speaking.  For example, those who tweet about control, restraint and moral imperatives more than the average user may indicate that this person has a strong desire to impose order.  Tweeting about sex more than the average user may indicate a preoccupation with sex, and so on…  And though this tool is actually just comparing your results based on the results of other TweetPysch users (making it less about real psychology and more about your linguistic lexicon), it is one of the most interesting Twitter tool releases to date, in my opinion.

You can view my results here.

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burberryThe other day a friend sent me an article about the fashion industry’s involvement in social media that was pretty interesting and completely reinforces the best practice belief that social media involvement has to be a two-way street.  Zeta Interactive conducted a study to determine the luxury fashion brands with the best online reputation in 2009.  While Gucci had the highest amount of online mentions, it also had the lowest sentiment.  After diving a little deeper, I discovered that their Facebook page, while touting an impressive amount of fans, does a poor job of creating two-way engagement.  And their Twitter account could not be less compelling.  Pulling a quick Twitalyzer report confirmed my impression- their Engagement and Generosity scores were nonexistent.  I think this is a universal social media lesson: just showing up isn’t enough.  Brands need to connect with consumers on a deeper level.  Simply pushing out content is not enough.  And though the rest of the fashion industry has been late to the social media scene, they’re here now and are looking to do some really cool things.

The initial emphasis has been on communities and brand-specific social networks.  The majority of the fashion industry thought that this was tacky and might negate the aspirational lifestyle they like to portray.  But brands like American Apparel, TopShop and other younger, independent designers were early adopters and have been able to prove the benefits.

While Twitter and Facebook are great for mass messaging, many of the luxury lines have developed their own social networks, creating a more exclusive feel that extends the brand’s real-life persona.  Many of these niche communities have resulted in significant ROI, as these spaces generate brand loyalty.

The activation of fashion bloggers has also become a widely used, acceptable tactic.  Dolce and Gabbana have dominated this space with the best overall online buzz- a large amount of conversation with highly positive sentiment.  Zeta Interactive attributes this to the brand’s proactive pursuit of bloggers, flying them to their runway shows in Milan.  Not a bad way to get a few glowing blog posts from highly influential fashion bloggers.

User-generated content is an essential part of a successful social media and fashion relationship, driving the conversation between brand and consumer across all of the social platforms.  Some efforts that I think are noteworthy:

  • G-Star Raw is currently running a contest as a means of recruiting fashion reporters for New York Fashion Week in February 2010.  They ask: “Can you blog, Twitter, Flickr or Facebook better than mere mortals?”  Applicants can prove their skills (and clout) via Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.  This is an effective way of getting online influencers to come to them, creating buzz in the process.  Users also have the ability to vote on the reporters they would like to see win.
  • Kate Spade has created a “tweetwriter”- a combination of “Twitter” and a “typewriter.”  The Tweetwriter is actually an antique typewriter that they have set up in their Fifth Avenue store where they encourage shoppers to type messages that are then posted on the Kate Spade Twitter account.  The goal is to convey their customers’ collective point of view.  I think this is a really compelling mash-up of real-life and online engagement.
  • Burberry’s Art of the Trench site is simple.  Users are able to upload pictures of themselves wearing Burberry’s signature piece, the trench coat.  This concept allows Burberry to breathe some new life into a product that was becoming antiquated.

As the fashion industry moves into 2010, more brands will adopt a social media strategy as part of their marketing efforts.  Real-time will be a huge factor, as the amount of content that marketing and PR agencies can put out will be an increasingly small portion of what is being said.  The development of mobile apps will also increase when these brands look to location-based networks to target their shoppers locally.

Gowalla is Boring

January 20, 2010

gowallaA few weeks ago I got very excited about location-based social networking and decided to give one of the many mobile games a try.  I chose Gowalla because I had heard good things on the blogs, the website looked nice, and it worked well on the iPhone.

Initially, I was hooked.  The app looks great on my phone and it was exciting to collect items through their virtual scavenger hunt and get stamps in my passport.  Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived.  There are very few users in Kansas City and it appears as though the majority of the spots have been created by the same person.  A Gowalla employee, no doubt.  (You know who you are “Zanzibar Zanzibar.”)  It’s kind of like playing tag by yourself.  I see how this could be really fun if all of my friends were participating- but they’re not.  And it’s just not compelling enough to continue playing on my own.

Everyone knows the ultimate goal of location-based mobile games- to monetize the application and provide players with real-life benefits for online participation.  And the opportunities for marketers are very exciting.  But I feel like social networks are shark-like in nature.  They must keep moving forward or they’ll sink.  After a month of playing Gowalla I have nothing to show for it.  Sure, I have some stamps in my virtual passport, but nothing that provides a real sense of accomplishment (like Mafia Wars!) or a reason to keep playing.  Maybe I’ll start back up once they begin implementing more real-life value, like reviews of restaurants near me or a discount at the store across the street… but until then, I’m over it.

by Mikey Cramer

I heard this interesting story on NPR the other day:

Speck Mellencamp, the 14 year-old son of the famous musician John Mellencamp, has turned to Facebook to get his father to quit smoking.  Speck made a deal with his father that if he can get 1 million people to join the Facebook group that he started, then his father will stop smoking.  At the time of the interview, the group was over 200,000 strong!  Evidentially, his father has tried to quit several times, but hasn’t been able to stick with it.  Speck’s theory is that if a million people join the group, then peer pressure becomes a major factor.  “If somebody sees him (smoking), he’ll seem like the bad guy,” Speck says.  “So he kinda has to (quit).”

What’s interesting is what this page has become to others- both smokers and those affected by family and friends who smoke.  The wall is full of comments from people sharing their stories: how they’ve quit, who they’ve lost etc.  Speck says his favorite comments are from people who also pledge to quit if the group gets to a million.  Apparently, John is looking at the page everyday to check in on its progress.  It will be interesting to track the growth and see how quickly a call to action of this nature gains traction.  You can view the Facebook page here.  And make sure to join, as this is a great example of how we can use social media in our everyday lives- networking with other individuals who share common interests and goals.

by Mikey Cramer

This week Google introduced new search features that will change the landscape of real-time, mobile and social search forever.  This is definitely the next step in the evolution of information access.

Now, when conducting a search on Google, you will see live updates, news headlines and blog posts seconds after they’ve been published on the web.  Google will rank the relevant results to show the most current returns on the search page.  As Google strives to achieve comprehensive relevance with their search results, they are enabling users to discover information as it is happening.

The search can be refined by selecting “latest results” on the options menu, providing a full page of live web content.  Searches can be paired down even further by filtering results to view platform specific content, like micro-blogs only.  Further, Google has added a “hot topics” feature to Google Trends that shows the topics with the highest amount of online conversation.  All of these enhanced search features are available on mobile devices as well.

Mobile search, specifically, has a few exciting additions that include the ability to search beyond just text.  Users can now enter their queries via voice, location and sight.  This brings me to Google Goggles, a visual search application that lets you search for objects using images from your camera phone.  This is perhaps their most ambitious release, as image recognition technology still has significant strides to make before it is perfected.  But very exciting, nonetheless!  For more on these mobile enhancements, visit the Google Mobile Blog.

Google says that they are relying on “more than a dozen new search technologies” to provide these real-time results.  For more on the algorithm, read here.  In addition to these technologies, Google has announced an impressive lineup of new partners: Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca, and Twitter.  Though, even with all of these new partners, Google still has their work cut out for them if they plan to provide truly comprehensive real-time results.  This graph shows that there is still quite a bit of unaccounted real-time content to index (over 50%):

But what does this mean for marketers?  That depends.  Reputation management becomes a heightened issue as real-time content moves to the top of a results page, pushing corporate pages (home page, PR, newsletters etc.) to the bottom.  A company’s social persona now takes precedence, falling in line with what we’ve been saying since the dawn of social media: “your brand is not what you say it is, but what others say it is.”  This visibility empowers consumers, making brand conversation readily available by aggregating it across channels.  The outcome for brands could be good or bad depending on what is being said and the overall sentiment.  It is now up to marketers to find the most effective ways to mitigate negative conversation, in real-time!

Image Source: Manfrys, Spark Media Solutions

Mark Zuckerberg’s Letter

January 20, 2010

by Mikey Cramer

Last night Mark Zuckerberg posted an open letter on Facebook outlining new privacy changes.  Most notably, Facebook is removing regional networks completely, as some of these “regions” now include over 100 million people.  Facebook has determined, and I agree, that this is no longer the best situation from a privacy control perspective.  Regional networks made sense at Facebook’s inception, as users were specifically college students, and this allowed for a relevant sharing of information.  But as these networks have grown, users were no longer sharing content with just fellow classmates, but an entire city (or country for that matter, e.g. China, India.)

Facebook has developed a basic model for privacy management that allows users to choose between sharing information with friends, friends of friends, or everyone.  Totally simple.  Additionally, individual pieces of content can now be managed separately, allowing for ultimate privacy control.  Allegedly, over the next few weeks, users will be prompted to review and update their privacy settings.  Facebook will even make some recommendations based on current levels of privacy.

And despite the fact that the Facebook community tends to freak out when anything on the beloved platform changes, I think users will ultimately be grateful for enhanced privacy control.

You can view Mark’s entire letter and all of the user comments, who have now moved on to more important issues like the addition of a “dislike” button, here.

Image Source: Gauldo

The New Majority

January 20, 2010

by Mikey Cramer

dinoI am a complete nerd when it comes to demographic information.  Lame, I know.  With that said, I have been looking forward to the release of the 2010 Census for quite some time now.  It seems that every ten years is no longer an optimal frequency, considering how quickly the consumer landscape can change.

The 2010 Census will undoubtedly reveal some major demographic shifts, redefining the majority and minority.  “The concept of an “average American” is gone, probably forever,” demographics expert Peter Francese writes in 2010 America, a new Ad Age white paper.  “The average American has been replaced by a complex, multidimensional society that defies simplistic labeling.” And probably simplistic messaging, too.

So what does this mean for marketers?  It means that targeted messaging is more important than ever.  Traditional media will no longer be enough if brands want to connect with consumers in a meaningful way.  This is nothing new.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that as American demographics become increasingly diverse, Americans’ online behaviors are becoming increasingly analogous.  This digital lifestyle conversion will grow to be the new majority.  “The internet pervades all aspects of Americans’ lives, from how we shop and buy, how we communicate, how we entertain ourselves, and how we seek out information to how we manage our personal relationships,” says Forrester Research Principal Analyst Charles S. Golvin.

The Numbers:

  • 44% of US households have a laptop, and the average American family owns two personal computers
  • Consumers under the age of 40 spend almost 2 hours a week more with new media than they do with traditional media
  • 4 in 5 US households now have a mobile phone; families with older children have nearly 3 mobile phones per household
  • 8% of consumers own a Smartphone

Brands can no longer reach the majority of consumers with general messaging and traditional media.  Consumer mindsets and needs are becoming more disparate, while consumers’ preferences are trending towards a holistic digital existence that integrates an array of devices.  And while we may not be able to talk to everyone with one message, this technology shift does allow us to talk to consumers in a more targeted way with many different approaches.  As consumers use the internet (social networks, communities, RSS feeds, etc.) to faction themselves, brands are able to communicate with the right audience, in the right place, in the right way.

So while we may be losing “Joe Consumer,” we are gaining the opportunity to target and segment consumers on a more personal level, forging relationships that will carry us through the generation of digital marketing.

Image Source: denn