Tag Archives: twitter

Mar 10

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Marketing, Social Media

Is a Tweet Worth More Than A Facebook Like?

Social Media Today has an interesting post up that looks at the monetary value of a Tweet vs. a Facebook like.

It is interesting to see these social media studies assign monetary value to online actions. It is clear that brand awareness and brand loyalty are bolstered through social interactions online.

For more information, the Social Action Value Study can be found here: http://www.chompon.com/chompon_social_action_value.pdf

Feb 18

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Social Media

Twitter is Either Worth 10 Billion Dollars or Nothing

There are a lot of discussions in the tech world regarding the 8 – 10 Billion dollar valuation assigned to Twitter. Both Facebook and Google are purportedly in talks with the micro blogging service. The question then becomes, is Twitter really worth that much? The answer is complicated. It could be – or it could be worth next to nothing.

Both Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone and Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo have gone on the record to pour cold water on the Twitter acquisition rumors, as well as deflate the 10 billion dollar number.

Quoting Stone’s recent NPR interview:

“We’re not valued at $10 billion dollars. That’s just what people are writing in the newspapers, which unfortunately has the negative impact of my friends thinking I must have $10 billion dollars.”

Recently, Twitter was valued at $3.7 Billion, but the very nature of the micro-blogging service makes assigning any number to the company a difficult proposition. Twitter is like a rare baseball card, in that it has perceived worth but no inherent value. (Value here is defined as having usefulness, “utility or merit” and worth refers to the price something commands on the market). Even the rarest baseball card has little value in the real world . After all, it is only made up of cardboard, which isn’t all that valuable. The card is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it at a given time. To further differentiate worth from value, it helps to envision a car. A car always has value, no matter the make or model. After all, a car provides utility and serves a function. The raw materials of any car are valuable. Even when it isn’t running, an automobile’s parts can be stripped and sold.

And that is the problem with Twitter. It can’t be stripped for parts or take companies where they want to go online (to stretch the image a bit). Twitter is a platform, much like email and HTML. Each of these platforms has revolutionized the way people share information, but there is no money to be made at that level. We have yet to see someone successfully monetize a communications platform.

So how could one make money off a platform? The most viable option (and we hate it) is to close it down. We are not suggesting that Twitter create a closed ecosystem – in fact we like that they are so open (well, sort of open). They could lock down their API, and own all of the apps and services that are powered by Twitter. Of course there are risks associated with this plan, but selling user data to Google or Facebook could also backfire.

Twitter is either worth 10 billion dollars or far, far less. Ultimately Twitter is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. But the value of the company is questionable at this time.

Dec 21

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Social Media, Stage Two

Get Your Twit Together

Twitter is awesome.

Before Twitter, I had to use fan forums, illegal wiretaps and high powered telescopes to keep up with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After Twitter came along, I can stay up to date on all my Brent Spiner news without getting charged with stalking.

The micro blogging platform has changed the way we communicate with one another. And not just because the Reading Rainbow Host is in my twitter stream.  Twitter has emboldened citizen journalists and social spammers brand evangelists. It has connected bloggers and helped people “tweet up.” Never mind the new neologisms and political activism the service created.

Despite the social media advances the service engendered, there are places where Twitter can improve. As 2011 approaches, it’s time for Twitter to grow up and get its twit together.

Kill the Fail Whale

It seems like I see the fail whale more than I see my siblings. Technical issues are expected for internet service companies – even Google hiccups once in a while – but in order to grow, scale and mature as a messaging platform, twitter needs to deliver a web page that works flawlessly for new and existing users. After a recent $200 million dollar round of funding, it’s time to pay for servers that work all the time.

Don’t Count Usernames and URLs as Characters

It’s microblogging. I get it. But for the love of fun, be reasonable twitter. Your strict adherence to the 140 character dogma is proving you to be a techno-philistine. Surely we can agree to a new (better) set of standards where usernames and URLs don’t count toward the 140 character limit.

Won’t spammers abuse this with an endless stream of links and hashtags and callouts?

Yes, but people are smart enough to ostracize those accounts. The system will self-correct. For every eastern european spam bot that would tear up the relaxed rules there would be (at least) one real user who benefits from character counting changes.

Auto shorten my incredibly long URL.

It’s time for twitter to automatically shorten long URLs and, like bit.ly,  provide some basic metrics on the links people share within the site proper.

Make Money

Time for Twitter to sell out ads. Sponsored tweets, banner ads and commercials are coming. With the number of creative professionals using the service, look for innovative social campaigns in the coming months.

Drop the 140 character limit

The 140 character limit made sense when the service launched. Most people were using SMS messages that capped character counts. Now with smart devices and twitter apps, the technology allows for longer posts. I’m not suggesting that people be able to post War and Peace to their tweeple, but something like 250 characters seems more reasonable.

Dec 10

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Smart TV, Stage Two

Must Tweet TV

Lisa Hsia, SVP at Bravo Digital Media, has a great post up at Mashable that profiles social media’s impact on broadcast television.

The significance of real-time participation is that it gives the audience a voice and a power it never had previously. Instead of being buried in message boards and comments, the fan is now front and center.

The piece is well thought out and worth a read. She highlights social media monitoring tools like Trendrr and Sysomos that let television producers monitor sentiment and influence related to their shows. She also points to Dutch television networks that let people vote on pilots via social media. This creates a more collaborative environment wherein fans can influence television content.

Social television benefits broadcasters, as well as viewers. Marketing campaigns can leverage the real time nature of tweet-tv to create innovative campaigns. She closes by highlighting the potential challenges of a transparent, 24/7 social tv ecosystem (for instance, if you ask people to vote in a branded contest and no one does, people will know about it).

As Connected Home and Smart TVs continue to gain adopters, expect more social elements in your favorite shows.

Dec 02

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Smart TV, Social Media, Stage Two

Social Remote Control Ties Twitter to TV

We found this great Fast Company Design article that profiles a twitter powered remote control from KDDI R&D Labs. Quoting from the piece:

KDDI’s basic insight — put apps on the remote, not the TV screen itself — zigs where Boxee, Roku, and everyone else has zagged.

But the real smarts in KDDI’s social remote comes from its Twitter integration. Using hashtags, profile data, and tweet content, the app mines Twitter for intel about what’s on, what’s worth watching, and who’s doing the watching. You can slice and dice this realtime feedback in a variety of ways to zero in on something you like. Then (according to KDDI) you just tap it and poof: the content cues up on your TV. As shown below, the app also offers voting and rating features so that you can feed the hivemind yourself.

The video below shows more of the action.

Expect more second screen innovation as digital living rooms continue to evolve.

Sep 29

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Stage Two

Stage Two Announces Greg Franzese as Head Writer: Gets Even Awesomer

Regular readers of the Stage Two blog may have noticed a new name popping up on newer posts.

That name is me, Greg Franzese.  I am the new Head Writer for Stage Two and you can follow me @GregoryFranzese

I recently joined the consumer electronics marketing, positioning, and product experience shop and I am pleased to be working with the amazing folks at Stage Two. I am excited to engage our readers and help grow the Stage Two brand. I will also be blogging for Legacy Locker and creating other marketing collateral for the group.

My passion for media, technology and writing makes this a great opportunity for me and I am excited to connect with our readers on a daily basis.

Professionally, I have experience writing for the entertainment and technology industries. I was previously Head Writer for ReputationDefender, a northern California reputation management firm. There I managed their official blog and oversaw corporate social media strategy. While at RD, I motivated teams of creative and technical professionals and created custom online campaigns for clients in the financial, tech, energy and medical industries. I also launched their testimonials page and managed an aggressive deadline calendar.

Earlier in my professional development I served as Associate Editor for National Lampoon.com where I wrote daily content and worked closely with the Editor-in-Chief to build an interactive humor brand.

I studied American Literature at UCLA, where I founded an improv comedy troupe and hosted several radio shows. I also wrote a feature film that was optioned and produced. You can Netflix it.

In my free time I enjoy reading, playing my vuvuzela and exploring Northern California.

Stage Two is an amazing company full of amazing people. My hopes for this blog are grand. I want to provide relevant information to help companies build better products that resonate with customers. I want this blog to be honest, opinionated, relevant and engaging. Hopefully the posts here connect with a wide audience of end users, tech press, tech companies and thought leaders.

Stay tuned for more content, more knowledge and more fun.

Sep 28

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two, UI/UX

Why User Experience Matters For Brand Loyalty and Customer Retention

Have you heard the one about the San Francisco designer who got so frustrated with a company’s website that he literally redesigned it himself in a couple hours? Oh, and in the process he managed to create an internet firestorm and get a company UX designer fired (but not for the reasons you think).

The designer in question is Dustin Curtis, and the company is American Airlines. Mr. Curtis was so frustrated by the confusing site design of aa.com that he swore to never fly with American again.

But before he took his business elsewhere, he wrote American Airlines a letter documenting his frustrating user experience.

Dear American Airlines,

I’m a user interface designer. I travel sometimes. Recently, I had the horrific displeasure of booking a flight on your website, aa.com. The experience was so bad that I vowed never to fly your airline again. But before we part ways, I have some questions and two suggestions for you.

He also took an an hour or so and redesigned the American Airlines homepage himself.

A clever move by a creative designer that shows not only how disgruntled customers can disrupt a major corporation online but also shows how central a great user experience is to brand loyalty.

But the story doesn’t end there.

After Mr. Curtis posted his very public complaint, an unnamed UX architect from American contacted him via email. The short form? “You are right, our website is a mess.”

Curtis published the email from the American Airlines UX designer and even though Curtis did not mention the American employee’s name (calling him only Mr. X) the company got wind of the email and fired Mr. X less than an hour after his response was published online.

What happened next presaged the Kevin Smith “too fat to fly Southwest Airlines” tweakout of 2010 (an epic customer experience fail that went viral and even got picked up by USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News and others). The internet picked up the story (1.2 Million unique views) and then the MSM ran with it, as well.

While American Airlines did a poor job of managing its online reputation and provided poor customer outreach, their chief failing was poor user experience on their website.

As Mr. Curtis notes:

Customer experience is the new brand

I’m not referring to a brand as a logo and a typeface. I’m referring to the new kind of brand, the one is formed by the entire experience of a customer’s interaction. That experience gets branded into his or her memory and leaks into the buzz of modern culture. If you can’t make a good customer experience from start to finish, you’ve failed to generate brand value that will attract customers to come back for repeat business and tell their friends to come back, too. That’s how good customer experience directly affects the bottom line.

Exceptional companies deliver exceptional customer experiences, even when things go wrong. Just look at Virgin America. They recently had their Australian computer system crash for 21 hours. 50,000 passengers were left stranded amid the chaos. Virgin quickly worked to remedy the situation.

The airline offered stranded passengers with free accommodation, traveling to airports (to and fro), re booking on Virgin or any other airline and a free flight ticket that can be used in the coming twelve months.

The company has a history of putting customer needs first. Last year a man wrote a letter to Sir Richard Branson complaining about the food on Virgin Air. Was he ignored like Drew Curtis and American? Hardly. Branson invited the troubled diner to the Virgin headquarters and had him help select future food offerings for flights. The airline turned a negative into a positive through responsive, thoughtful action.

Creating a great experience for customers translates to increased customer retention and greater brand affinity. It is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense. If a company or brand that people love makes a mistake, the consumer is quick to forgive and forget. Building goodwill through proper customer care is key to navigating the ups and downs of business today.

At Stage Two we interweave marketing strategy with product experience work because we believe they are highly related. When your customers love your products, they’ll love your company, and when they love your company, they’ll tell people, they’ll forgive your mistakes, and they’ll stay your customers for a much longer time than if they just buy stuff from you.

Mar 02

Posted by David

Posted in Clients

Client News: Share your VUDU viewing via Facebook and Twitter

VUDU, in the wake of their acquisition by Wal-Mart, is continuing to innovate and improve their streaming movie service.  The company has announced as of this morning a new social feature baked right into their user interface, specifically the ability to share a recently viewed movie (and how much they liked the movie) via a tweet or a Facebook status update.  Friends of the VUDU  customer who follow their updates in a given service will see an update that the viewer watched the movie in VUDU, and see how well they rated it (out of 5 stars).  If you happen to see the tweet or the Facebook update from within VUDU’s own native Facebook or Twitter application (inside VUDU Apps) then with one click you’ll be able to go watch that movie within the movie service app.

This is another gret example of why a streaming user interface offers maximum flexibility and advantage for VUDU.  They can quickly and easily push down new features as often as needed or useful. No software download by the user  or firmware upgrade for the device is necessary. The new feature just loads the next time a user turns on the service.  VUDU has been making feature updates at a rate of 1 ever 1-2 weeks since they launched this streaming UI, including theatrical trailers, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, and now social features to share recently watched movies on Twitter or Facbeook.
It’s especially gratifying to see VUDU continue to improve, innovate, develop and iterate their service hot on the heels of the announcement of their acquisition.  This company has one focus: to make the best darn streaming movie service in the world, and they continue to to pursue that calling no matter what else is going on.
We’ll update the list below with any coverage that we see.

Feb 04

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Marketing

12 Essential Strategies for Marketing in Real-Time

In the time it’s taken you to read this sentence, an approximate 1500-2000 people wrote a Tweet (more on this here), almost double that number of Facebook status updates occurred, and an hour of video was uploaded to YouTube. And many would argue we’re still in the early days of “update mania” and content creation.  Now I don’t have any stats on the nature of those updates, but it’s fair to guesstimate that a decent chunk of them are people praising or lamenting about companies, products, and services. We’ve blogged before on how complex the modern era is for anyone in a company’s marketing department, and are following up with some specific strategies and advice for companies and other agencies to use.

  1. Decide on your overall real-time focus
    Not *every* company need pay attention the same way to real-time content the same way. If you are a consumer-facing brand, you probably care a lot about how consumers talk about, use, and think about your product. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to use Twitter to vocalize their sentiment, further it’s entirely likely (and probable) that the cross-section of people who use Twitter to discuss your brand are not representative of the masses who use your brand.  Facebook and MySpace, for example, might not be as hype-driven with regards to media coverage, but together boast over half a billion users.  So before you jump into “real-time”, think about exactly what you want to accomplish, what you need to pay attention to/learn, and then identify the right strategy for those goals.
  2. Think long-term before thinking about the instantaneous term
    They don’t call it real-time for nothing!  There are new tools and services cropping up literally every day that let you participate, monitor, interact, engage, observe, and otherwise pay attention to the real-time Web.  If you attempt to use them all, you will inevitably fail in many, which will do more harm than good.  I highly recommend you watch new hype-driven trends with caution until you see where they are going.  This is doubly-true in Silicon Valley, where, as Chris Rock once said, “here today, gone to-day!” I recall back in the “getting hot” days of FriendFeed when Pepsi showed up and created a “Pepsi Room” – as an early adopter of FriendFeed, I was completely skeptical as to their purpose and intent of being there.  They soon after abandoned their room, which made me feel even more like the company was trying to “buy their way in” to where technology influencers were spending their time online.  Google Wave is another example of a new real-time service, this time from the hugeness that is Google, launched with much flair and hype, yet now in a bit of an idle state (from a media perspective). I’m not saying to ignore new technologies or trends, but to be aware of the simple reality that many technologies fail to yield the results often anticipated/associated with them.
  3. Staff up accordingly
    You can’t take the same PR/Marcom team you’ve been employing for eons and now tell them they also have to monitor a dozen new services, and be ready to respond in real-time. Further, there are different skills required for different mediums, and the reactions to deal with real-time issues are different from those who might plan out a longer term strategy.  My strongest advice is to have someone on the team (or outsourced to a third party, if well-affiliated) who is a good “crisis-mode” kind of person.  I’d suggest having your overall marketing planning/strategy get built with input from the combination of Team Planned Activity and Team Real-Time.  Which leads me to…
  4. Listen and React.
    The classic line of social media marketers is “engage” (also known as “join the conversation”).  This is nice and all, but it’s also about the how, when, and why you react.  First, make sure you have built infrastructure and culture for absorbing feedback – I still meet many companies who have literally one person in charge of product strategy, and virtually no mechanisms of delivering customer feedback to that person.  Real time content and sentiment monitoring is something that should be added to outreach programs, with a focus both on the media and consumers.  It’s vastly different to watch Tweets and blog posts gauging the media’s reaction to your new product than it is to read your actual customers’ opinions after a feature update or new service addition.  Make sure you are appropriately filtering this type of content to the right people. But…
  5. Don’t (always) react in real-time!
    Eons ago, when all you had to do to pay attention to social media was watch blogs, we often counseled folks to mostly ignore commentors.  This is a bit of a “dangerous” topic (there happened to be a big debate on it yesterday), so let me explain my position.  Ideally, comments allow anyone in the world to add a little, wait for it, commentary on a given blog post or topic they see.  And if that were exactly how it was used, it’d be great.  But this isn’t fiction, it’s reality, and in the real world, Internet commenting is just barely a notch more mature than the banter in Xbox Live gaming.  For every bit of constructive discussion or actually added-value commentary, there’s the inevitable troll, attacker, competitor, or a variety of comments that bring the conversation way down.  With the massive amounts of ways to “hear” people out there, you simply must assume there are people who you cannot appease.  Use experience and judgment to figure out when a response is warranted versus when the topic will disappear into the ether.  You cannot win them all, and you cannot possibly make everyone love you – I’m not advising not to try, but you do not need to correct every tweet, comment, status update, or other negative mention you find.  This truly is the time when experience helps.
  6. If you try something, give it a reasonable commitment
    This goes into the “must-do” category.  You are significantly worse off by jumping in to something new, playing around a teensy bit in a halfhearted manner, then bailing, than you are by never engaging in the first place.  I’ve seen companies “half-listen” on Twitter, which only causes more frustration around their brands.  Ditto for blog/commentor engagement and other real-time interactions.  Pick something, create the plan of how you will fully commit to it and for how long, and then evaluate at the end as to future engagements.  Further, you should communicate your policies – if you are only going to use Twitter to send out company updates, that’s fine (not really, but I understand), but then make sure you are clear about that policy.  To complicate this more…
  7. Try not to play favorites
    While it’s understandable (and recommended) to engage with known influencers whenever possible, it’s just as important to engage with “regular folks” as well.  In fact, if you ignore the random people and only pay attention to “named individuals” you are going to have the opposite effect you are seeking by interacting with these services.  You’ll be considered elitist and alienating to your actual customers.  This really ties back in with the aforementioned “staff up” comment – the bigger your brand and the wider your customer base, the more you open yourself up to a radically high quantity of people to engage with.  For organizations that deal with the wider masses of consumers, I recommend having a team in place for dealing with Twitter, Facebook, and any other service where you plan to engage in real-time, and have a system for how to make sure literally nobody falls through the cracks.
  8. Clearly communicate your policies
    If you can only monitor Twitter from 9-5 EST, tell people.  If you don’t plan to respond to comments, make that clear.  Whatever you are (or are not) going to do, your customers and the media should know.  Further, as I’ve stated a few times, whatever you commit to, stick to. Consistency is huge.
  9. Be personable
    Nobody wants to directly engage with “a brand”, they want to talk to “people at a brand.”  When I see companies having named individuals participate on twitter, communities, forums, or even in comment discussions, I see much more directly engaged users.  This is a major change in thinking for bigger brands, where there’s a “company-first” policy of virtually everything, but in the social media landscape, specifically true in the real-time Web, personalized engagement trumps bland company messaging everytime.  Oh, and this should go without saying, but just in case: don’t make up personas/fake people!
  10. Pick the right tools for the job
    Google alerts, even if delivered “as it happens” are slow in comparison with Twitter feeds, RSS, and virtually any monitoring software.  There are a lot of tools to pay attention to real-time activities.  I am not going to endorse nor recommend any specific company, since your needs will unlikely be the same as mine, or someone else’s.  I will say this much: try free stuff, but allocate some budget if you are going to take the space seriously.  Just like anything else, the more you put in, the more you get out.  That said, try not to get fleeced along the way!  Also, you should unquestionably get free trials of services prior to shelling out a dime.  And you should also make sure you’ve had the team who will be using the tools give their feedback – you don’t want to forcefeed technology on the wrong people.
  11. Feel free to experiment
    The real-time Web isn’t exactly the Wild West, but it is safe to say there’s so much in flux that there’s exactly a specific blueprint we can all follow.  Much of my advice here is on how to formulate your strategy.  The tools and services used today may be gone next year or next month, or may be growing like the weeds in my garden.  While you should have a sound plan in place to execute upon, it’s certainly okay to try new things and see how they go.  Maybe a Retweet contest will put your brand into the limelight, or maybe it’ll get ignored.  Learn from it, adapt, try again, etc.
  12. Beware false prophets
    The number of people who can honestly say they’ve mastered these skills is roughly zero.  The rules are changing far too fast, and there’s far too short a history to claim true expertise.  If you are hiring individuals, consultants, or agencies, ask very specific questions and look for very specific answers before making decisions.  Just because someone can advise you on how to create a Twitter account doesn’t mean they know what to do when a behind-the-scenes video leaks onto YouTube!  Community engagement is not the same as crisis management.  Blog writing and engaging on forums are different skills.  Sure, some people will be capable of managing all of this, but think through your needs deeply, and don’t accept glib responses, internet-famous people, nor shallow resumes to manage such critical work!

I hope this is helpful for any company seeking to engage with consumers in new, fun, interesting, and productive ways.  We feel like we’re still learning a lot of this here at Stage Two, and will start putting up some product/service reviews in the coming weeks.  Looking forward to comments on what areas we may have missed!

Jan 26

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Events, Stage Two

Come meetup after the 01/27 Apple press event!

I wanted to call this a tweetup, but if I’m blogging it I think that breaks the rules? Just kidding. Anyhow, a bunch of us mobile/gadget/convergence folks wanted to get together, chat about how the world just changed (or didn’t), and also talk in advance of Mobile World Congress (aka 3GSM).  We’ve teamed up with Lisa Whelan, from SocializeMobilize, to gather fun people and the great people at Jillian’s (at the Metreon, spitting distance from the event. literally) put aside a little space for us.

No RSVP needed, but all the details are available here.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

I’ll buy a drink for the first person to show up WITH whatever new thing got announced at the event. :)   Yes, multiple winners if there are multiple things.

BTW – you can visit my personal blog to see recent thoughts I’ve shared on the supposed tablet.

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