November 2009


Other Twitter Topics:      Twitter BackChannel for Presenters      Navigating the Approval Maze      Social Media: Not Just for Kids      Email The Scoopdog Team

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(Read time = ~2 minutes) bloggingThis week, four big tech brands (IBM, Microsoft, LSI and Silicon Graphics) are experimenting w/a “mini-blog” while attending the Supercomputing Conference in Portland. Essentially, technology experts from each company agreed to blog “live” for four days only – a unique opportunity for the IT and data storage communities to join a dialogue w/business-critical technology providers.

The target audience was narrow, the High Performance Compute (Supercomputing) a subset of the IT and data storage, data center segment. Because of the tradeshow/conference, hashtags/keyword for Twitter were extensively used.

As fellow B2B marketers, Agency-types and otherwise Social Media communicators, would love  feedback – see the live blog and concept by going here. Please tweet, pass-along, blog about it, etc. Remember, only live from 11/16 – 11/20 noon PST. I’ll report on metrics and add further color in a future blog post here.  Great cooperation from all the companies/experts led to a successful launch.

The primary draw:  Big Tech Brands Blog Live for Four Days Only at www.ITdialogue.com

UPDATE: Day 1 traffic:  1000+ unique visitors;  Day 2 traffic: 2400+ unique visitors.

The runway to launch was ~6 weeks with most of the content load and functionality happening in the final 10 days. Nice custom admin screens support the site;  Google Analytics under it all.  Promotion happens at the venue from the various Partner booths as well as from Twitter accounts.  For various reasons, no promotion on the .com main company brand web sites, no PR on the advernture.  Facebook fan pages were considered but time limitations precluded using.

Mini-Blog Approach As An Answer to Start-Up Barriers

One barrier to blog participation is often the workload and commitment. By limiting participation, in this example, to four days only, the risk and pain was lowered with the result more willingness to participate. A multi-partner blog platform was developed using WordPress as a starting point, then customized.

Another barrier is can be Twitter copy approvals and therefore participation in real-time.  In this case, generic tweet samples were routed for review to gain pre-event blessings.  Click here for a more detailed look at the generic tweet concept.

Content, as always, was challenging but all the participating companies were able to re-purpose material otherwise available and public.  Bloggers were asked to contribute two posts per day (morning/afternoon) as well as respond to community questions.

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Other Twitter Topics:    Twitter BackChannel for Presenters      Navigating the Approval Maze      Social Media: Not Just for Kids    Email The Scoopdog Team

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tweet-retweet(Read time = 3-4 minutes)  One of the first investigations that marketers tackle when entering the social media game is likely to be Twitter. Near the top of the Twitter investigation will likely be re-tweets (RTs):  their value, characteristics, and strategies for gaining traction as will impact message persistence.  For those less Twitter savvy: a retweet is when someone re-posts a Twitter message that they received from somebody else. Re-tweets are usually preceded by an “RT” or “Retweeting” and then the source person’s name in an @ reply format to assign credit (akin to footnoting the original source.

So why the fuss to understand RTs? In simple terms, “authority” and the ability to sustain market messaging/buzz.  Being cited as an information source reinforces thought leadership and brand importance; gaining any level of viral messaging further impacts the marketing campaign.  But is it science… or just artful prose?

Consider the audience size:  Twitter June visitors wwide – 44.5 million (comScore). FYI, cS only counts traffic to Twitter.com; since many users instead use Twitter apps to consume/publish, Twitter’s total audience is significantly larger.  cS does provide a consistent measure, however, of Twitter growth.  Even when some research indicates that ~40% Twitter traffic is “pointless babble”  ( Pear Analytics study), the potential audience/traffic is large, indeed.

For a real-time Twitter traffic counter, GigaTweet estimates that the number of tweets recently passed the 5 Billion mark

Update 11/11: related video here; thanx Muneer.

Studies and Research

Microsoft employs social media research scientists: Here, Danah Boyd and Gilad Lotan (MS) joining with Cornell researcher Scott Golder to investigate the conversational aspects of retweeting: (draft paper on RT here) , scheduled to be published early in 2010.

Another social media research scientist, Dan Zarrella (bio here) pulls apart re-tweet trends and success analytics.  His data presentation is posted at SlideShare here.  Zarrella spent nine months analyzing ~5 million tweets and 40 million retweets.  He investigated when posts occurred, wording, link inclusion (or not), and much more. 

Briefly, some thought starters for consideration:

1.  Leave Room:  Write your original tweet shy of the 140 limit to both allow for the (RT @ Twitter User Name) addition, and avoid requiring that the pass-along author re-write your original text.  While challenging, an original character count of 115-120 should provide sufficient room to encourage a viral re-tweet.

2.  Timing matters:  4pm Friday EST!  I didn’t see that Zarrella’s data factored for content-type (ie B2B v. Consumer, etc.) but certainly the charting should give marketers pause;  A trend beginning to appear are marketers tracking their own experiences and building their own benchmarks, by industry target, as to most effective times/days for tweets and re-tweets.

Tweet-Graph

 3.  Include links:  Tweets that included additional content sources were 3x more likely to be passed along.  Interestingly, the research also noted that the shorter the URL link out, the more likely a retweet would occur.

4. Choose your words wisely:  “Please”, “retweet”, “check out”, “blog” and “new blog post” all appeared in Zarrella’s most frequently used word list.  In the least retweetable category were a number of “ing” verbs (going, watching, listening…”).  Takeaway: idle chit-chat, slang, and over sharing does little to prompt message persistence.

5. Original content:  Well, duh… original content is way more poular than news previously circulated.

6. Grammar:  Tweets that rely heavily on the  use of nouns and 3rd-person verbs (what we typically refer to as headline-style) were more likely to be retweeted

Monitor and Benchmark

The diversity in audience target segments, social media objectives and marketing goals demand that most B2B marketers establish their own benchmarks over time.  Tools are beginning to appear (think Tweetmeme, Retweet.com, etc.) but ROI for social media remains hotly debated.  By experimenting with approach, content and campaigns, individual benchmarks can evolve.  Would welcome reader insights and experiences as additions to the conversation.

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Other Twitter Topics:      Marketing at Twitter Speed      Multiple Account Layering Strategy      Social Media: Not Just for Kids      Email The Scoopdog Team

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presenterMost B2B marketers and support providers have become adept at carrying on multiple IM conversations during conference calls, one ear listening while producing a running commentary on the merits of the discussion, or even expanding the back-channel conversation well beyond the topic at hand.  During meetings (digital etiquette aside), text messaging now consumes much more attention than the running dialogue.  Conference call and net-meeting participants now expect the sidebar comments from guests attending.

That this behavior is now invading the presentation world should be no surprise – but the consequences for speakers and panels in how they prepare and present are large.  Some call it “crowd force”, some “crowd source”. By whatever name the dynamic will need attention.

At two recent public events, I watched as the speakers struggled to solve the challenge of presenting to a live audience, and in real-time, negotiating the inclusion of Twitter comments and Twitter commentary.   No longer can a presenter totally dictate the flow of information. In one of the forums, the audience substantially created its own parallel conversation (hash tagged to the topic) without even having a seat on stage and with the presenter totally unaware. While perhaps only 30% of the audience was able to “see” both presentations, the behavior opens a brave new world for speakers, panelists and presenters at all levels.

So how best to take advantage of the new medium… how best to avoid the perils…

Integrating Social Media from Podiums and Panels

Expect Social Dialogue as the Norm, not the exception – Presentation  how’s and how-nots have been well documented.  Today, it just makes good business sense to expect that there will be Twitter comments as you present, that blog posts will go-live during your presentation and immediately after.  By expecting this, you can actually bake in sound bites and make direct references to social media w/in your presentation, thereby both engaging the participation as well as maintaining a semblance of conversation management.

Prompt the Event Sponsors to Integrate digital dialogue w/physical dialogue.  Ask for a screen at the podium so you can monitor the tweet-stream; consider a large console on-stage to proactively invite participation both in-room and to those outside the conference itself. By defining an engagement setting, speakers/panelists retain more command of the presentation flow.  Even if it’s highly unlikely that your audience will actively make use of social media conversation during your presentation, give a nod to the new media opportunity and your credentials as a thought leader.

Add  a “Social Engagement” quotient to your audience analysis – Most speakers/panelists go thru an exercise when preparing material for public consumption that includes an audience evaluation (subject knowledge, competitive and company awareness, hot topics/trends of the day, etc.  Presenters should consider a “Twitter Quotient”, as well – ie, the likely tweet adoption rate and use as a means for assessing the likelihood for back-channel conversation.

Add a New Page as You Read the Room– We’re all taught to scan the audience for signs of engagement and/or boredom, and to adjust presentation style real-time to better respond.  Add to this a scan for laptops and fingers flying across keyboards… for Bberry/iPhone thumb-fests  – all as indicators that tweets and blog posts may have invaded the room.  I’ve heard some discussions around having a colleague attend who specifically will monitor for back-channel discussion, and who can signal presenters when comments warrant inclusion.  Some go so far as to schedule “Twitter Breaks” as a formal part of the presentation, and where speakers/panelists dedicate a few minutes directly to social community feedback/discussion.

Would be insightful to hear from speakers on whether they’ve thought about this aspect of presentations, whether anyone has further first-hand experiences to share, and/or from coaches/trainers who have thoughts on this topic.

Bonus

Useful Tools to Consider: A powerpoint plugin allows tweets to be seen on-screen http://www.sapweb20.com/blog/powerpoint-twitter-tools/   Twitter conference filter tool http://www.tidytweet.com/

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