So, a couple of weeks back, I had the honor & privilege of speaking at #TWTRCON SF10. It was a blast, & I learned so many things. But, given there were hundreds of people that went but millions of people that would have benefited from going, I thought I’d write down my Top 10 Takeaways in the interest of “sharing.” If you want more info, here are some great links:
Clearly, not as good as being there, but still better than not learning at all
So, with that, here are my key takeaways, but please add your own in the comments below or give me feedback on the ones I did cite…
1. Twitter is a great way to start a dialogue but rarely can be the whole conversation
"Twitter is like a pick-up line, not a relationship"
Perhaps ironically, the best way to think of Tweets is like “seeds” – it is easy to walk out to a field & “throw some seeds” (READ: Throw some Tweets), but unless you’re ready to do the (_REST_) of the work – you are not a *FARMER*. In the analogy, you need to first _plow_ the field to really be effective (in Twitter Terms, that means building your TRUE followers – not just a bunch of spambots or pornbots that will follow anyone). And, just like plowing, building followers is really hard work, unless you are already a movie star or funnier than $&*%. Also, after you sprinkled your seeds, you have to follow up – scare away the birds, water your crops, kill the insects, & finally – harvest your food! In the Twitterverse, you need to thank people for RTing your stuff, follow-up on questions, measure what affect you had (like with TwitReach, for example), and, most importantly, have some end goal or action behind all this. It can be to tell people about a great deal, get them to enter a contest, help them with a problem, share information about a blog or article, but really effective Tweets need to have a goal or purpose.
2. The best use of Twitter is to help interconnect everything else you have going on
"Twitter is like condiments - they make meals better but aren't a meal in & of themselves"
I promise not to beat the *FARMER* to death, but the second part of a commercial farmer is, after you harvest, you need to get the food to market, sell it there, & do something with that money. In the Twitterverse, you need to have more than just a Twitter presence. By-in-large, I find the most natural harmony to a Twitter account is to have a rocking blog (like @jmoriarty), but other great options is to have a book (like @robkroese), a conference (like @tonia_ries), or perhaps best of all, a TV show (@NathanFillion). But, 99% of the time, you need to have SOMETHING – Tweets alone do not a “Social Media Strategy” make.
3. You can't stop people from speaking badly about your brand on Twitter, but it can help you mitigate issue
"It is easier to speak behind someone's back when they aren't standing in front of you"
We’ve all had that moment – especially if you have children – where someone is just happily yapping away about you, probably in a “non-flattering way,” as you walk up behind them. That look on their face, as they spin around, is generally priceless – usually worth far more than any hurt you get from what they were actually saying. However, have you ever noticed how rarely that happens in the other direction? Where you walk up on someone as they are touting your virtues? Why is that? I think it is because, in general, people like saying nice things about you when you around & saying bad things when you aren’t around. So, the very act of being there means people will, generally say better things about you. And what if you aren’t there? Exactly – so, if your social media or Twitter strategy is: The Magic Ostrich (where sticking your head in the sand actually means people don’t exist) – you may want to rethink that!
4. The real-time nature of Twitter allows for faster response to good & bad situations
"Twitter is like 'early detection' for diseases - the earlier the detection, the better the results"
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the stream yet, you must – MUST – go watch @JLoOnTheGo talk about what @HRblock does with Twitter. I know what you’re going to say – Taxes – really? I’m with you, with all due respect to Ms. Love (who did turn out to be a brilliant speaker) – I almost snuck out before she started. But, I’m _really_ glad I didn’t – she had perhaps THE most brilliant example of *highly*effective* use of Twitter I’ve ever seen. I’m not going to ruin it – but the feed is only 20 minutes & will be WELL worth your time, so go watch it
5. Tweets / day doubles every 12 - 18 months - so it is not a fad - it is the future
"Every new communication method had naysayers – from the Telegraph to the WWW"
Personal confession: The job I’ve done longest in my life, & perhaps one of the most enjoyable, was to be an analyst in a market research firm. Not only did I learn about new things every year, but I also got to make predictions. Fortunately, I got pretty good at it (especially about online gaming), so when I see a chart like this:
I’m quick to slap a regression analysis on that bad boy & look to the future. Guess what I found? By my estimation, Tweets Per Day (TpD) will double at least every 18 months. I’m not calling it “Mantion’s Law of Twitter” (yet), but if it holds, that would mean that if 2010 ends at around 100M TpD, 2016 will end with 400M TpD – or nearly 5000 Tweets per Second!
6. Twitter works because people feel like connections not conscripts being yelled at
"Shout Marketing is the Dinosaur of Marketing – Big but Old & Dying"
If you’ve gone to college, you know exactly what I’m talking about – the dichotomy between a great teacher & a horrible one. The great one probably knew your name, answered your questions, & you would hang on their every word. The horrible one probably taught to a room of 300 students, facing the chalkboard, and as monotone as a tuning fork. Social media, & Twitter, are the same way – if you just yap AT people – don’t expect to be very effective!
7. Twitter works because Brilliance comes in Moments – often < 140#
"E = mc² | I think therefore I am | Happiness is a way of life not a fact of life <<== All < 140#"
Think about some of the most brilliant ideas or inventions. “Robotic cars that auto-drive & reduce accidents & congestion thanks to quicker reflexes” or “Use Blimps to raise rockets 50k ft in the air 2 drastically reduce the fuel need 2 achieve orbit” or “Shift from Smartphone/Laptop 2 Bluetooth Watch, Bluetooth Headset & 4G Tablet 2 make life more portable.” What do they all have in common? They are all less than 140 Characters. While not being full discussions, each one is probably enough to Whet your appetite & would probably drive you to click a link if there was one. While we’ve all heard: “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover,” most of us do exactly that &, similarly, if you can explain a brilliant idea to me in <140#, then it probably isn’t “brilliant” yet (so keep working on it). If Brevity is Art of the Genius, there is potentially a lot of Geniuses on Twitter!
8. Web marketing was about reaching eyeballs but Twitter is about touching hearts
"A thousand commercials will never influence you more than someone you know & trust"
Think about what you do when you want to buy a big ticket item – a car or a computer <cough>Intelinside</cough> or even a really nice pair of shoes. What do you probably do? Unless you are the supreme expert on that topic, you probably get some advice. And, even if you are an ÜberGeek on that topic, you probably still pow-wow with your posy, just to get a second opinion. So, this is where Twitter can come in – if you’ve got more than 100 *real* followers, ask them for their opinion – I’d bet within a few hours, you’ll get some pretty good advice – and you are probably more likely to listen to it then reading random reviews by people that may very well be working for that company or product.
9. The current shortcoming of Twitter is not lack of Data, but difficulty pulling wisdom from the bits
"Measuring just followers is like counting ‘door opens’ of a store – less important than sales"
So, it’s probably not much of a surprise, but I’m a fan of Twitter. However, I’m not a cultist. I know it isn’t perfect &, more exactly, still can’t do some of the “simple” things right (yet). For example, if you’re Linux-loving geek that’s new to Twitter, how do you find other folks to follow? Sure there are the W2F suggestions from Twitter – but what’s your experience with that? Personally, I’d like to just be able to so searches of Bios. For example, don’t you think you should be able to just search Bio entries for the word “Linux” & find a butt load of potential friends & poor-spelling Snoopy fans? Well, bad news, for now, you can’t – at least not through Twitter. If you want the secret “hacker code” – here it is:
Enter that into Google (substituting “Linux” for whatever you want), & you should at least start to be able to find some people. But, for now, it really only works well on 1 word & you can’t really see how many followers/friends/lists the people have – so there is definitely room for improvement. This was my 1 big question/suggestion to @othman (Twitter), @shashiseth (Yahoo!), and @paulyiu (Bing/Microsoft) and got almost a deafening “Meh” in response but mark my words, the 1st one to figure this out will be get a gold rush of traffic. Or, it will be a startup that may get bought for gold bars – either way, I’ll predict we’ll have this before this time next year!
10. If you engage on Twitter, you can “lose” but if you don’t engage, you definitely lose!
"90% of Social Media is just showing up… It’s the OTHER half that’s hard" from: @ScottMonty
As I look back at this list I wrote during the conference, it feels a little bit like I’m repeating myself, but it is a pivotally important point:
Not Showing Up for the Game is called a “Forfeit” not a “Win”
But, if you need more guidance, curl-up with your favorite laptop & watch @ScottMonty wow the crowd: Part 1 & Part 2. You can get the slides – and there are some gems in there – but you’ve got to watch some of his delivery, it makes all the difference!
So, there it is, my opinions on a great show – but let me know what you think: If you went – what I missed & if you didn’t – what do you think should have been said? Feel free to use any of the quotes in dark red, but I'd appreciate attribution, except for last one - that was all Scott!