Cluetrainplus 10: Thesis #89 We have real power and we know it. If you don’t quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that’s more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

I have been privileged to take part in the 10th Anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto. I was made aware of and signed up for a blogging event in which 95 bloggers each write a post on the same agreed date, April 28th, about one of the “95 theses” from the Manifesto. Details about this event and Cluetrain’s history are found here. I will provide viewpoint on thesis number #89.

For years marketers like me have believed that advertising had the strength to influence consumer attitudes and behaviour. Advertising had more power when ad vehicles were few. As consumers, we were easy to get a hold of – we read the same papers, listened to the same radio programs, and watched the same television shows as everyone we knew.  Marketers had it easy…but it was rare for consumers to see an ad that was relevant to them. That was ok for marketers because 2% response rate or a break-even ROI was all they required to deem a campaign successful.

These days, technology has made it increasingly difficult to reach consumers. Media has become fragmented. Access profileration has allowed the consumer to be in multiple devices simultaneously including:  access from radio, TV, mobile, MP3s, search, print, billboards, videogames, IM, email, video consoles etc. Overlay the incredible explosion of the number of radio and TV channels, magazines, newspapers. This pace of change is making it increasingly difficult to pin target consumers down with a relevant message at the right place and right time.


It’s become increasingly apparent that the difficulty in reaching the consumer has been compounded over time. Access proliferation has put the consumer in control of how, when and what media they consume. At the same time these same channels are giving the tools to communicate to many people at a much faster pace. Universal McCann’s Worldwide Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008 indicates the growth of social media since 2006. Some highlights include:

  • 73% of active online users have read a blog
  • 45% have started their own blog
  • there are over 184 million bloggers worldwide, with approx. 1/4 from China
  • 57% have joined a social network
  • 34% post opinions about products/brands on their site/blog

People are talking about brands to each other and surprisingly many brands are oblivious to this; or if they are aware,  they don’t realize the enormous impact it has to their reputation as a company.  The power shift from the corporation to the consumer is apparent. Advertising messages do not influence as effectively as marketers have always believed.


The very medium that divides the brand from the consumer also has the ability to bring them together. Consider this stat from the Universal McCann Study:  36% of active online consumers think more positively about companies that have a blog.  Start-ups have easily figured this out and from day one are leveraging the conversation with the consumers to help shape and evolve their businesses. They have figured out that unless they listen and respond to the market needs, there will be no market for their product or service offering. Coming from a start-up, the lack of big marketing budgets forced me as a marketer to really understand social media if I was to effectively drive reach:

  • Use the networks to bring awareness of your offering.
  • Engage with relevant target groups to help you fix the current bugs and improve your product over time.
  • Take it on the chin and be willing to accept the good with the bad.
  • Continually engage your consumers for feedback. Develop relationships and nurture them over time. Do NOT bail on your community.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” provides the best illustration of the power of conversation. He points out, ” I’m convinced that ideas …. move through a population very much like a disease does….Ideas can be contagious in exactly the same way that a virus is.”  It doesn’t take much effort to pass along a cool idea but the very nature of one idea being passed along from person to person can result in an epidemic. “The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly.”  In this way, the effectiveness of word of mouth begins to produce a clear picture of the power of the individual:


Dell found out the hard way how consumer opinion could negatively impact their business. Now, the emergence of Ideastorm, and Twitter engagement has catapulted the company into social media success and has effectively put their Dell Hell days behind them.

Customers talking about brands are making it clear what they want, how they want to be serviced, and what they consider good value for their dollar. The great thing for marketers is that engaging in these discussions limits the guessing game. Companies can now provide a product or service that the customer wants….what a concept!

Other top brands are getting on the band wagon and they are capitalizing as early adopters:

  • Starbucks Coffee created a site that allows users to submit suggestions to be voted on by Starbucks consumers, and the most popular suggestions are highlighted and reviewed. Their heavy presence on Twitter has also helped the company to disseminate information and gauge consumer opinion in real time.
  • Zappos and CEO Tony Hsieh have become known for embracing Twitter as an essential tool for exceptional customer service. Tony, himself, through his Twitter account has become accessible and has helped personify Zappos as a company who is friendly, trustworthy and helpful. Twitter is ingrained in the company much so in fact that the Zappos site aggregates the Twitter streams.
  • Ford Motor Company and its head of social media, Scott Monty have used the channel as a way to inform the public in real time of company happenings especially during periods of volatility. It was this kind of transparency in communication that helped quell much negative public opinion and, in my view, has helped elevate Ford’s brand presence above GM and Chrysler during the government bailout period.

So, for those brands that are afraid to dip their toe in this new conversation, who are afraid to engage with consumers, it will only be to their detriment.  Consumers will continue to speak about your company and your brand(s) with or without you. Social media is not a fad. It will continue to grow and evolve and as new devices are invented, conversation will multiply at alarming rates. The opportunity for big brands and businesses is enormous. Begin to engage in discussions at a peer level…listen and understand…develop important relationships…and build strong brand advocacy and a sustainable model in the meantime.


Credits for this thesis go to P Furey and A Wong for some really cool slides I used from their presentations.

How Social Media Challenges Traditional Thinking

I often wonder what was the tipping point for social media? Why is it receiving more attention now than ever? It has always been there and those in the know — whether they are the tech savvy or the digital youth — saw its benefits much sooner than the rest of us.  But now it’s really gone mainstream:

  • Every radio station, newscaster, broadcast media has a Twitter account. My late night TV news station uses it as a crowd-sourcing mechanism to gauge immediate opinion on key news issues;
  • Charities/causes are popping up and its organizers are wising up to the fact that they can raise awareness and donations within hours of launching their campaign;
  • The newspaper industry is dying as consumers increasingly look online to find their news and information for free. As a result, a large scale shift in ad spend is expected in 2009 away from traditional print and broadcast to online. eMarketer verifies this transformation:


  • Marketers have been told that this channel not only offers true measurability but it results in strong customer engagement and sustainability;

For someone like me, whose marketing roots have evolved from traditional mass to direct and database; then to online display, search and now social media –> my profound learning comes in understanding that it is a medium that continues to evolve and has yet to establish standards for marketers. I continue to hear that no one should have the right to call themselves “social media experts” and while I believe that is absolutely true, I will place my bets with those marketers and organizations who are using this medium everyday to establish their brand, and create a true understanding of their customers.  These guys practice what they preach. Other industry notables have gotten their names because they’ve seemingly held the answers to a space that was virtually untravelled by the mainstream. But I have yet to see any validation of their preachings.

Could it be that the new US President Barack Obama will be known as a key instigator in bringing this whole notion to the masses by his very acknowledgement of the pervasiveness and influence of technology and its ability to shape consumer perception and build incredible momentum?  The strength of Obama’s campaign and his revolutionary move into office are based on the ideals set by the Founding Fathers: Election for The People and By the People…. and NOT by the lobbyists or constituents who have traditionally influenced policy and government spend. He has seemingly abolished this practice and has brought on a new idealism of transparency (as per the video: White House 2.0: Social Media and Government Transparency)

As I evolve Ammo Marketing in Canada, the social media space is exciting and yet daunting. I have been able to convince some clients that traditional research does not compare to the unfiltered, unmoderated insights they will get from social media. The very research has opened clients’ eyes who become keenly aware of the honest commentary on their brands: the good..the bad…and the ugly.  This immediately creates a sense of urgency to jump into the conversation and clarify misperceptions and diffuse detractor comments.  Little by little, participation in this new media is slowly revealing its true worth: as a true engagement device that leads to a sustained dialogue and eventual impact on revenue.

One of my staff came to me today and was so excited to be in a ground-breaking and evolutionary space.  As someone who supports client initiatives by participating in relevant discussions, she is delightfully surprised by the willingness of people to embrace corporate presence and engage with them peer to peer with no strings attached. It’s amazing how much people are willing to tell you if you give them the platform to speak.  The results we’ve seen have been immediate. But be warned, it will take some time to fulfill that ROI. Effort must be consistent and committed. Consumers will become your advocates if you continue to maintain that connection and you openly respond to their concerns.

Christopher Barger, Director of Social Media, General Motors ( said it best: Look for the return on conversation…not immediately…but when it comes it will sustain itself long-term.

Twitter Aggregated: Commands, Best Practices, Strategies and’s all here…hopefully

I am in the midst of providing indepth training for a client on Twitter. This is a “Get Started Version”. I’ve spent the last 4 hours researching blogs and document sites to provide me with this information. Here’s what I’ve come up with. If you have more info that’s relevant to newbies, please let me know and I’ll add it to this blog post.


Getting Started:

1)    Remember to create your profile in Settings:
•    Make sure your profile is complete. People decide to follow you based on the richness of your profile.
•    Make sure you upload a picture. It’s always nice to know who you’re connecting with.
•    Add a website URL  or better yet a blog or destination where you can invite conversation.

2)    Who to follow:
•    Use to target the users. This will depend on the account you created and the objective for the account. If it is to sell your product, then target people talking about your company, or products that your company offers.
•    Follow your friends first. Then look at their string of followers to determine whom you should follow.
•    Use to determine the top tweeps to follow — these are the influential voices in the twittersphere.

3)    What do I tweet?
•    Listen First: figure out what people are saying. Is there anything of value you can add? If so chime in.
•    Always provide value: is there information that you have first hand that you think would benefit others? Provide the link and let others know.
•    Emphasize another person’s tweet: if you think it’s important, then RT (retweet). This not only makes the other person appreciate that you’ve recognized their contribution, it also opens you up to further followers.
•    Promote your programs ONLY once you’ve created credibility: This is OK to do once in a while. If others see you have contributed valuable content, then the more likely they will come to your site.

4)    Tweeting long URLS: Since you’re constrained to only 140 characters, many times you need to use tinyURLS or similar functions to truncate your destination URL.  You can use your client Tweetdeck to shorten URLs before you post. It gives you more room to add some commentary to your post.

The DOs and DON’Ts:



Potential Executions:

  1. Customer Service: Anyone who has customers – B2C, B2B can use Twitter to quickly listen and respond to customer feedback before problems escalate or to activate brand ambassadors…
  2. Crisis Management: Using Twitter for Crisis Communications is much about preventing an isolated issue from becoming a full-blown crisis as it is about communicating to the public once a crisis has hit. Twitter is a fast way to respond and maintain an open channel.
  3. Corporate Reputation Management: Twitter offers an outlet for your brand’s personality and humanity. A Twitter handle is created to share the brand personality from real-live people behind the messages being Tweeted. It’s easy to see what others are saying about your brand and the topics of interest and create a strong presence within those conversations.
  4. Event Activation: The real-time ability to connect with others and share experiences makes Twitter a great platform for individuals, or companies to use during a major event. Live-Tweeting an event can be used to create a completely new channel of conversation and a way to enhance the physical experience of the event. Combining Twitter with blogs, video and other social media efforts provides more ways to interact with the content and experience you’re creating
  5. Product Promotion and Sales – A successful sales and promotion plan is based on identifying your audience, providing useful content, and being prepared to engage in the conversation. When done right, your followers will become loyal, and also advocates for your brand and your promotions.
  6. Issue Advocacy – Twitter’s ability to connect people with similar interests can be harnessed for the greater social good with non-profits and issue advocacy organizations creating a community and providing useful information to those they serve, volunteers, donors and other supporters.


From the web:

•    D username: sends a private message to a specific individual
•    @username: sends a public message to a specific individual; this message will archive in their replies tab, and be visible on your profile page
•    RT username: retweets content from another username. Use this function to amplify a specific message from someone you’re following.

From your Phone:

•    ON: turns phone notifications on
•    OFF: turns phone notifications off
•    STOP, QUIT: stops all messages to your device immediately
•    FOLLOW username: turns on notifications for a specific individual
•    LEAVE username: turns off notifications for a specific individual
•    D username: sends a private message to a specific individual
•    @username: sends a public message to a specific individual; this message will archive in their replies tab, and be visible on your profile page
•    WHOIS username: returns bio info for a Twitter member
•    GET username: returns the last update from a specific individual
•    FAVE username: marks the last update of a user as a favorite
•    TRACK word: returns updates from the Twitter community containing the tracked word
•    TRACKING: returns a list of words you’re tracking
•    UNTRACK word: stops tracking a word
•    UNTRACK all: stops tracking all words
•    INVITE 4155225678: invites a friend via SMS/text message to join Twitter
•    STATS: returns statistics

Essential Twitter Tools:

1) is the most popular client, using adobe air technology. Leave this on your desktop, instead of going to browser. Also these clients may be more accurate in seeing who’s replying to you. Through Twitdeck, you will be able to see four columns (or less) based on your preference:
–    posts from ALL friends
–    @ replies
–    favourites
–    Twitscoop ie Buzz trends on Twitter
–    Direct messages

2)    Search: Use
to see who’s talking about you, your brand, or a topic you’re interested in. Sign into tweetscan so you can can create searches by keyword and have the ALERTS sent to your email box, similar to Google Alerts. You can dictate frequency as well

searches Twitter by keyword. Initially, this was summize.

**For people who talk about your brand, it’s important to 1) follow them  2) respond to them on a timely basis

3)    Tagging Content: You can start to use the hashag “#” to add metadata around any tweet. This becomes more important as we rate and tag content. You can see the aggregated data on . Here’s an example of #myfirstjob

4)    Alerts: Often, people will blog about the conversations that happen in twitter, the conversation shifts back to blogs. As a result, I setup Google Alerts for the phrase @hessiej or any specific keywords.

5)    Paste the Twitter Badge on your Site: — use a flash or html version of your twitter handle and post it to your website. Use it to aggregate traffic to your twitter page for e.g. dealing customer service issues real-time. Be careful — be ready to handle an inordinate amount of traffic.

6)    To specifically target users and categories, use . Twellow is a site which takes the geographical information and bio information from your Twitter account and uses it to categorize your profile. One of the great things about Twellow is it allows you to find people with similar interests who you can follow and interact with.

Enhanced Services:

1)    To take Twitter UP a NOTCH: Power Twitter :
Download the Firefox version. Here are the features:

-search – not on original twitter
-search scoped to a specific user
-status history peeking on mouseover
-Facebook status updates – as long as you’re logged in, it provides friends’ updates shown as status’ on Twitter
-inline YouTube, Flickr, and TwitPic – instead of URL, shows full pics, video which you can play inline.
-url expansion – allows you to see actual topic as opposed to greeked URL.
-url translation to page titles
-open web update (news feed) mapping

2)    View the latest tweets of upcoming trends on Twitter through Updates fall from the top of the page in near real time. Unlike other Sites, this only tracks trends. The trends are listed on the left hand side of the page. Click on one to view the relevant tweets.

3)    Get the latest stats on the Top “Tweeps”,  Twitter Apps, Top Twitter Topics and Trends from

4)    FAVRD: most favourited tweets on Twitter. Search by keyword and see who else has favoured a particular tweet to identify like-minded contacts.

5)    See what’s hot right now on Twitter: is a trendcasting service that aggregates the top topics on Twitter and presents them in a visually rich tag cloud. You can hover over each cloud to see a pop-up overview of the discussions around the topic or click through to dive deeper into the analytics of the conversation volume and duration and also participate directly. TwitScoop provides the ability to search keywords and usernames to analyze the dialogue and frequency behind them.. See it also on your client: Tweetdeck.

6) FIND TWITTER Influencers and level of activity: Provides an interactive chart that chronicles the quantity of Twitter followers for any given username. The results are viewable by week, month, and quarter and the service will also predict the future volume of followers based on the average growth/loss over time. The chart is embeddable as a widget on any profile, blog, or Web site.

7)    Share your photos on Twitter through

8)    Twitterific A compact client that publishes tweets, shows unread tweets, has easy access to profile pages, shows either public or friend timeline, and more. This is a downloadable widget.

9)    Aggregation: puts all of our RSS content onto one page, making it easy to see from one glance (rather than going to different properties) and you can even reply from friendfeed to different tools. It’s smarter to organize around people, rather than tools. Add your bookmarks, facebook, myspace, and twitterupdates all in one interface.

10)    Measure the power of a user’s profile through . Just type in your username and get graded. The score is calculated as a percentlile of @users that have been graded. This is based on the number of followers you have, the power of the followers, the power of your updates, the completeness of your profile. Also use Grader to find the Twitter Elites — the top in your location and the Top Tweeps overall. Note, having an Elite follow you helps increase your ranking.

Please reference this link for other Twitter tools. It’s from

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