Archive for March, 2009

20
Mar
09

More on Calcanis’ offer to buy Twitter followers: straight from the horse’s mouth

Most of you would have seen the big brouhaha around Jason Calacanis’s offer few weeks back to Twitter . He offered to pay them $250,000 to be one of the ‘suggested users’ that noobs are presented with when they first sign up for Twitter and are looking to get started. Getting on that suggested user list is a great way to significantly boost your number of online followers (if thats what you’re looking to do) but exactly how people get on there is quite mysterious.

Image Courtesy of TechCrunch

Anyway, on Calacanis’ mailing list today, he wrote about why he made the offer, the potential payoff, and then ups the anti by doubling the amount- rather than cutting and pasting the entire email, I’ve uploaded it in a HTML document for you to read – Jason Calcanis talks about his offer to buy followers from twitter.

My thoughts:

Calcanis is cunning as hell! I have to hand it to him on this, he’s probably generated alot of new Mahalo users out of the press he’s generated here, and all it really cost him in the end was the 30 seconds or so it took to thumb in a few tweets on his mobile. Now upping the anti with a higher offer will just generate more press – the dude is an animal!

But I also have to give major props to the team at Twitter for standing their ground. One thing about defining your product offering is it is very good for business to be able to add to it, but can be very detrimental to take away from that offering, particulalry if the part of the service you take away is one people find very useful. The folks at Twitter know this only too well – removing the SMS push functionality from twitter about 12 months back saw bitching and moaning from Twitterers ripple across the entire social network. If they sell a spot on the ‘suggested follows’ list to Calcanis, they potentially open the floodgates. Selling spots on this list to corporate accounts, who are only looking to build followers and not necessarily deliver good content, is a surefire way to turn new users off Twitter. Twitter are taking their time and making sure they control exactly what happens with their revenue and growth plans – and I respect them even more for not taking easy money in a knee jerk reaction.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next… I’m guessing it’ll keep people talking for a bit and then fizz out. But I’m interested to know, what do you think? If you had $250,000 for a twitter campaign, would you blow it on a spot in the suggested users slot, or are there better ways to leverage that sort of spending clout?

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13
Mar
09

(More) great uses of augmented reality for interactive marketing

I’ve discussed Augmented Reality and it’s use for marketing a while back, and have been keeping half an eye on new applications of it to marketing and product offerings since. Augmented reality still seems the most compelling way (to me anyway) for marketers and businesses to achieve interactivity between the real world that their customers live in and electronic worlds the company delivers. This is because (A) augmented reality leverages devices that most customers already have at their disposal (i.e. PC / mobile phone) and (B) it’s adoption to mobile devices means you can use AR to reach customers anywhere (which I see as a major shortcoming of 6th Sense type devices, which utilise projectors to create a computing surface, which essentially rules out any use in full lighting settings).

Anyway, Topps Trading cards, of all people, are pushing the envelope with marketing / product offerings that leverage AR. Their latest release of AR baseball cards not only give you projected 3d models of all your favourite players on your screen, but full sound effects and AR games aswell, making this a nice little product extension. Given that baseball card collectors are generally younger kids, the application of augmented reality in this case is a great choice by Topps. Now, I want to see if they can make it so you can position your Topps baseball cards on a table and have the players interact and play a realtime game of baseball, a la virtual version of Test Match 🙂

06
Mar
09

Windows Live Search rebrand (say hi to ‘Kumo’)

EDIT: I’ve edited this post since I first published to reflect information released a few days ago from the Live Search team.

From the Windows Live Search team’s official blog.

Many of you have probably seen the press coverage in the last day or so about the internal testing Microsoft employees are doing on our search product. There’s a good deal of excitement brewing over this test, both internally and externally, which we’re always glad to see.

There have been lots of questions about why we’re not opening this test to the public. This sort of internal testing is actually fairly commonplace at Microsoft and something we do with many of our products before we decide to release things publicly. Our hope is that our employees will give us great feedback on our new features and that it all becomes part of the external experience soon.

In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at a screenshot of one of our favorite queries. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

bose lifestyle2

There has also been a fair amount of speculation around the use of the Kumo brand and URL, and whether this means that we are rebranding Live Search. We’re using the Kumo brand and URL for this test experience to make sure employees understand they’re in a test experience. We believe this will encourage more active feedback. As for rebranding, it’s something we’re still considering.

As always, we promise to keep you updated via this blog whenever there are new developments.

Mike Nichols, General Manager, Live Search”

My Impressions

Based on the above:

1 – Moving the ‘Related Searches’ section from the top right hand side to the top left hand side may suggest the Live Search team are focusing on increasing their market share of searches. We know from eye tracking / heatmap studies that the top left hand corner of search result pages get the most attention on search result pages – this makes it prime real estate, so putting ‘related searches’ there makes a bold statement about the search team’s intentions.

2- Windows Live branding has been almost entirely removed from the screenshot of the Kumo beta above (I must admit, even for an insider like me, the Windows Live branding can get confusing). It’ll be interesting to see the final incarnation of the branding in the final release-to-web product.

3 – Ads stay in the same place as in a regular Live Search (top right hand corner, same as Google, which gets significantly less attention that top left hand corner). Yahoo recently moved their ads in line with the search results as a way to differentiate. As an advertiser, you’d probably have hoped ads would get that top left hand spot that gets all the attention rather than the top right hand spot, but oh well.

What do you all think?

04
Mar
09

Twitter can’t hold a candle to Facebook in Australia for marketing reach

I’ve discussed various aspects of Twitter marketing before. There’s so much being written about Twitter at the moment in marketing realms it’s not funny, and everyday I watch my inbox bloat with internal mail list discussions on how to best leverage Twitter to reach your audience. With such an enthusiastic dialogue going on, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that everyone else’s world revolves around Twitter and everyone’s twittering away happily and we’re all tweeting / re-tweeting about your campaigns. But let’s cool our jets for a second here – we need to kick ourselves to remind us this just is not the case… (enter a nice graph – graphs are good).

Fig.1 - Twitter vs Facebook Unique User stats for Australia

Fig.1  Twitter vs Facebook Unique User stats for Australia

As you can see above, Facebook’s getting around 800,000 unique visitors a day from Australia. That’s great! Twitter, on the other hand, is (literally) flatlined in comparison, with maybe 20,000 users. This is not a twitter bashing exercise and I’m not implying Twitter won’t maybe catch up one day or that it won’t take off in Australia (we already know that it’s growth is phenomenal here). However, Twitter’s still a very young social network compared to facebook, and so is going to be a while until it gives you the potential to reach customers that Facebook does. Twitter’s ‘adoption infancy’ (I hereby coin that phrase) actually makes it’s use for marketing campaigns in Australia questionable since adoption is still low – why wouldn’t you go with, say, Bebo instead, which despite it’s declining traffic in Australia still has around 40-50,000 unique users a day in Australia.

Fig.1  Twitter vs Facebook Unique User stats Worldwide… Twitter doesn’t fair much better on a global scale either

Of course there are exceptions – first of all, your particular social media of choice for marketing should probably be largely determined by what your target segments are using – if your target segments are twittering in large numbers, then use it by all means. For example, working in the I.T. industry can be a different story. On a daily basis, I work with alpha-geek influencers (a term I use with the upmost affection ) of whom I’d estimate that at least 50% are twitterers (In fact, they’re generally your stereotypical early adopters of most technologies).

The second exception is that some would argue that because the ‘influencer’ types (journo’s, bloggers, presenters, those people on Twitter that call themselves “Social Media Mavens / Experts”) are adopting Twitter faster much than your average joe, then using Twitter can actually be a good way to magnify the reach of your message, as these people will take your message from their Twitter feeds and comment / report on them on other media. This makes Twitter akin to a PR strategy of sorts… seems fair enough.

It also depends how big your target market is – if you find that, say, 2% of a target market of 10 million people are on twitter, that’s 200,000 people you’re potentially missing out on engaging with if you aren’t twittering.

Have you used Twitter on a campaign and it showed good cut through / reach? We all know about Dell, IBM, Comcast etc, I’m more interested to hear if you’re a marketing peep from Australia who’s used it locally to good effect. And you can follow me too if you like – I’m one of those “Usually follow back” type chaps 🙂




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