Always New Mistakes

May 28, 2008

Twitter as a marketing tool

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:21 am

It’s been twice in a week that I’ve talked with Marketing and Communication people about using Twitter for their companies and the answer has always been NO. It really strikes me, specially because both companies are part of the Tech Industry, one of them is even a well known startup.

The response I always get about Twitter is: “We don’t use it because it’s only for early adopters and geeks“. While this has been the case until very recently, Twitter is gaining critical mass at an amazing pace. Just to throw some numbers, Twitter has a daily reach of approximately 0.1% according to Alexa. That means that 0.1% of the Internet users access Twitter each day. But, that’s not the only thing, according to Biz Stone the Twitter API gets 10x that traffic, bumping Twitter’s daily reach to a very nice 1.1%. Right now it has broken the early adopter barrier and you can start seeing a more general use of it by online users. That’s the reason I think it’s the best moment to start using Twitter as a Marketing tool.

Why is Twitter a Marketing tool? Because it allows persons and/or companies the following:

a) Give a human face to the company
b) Keep your customers up to date with the latest news of the company
c) Listen to your customers feedback
d) Interact one to one with your customers
e) Keep key influencers (tech gurus, bloggers, journalists, etc.) updated about your company
f) Brand tracking

Who should use Twitter as a Marketing tool? Not everybody of course. Twitter users have a tech profile, although this profile is being widened by other online non-tech users day by day. This is something that many old school marketers don’t grasp. Everyday the digital breach between the online and offline worlds is diminishing. Currently you can see baby boomers buying food, books or flights through the Internet. You can see them chating, emailing, commenting on forums or writing blogs. Some of them are real social network junkies. Marketers have to understand that the profile of an Internet user is becoming much more general than it used to be.

So, again, who should use Twitter as a Marketing tool? I would say that it should be used by anyone with a company that is related to the tech industry. That would be websites, blogs, newspapers, software vendors, hardware vendors, musicians, … hell, everyone that can make business through the Internet. Right now that is mostly everyone!

Why are people going to adopt Twitter? It’s very easy, Twitter is Free and Simple. The sophistication level needed to use Twitter is close to 0 for any single Internet user. It’s ease of use is one of its strongest points. Also, the need to be connected and to know what is happening in other people’s lives is something inherent to humans. Humans are curious by nature, Twitter lets you be curious about other people at a never seen scale. The best proof of this are social networks like Facebook. What’s the real value of a social network? Simple, stay connected with your friends, or in plain English, know what your friends are doing. In that sense Twitter is much simpler and faster than any social network out there. In my humble opinion, it’s just a matter of time before all the social network late adopters take over Twitter.

Finally, why do I say it’s now the best moment to start using Twitter? Well, Twitter, as what happens with blogs lets you build a big audience. And the key concept here is “build”. You can’t start using Twitter and expect a relevant audience of 10.000 users following your account. Why do I say relevant? There are many Twitter users which think that if they follow many people they’ll get followed in exchange and while it’s true that this happens (byproduct of our society, people feel bad if they are being followed but they don’t follow you back), these type of users aren’t really listening. That’s why, even though you can do that, you won’t build a relevant user base. Your messages won’t be read by the users you want. The funny part of this is that the people that follow thousands of users just to get more followers, are usually so called “Marketing experts“. That’s pretty ironic if you ask me, as they should know better. So trust me when I say that building a reliable audience on Twitter takes time and good, thoughtful messages. That’s why it’s important to start now, so that when Twitter goes mainstream your company has already a good number of followers. As they say, the more number of follower you have, the faster you’ll get new ones.

Any experience with Twitter and your company? Please share it with us! Are you a Twitter user already? Follow my Twitter user http://twitter.com/abarrera

UPDATE: I found a very good hands on example of using Twitter as a Marketing tool.

May 15, 2008

Completeness, a path to creativity

Filed under: entrepreneur — Tags: , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 1:27 pm

Here I am again, writing this post in the plane on my way back home. Many things have happen during my visit to San Francisco that have profoundly affected me in ways I can’t yet understand. Hippies, Entrepreneurs, Tech guys, PhDs, Postdocs, MBAs, Bohemians, Students… that’s what I’ve found in the Bay Area and not many people understand me when I say that I really feel at home with them.

Most of the times I talk with someone about the Bay Area and/or Silicon Valley, I get to hear the same ol’ song: “But you have Silicon Valleys elsewhere; You can go to London, there are many tech guys there; …” and they are right. Different parts of America are starting to boil with hungry entrepreneurs, from Seattle to Boston, passing through Austin. In Toronto, London, Dublin or even in Madrid, my home town, you can find people eager to start their own company.

Problem is, that it’s just that. Just people interested on technology, programming, business administration, etc. Same people with the same mono thematic interests. Rare is the case where a developer is into writing, composing or teaching (Not saying that there aren’t though, I have the great luck to know people like that, but it’s rare to find them, at least for me. Maybe I don’t look where I should, maybe it’s that).

It’s got to a point where finding “Interesting” people is rare. As more and more people just care about money. True interesting people get diluted in a sea of “normal” people, lost, sometimes forever, out of reach for those who care to listen.

I don’t consider myself above the average. I’m an average person, not special at all, but I’m cursed with a double edge gift, and that is, curiosity. Why do I say that? Well, because curiosity can be something amazing, but at the same time is source of many frustrations. My curiosity needs to be continually fed with different things. New experiences, new fields of study, new people, new cultures, new languages, … The problem is that, feeding such a voracious gift, is very difficult and it even has it’s disadvantages. For example, such a curiosity renders any attempt to became a specialist, something pretty difficult.

Anyway, finding food for my curiosity is hard. Interesting people with interesting stories are scattered, so reaching them requires great effort and time. A time that is most precious for many of us. The Bay Area, nevertheless, works as a huge talent magnet for many persons of diverse conditions, educations, cultures and backgrounds. There isn’t, as far as I know, a place like it, in terms of interesting people. And when I speak about Interesting, I mean talented persons with a story (sometimes multiple stories) to tell. This doesn’t necessarily means that they need to have a PhD or be a graduate. Sometimes the most interesting experiences you find them in the streets from people with little or no education whatsoever. The point is that, I haven’t seen such an intellectually fertile place like the Bay Area in my whole life (Again, there are, for sure, places like this that I haven’t heard of, so please, if you know them, tell me about them!). What I discovered time ago, and well, I rediscovered during this trip, is that inspiration arises, most of the time, when interacting with these type of Interesting persons, and as like in a domino game, inspiration brings creativity.

The big problem I find with many people is that they are incomplete. Incomplete is a strong word to use, and I know that many people might disagree with me because as always, personal opinions are, well, personal and strongly subjective, so please keep that in mind. Most people are only interested on one or two things in life, being money and wealth one of the most common of them. They don’t care about their jobs, they don’t care about music, they don’t care about books, they don’t care about nature, and after all, why should they, no? What I’ve found is that, creative people that care about many things, are much more able to see the “big picture” everywhere. They are capable of building bridges in places where everyone else just sees dust. This is specially important for entrepreneurs if you ask me. Curiosity isn’t only something that allows people to see “further”, I truly think it enriches our soul and that at the end, when money and wealth don’t matter anymore, you are left alone with your experiences, your ideas and your ghosts.

Being curious about what surrounds us might be something you born with, although I sometimes think you can learn it with time, either way, just think, stop and think about what we tend to disregard on a daily basis. Meet new people, travel, experiment new things, hopefully you’ll get infected with the curiosity virus which will eventually enrich you as a person and as a professional, enabling you to foresee and envision what other can barely grasp.

Sorry for this extremely long diatribe full of my philosophic thoughts. Having recently experienced this enrichment at multiple levels, I thought it was worth trying to describe what I felt and specially WHY I feel the way I do about the Bay Area and its people. After all, there is much more than our jobs out there and it’s just ready for us to get it.

Images credits: Villa Sams

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