Is Twitter Just Hype?

True, the micro-blogging service has been a social media darling in 2008, attracting plenty of attention. And sure, it has been growing by leaps and bounds, but how does it stack up against the titan of social media, Facebook?

Not so well. In fact, so poorly, that it’s largely irrelevant. The same report stated that despite Twitter’s skyrocketing growth (in terms of registered users), it would take 36 years to catch up to Facebook, and that’s if Facebook stopped growing today. Twitter may have 5 million or so users, but Facebook is adding that many in a little over a week.

So, Tweet all you want, but you’ll remain on the fringe of the social media universe. It’s an elite fringe, for sure, and it’s probably a good way to connect with influencers, but Twitter’s a long way from being a smart or viable marketing platform.

- Jonathan

Look! It’s Caribou Barbie Getting a Fish Pedicure

The New York Times published its list of the buzzwords of 2008 on Sunday, a list both sublime and ridiculous. (Updated in a Monday blog post.)

Let us never speak of these again:

  • Change: It’s time for deeds, not words.
  • Hockey Mom: ’nuff said.
  • Maverick: I don’t want to hear this word unless I’m watching Top Gun.

Words we’re going to hear more of in 2009:

  • Staycation: New variety: the permanent staycation: when you are unemployed and unable to find work.
  • DWT (Driving While Texting): There’s no shortage of morons out there.
  • FAIL: Even with Bush out of office, the hangover will continue.

Huh?

  • Pregorexia: Let’s hope this phenomenon is confined to Manhattan.
  • Futarchy: Futile.
  • Nuke the fridge: This may have the staying power of jump the shark, but I doubt it.

Back to Basics Friday — Lesson 2

As promised every Friday we are going to revisit some of the basics of content and design to put things in perspective. I hear you have a redesign and a more consistent newsletter scheduled for 2009—applause. Unfortunately those things (on their own) won’t get you up to speed anymore. Today’s lesson—brevity and honesty.

“Clutter is the ponderous euphemism that turns a slum into a depressed socioeconomic area, garbage collectors into waste-disposal personnel and the town dump into the volume reduction unit…Clutter is the official language used by corporations to hide their mistakes.”

William Zissner
On Writing Well
1976

Your Pocket’s Buzzing, You Lush

Have you ever dialed a phone? I mean really dialed a rotary phone.

Not many people have.

In fact, fewer and fewer Americans are dialing a phone of any sort at all in their homes.

Nearly 18 percent of U.S. households no longer have home phone service and rely completely on wireless phones. This is up several percentage points over the previous year.

(An interesting footnote: wireless-only households tend to be occupied by people who have a tendency toward smoking and binge drinking. Go figure.)

Big whomp, you say. Landline phones have been in decline for years and many cell phone users are drunken chimneys.

But consider this: by 2020, the majority of people worldwide will be accessing the internet primarily through their mobile phones.

So if you want to get a little ahead of the curve, work on your mobile marketing and mobile storytelling right now. Cell phone novel, anyone?

-Jonathan

Content All-Star Team for 2009:The Shooting Guard

Shooting Guard

The creative with business acumen who likes taking deep 3′s

The creative who comes up with big ideas and takes the big shots. This is that team member who has been on you to update the “2006” in your footer since…Dec 31, 2005.  Or the employee who presented the seemingly crazy idea that you should take the overwhelming use of “we” out of your messaging. You may recall this same employee interrupted slide #18, which called for FREE to be more prominent on the homepage with an impassioned, “No, No, No.”

He/she believes in the beauty of consistency and form as it relates to your brand. The lucky, lazy shots and strategies that are on their way out drive them absolutely crazy. Shooting Guards are shooting for the stars—looking for the 3-pointer—they generate the big ideas that could launch your organization to another level.

Since the Shooting Guard doesn’t always have the authority (or the title) to push through change they need a little help from a Power Forward (Saturday’s post) to push things up the ladder. And since they usually have the innate ability to meld the creative, new rules/tools of marketing with relevant data to form well-defined strategies—let them take the shot.

Examples:

NBA—Allen Iverson
Social Media World—Noah Brier

Tomorrow—>12-18  Shooting Forward: The business leader who turns creative concepts into cash money.

12-19    Power Forward: The person in your organization who moves things through the system.

12-20    Center: C-level manager who empowers change.

Pick Your Social Media/Content All-Star Team for 2009

You're going to be that guy in the bottom left if you don't get it together—watching in awe.

Time’s up folks. Get it together this year or start working on that laundromat/bar concept you’ve been yapping about since college. By June 16, 2009, you better to have your content strategy, social media strategy and management/staffing straight, narrow and nimble.

Start picking your new team.

Point Guard

The social media ninja on your squad who sees the entire court.

Remember when employees scrambled to close browser windows when they were caught surfing the web—those people are the strategists and analysts shaping the web.

Leave the newspaper in the driveway tomorrow morning and head into work early. Find the person in your organization with 15 Firefox windows open, the one reading TechCrunch and Lifehacker. He/she most likely knows more about your industry from chatting with people on Twitter than your CMO does after that stint at Wharton.

Empower this person to spread your gospel, give them the ball and keep your hands up for a no-look pass (relevant insider information). That management behind closed doors (half-court-offense) is scheduled to be your downfall in 2009 if you don’t adopt social media, new user behavior and content consumption.

Examples:

NBA—Chris Paul
Social Media World—Bud Caddell

Tomorrow—>Shooting Guard: The creative who comes up with big ideas and takes the big shots.

12-18    Shooting Forward: The business leader who turns creative concepts into cash money.

12-19    Power Forward: The person in your organization who moves things through the system.

12-20    Center: C-level manager who empowers change.

The Perils of Forgetting Your Audience

The Newberry Medal is awarded each year to the best book aimed at children. The award is the oldest and most prestigious of all the awards given for children’s literature. When it is announced each January, bookstores sell out nationwide and English teachers often scramble to tweak their syllabi to get the new book in rotation.

There are many classics on the list; I notice that the ones I remember reading all fall in the 1970s, though the best of them are still on the shelves today. Every child should read Robert O’Brien’s 1972 winner, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

A couple of recent winners, 1999’s Holes by Louis Sachar and 2004’s The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo have been made into films, with Holes launching Shia LaBeouf’s career and Despereaux set to slash its way into theaters in a few weeks.

But there has been some grousing that most of the other recent winning books are simply too advanced for the young readers they are supposedly aimed at, leading the talking head set to wonder if these highly-hyped, yet largely inaccessible books are having the very undesirable effect of turning children away from reading. 

This may be the result of the “bigger, better, faster, more” philosophy that seems to underlie so much of American culture. The thought process goes like this, “if last year’s winner was dizzyingly complex and deals with very mature themes, I’m going to have to top it by making it even less comprehensible and more mature.” 

It seems to be working. The Newberry Award committee is impressed, but children have not been reading. Noticeably absent from the Newberry List: The words Harry Potter.

It’s hard to imagine that the biggest children’s publishing phenomenon in the history of history doesn’t merit, but it doesn’t. The good news, at least for parents and teachers, is that Harry Potter has turned millions of boys and girls onto the joys of reading a good story and this is where the Newberry Committee seems to have lost its way. It forgot who its audience is. With the decentralization of power in today’s publishing world, and a profusion of other “best of lists,” this disconnect from the audience can quickly spiral even the most stalwart institution into irrelevance.

‑Jonathan

Back to Basics Friday – Lesson 01

As you struggle with things like, “Should our company have a Facebook group?” or, “Is PR on Twitter useful?” we are going to revisit some of the basics of content and design to put things in perspective.

“Ultimately, users visit your website for its content. Everything else is just the backdrop. The design is there to allow people access to the content. The old analogy is somebody who goes to see a theater performance: When they leave the theater, you want them to be discussing how great the play was and not how great the costumes were.”

Jakob Nielsen
Designing Web Usability
1999

Polaroid Is Dead; Long Live Poladroid

The instant gratification of digital cameras has largely killed off the market for film cameras. One of the early—and greatly lamented—casualties of this evolution, has been the Polaroid. You remember the Polaroid—Aunt Gloria would always trot one out at Christmas—and snap small, fuzzy photos of everyone in the room. But, unlike every other film camera, Polaroid photos would develop themselves right in front of your eyes.

It was magical.

Now the magic may be coming to a close—as Polaroid plans to stop producing the film in February 2009—but fret not. Those of you with a flair for the vintage, but who have long since sold your Polaroid camera for 25 cents at a garage sale, now have a digital option.

Go to www.poladroid.net and follow the simple steps.

Here’s how one recent photo of my son went from 2008 to 1977 in a flash.

This is one of those rare moments when digital technology both killed off and preserved one of its analog predecessors. So the lesson to be learned is: Nostalgia is a powerful force; don’t forget that when you are planning a content strategy. But, fer Gawd’s sake, make sure you use 21st century technology to implement that strategy.

-Jonathan