Help me save Twitter!

twitter

This week, Twitter became mainstream. At least in my world.

It happened when Rove McManus – a questionable Australian television chat show host – spoke to Lily Allen about Twitter on Sunday night. And that was that.

Already this week I’ve experienced a surge of new followers to my Tweets. And I’m expecting plenty more friends, colleagues and old acquaintances and others to be on board by the end of the month. Like Facebook did in 2007, Twitter is infecting the internet-enabled world like a virus.

I’m wondering if that’s a good thing. Actually, I suspect it’s not.

One of the many delightful things about Twitter has been that no-one has really known about it. The world goes by, but anyone Twittering has a whole other world going on. Connecting with Smart people. Funny people. Interesting people. Ridiculous people. It really is amazing.

But now it’s getting popular. And you know what happens when social networks get popular – Their value starts to diminish. And once they go mainstream, all hell breaks loose. The spammers come in droves. It gets harder to keep up with your network. Before you know, your mother-in-law wants to be your friend*.

At the same time this is happening, the social networks are figuring out how to monetize. How to build their business model. And since we’re all addicted to free these days, that can be tricky. So, with an influx of new users beating your door down, the temptation to adopt an advertising based model will increase.

And then something happens. The magic is lost. People feel as though they’ve been duped. And they leave.

This happened to Myspace. And I’d argue this it has started to happen on Facebook. How many of us really use Facebook as often as we once did?

It hasn’t happened to Twitter yet, but I’m worried it could. And if Twitter is not careful, Twitter will fall in on itself.

So I’m proposing something different. I have an idea that would put the brakes on Twitter’s enormous growth, before it’s too late. An idea that would give the company a proper business model, not one based on advertising. An idea that may even strengthen the network. Something that I believe could save Twitter.

The idea? No More Twitter Accounts.

That’s right, Twitter should stop giving away new Twitter accounts.

The only way anyone can join Twitter from now on, would be if they bought their account from an existing Twitter user willing to give it up. Twitter should create a marketplace for Twitter accounts. 50% of the sale goes the ex-Tweeter, and 50% to Twitter themselves.

Given the popularity of Twitter right now, there’d be plenty of people willing to pay for a Twitter account to get in. And Twitter users who never ‘got’ Twitter would probably be willing to sell a Twitter account.

After a while, supply and demand would push the cost of a Twitter account sky high, and that’s where the revenues would kick in.

What do you think about this idea? I’d love to hear your thoughts, good or bad. And if you like the idea, why not re-post it? Or re-tweet it? My ultimate goal would be spread the idea back to Evan Williams / Biz Stone. I honestly think it’s a good one.

So, what do you say? Help me save Twitter before it’s too late.

* No offence dear mother-in-law, but that was a Facebook-has-jumped-the-shark moment for me.

Where do you find the best online marketing blog posts for 2007?

Techipedia, that’s where.

Tamar Weinberg has put together a phenomenal list of over 250 blog posts from 2007, covering everything you need to know about marketing online. Blogging, social networking, viral strategies, social media – you name it.

Here it is – Truly a great list that will have you reading for hours.

2007 has been rather quiet here at my blog, and posting has been scarce. It’s been a busy year for me, changing jobs (on 2 occasions), getting married, buying a house and starting a business. Not sure if 2008 will be any calmer, but I hope to blog more in the new year. Thanks for reading!

Online communities should also be offline

A good quote I stumbled across this morning:

“An online community is no substitute for real-world interactions. In fact, the most successful online communities are the ones that throw parties, sponsor events, host get-togethers — help members meet one another face-to-face in the real world.”

Craig Newmark, founder, Craigslist interviewed by Fast Company, November 2000. (Via Make Marketing History)cupcakesetsy.gif

I think this is spot on.

Etsy.com are a terrific case of this. Etsy.com is a terrific online art and craft community. But offline, they host events, parties and workshops, attend craft fairs and even give out free cupcakes. Etsy spend a lot of time giving back to their community in the offline world, as well as online.

Does anyone else have any good examples?

UPDATED: Etsy’s own words on community (great post)

Stunning effort by Nikon

Nikon’s latest campaign to promote its new D80 has proven the power of social media for marketers.

NikonRather than opting for the traditional marketing route, Nikon chose to engage the creme-de-la-creme of today’s creative photographers to help out. Nikon selected a group of passionate, heavy flickr users who already use Nikon cameras, sent them their new D80 to try it out. The results are stunning, as Nikon can proudly exclaim. You can see them here.

This is a terrific way to create positive word of mouth about a new product. The social nature of flickr means that buzz about this promotion has spread like wildfire.

All of a sudden, thousands of flickr users have a positive encounter with the Nikon brand, from someone they have a relationship with. Nikon also chose some of the images taken to use in a 3-page spread ad to support the campaign.

Clever stuff. A big tip of the sombrero to Nikon for this one.

Cool community of characters at Mojizu

mojbob.gifOK, I'm a sucker for illustration and social / community websites.

So when Michael Arrington reviewed the cool new contemporary character site, Mojizu, I was bound to notice.

mojboss.pngMojizu is a great little site where you can upload, showcase, vote for and rate user-submitted illustrated characters. I could waste hours on this thing rating monsters, aliens and robots.

Sites like this are a clear sign that social media websites are appearing in more and more niche areas. They're really taking off. First there was links (del.icio.us). Then photos (flickr). Then music (last.fm). Then books (librarything), then clothes (Stylehive), then wine (cork'd). Now there's cartoon characters.

mojninj.gif"Where's the business model?", I hear you ask. Mojizu receives it revenue through Mojishop, which it shares with the artists. So while it is mostly for fun, there is some money to be made.

mojfist.pngBut does it always have to be about business models?
I think all sorts of people are seeing the social benefits of the second internet revolution. Some are working out how to make money from it. Others, like Mojizu, are just having a bit of fun.

Communities – Good or Evil?

Over at Vitamin, Jeffrey Kalmikoff has written a superb article about building communities. They key points that he raises are:

  • If you don’t trust your customers then you won’t be able to build a community
  • Communities aren’t an ‘add-on’
  • If you’re doing nothing wrong, people won’t have anything to complain about

Marketing these days is about building a communtiy, not just a customer base. You need to read this article to appreciate how traditional marketing has been turned on its head.  

10 step guide to social media marketing

Gary Reid has written a great post on the 10 steps to social media marketing. They are:

  1. Who is the story for?
  2. What is the story?
  3. Where are the key knowledge pools/information hubs?
  4. Who are the key user producers?
  5. How will we reward users?
  6. How will we collaborate with users?
  7. How will we measure distribution?
  8. How will we measure ‘actions’?
  9. How will we control the message?
  10. How will we measure success?

I think that as social media marketers, the first step needs should be to make sure that there are no skeletons in the brand's closet. Social media marketing can really only work with brands that are 100% socially responsible.

Social media campaigns will backfire on brands that are hiding something, or doing something bad. Take the recent Chevy Tahoe campaign. One of the (many) reasons why this campaign failed is because SUVs are environmentally irresponsible. As a result, green bloggers came out in droves to create anti-ads on the Tahoe site.

Social marketing makes it very easy to culture-jam these days. There's simply no place in the new media world for brands that aren't 100% 'good'.

(Thanks to Pandora Squared for the link)