New Course: Mastering Twitter for Business this Weekend for Free

UPDATE 2: Thanks for the great feedback via Twitter and email. I am pleased you are finding the course useful. As we have already hit the limit on the previous discount coupon, I have released another code. Use THIS LINK before midnight on Sunday to enrol.

UPDATE: The special 100% discount sold out. But I have released 50 more discounts @ 100%. Use THIS LINK to access the Mastering Twitter for Business course. It is only available for this weekend.

Have you ever wondered why CEOs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk spend their precious time on Twitter?

If so, I’m inviting you to join my new Mastering Twitter for Business course which has just launched on Udemy!

This weekend I am offering FREE access to the course. Be sure to take advantage of this discount while it lasts.  Here is where you can get your 100% discount.

In this course I get you up and running the right way:

  • Setting up your profile and lists
  • Styles of tweets, hashtags and Twitter etiquette
  • Measurement, technology and more

There are video lectures, hands-on exercises and plenty of practical tips and tricks to help you get value out of Twitter from Day 1.

I hope to see you in the course – and on Twitter.

Five Insights into the Psychology of Twitter

Statistics and sampling are an amazing thing. Even if, like me, you have a healthy scepticism about the way that data is analysed and interpreted, it is difficult – if not foolhardy – to downplay the inevitability of data. Just look at the various disputes around the veracity of climate change – where statistically irrelevant interpretations have derailed important decisions, changes and commitments. Eventually, even the hardiest data curmudgeon will need to yield to the truth of the climate science data – perhaps only as their seaside apartment is swept into the arms of the sea. For though there may be outliers and anomalies in the data, sampling – where carried out correctly – can yield tremendously accurate insight. As Margaret Rouse explains on the TechTarget website:

Sampling allows data scientists, predictive modelers and other data analysts to work with a small, manageable amount of data in order to build and run analytical models more quickly, while still producing accurate findings. Sampling can be particularly useful with data sets that are too large to efficiently analyze in full — for example, in big data analytics applications.

And it is sampling that makes Twitter one of the more fascinating social networks and big data stores of our time. While Facebook grows its membership into the billions, its underlying data store, its connection and interaction architecture and its focus on first tier networks also limits its capacity to operate efficiently as a news source and distribution network. Twitter on the other hand, with its 200+ million members, provides a different and more expansive member engagement model.

During our recent forum presentations on the voice of the customer, Twitter’s Fred Funke explained the view that Twitter was “the pulse of the planet”. Using tools as simple as Twitter search or Trending Topics, Twitter users can quickly identify topics that important to them – or to the broader local, regional and global communities. And, of course, with the new IBM-Twitter partnership, there are a raft of tools that allow businesses to go much deeper into these trends and topics.

In doing so, however, we have to ask. What are we looking for? What information will create a new insight? Which data points will reveal a behaviour? And how can this be framed in a way that is useful?

Five Buyer Insights that Drive Engagement

Just because interactions are taking place online doesn’t mean that they occur in isolation. In fact, our online and offline personalities are intricately linked. And as the majority of our digital interactions take place via text, linguistic analysis will reveal not only the meaning of our words but also our intention. Some things to look out for and understand include:

  1. Buying is an impulse: As much as the economists would like to believe we act logically, we know that buyers are emotional creatures. We buy on whim. On appeal. On impulse. And there is no greater impulse these days to share an experience (good or bad) via Twitter. Look particularly at the stream for comments tagged with #fail. It is full of opportunity for the responsive marketer keen to pick up a churning customer having a bad customer experience.
  2. The customer journey is visible: While we are researching our next purchase, digital consumers leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that can be spotted using analytics software. For example, we may tweet out links of videos that we are viewing on YouTube, share blog posts related to our pre-purchase research and even ask directly whether a particular product lives up to the hype. Just take a look at the #lazyweb stream around the topic of Windows10.
  3. Understand the pain to optimise the opportunity: When engaging via social media, it is important to understand the challenges or “pain points” that your customers (or potential customers) are facing. Rather than spruiking the benefits of your own products, focusing on an empathetic understanding of your customer’s needs more quickly builds trust and is grounded in a sense of reality. The opportunity with social media is to guide the journey, not short cut it.
  4. Case studies build vital social proof: No one wants to be the first to try your new product. Showing that the path to customer satisfaction is well worn is vital. Use case studies to pave the way.
  5. We buy in herds: Mark Earls was right. Not only do we want social proof, we prefer that proof to reflect on our own sense of belonging to a group or movement. Remember that we go where the other cows go, and structure your social media interactions accordingly.

The folks over at have put together this infographic on the psychology of Twitter. They suggest that we tweet for love, affection and belonging. It may be true, but sometimes we just also want to vent. And every vent is a market opportunity.

psychology of twitter

More Waves of Digital Disruption: From DoubleClick to Twitter via Facebook

FB-adcreation When DoubleClick launched their self-service advertising network it was a revelation. It provided marketers with a powerful sense of control over their advertising, its placement and spend. At the same time, it caused a level of disintermediation – with marketers taking on the media planning that was once the domain of agencies. Technology was, in effect, causing an in-sourcing within marketing departments – by providing the tools, techniques and education to succeed, DoubleClick was putting the power and knowledge in the hands of marketers who began to understand the intricate power and relationships between data, planning and budgets. DoubleClick represented a wave of digital disruption that we are still feeling today.

It was a no-brainer for Google to acquire DoubleClick in 2007 and roll its advertising network into its product line. And as they leveraged their massive advantage in search to bring additional context, targeting and data insights to bear, this advertising network became available (and useful) to smaller advertisers – to small business owners and startups – monetising the “long tail” of the internet and generating another wave of disruptive innovation in the marketing world.

And while Google has done wonders with its AdSense product, the DoubleClick heritage and its clunky user interface left it open to disruption. Into this gap stepped Facebook with its billion strong, socially connected audience, offering a slick, audience oriented interface.

With Facebook advertising, there was none of the legacy media planning/buying jargon or process dominating the interface. It was about creating very limited (or should I say “constrained”) styles of ad units and then targeting them by a range of data points – from the standard demographics (age, sex, location), to the more sophisticated  targeting of interests, connections and combinations thereof. Facebook took its cues from the disruptive trend that began with DoubleClick and pushed it further, generating a massive business in the process. Recent results showed that Facebook’s revenue rose 61% to $2.91 billion in the second quarter of 2014. This more than doubles Facebook’s profit year-on-year, up from $333 million to $791 million.

Recently, Facebook streamlined their ad creation process by following good user-experience design – focusing on the desired outcome rather than the process of advertising. By asking “what kind of results to you want for your adverts?”, Facebook were able to help novice advertisers improve their advertising. It didn’t require education or training. And it certainly did not require some certification. They used their knowledge, insight gleaned from the data generated by millions of ads and design expertise to help their advertisers make better ads.

Sure there is the more advanced ad building tools, but for many, this is good enough – and a vast improvement on the previous toolset.

And now, Twitter are also upping their game. I suspect they are hoping to disrupt the markets that DoubleClick created, Google grew and Facebook co-opted. Taking a similar approach to Facebook, Twitter now offer objective based campaigns – again, turning their big data to the advantage of their advertisers, customising workflows and creating niche outcomes like “app installs” or “leads”.

It’s an advertising product that is still being rolled out across Twitter’s global client base. It will be interesting to see how it performs when it starts being trialled by local Australian clients. But one thing is for certain – it won’t be the last wave of disruption in the digital marketing sphere. Learn more about the new Twitter offerings in the video below.

What the Tweet?

At year’s end we all begin to turn our attention to the future. We re-evaluate the trends that have ebbed and flowed, and we look over the horizon towards that as yet, undiscovered country.

Joe Pulizzi rounded up a number of folks to get their content marketing predictions for 2009 – and Scott Drummond pulled together a mammoth list of predictions over at MarketingMag. I won’t be making predictions this year – there is more than enough speculation out there. However, I will put forward a couple of facts that mat be useful for you to consider.

Back in November I felt that social media was mainstreaming … and it seemed an opportune time to encourage marketers (in the midst of planning for 2009) to CONTINUE to innovate despite (or perhaps “especially because of”) the changing economic conditions:

For marketers still finalising their budgets for 2009, I would recommend setting aside a small experimental budget for social media. Hive off 5% or 10% of your MEDIA budget and contact EXPERIENCED agencies and consultants (email me if you need recommendations).

But even back in November, I felt that social media could go one of two ways in 2009. Because fear is the enemy of creativity and innovation, there was the possibility that marketers would fall back on the “tried and true” – investing their marketing hopes in traditional advertising strategy and patterns of media spending. But I also felt that with the lower costs, the more precise targeting and killer metrics, that a stronger digital mix (with an emphasis on “social”) would prevail in 2009. But the overwhelming reason for my optimism lies in the fact that our AUDIENCES have already shifted – consumption and engagement patterns have been transformed – and if we want to now REACH an audience, we must participate with them on their own terms.


Interestingly, as Hitwise recently announced, Twitter (the most social of social tools) is experiencing phenomenal growth in Australia -  517% year-on-year. And it is not just for “personal use”. Traffic patterns for December 2008 and January 2009 indicate that Twitter is being used in the workplace (Lucio Ribeiro has even put together a list of 20 Australians you should be following on Twitter). And when I hear the Asia Pacific President of SAP (where I work), Geraldine McBride, mention Twitter in a kick-off keynote address, it seems clear that not just “change” but “transformation” is under way. 

As Renai Lemay noted (in an article I found via Twitter), both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull have joined the service. And while some of the leading Australian Twitter folk interviewed suggest “it's the fundamental architecture of the service that is driving growth” – I would suggest another case. We are all herd animals. We simply go where our friends go. And as a marketer or planner, that is compelling enough for me. What about you?

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The View from the Bottom

ML215056__DSC6005When I read online, I listen to the sound that the words make in my head. I try to detect the rhythms and energies of the writer as a way of gaining insight into their way of thinking. I look for freshness or a unique point of view. Even a turn of phrase can delight me. That is one of the great, and not so great aspects of microblogging — brevity can be a challenge for some but strangely liberating for others.

So as I have been digging around the various reactions to Plurk and Twitter, I was delighted to read this banner:

You could be getting your advertising commentary from a more experienced, higher-paid, and prettier ad exec. But the downbeat and bass line are in our hands– the adstar wannabes climbing the corporate ladder. As yet uncorrupted, somewhat uncouth, and utterly unrestrained, this is the view from the bottom, laid down by a first-year copywriter. Admit it. You’re jealous I just might be prettier. According to advertising tradition, that makes me a more viable source of information.

In the intensifying battle for our 140 character communications, the view from the bottom may be the clearest of all.

Why Twitter Hasn’t Cracked the Teen Market

I started this post back in February 2008 and left it for a while. I was never quite able to finish it — and it didn’t seem overly important. But in light of the recent problems with Twitter and the emergence of the shiny new Plurk, I thought I would resurrect this post and look again at the future, potential and challenges for services such as Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku and Pownce.

Nature and the MachineI remember how Twitter sped into my consciousness. It was like a freight train with a big Web 2.0 emblazoned on the locomotive. Hanging out the windows of the carriages were the smiling avatars of my marketing and social media friends. All were smiling and waving, beckoning me to climb aboard. It seemed like a no-brainer … and, in fact, it was. There was very little thought process involved — I climbed aboard because all my friends were already there.

As I explored Twitter, I started seeing my friends discussions. I realised that there were conversations going on that I wanted to be part of, that I at least wanted to LISTEN to. So I would begin to “follow” others. That meant that Twitter would notify them of my intention to eavesdrop or contribute to their discussions, and in effect this served as a virtual introduction. My pre-existing connection to others had opened the door for me.

This made me rethink my approach to Facebook and to LinkedIn. As you can probably see, up the top of my website is a badge that links to my LinkedIn profile. If you click it and want to add me to your network I don’t generally decline (in fact, I don’t think that I have ever). I am a little more selective about Facebook where I do feel that I need to know a little about you before “friending” you. But why? What was this all about … and how did it relate to Twitter?

Gradually I realised that the folks on Twitter were a whole lot less guarded about their discussions than they may be about their profiles on Facebook. And the same applied to me. That meant that it was completely acceptable to “follow” a stranger on Twitter — and in the process it opened up my personal social graph to a flood of chaos and random encounters. It felt a little dangerous … but at the heart of it was the clear understanding of my role as a creator of content. Twitter was providing the space and as a dutiful “one percenter”, I was filling it with the best content that I could muster in 140 characters. So were my one percenter colleagues. We had an unspoken contract with Twitter — and it was symbiotic — we soon needed each other, desperately.

Digging around in Twitter, however, it was clear that the user base was mature — or should I say “adult”. This seemed counter-intuitive to me, because I expected Twitter to be a walk up natural service for teens — and Andy Beal seemed to think the same in this interesting post. But for my money, the reason that teens have not been attracted to Twitter is fundamental. Surprisingly it is not about the COMMUNITY … it’s about the INTENTION.

Twitter has been able to build a community around its technology. It started with a tech friendly audience at SXSW and grew from there. It was successful at positioning itself as an APPLICATION. That meant that we were overtly aware of Twitter as a piece of enabling technology — we knew and understood that this would entail ups, downs, failures and disappointments. We were viewing Twitter as a technology — we were co-creating the Twitter community. As David Cushman says, “It is built for communities of purpose to form in a networked conversation-driven way, not for an audience to consume what they are creating”.

But such a position is anathema to a teenage audience. For them, the very act of connecting is, in itself, a creation of value. The resulting relationships and the experience that they engender is of intrinsic importance to a generation world-wise and weary of “markets”, “brands” and the emptiness of promises. There is little surprise then, that Twitter holds no appeal.

Plurk, however, is different from its core. The Plurk team view their mission as a service. They want to go “Beyond FUBU” — beyond the for us, by us mantra that permeates many start-ups. Now, whether this is true or not, it certainly appeals to Generation Y. And it seems to be something that is also tweaking the ears of an expectant Twitter community. After the recent outage furore and poor communication all round, perhaps the adults in the Twitter community are waking up to a new level of expectation and maturity — technology as service. And this may be the very reason that Plurk (or its successor) wins out long term. It is not about the technology or even the utility. It’s about the service and the experience — something the kids got long ago.

Measuring Community Velocity

When you are involved in a community you can really get a sense of its health. You know when it is active and you know when it is in decline. Think about the social networks that you use, think through the amount of time that you spend using the site/application. Multiply that out by the number of friends or colleagues that you engage with using it … and then think about the number of circular, “viral” type elements that feed, sustain and grow the membership. How many are you involved with, and how active?

Now, it is easy to sense a velocity of engagement, but what is the evidence for this “sense” — after all, one of the challenges of social media is measurement. Where and how do we start?

Well, it seems that Rachel Happe has given this a great deal of thought and come up with a metric that, on the surface, looks pretty good. Here is what Rachel suggests as input and outcome:

The inputs:

  • Total members for a given month
  • Total active members for a month
  • Total posts (this can be a blog post, a wiki post, a discussion item, a link) for a month
  • Total addressable market (how many members would you have if everyone was in the community – this will be a rough estimate)

The Community Velocity Metric:

  • ((% of active members * # posts/per member/period) + total members ) / TAM

Now, Rachel freely admits that the total addressable market may be very large (in the case of a brand community), but a good guess will yield a CVM of around 0.01 for new communities and 0.03-0.04 for the more mature community.

But think about this in action. What would happen if we applied this to Twitter or some of its new competitors like Plurk or even older stalwarts like Pownce. I whether the CVM can help us predict a community (or an application) with a growth trajectory — or one experiencing the first pangs of disaster. Perhaps we may know sooner rather than later!