Set an Expiry Date for your Tweets with Twitter Spirit

Recently I made the decision to delete all of my 32,000 tweets that I have accrued over the past few years. I’m a bit of a natural knowledge hoarder, and so it was something that I had been loathed to do. The reality is though, that even the most privacy conscious of us use Twitter like an instant messaging service, and there is bound to be statements floating around that we might rather not have quite so publicly accessible for all time.

Delete Everything!

There are services that can delete your entire stream (whilst retaining your tweet count!), as well as those that can automatically delete everything prior to a certain date. (mine is now set to a maximum of one week) However, the latest service to emerge gives a more granular power than anything that we’ve seen before.

TwitterSpirit (or ‘Spirit for Twitter’ depending on where you look) allows you to set a fixed shelf-life of a tweet by using hashtags. ‘3h’ will mean the tweet disappears into the ether after 3 hours; ’10d’ gives it 10 days, and… well. You get the idea. The total extent to which you can control this doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere obvious, but minutes, hours, and days appear to be the standard fare.

Image from WikiMedia Commons

Hopefully the Twitter Spirit doesn’t look like this

Twitter’s SnapChat?

TechCrunch ran the story yesterday, and declared that this was akin to a SnapChat functionality for Twitter. That is quite clearly utter bollocks, as SnapChat messages are sent to specific users, not broadcast in public. This is a different beast entirely, and could turn out to be an incredibly useful feature, for a whole variety of reasons. Some of the scenarios I’ve briefly thought of are as follows:

  • Making a statement that may be controversial, and you just want to say and then have disappear in a short space of time
  • Promoting a one day only event or competition
  • Giving out promo codes that disappear after so as to not confuse or disappoint users that find them later
  • Automatically deleting messages to other people that are more IM style than designed for public consumption

I’m sure there are far more creative ways to make use of this though. Any ideas?

You can sign up for TwitterSpirit here, although with the influx of users since yesterday you might need to wait a bit to test it out for yourself.

Image By Gallowglass (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Danny Brown Influence Marketing Q&A (part two of two)

Influence marketing is top of mind when it comes to social media marketing at the moment, so who better to ask about the subject than Danny Brown, co-author of Influence Marketing. Danny talks about the future of Influence Marketing and how we as marketers can benefit from his research and results using his methods. This post is a follow from last weeks popular post on marketing departments, differences between the digital markets in the UK against North America. If you missed the first part, here it’s here.

Danny Brown is Chief Technologist at ArCompany, helping clients turn social media intelligence into business results. He’s the co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, described as “the book that will change the way we do business today.” He’s an award-winning marketer whose delivered results for organisations like Microsoft Canada, BlackBerry, FedEx, Ford Canada and LG Electronics, and his blog is recognised as the #1 marketing blog in the world by HubSpot.

Influence Marketing

You’ve written the book Influence Marketing with Sam Fiorella. What made you write this book?

It was a mix of being disappointed at what was classed as influence today – social scoring platforms like Klout – and the realization that businesses would continue to get poor results from that kind of “influence marketing”. The focus was on the wrong people – it’s not influencers that make your brand successful, it’s customers.

We wanted to take back influence, if you like, from non-descript social scoring algorithms, and place the focus back squarely on the customer. Understand where they are in the purchase life cycle, and who impacts their decisions at that point. Understand that, and you know who you truly need to connect with and how that person can help sway your customer’s thinking, and move them along the purchase path to the next phase, whether that’s Awareness, Research, Intent to Buy or something else.

How do you see influence marketing changing in the future?

Moving past scoring platforms and truly understanding what your customer needs, and working back from there to find who influences them and how. We’re tired of empty metrics likes impressions and social shares – we need to see real deliverables from our investments. This is why scoring platforms fall down when it comes to real influence – they lack the data and connections that show the real context behind a relationship. The likes of Klout are selling social impressions, nothing more.

Do you think it’s going to become harder or easier to find relevant influencers?

If brands are willing to put in the legwork and avoid the quick-hit buzz-driven approach to influence, it does actually become easier. Instead of generic, scoredriven “influencers”, you’re identifying those that truly impact your customer’s decision-making process, no matter where they are in the purchase life cycle.

This works at every level – the brand isn’t paying for non-targeted campaigns, and has a far higher rate of success, and the customer is being helped at the exact point they need that help to make their decision. It’s not rocket science to run successful influence marketing campaigns; it’s just that some folks and technology vendors would have you think it is.

Can you be an influencer in many areas or will it come down to the super niches?

That’s the beauty of bypassing today’s “social scoring as influence” model, and really understanding what influence is and how to identify who really is influential. Klout goes for the topic approach – but that’s too generic, because human beings are way too complex to be tied to just a few topics. Mindsets change based on peer pressure – does a guy start to try and like Justin Bieber to influence how a girl he’s interested in looks at him? That’s a simplistic example, but a valid one about the problems facing influence today.

Because real influence is based on who and what sways decisions at a given time in a person’s life, we are all influential in multiple areas. I’m not a “daddy blogger”, but I have two kids under four years old, a boy and a girl. My experience in this area would mean I may be able to offer insights into what it takes to raise two toddlers, but I’d never be picked up by scoring platforms because I’m viewed as a marketer, or whatever.

THAT, for me, is where influence is going and needs to be – our topics and level of knowledge around these topics change all the time. So, because of that, niches aren’t needed – understanding of where we are in life is, and offers the bigger return.

How can brands better adopt influence marketing as a tactic?

Simple – buy our book!! Failing that… Our studies, and discussions with both brands and organizations, show that they’re still in the mindset that scoring is the best way to run influence marketing campaigns, promotions, call it what you will. While they can offer a decent starting point, you need to go deeper than the data they offer to really start to understand true influence.

Additionally, brands are still seeing influence marketing as a buzz creator, and using it with the mindset of short-term campaigns. Influence offers so much more than this, and should really be used to move towards advocacy and longterm relationship building.

By using the methodology outlined in the book, and really understanding who influences your customers the most, and how that maps back to your goals, it becomes less a hit-and-hope tactic and more a defined, results-driven strategy. To steal a line from the book, brand need to stop scoring influence, and start creating influence paths.

We would like to hear from social media marketers and your views on Influence Marketing? Has anyone else tried using Influence Marketing methods? Do you share the same views as Danny?

A big thanks to Danny for taking the time for answering our questions, as this has been a great success for The Social Penguin Blog. We have more in store and if there’s anyone you would like us to reach out to, then please do get in touch.

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Has Social Media Changed the Meaning of Customer?

The definition of customer is:

‘a person who purchases goods or services from another;buyer’

I think that social media has blurred that definition. Before the social web gave the masses a voice, a business would really only have to answer to its customers in the very basic sense of the word – those who had bought their service or product. Fast forward to now and many businesses have opened themselves up to the attention that the social web can bring.

Are your followers/fans/readers your customers?

Bear with me here, but I think that when a person decides to follow (etc etc) a brand on social media, they become a customer. They may never actually buy one of your purple widgets, however by taking the time to want to hear from or even interact with that business online, they expect a certain standard of service and even product. When I say product, I mean product. The approach a business takes to its use of the social media channel and the output of that is a product, and the people that give a little bit of their valuable time to consume that product are now customers. Customers that may never physically buy from you – yet in this day and age you have a responsibility to treat that person with as much respect as you would someone who just bought your latest widget. They are paying you with their time. If you don’t, they have the power to make a relatively big noise about your lack of respect or service. That noise may well alter the purchase process of a person who is on the very precipice of buying your product. Boom! Sale gone due to a lacklustre approach to your now extended, non-transactory customer base.

Aspirational Customers

I want a Ferrari. I cannot afford a Ferrari, and if I keep spending my time writing this blog, I may never be able to (sob). However, I love the brand and consume a lot of their content online. I’m a new age customer of Ferrari. If someone asks me what the coolest car ever is, I will tell them that it is the Ferrari Testarossa. I had actual posters of it on my wall as a teen. Right beside Pammy, but that’s a different story. If I was to have a rotten experience with Ferrari via social media, it would absolutely taint my view of the brand. If I felt that Ferrari were churning out awful content just for the sake of creating content, a little bit of my love for Ferrari would die. Fast forward again and I’ve sold The Social Penguin Blog for billions – I finally have the money to buy my Ferrari. Except my yearning Ferrari passion has dwindled due to poor customer service. I buy a Lamborghini instead. If only Ferrari had answered my tweet…

Come on Mike, Isn’t That a Little Over the Top?

Okay, so the Ferrari example is perhaps a little overblown, however I firmly believe that all brands/businesses/organisations or whatever need to seriously consider that people that invest their time with them via social media should be treated with the same respect and attention that those who ‘pony up’ for their products or services receive. It’s the new way of the world.

Now where’s that poster…

What do you think folks? Is my view a little utopic? Am I right? Has social media created a new type of customer? Tell me your thought in the comments below!

If you liked this post, please do share on Twitter >>>

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How Wistia and Vimeo Are Challenging YouTube

This is the first post from our friends over at Sprout Social, enjoy!

Google’s YouTube has long been the de facto standard for video hosting and sharing for most businesses, but that’s rapidly changing thanks to smaller competitors who are offering better tracking, analytics, and sharing tools.

The most notable competitors are Wistia and Vimeo; the former is known for its business-targeted features, while the latter is popular among quality-obsessed producers. Both offer some things YouTube doesn’t yet.

Vimeo: Sharp Quality, Precise Metrics

Europe’s answer to YouTube is Vimeo, a video service most popular with artists and businesses who want to show their rich and digital media savvy.

In 2007, Vimeo beat YouTube to the punch in video quality by becoming the first consumer-accessible video hosting site to offer high definition playback.

It was just one year later that Vimeo launched Vimeo Plus, a pro-focused service that offered greater hosting capacity, even higher video quality, priority uploading, more embedded player customization options, and a number of advanced statistics features not available to consumer-level customers with free accounts.

Finally, Vimeo unveiled Vimeo Pro, which is designed specifically for small businesses and enterprises — that includes marketing agencies.

Pro is where Vimeo beats YouTube by leaps and bounds. It allows businesses and agencies to put their own logo on embedded players, it gives clients analytics tools that rival those provided by Google for web pages, and it even allows clients to create custom portfolio websites to represent their products and values.

Wistia: Better Engagement and Sharing

Wistia has no consumer option at all. It’s strictly for businesses, and that shows in its features, which include numerous useful tools that YouTube doesn’t offer.

For example, Wistia allows you to control access to videos on a user-by-user basis, and integrate videos with email marketing campaigns through MailChimp — that’s one of the most popular and powerful email marketing applications on the web.

The big selling point behind Wistia is user tracking, though. You can view audit trails that display the complete history of an individual’s interactions with your videos and your account. That includes when he or she watched a video, and even at exactly which point in the video he or she stopped watching.

On top of that, Wistia offers content management tools usually reserved for enterprise marketing tools. You can have multiple users within your company operating independently through your Wistia account. They can send messages, track contacts, and even post videos under individual names. It’s kind of like how a blogging platform like WordPress uses statistics and by-lines for individual contributors.

The Future of Online Video Marketing

Video keeps getting bigger and bigger on the web; it accounts for the majority of bandwidth used in many countries. That trend will continue, so before long it might not be enough to simply run a blog. Your company or agency may need to produce videos as well as written content.

These tools are designed for that, and they both do it better than YouTube in most cases. YouTube has the advantage of added exposure, but there’s no reason you can’t use Wistia or Vimeo for your hosted and branded videos while still uploading additional versions to YouTube for exposure.

Don’t follow the flock; consider these lesser-known alternatives because they can give you an edge YouTube can’t.

Are you using Vimeo, Wistia or perhaps another video hosting site as your main host? Let us know your favourites below.

Samuel Axon is Editorial Director at Sprout Social, a company that provides social media tools for businesses. He’s the editor of social Web business guide Sprout Insights, and has worked as a writer and editor for Mashable, CNN, Forbes, USA Today, Yahoo!, and Engadget.

Enjoying reading The Social Penguin Blog? Why not subscribe to our RSS, follow us on Twitter or join Dave on Facebook.

[Image credit: Joshua Davis Photography]

Social Media Budgets to Increase in 2011 – Infographic


Regular guest blogger, James Ainsworth, from Alterian serves up a great infographic on engagement through social media and writes about the interesting findings of the 8th Annual Alterian Survey and what these findings mean for marketers.

The emergence of digital channels and internet-based social media has created a new world of communications. In a traditional sense it enables companies to talk to their customers, while in a non-traditional sense it enables customers to talk directly to one another.

The content, timing, and frequency of the social media-based conversations occurring between consumers are outside of any brand’s control. This stands in contrast to the traditional marketing communications paradigm whereby a high degree of control is present. As a result, brands must now learn to interact with individuals, to listen, understand and engage with them.

Alterian Annual Survey Results

Survey Results Infographic

Please read on for commentary on the results

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Top 10 Tips for Social Media Marketing

An acquaintance recently asked me what my top 10 tips for using social media are. A pretty big question right? Of course it’s one that is answered on every blog across the globe that covers social media, even so I thought it would do no harm to give my angle on it. Read on for my tips.

Number 1 – Cut the crap

Tell the truth, be transparent, don’t treat people like fools and respect those who take the time to interact. Your not God’s gift to the social media space. Yet.

Good advice

Tip Number 1 - Cut the Crap!

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Goodbye 2009, hello Social Media in 2010…

 2009, what a year huh? The word on everybody’s lips was Recession and the doom and gloom surrounding it. The past year may be one that many will choose to forget but for us Social Media  enthusiasts it was a year that saw advances and innovations like never before, advances that have helped to change marketing as we (used to) know it and given people that chance to demand more from their favourite brands, companies and services. 2009 truly saw the creation of a instant two way relationship between consumer and marketer.  Some have taken note and built strong over-arching social media strategies, whilst others have decided not to engage or even listen and have felt the brunt of the people!

The success and failures have been big – some of the top stories based around social media can be read in this blog from Chicago Now - , these are the big stories that made headlines but for me the true success stories are the smaller businesses making use of platforms such as twitter to great effect.

In my local area (Edinburgh, Scotland) I have been impressed with Moo Cafeteria and their great use of tone of voice in their tweets, one that reflects their ethos and atmosphere. Their mix of fun tweets and business orientated content makes them a joy to follow. I have to give much respect to Heart of Midlothian FC who were the first Scottish football club to embrace twitter, using it to direct fans to new content, competitions and in recent times updating fans on how the adverse weather may be affecting fixtures.  I could go on with the mentions but I could be here for a long time! I think Scotland is embracing twitter and I am glad to be watching many of the businesses and individuals who are blazing the trail!

What Awaits us in 2010?

 It is important to consider the social media outlets and the level of competition amongst them, whether that be video services such as youtube or metacafe  , social networks such as facebook  or myspace or microblogging services such as twitter  (will a serious twitter competitor emerge?) these platforms (and the  rest!) are involved in a battle for your time and as marketers we have to love that. These venues will be striving to give businesses more options for interacting with their customer bases, I can see new and improved social network advertising options that cleverly blend with the overall social communication lines. The social media service providers need to start making money soon, expect to see major changes (some good, some bad) to the way they work sooner rather than later.

The facebook ad model has flaws but I think the basis of a really effective tool is there. Even with this in mind I cannot emphasise enough my feeling that a well constructed social media strategy that uses the listening power of social as a foundation can offer you way more than using budget on socially targeted ads.

Why target a person based on keywords when you can listen to what they are actually saying about your business and address them in a customised way? You don’t even need to sell to them at any point (if they are talking about you they are more than likely already a customer or considering becoming one), go softly and build a relationship, it will benefit both parties more in the long run. Remember, take on any criticism or complaints head first, be seen to help and ensure any issues are resolved! Sorry, that went a little off track there, but the main thing is to analyse every new option out there and make sure it suits your needs and fits in with your strategy, do not use something for the sake of it!

What about the adoption of SM within your business? I feel that 2010 will be the year when those who have not yet implemented any kind of SM strategy will sit up and take notice. Who is going to facilitate that? You, the people that live and breathe it on a daily basis, the people that understand SM the most are the people that use it the most! You learn by doing and it should be the same for business (with a sensible level of prep!).

But my Boss Wants to see the $$$!!!

It is clear from speaking to many business owners/decision makers that they need to see ROI from social activity. Usually they state that they want a monetary return on any marketing activity, whilst they understand the importance of brand awareness they cannot allocate resource based on that alone. This comes down to education, it is amazing how many people get bogged down in cash ROI and fail to see that they can set their own ROI metrics that can be achieved directly with SM activity.

The sheer volume of information, theories and evidence based around business and social media means that you have the power to influence the people within your business and help them to understand the value. It will be a long hard slog in some cases but worth it in the long run. If you need the Social Penguins to come round and do some convincing let us know!

Internal Use

Social Media in business does not stop at customers, it has many a worthwhile use internally, allowing people to collaborate, communicate and share information in a fast and efficient manner. Does your business  use any social media internally? Companies should be looking to use SM for the benefit of their staff and the business and in turn their customers. For great examples of internal use of twitter I cannot recommend ‘Twitterville’  by @shelisrael more! It is a great read for all SM heads! A great way to assess what you can gain from using SM internally is attempting to draft a Social Media Policy  for your company, give it a try.

People on the Move

Smartphone adoption is at a high and with the roll out of 3G accelerating, marketers have to ensure that mobile is at the forefront of their thinking at all times. This represents a huge opportunity to harness the power of social media and use it to influence consumers at any point of the day. Sit on any public transport vehicle and you will see a high percentage of people using their phones to search/communicate and engage more than ever before. Never before have marketers had the power to expose themselves to customers and potential customers at more points during the average person’s day. The social media venues are well aware of this and the technology of apps is constantly being adapted and improved to allow users to communicate with their social media circles at all times.

The practical nature of this is fantastic for business. A user can be on the high street shopping and before they buy a new dress, can take a photo of them wearing it, upload it to facebook/twitter etc and instantly receive opinions. Consumers are researching and gathering opinion more than ever before, mainly because they have access to more information at any time they want it.  So many people have said to me that there is no way that a mobile app would suit their product or service, I have disagreed many times and asked them to think beyond their actually product but more towards what it means to their customer, once they do they can see the advantages of a mobile presence. This does not stop at apps though you must ensure that your web content is easily digestible and sharable on phones and other mobile devices. Think what you like to do on your mobile web and apply it to your business and make it work!  Make it simple and efficient. We live in a new exciting world of the split second, don’t waste time!

It Is Nice to Share!

Once upon a time if you found something you liked whilst ‘surfing the web’ you would pop a link to it in your (most likely!) hotmail email and send it on, this was your only option and most of us did it a lot! Now we have social bookmarking and the options to share in many a new way and this is a trend that I think will continue to grow in 2010 especially in a mobile capacity.  People can use services such as stumbleupon to alert their friends to content they love instantly, that content could be your new product or a great review of your new product (of course it could be a bad one, but take the rough with the smooth yeah? If it is bad, open up comms!). It is incredibly important to allow the user to share your content at any point, reagardless if they are on your official site, using a mobile app or interacting on one your social network presences. This can be achieved simply by using an interface such as the Mashable example below. Build it and they shall share!

Share it!

Build it and they shall share!

The number of places online that a user can share their info is staggering, it is worth researching these and getting used to using them!

Well folks that is that for this post, hopefully it was an interesting/useful read. Mike and the Penguins could have gone on forever but we know you are all busy people!

All the best for 2010!

Mike, Penelope the Penguin, Dave the Penguin, Cynthia the Penguin and Kevin the Penguin.