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Bin Laden’s Death brings Mobile/Social Media into the Spotlight

Last night we saw a couple of tremendous examples of how social media is changing the way we communicate, the way we live, and even who we get our information from. I was watching ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the Mets playing in Philadelphia against the Phillies when the news came down, while sitting on my couch with my lap top, phone, iPod, and television in front of me, so it was obviously no surprise that I heard about the news the moment it broke.  However, within 2 to 3 minutes of the news breaking on television, the sell-out crowd of over 43,000 at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia was chanting “USA”. For the moments leading up to that, ESPN’s cameras were not even focused on the game, but were moving throughout the crowd showing seemingly every single person in attendance reading the news on their mobile phone and reacting with joyous energy that lead to the “USA” chant. Check out this video that shows part of the chant. It was clear that mobile allowed this to happen, for everyone in the park just had to push a few buttons on their phone and get the latest breaking news, as it happened. Until the inning ended, the players on the field did not even have any idea as to why the fans were chanting “USA.”

When Sohaib Athar woke up on Sunday morning, he probably did not expect that by the end of the day he would have broken one of the biggest news story in the world has ever seen. He probably also did not know he would trun into a Twitter legend and an extremely coveted interview by the world’s largest news firms.  Athar, a 30-something IT consultant living in the wealthy, quiet city of Abbottabad, Pakistan, began tweeting about a helicopter he heard hovering in the area in the middle of the night, and some loud explosions he heard. What Athar did not know what that he was covering the United States raid of Osama Bin Laden’s mansion, what would ultimately lead to Bin Laden’s death.

Athar had been thrown into the mix as reporter, an authority figure, and a witness all at the same time, for event that will send shockwaves through the world. He was interviewed, as he talks about on his Twitter account, by all sorts of major news networks throughout the world.  His Twitter account currently has almost 87,000 followers, and I do not know how many he had before yesterday, but i promise you a 30-something IT  consultant living in a rich Pakistani city does not have 87,000 followers.  The events of yesterday certainly had something to do with that.

Thanks to social media, we can connect with people around the world instantaneously like never before, and all with one, common interface. It brings people, news, and events together faster then we can even understand.  Now, in addition to turining to CNN for reliable news, we can turn to Twitter, even if their source is @ReallyVirtual.

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Behold the Power of “Free”

I work part-time for a company in Brookline, MA that manufacturers various technology devices, and my primary responsiblity is to manage their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts the company has.  They are a young, fairly unknown company that makes products that are sold only by third-party distributors.  Becuase of the their distribution methods,  it is somewhat of a challenge to establish brand loyalty with their customers who rarely, if ever deal directly with the company.  Obviously, that is why social media can be of such high value to a company like this; giving them the ability to establish a relationship directly with their customers.

We’re going to focus on Twitter and Facebook here, and their ability to work together and complement each other because of their different uses.  In early February, both the Facebook page and Twitter accounts for this company had around 150 followers.  Through April, I was able to grow their Twitter follower count to around 500 people.  Twitter is a great tool for a technology company since many “techies”, gadget-lovers, and general technology enthusiasts use Twitter.  Because you are limited to 140 characters (actually, 120-125 if you have any interest at all in being re-tweeted), it is a great tool for sharing reviews, articles, blog posts, videos, demos, and news. That and other quick and meaningful content is exactly what your customer needs to know as they scroll through their feed and what the techies, who are most likely to share your message with others, want to see.

I was posting mostly similar content on our Facebook page, and it was not garnering nearly the same attention.  This was quick, useful content, but Facebook does not exactly have a ReTweet button.  This type of content is informtaive and valuable, but not engaging, and the main reason most any of us use Facebook is to be engaged.  To keep this post relatively short, I will not get into the fact that Facebook is not exactly the greatest tool for companies that deal in the business-to-business model, maybe that is a future post. We were linking the company’s Facebook account to many of our tweets, and began directing people in the Twitter world to our Facebook account for more information on our tweets, and that did slowly work, but not nearly as well as our next move.

We decided to give away two of our next-generation, award-winning products.  How do you enter the drawing? All you have to do is “like” us on Facebook. The result? Within the first 48 hours of announcing the give away on both Twitter and Facebook, our Facebook following nearly doubled. Within a week, our monthly active users grew from 197 to 650, our wall posts jumped from an average of 20 per week to 81 in the first week alone, and our page visits jumped from 294 the previous week to 1,052 the first week of the giveaway.  The key stat to me was the wall posts jumping from 2o to 81, proving that our give away reached our target customer, who had never visited our Facebook page before, and who clearly wanted to share their positive experiences with our products.  People are motivated by free stuff, no way around it.

Behold, the power of free.

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The Twitter Saga: The real reason behind Twitter’s attempt to purchase TweetDeck

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Rumors have surfaced the past few days about Twitter’s attempt to purchase third-party Twitter client TweetDeck for $50 million.This comes after a tumultuous year for Twitter which saw the website take multiple stands against third-party developers.

While Facebook has embraced third-party software developers, allowing and encouraging them to build applications for Facebook’s software platform, Twitter has not been so open to the idea of third-party clients.  Within the past year, they changed their API (application programming interface,) publically encouraged partners to stop building third-party Twitter clients, banned popular Twitter clients UberTwitter and Twidroyd for API violations, had a back-and-fourth with developer Ubermedia, and now is rumored to be attempting to acquire TweetDeck.

For those who do not know, TweetDeck is a highly customizable browser that can be used to manage multiple social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn.) However, most use TweetDeck only to manage their Twitter account.

Twitters attempt to purchase TweetDeck comes on the heels of Ubermedia’s attempt to purchase TweetDeck for $30 million. Ubermedia is the company behind popular third-party Twitter apps UberSocial (formerly UberTwitter,) Twidroyd, Echfon, and UberCurrent.  Remember that Twitter temporarily banned Ubermedia’s UberTwitter and Twidroyd last year? UberMedia clients currently account for 11% of all tweets sent.  Their acquisition of TweetDeck, used by 10% of Twitter users, would have resulted in a third-party company controlling over 20% of Twitter.

Twitter is protecting themselves from third-party developers by doing whatever necessary to keep all of the website’s applications, tools, and services internal. Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff said it perfectly: “buying TweetDeck would not be an act of expansion; it would be an investment in demolition.” It is simply a purchase to prevent someone else from acquiring TweetDeck, especially if that someone else would then control over 20% of Twitter.

If third-party Twitter clients continue to evolve it would become increasingly easier for third-party developers to take over the Twitter eco-system, or even to create their own site to directly compete with Twitter while having the reach to convert all Twitter users to their new site. Obviously, Twitter’s future depends upon maximizing the amount of eyes viewing the site through their homemade platform in order to maximize profits.  In my opinion, that may mean having to embrace third-party developers somehow, someway, as Facebook has.

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