What does it take for a brand to engage with its audience on Twitter?
Social media startup Nestivity released a list of the top 25 most engaged brands on Twitter Thursday, taking a look at what exactly those brands do to engage their audience, and what other companies can do to reach the same level of engagement.
Brands were selected based on the results of a study that examined how brands cultivate relationships with influencers, customers and advocates on Twitter.
Conducted by Evolve Capital Inc. and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the study looked at the top 100 most-followed brands on Twitter. All in all that led to analyzing over 739,000 tweets over a months time.
Nestivity founder and president Henry Min says.
“Most brands have fallen into the trap of using Twitter for push marketing: broadcasting messages and expecting to influence customers with little to no listening or community building.”
“This view of Twitter as a one-way communication tool severely limits quality interactions between brands and their customers. It is a short-sighted use of an inherently interactive communication channel.”
Taking top honors in the Nestivity study was Notebook of Love (@Notebook), followed by Disneywords (@disneywords), and then ESPN (@ESPN), and PlayStation (@PlayStation).
Interesting to note: the most prolific of the 100 tweeted every 6-20 minutes, however, none of the most active accounts made the most engaged list.
When it comes to follower counts, a high number doesn’t necessarily mean an engaged audience. While all of the 25 most engaged Twitter accounts had over a million followers, so did the bottom 70% of the same.
As far as best practices, the group found that 76% of content that was shared had a photo attached, and 18% had a video as part of the message. As a whole, tweets sent between 2 and 5pm PST generated the most response.
Check out all the results of the study in the infographic below.
Click Image To Enlarge
COMMENTARY: The engagement per post numbers for the top four brands -- @Notebook of Love, @Disneywords, @ESPN and @PlayStation -- are quite impressive. It clearly demonstrates a lot of 1-to-1 communication between each brand and its followers.
Courtesy of an article dated April 25, 2013 appearing in Mashable
FLIPBOARD LATEST UPDATE DEMOCRATIZES CONTENT CURATION ON THE SERVICE, INTRODUCES SEARCH, AND PROVIDES INTEGRATION WITH ETSY.
With 50 million users, Flipboard, the social news magazine available on the iPhone and iPad, has become a dominant player in content curation. Now, with competition in the space quickly heating up, Flipboard is launching what it calls customizable "mini magazines."
Before, the Flipboard app would surface relevant content to your iPhone and iPad from a number of sources: by tapping into your social feeds; by allowing you to follow publishing partners such as Fast Company and The New York Times; and by offering a slew of topic sections--politics, tech, and so forth--internally curated by Flipboard's editors and algorithms. But now, Flipboard is opening the floodgates and enabling any user to create a collection of media. The new version of Flipboard, says Flipboard CEO Mike McCue,
"Flipboard allows anyone to effectively build their own magazine on Flipboard. They can pull together content under any topic they're passionate about--[and share] other articles, photos, videos, music--pretty much anything."
Sample Flipboard magazine titled, "Adventures in New Zealand" (Click Image To Enlarge)
Sample chapter page from a Flipboard magazine titled, "Adventures in New Zealand" (Click Image To Enlarge)
"I don't know how many of those are because of Google Reader, but we've certainly seen a spike."
It's simple to start your own magazine on Flipboard. Just hit the app's new + button to create a digital rag, give it a title and description, and select a category. From there, as you browse Flipboard, it's easy to add an article or YouTube video or photo to your own magazine; a cover image will automatically be created for your custom magazine, too. Other Flipboard users can subscribe to your magazine, and you'll get notifications for when a user comments on a piece of content and also will receive stats such as how many page flips your magazine is seeing.
Sample Flipboard magazine covers (Click Image To Enlarge)
"A community starts to build around this content."
There's no limit to what Flipboard magazines can focus on. They're not designed to only be about news. McCue, for example, has curated magazines on topics ranging from space to Steve Jobs. He has one-off magazines containing albums of photos he took while traveling; a magazine featuring books he recently read, complete with appropriate links to Amazon and iTunes; and he even expects event-specific magazines to form like, say, a Flipboard magazine about music at the 2013 Coachella festival.
It's a new twist on the tried and true blogging formula. Magazines on Flipboard are simply blogs in a neatly packaged form--a broadcast platform that takes advantage of Flipboard's smart UI and curation tools. In that sense, the new version of Flipboard takes its cues from Tumblr and Pinterest: Users can share music, Flickr images, tweets, and products for other users to buy. Publishing partners can take advantage of this platform, too, by launching topic-specific verticals. Fast Company, for example, will have separate Flipboard feeds focusing on our Most Innovative Companies. The platform allows content creators of all levels to dive into incredibly niche topics.
Flipboard's Eric Feng demonstrates the new features of the Flipboard 2.0 app for the iPad (CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO)
But if the secret sauce of Flipboard has been its content curation, there's always the chance that such an open service could dilute the Flipboard brand and its high-quality content. But McCue is wary of such issues. McCue says.
"Anytime you do something like this, you're going to have some people who create really awesome stuff and some people who don't really create particularly awesome stuff. You'll have a mix. The same tools we use to find great content, we'll use to find great curators, and then we'll surface those to our readers."
The startup is also launching a content search engine to help users sift through this onslaught of new content. Flipboard search lets readers find content shared on Flipboard, and discovery new content by topic, user, or hashtag. Mccue says.
"We're not indexing the entire Internet like Google; we're indexing just what's being shared on Flipboard, so it's a very high-quality index."
While the update signals a significant shift for Flipboard, it doesn't mean the company has strayed from its original focus of working with publishing partners. Today, for example, the company also partnered with Etsy to bring its blog and products to Flipboard readers. Flipboard will now be integrated with Etsy's shopping cart, meaning users can buy items directly from Flipboard, which will bring the company a revenue share. And perhaps this is Flipboard's end game (ecommerce).
A new partnership with Etsy allows for in-app shopping when viewing the Flipboard 2.0 app (Click Image To Enlarge)
Etsy catalog item, in this particular case, a pair of monogramed cufflinks, with a shopping cart for easy purchases from within Flipboard (Click Image To Enlarge)
Like Pinterest, Flipboard will now feature crowdsourced content, buoyed by publishing partners and power users. It will allows users to share and browse through photos, videos, songs, news, and recommended products. With more eyeballs comes more advertising revenue for Flipboard, and with more content, comes more opportunity for revenue sharing. As McCue says,
"Shopping on Flipboard is going to be really cool."
But social as Flipboard magazines are becoming, McCue is hesitant to say the service is transforming into a social network. McCue says.
"We're less about being a social network, and more about being a content network. I think there's always going to a little overlap with some of things Flipboard and others are doing. Facebook will be always be about your friends; Twitter is about following influencers; LinkedIn is about your professional career. While Flipboard may do some similar things, for the most part, [we're] about great content."
COMMENTARY: I have not profiled Flipboard before, because I thought it was just another Pinterest copycat, but it is turning out to be more than this. Come to think of it, I could use Flipboard to publish my own PBT Consulting Magazine to reach those 50 million users visiting Flipboard each month. Unfortunately, I do not own an Apple mobile device, so I hope that Flipboard adds a Flipboard app for Android, and they better do it soon, rather than later.
I took the liberty to see if I could verify those 50 million users that Flipboard claims it has, but Flipboard hasn't given Quantcast permission to track its traffic. Alexa.com provided the following "uncertified" numbers. If Alexa's estimates are correct, then Flipboard's traffic stats and demographics are as follows:
Users are predominantly male, between the ages of 25-34 and are well educated (graduate degrees).
Flipboard's traffic rank is #19,754 globally and #11,578 in the U.S.
Flipboard's monthly reach (unique visitors per month) during 2013 has been stable through mid-March when it spiked, but quickly declined to normal monthly reach levels.
Flipboard's monthly pageviews has been stable through mid-March when it spiked, but quickly declined to normal levels, then spiked again just recently.
Flipboard users have been averaging about 1.8 daily page views per user for the period January through March 2013.
Flipboard users have been aveaging about 2.09 minutes per day per user for the period January through March 2013.
Click Images To View Alexa Data for Flipboard.com
To be frank, I am not overly impressed with Flipboard's traffic stats (Alexa.com only). Although Flipboard claims 50 million users, they are not spending a lot of time on the site and or viewing a lot of content. Users are predominatly male, but no numbers are provided. This is the exact opposite of Pinterest, who are predominantly female, view four times more pages per user and spend four times more time on Pinterest. It looks like Flipboard has some work to do in order to churn more page views and more time from those 50 million users before it can become a viable alterntive to other social networks with ecommerce capabilities.
Here's an interesting infographic about Flipboard.
Click Image To Enlarge
Courtesy of an article dated March 26, 2013 appearing in Fast Company
For Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, it's always been about driving user growth, offering users the best possible online experience and building a Global Town Square where they can communicate and interact in real-time, and conduct a direct, unfiltered and multi-directional conversation with the world in a manner to make a difference. It's never been about going public or reacting to what the competition (namely Facebook) is doing or evening emphasizing revenues, but things are changing at the microblogging giant.
Click To View YouTube Video
Twitter is finally showing signs of getting serious about increasing advertising revenues. On February 20, 2013, Twitter announced its new Ads API and is integrating the advertising management tools of five partners. This was quickly followed by announcement on March 5, 2013, that Twitter was offering a Nielsen Brand Effect survey tool which will be available to all of its ad partners in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. Finally, on March 18, 2013, Twitter announced new self-service advertising tools for its self-service small business advertisers.
Twitter Announces Ads API
On February 20, 2013, Twitter announced its new Ads API and in the process made advertising on Twitter easier for advertisers and took a giant leap in sell more ads.
With the Ads API announcement, the microblogging site announced the first of five partners who will be integrating it into their social media management tools. Essentially, agencies and enterprises who already use management tools like HootSuite and advertising tools like Adobe’s Media Optimizer can now buy and run ads right within those environments.
The first five partners are Adobe, HootSuite, Salesforce, SHIFT, and TBG Digital. SHIFT produces GraphEffect, a social advertising solution, and TBG Digital is social media advertising agency.
“What this means is that as marketers, you’ll soon have the ability to work with our initial set of Ads API partners to manage Twitter Ad campaigns — and integrate them into your existing cross-channel advertising strategies.”
In a smart move for Twitter, while the partners will provide their clients the ability to advertise on Twitter from within their tools, when those clients become Twitter advertisers, they will be Twitter’s clients, not HootSuite’s, or Adobe’s, or SHIFT’s. In other words, the ad-buying arrangement is consummated via the Twitter API, and the contractual agreement is with Twitter itself.
HootSuite’s Ryan Holmes told VentureBeats John Koetsier by phone.
“We’re setting the accounts up with Twitter. The validation is done on Twitter’s side.”
While Adobe, SHIFT, and TBG are ad agencies and marketplaces, and HootSuite is a social media management tool, one of the really interesting partners is Salesforce, which is again adding to its toolbox in a quest to offer everything any company needs for any purpose, within its cloud. The company is announcing a new Social Ads Platform for Twitter today, which will be part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and likens Twitter’s move to the launch of Facebook’s app platform in 2007.
That might be a bridge too far, but it is a really pivotal move in Twitter’s evolution.
Which is ongoing, as Twitter’s Underwood wrote:
"The Twitter Certified Products Program is also evolving to include ads products. In the coming months, we’ll begin to certify ads products that integrate with the Twitter Ads API and consistently improve marketing efficiency and ROI. This is just the start of our efforts that will give advertisers more choice — and for our partners who are ad tool providers, the Ads API represents a new way for their expertise to meet the needs of their clients."
On March 5, 2013, Twitter announced that its Nielsen Brand Effect survey tool is available to all of its ad partners in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. The tool, which presents surveys to Twitter users in a format native to their platform, is designed to demonstrate the effectiveness and utility of its Promoted Tweets program.
In order to juice up the desire to use the NBE tool, Twitter has rolled out several results from its survey data over the past few months during its beta test. Twitter syas that Promoted Tweets increase the rate at which users associate a brand’s ‘message’ with its presence on Twitter. So if you want 22% more of whatever that is, then a Promoted Tweet campaign will help you do that.
The second factor that Twitter is emphasizing is that you should ship a Promoted Tweet campaign that is continuous, rather than a one-off. Multiple tweets in a campaign will boost ‘brand lift’. So yeah, that’s pretty logical, but now Twitter has some data from its surveys to back it up.
The third is that people who engage with a Promoted Tweet have an increase in favorability and purchase intent. That’s all well and good for the statistics, but there’s sort of a catch-22 here in that the people engaging (retweeting, clicking, etc) with Promoted Tweets likely already have an affinity for a brand. Someone from Pepsi says that the campaign helped them as well, but you can read the quote in the post.
Twitter's new Nielsen Brand Effect Survey Tool (Click Image To Enlarge)
The surveys look better than when Twitter teased them last year, so that’s good. The iPhone version looks like a nice iOS pulldown and the web one follows the site’s aesthetic. Twitter is careful to note that it does not share individual user info with Nielsen or its advertisers, so presumably this data is anonymized.
Late last year, Twitter announced another Nielsen partnership with the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, a social measurement of TV program popularity based on Twitter data. While that partnership has Twitter data being used to quantify user interest outside the network, the NBE is all about processing data gathered on Twitter to help sell and promote its ad offerings. If you’re sensing a common theme here, yes, data is very important to Twitter. Among other reasons, it’s very much behind the way that Twitter has begun to exert more control over its platform. If Twitter is to survive and flourish, it needs to be profitable, and it knows that (either directly or indirectly) the store of user data that it has compiled and continues to collect is its most valuable asset.
Twitter Announces Improved Ad Targeting for Small Businesses
On March 18, 2013, Twitter announced new self-service ad tools today with much finer-grained targeting controls that will allow small advertisers to craft ad campaigns to exactly the audience they want … and give them access to Twitter’s full advanced control panel for reporting, analytics, and optimization.
With the new additions, Twitter’s ad targeting mechanisms now include:
Interest: 350 fine-grained interest categories such as car racing or bird-watching.
Platform: Apps and web access on specific families of devices, such as iOS or Android.
Fans of specific Twitter handles: People who are similar to those who follow @ESPN, for example.
Gender: Choose male or female, which Twitter guesses but does not guarantee.
Twitter is very carefully not saying that advertisers can specifically target @JustinBieber’s followers per se. Rather, the 140-character social news network is saying that you can target users who are similar to those who follow certain accounts.
That’s a smart distinction, because otherwise owners of popular Twitter handles could start to feel used, or even demand a piece of the action. But realistically, it’s going to help markets craft a very specific demographic to target on Twitter, and probably get a significant fraction of any particular Twitter users’s followers as well.
The new platform targeting mechanisms are huge, too.
Now app developers, for instance, can target iPhone andiPad users for their iOS apps or Android smartphone owners for their Android apps. In addition, advertisers can specify if they want only desktop and laptop computers, or BlackBerry users, or anyone on other mobile devices (Windows Phone, anyone?).
Click Image To Enlarge
Gender targeting is a little tougher. Users don’t specify their sex on Twitter, so Twitter extrapolates gender by contextual signals like usernames, real names, and even the accounts Twitter users follow. According to Twitter, those signals are 90 percent accurate in determining gender reliably.
Twitter’s self-service platform has been in the hands of a small number of beta testers since last year, and these features were among the most requested, Twitter product manager Ravi Narasimhan said. The new features are going live to a larger but still limited audience now: U.S.-based businesses on a by-invitation basis only.
To access the new features, switch to Advanced in your Twitter ad dashboard if you’re already a customer, or request access at the Twitter Ads self-service site.
COMMENTARY: Evidence that Twitter had greatly improved mobile advertising revenues in Q4 2012, and the addition of the above advertising options and tools, prompted eMarketer to revise Twitter's advertising revenues for 2013 from $500 million to $582.5 million. The Twitter revenue re-foreast was announced today and mentioned in my blog post dated March 28, 2013.
Courtesy of an article dated March 5, 2013 appearing in The Next Web and an article dated March 18, 2013 appearing inVentureBeat and an article dated February 20, 2013 appearing in VentureBeat
eMarketer has raised its forecast for advertising spending on Twitter for 2013 and 2014, estimating the company will earn $582.8 million in global ad revenue in 2013 before nearing $1 billion next year.
According to the new forecast, more than half of Twitter's ad revenues—about 53%—will come from mobile advertising this year, up from virtually no ad revenue from mobile in 2011.
Advertising on mobile devices will be where Twitter sees the most incremental growth over the next two years. By 2015, Twitter is expected to pull in $1.33 billion in worldwide ad revenue, more than 60% of which will come from mobile advertising.
Click Image To Enlarge
The upward revision comes as advertisers have shown more interest in spending money on mobile advertisements on Twitter, and as recent audience figures from multiple research sources analyzed by eMarketer have suggested Twitter's reach is improving.
eMarketer believes Twitter has ultimately benefited from the increased focus on mobile by competitors like Google and Facebook, which have both expanded their own mobile ad offerings and worked to convince advertisers to shift dollars to mobile devices. The launch of the Ads API will also contribute to incremental growth for Twitter this year, though eMarketer had already built that product into its December forecast for mobile ad revenues.
Twitter also continues to benefit from what has been termed the “native” nature of its ad products, whose integration with the core user experience of the platform allows the company to deliver similar ads seamlessly across multiple devices at high volume. It also means the company has been able to build its mobile advertising business quickly.
eMarketer estimates Twitter will earn $308.9 million in mobile ad revenue in 2013—which is more than the company earned in total, from any ad type, in 2012, when it made $138.4 million from mobile ads.
Click Image To Enlarge
The bulk of Twitter's ad revenue is expected to continue to come from the US—about 83% this year, down from 90% in 2012. By 2015, Twitter’s continued expansion of foreign sales operations is expected to help non-US ad revenue reach $319 million, up from just under $100 million this year.
Click Image To Enlarge
eMarketer forms its forecast through an analysis of estimates from many research sources that track media buying trends, advertising and other revenue indicators; Twitter usage statistics from research firms and user surveys; and eMarketer interviews with executives at ad agencies, brands, online ad publishers and other industry leaders.
While eMarketer's estimates for Twitter's revenue in 2012 remain unchanged compared to the previous forecast, the figures for future years have increased significantly to reflect the company's recent trajectory. eMarketer forecast in September that Twitter would earn just over $800 million in 2014, and did not issue an estimate on 2015 revenue.
COMMENTARY: That's quite an increase from the original $500 million that had been forecasted for 2013. Looks like eMarketer believes that all those tools and options that Twitter is offering advertisers will greatly improve ad revenues. I think so, too.
Courtesy of an article dated March 28, 2013 appearing in eMarketer and an article dated March 27, 2013 appearing in MediaPost Publications Online Media Daily
Nothing says Internet opportunity like a social media juggernaut. Tumblr, the meme-olicious, gif-tastic, photo-fabulous, (but also occasionally) thoughtful blogging platform that attracted 167 million visitors and nearly 18 billion pageviews in December, is certainly no exception.
The site now ranks as the 11th-largest in terms of traffic, according toQuantcast. (That’s down slightly from November, when it broke into the top 10 with 170 million monthly visitors globally.) But with all that activity comes the inevitable question: What's next?
Tumblr.com - Traffic Summary by Month - Nov 2012 through Mar 2013 - As of March 10, 2013 - Quantcast
Here’s a look at five areas where Tumblr has moved, and may move more toward, in the year ahead.
Advertising.Tumblr is very much one of the social media startups that was built for scale first, revenue later. And it’s been wildly successful with the former, bringing over 17.8 billion pageviews in December worldwide across its network of 80 million+ blogs.
But in 2012, the company got a little more serious on the latter point and introduced a new revenue stream based around ads – not straight display ads but “sponsor products” that promote Tumblr blogs based on brands or specific events.
Tumblr CEO an founder Davi Karp, 26-years old (Click Image To Enlarge)
Given that the company’s founder and CEO David Karp has made it clear he’s not a big fan of ads, it seems as if this were meant to counterbalance in-stream ads like Twitter’s Promoted Tweets or Facebook’s Sponsored Stories.
Update: a good Forbes profile of Karp, published after I posted this story, points out that the company had revenues of $13 million in 2012 and targets $100 million in sales in 2013, from the sales of these new ads.
Tumblr places the sponsored products out of the stream on actual pages, only suggesting them at a time when users are searching for interesting content promoted through Tumblr’s Spotlight pages and its Explorer or Radar pages of randomized, buzzy images.
An example Spotlight post is below, with a little dollar sign to signify that they’re not editorially selected or organically generated:
Sample Tumblr Spotlight page (Click Image To Enlarge)
Explorer pages organize and filter posts by tag. This means that every tagged post has a chance to show up in front of an audience of millions that might not otherwise see it. An example Tumblr's Explorer or Radar page posts is below:
Tumblr Explorer or Radar pages (Click Image To Enlarge)
All fine and well, but earlier today, I got to wondering just how successful these ads are, or how much Tumblr is actually pushing them. Flicking through all of the Tumblr spotlights, I saw a total of six advertisers (seven if you count the two different ads for Standard Hotels). And these were by no means spread across all of Tumblr’s 50+ spotlight categories.
And through many, many refreshes on different pages, I actually never managed to catch a single Radar ad. In short, in-your-face ads these are not. It may be intentional to keep these numbers way down to maximize impact, but considering the amount of traffic Tumblr gets, it seems like even a few more wouldn’t compromise the experience that much. [Update: A Tumblr spokesperson says in regards to the lack of Radar ads that I "didn't see any Radar units this a.m. because we are launching an internal inventory scheduling tool today. If you check out your dashboard tomorrow, you'll see an ad from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D."]
Target audience. Branch founder Josh Miller a few days agopublished a post about how his teenage sister (10th-grade, Californian hipster, Facebook resister) responds to social media. It included an eye-opening view of how she and her friends saw Tumblr: an aspirational site for middle-school kids who are still gathering material for the collage that they believe defines them — the online equivalent of blue-tacking pictures to your bedroom walls.
That may be news to those of you older than 16 who post on and read others’ Tumblelogs. And indeed, it doesn’t seem to be the full story. Traffic data for Tumblr, again as measured by Quantcast, pegs 25-34 year-olds as Tumblr’s biggest audience, accounting for 29% of traffic. The second-biggest is 18-24 year-olds. accounting for 27% of traffic, and those under 18 accounting for 13% of traffic.
Tumblr.com Demographics - As of March 9, 2013 - Quantcast.com (Click To View Most Recent Demographics)
Be that as it may, there are two things here that come to mind.
The first is thathefty dose of NSFW content on Tumblr. It may not be the biggest proportion of users, but 13 percent of Tumblr’s daily audience of 5 .7 million daily visitors still works out to about 741,000 minors visiting the site daily. Apart from older users who simply find the adult content offensive, I wonder how the minor contingent of visitors juxtaposed with adult content sits with would-be advertisers (a juxtaposition we’ve pointed out before). But immoral or not, it could just be a storm in a teacup as far as monetizing is concerned: Union Metrics, which provides Tumblr analytics based on the site’s full firehose of data, claims that in fact the question of adult content doesn’t come up in conversations with advertisers.
Second, if Tumblr doesn’t figure out how better to show itself off and attract older users, the site might end up losing some of those users (and advertisers) to sites like Pinterest or Facebook instead.
Mobile. In the last couple of months Tumblr’s made some significant advances in the area of mobile. It released an update forAndroid, adding support for tablets; and it released an updated iOS app, including the company’s first support for iPad tablets.
Tumblr mobile app for Android and Apple iPhone mobile phones (Click Image To Enlarge)
Tumblr mobile app for the Apple iPad and iPhone (Click Image To Enlarge)
For a platform that prides itself on quick content bursts — just the kind of consumption you associate with users on mobile devices — Tumblr is getting a relatively small part of its overall traffic from mobile: 14 percent globally and 18 percent in the U.S. It’s similarly not tapping Android as well as it could. At the moment, only 32 percent of its mobile traffic comes from Android devices, with iOS accounting for 66 percent. Those new apps, and any more mobile developments Tumblr has planned, could not come a moment sooner to build on that.
Competitors. Tumblr has been described as a more fleet-footed version of WordPress, as well as others that are a part of the new wave of social networks, such as Pinterest. As you can see from the Alexa table below, it looks like Tumblr is very close to Pinterest in terms of traffic while trailing Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. You can also see how sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are nipping at WordPress’s heels.
It’s tempting to think about how this might play out for Tumblr as a standalone company, or as one that becomes part of a bigger platform, in particular because it feels like it’s yet to really come into its own as a revenue-generating business.
For now, it seems like the price tag on the site continues to rise. In November, PE Hub reported that Tumblr was looking to raise another round of capital at a $1 billion valuation, although Tumblr denied the story. The last time Tumblr raised money from VCs was in September 2011 when it picked up $85 million from a consortium of VCs and Richard Branson. That was reportedly at an $800 million valuation. Tumblr has, to date, raised a total of $125 million in funding.
Transparency.Tumblr has been described as a social network rather than a blogging/WordPress-style competitor, but it marches to a different kind of social beat from the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
As you may already know, you can tap into Facebook and Twitter to find people on Tumblr to follow, but unlike these networks, you cannot see who follows different Tumblr blogs, or even how many followers a person has; and it’s up to Tumblr users to decide whether to reveal who they follow.
But you do get a more public sharing metric in the form of notes detailing who else reblogged or liked a particular post. This is one clear sign of how and where certain content goes viral, but, conversely, it is also a sign of how little mileage a lot of posts get. The long tail is long.
As we enter 2013…
It will be interesting to see whether Tumblr tries to introduce more data on how users interact with each other on its network — and whether that data follows in the form of sites like Twitter and Facebook, or whether it can continue to grow without that extra detail. If the latter is successful, it also throws into question whether metrics like friend counts or follower numbers amount to much in the longer term.
And will Tumblr add more features to snare in more users? The core of Tumblr’s “social” experience is how people consume and share content based on their interests, rather than through a conversation with their social circles. This has been one of Tumblr’s most distinctive traits, but it also leaves a window open for features that the company might also try to introduce or encourage more in the future.
In the last year, visitors and visits to Tumblr were both up, but pageviews remained more or less the same (with fluctuations). I know that traffic can go up and down for any site, but that seems to point to less engagement. That’s something you might expect from a site with a lot of quick hits of content, but also a sign that if sites like Facebook and Twitter are focused on increasing engagement, then Tumblr has a shot at carving out a different kind of business path. And you know how much we all love a little disruption.
COMMENTARY:Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website, owned and operated by Tumblr, Inc. The company was launched in February 2007 by David Karp a 26-year old, high school dropout. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users' blogs, as well as make their blogs private. Much of the website's features are accessed from the "dashboard" interface, where the option to post content and posts of followed blogs appear.
As of March 2, 2013, Tumblr has over 96 million blogs. According to comScore, it scored 13.4 million unique visitors in the United States alone in July 2011—up 218% from July 2010. Its headquarters is located in New York City.
Tumblr Traffic Timeline
As of July 2010, the site received 25,000 new users each day.
As of September 2011, the website received more than 13 billion views per month.
As of March 2013, 71.7 million posts were created on the site each day.
As of March 2, 2013, Tumblr had over 96.1 million blogs and more than 44.3 billion total posts.
As of March 12, 2013, Tumblr had 49 million unique monthly visitors (Quantcast)
Top 100 U.S. Websites Ranke By Monthly Unique Users - Quantcast - As of March 12, 2013
The service is most popular with the teen and college-aged user segments with half of Tumblr's visitor base being under the age of 25.As of 2009, Tumblr had an 85% user retention rate, compared with 40% for Twitter.
According to internet research firm comScore, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram each gained over 10 million new unique visitors between December 2011 and December 2012.
Click Image To Enlarge
Share of Time Spent On Social Networks
According to internet research firm comScore, among leading social network,s Tumblr ranked No 2 with a 5.7% share of total online time spent by users compared to a 83% share for No 1 Facebook.
Share of Time Spent on Social Networking Sites - comScore - December 2012 (Click Image To Enlarge)
In a March 5, 2013 Bloomberg interview, Tumblr VP Derek Gottfrid said the blogging network has already tested the product internally, will roll it out in the first half of 2013, and is currently looking for advertisers who want to sign up. No word yet, however, on exactly how promoted posts will actually be promoted, or what tools bloggers will have to decide who they get promoted to.
The new revenue will, Gottfrid thinks, drive the 162-employee and 100-million-blog company into profitability this year. Which seems to be a likely goal, even if only a fraction of its 16 billion total page views transition over to the ego-driven monetization model.
David Karp the Minimalist
David Karp, the 26-year old high school dropout (Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and co-founder dropped out of Harvard) is in sharp contrast to CEO's of other successful internet startups when it comes to where they live.
Mark Zuckerberg‘s and wife Prisclla live in a deluxe but dowdy $6 million mansion in Palo Alto.
Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, and the first President of Facebook lives in a Greenwich Village carriage house-cum-party palace.
Karp’s choice says a lot about him–and Tumblr, the blogging platform he founded nearly six years ago. The 1,700-square-foot, $1.6 million loft, located in the hip neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y., which he’s currently remodeling, is quite modest for a 26-year-old whose net worth, on paper, exceeds $200 million. He’s quite possibly the richest person in the neighborhood. But the most telling feature is on the inside, which contains … virtually nothing. A spartan bedroom with a half-empty closet. A living room area with nothing but a sofa and a TV. (One concession to opulence: a restaurant-grade kitchen for his girlfriend, Rachel Eakley, a trained chef.) Karp says.
“I don’t have any books. I don’t have many clothes. I’m always so surprised when people fill their homes up with stuff.”
Marco Arment, Karp’s first and, for a long time, only employee at Tumblr says.
“He owns, like, three items. He’s always looking for ways he can get rid of something.”
Even Karp’s person is spare in the extreme: His one suit, though trimly cut, flaps around his 6-foot-1 frame when he fidgets, which he does a lot. Maybe it’s all the calories he burns this way that keeps him skinny, like a teenager who has yet to fill out his bones. He says.
“I’ve always been 40 pounds underweight.”
For Tumblr’s CEO, minimalism isn’t just an esthetic choice. It’s the key to freedom. When he travels he avoids making plans more than a few days in advance, even on his trips to Japan, and packs only the sveltest of carry-ons. He says.
“It’s my Jason Bourne or James Bond fantasy, wanting to be perfectly mobile.”
One of Tumblr’s directors, Roelof Botha of the Silicon Valley venture firm Sequoia Capital, recalls showing up at a board meeting in New York toting only “the tiniest of duffel bags” for his trip.
“David took one look at me and said, ‘You really brought all that stuff?’”
Karp’s intolerance for the inessential imbues Tumblr. Where others looked at the twin revolutions of blogging and social networking and saw new tools for communication, Karp saw possibilities for making them radically easier and more intuitive. Tumblr lowered the bar to creating a beautiful, dynamic website and raised the payoff in the form of positive social reinforcement.
Click To View Forbes Video of its Interview with David Karp, founder of Tumblr
Tumblr The Minimalist Social Blogging Site
If Facebook is where you check in with your real-life friends and Twitter is how you keep up with current events, the Tumblr experience can be boiled down to people expressing themselves publicly. Like those other two networks, Tumblr is organized in the form of streams of posts. But it’s far more sensory and emotive, a swirl of photographs, songs, inside jokes, animated cartoons and virtual warm fuzzies. On the main Tumblr feed compiled by its editors, a photojournalist’s visual diary of Afghanistan might be followed by a cartoonist’s impressionistic drawings of Darth Vader, which give way to a gallery of hamsters that look like President Obama.
The tools for creating Tumblr's multimedia posts are simple: seven buttons that let you add text, photos, hyperlinks, video, music, dialogues or quotes with a click.
The result: classic hockey-stick growth that’s getting steeper by the month. In November 2012, it shouldered its way into the top ten online destinations, edging out Microsoft’s Bing and drawing nearly 170 million visitors to its galaxy of user-created pages, according to the measurement firm Quantcast. Tumblr’s tens of millions of registered users create 120,000 new blogs every day, for a total of 86 million and counting, which drive some 18 billion page views per month. Its latest funding round, in September 2011, valued Tumblr at $800 million, making Karp’s 25%-plus stake worth more than $200 million. Then its traffic doubled.
Venture Capital Funding
Tumblr's original funding came from Karp's earnings as a software consultant at parenting site UrbanBaby. Tumblr has raised funding from Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital, Sequoia Capital, and angel investors Martin Varsavsky, John Borthwick, Betaworks and Fred Seibert to name a few. Tumblr shares two lead investors with Twitter. President and COO John Maloney was the founder of UrbanBaby with wife Susan Maloney.
According to secondary market broker SharesPost, Tumblr has raised $125.3 million in venture in five separate rounds:
Tumblr Venture Capital Financing Rounds - SharesPost (Click Image To Enlarge)
According to Business Insider, Tumblr's $750,000 first round, valued the company at $3 million, and that David sold about 25% of the company.
The company had a $800 million valuation in August 2011.In September 2011, the company raised $85 million in a round of funding led by Greylock Partners and Insight Venture Partners.
In an interview with Nicole Lapin of "Bloomberg West" on September 7, 2012, David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr, said the site was monetized by advertising, and he argued that with the high number of users of the service, advertisers would start to look seriously spending money there. Their first advertising launch started in May 2012 after 16 experimental campaigns.
You now something, I am really cheering for David Karp and Tumblr to become successful as hell. In a previous blog post, I discovered that more teens and tweens were using Tumblr more than they were Facebook, so if I were Facebook, I would buy Tumblr while it is still cheap. 168 million users and 49 million unique visitors per month is nothing to sneeze at, and the company plans on making $100 million in revenues (and profitable) in 2013, up from $13 million in 2012. That's impressive.
My biggest concern is whether a 26-year old high school dropout has the chops to run a billion dollar company. Mark Zuckerberg just turned 27, and is a mult-billionaire, but he has surrounded himself with some very smart people. Is David Karp capable of realizing his weaknesses and do the same thing? If I were Karp, I would hire an experienced CEO that can take Tumblr to the next level. Tumblr is going places.
Twitter is testing a new ad unit that gives direct marketers a way to generate leads directly from tweets.
You can see an example of the unit in this tweet promoting Twitter’s small business guide. Not only is there a small image promoting the guide, but if you’re logged in, it also shows a “Get it now” button. When you hit the button, you don’t get asked for a phone number or email address — instead, you get a message saying that “Twitter Advertising will reach out soon.” Presumably, the advertiser will get a list of interested Twitter accounts.
Twitter's new ad product allows direct marketers to generate leads directly from Tweets (Click Image To Enlarge)
Twitter says this functionality is being delivered throughTwitter Cards, the technology that enables additional media and functionality (like embedding a photo or a video) in tweets. It also says this unit is still being tested. So it could change significantly, or it might not ever see a broad rollout at all. This does seem like something that would be pretty appealing to advertisers, since it gives them a new way to get their messages across, as well as to measure the success of their campaigns in a way that’s more meaningful to them than retweets or clickthroughs to a landing page.
Of course, as with any expansion to Twitter advertising, it could also spur some user whinging. For what it’s worth, this sample doesn’t seem particularly obtrusive to me.
I’ve asked Twitter for more details about the test and will update if I hear back.
Introduction To Twitter Cards
Twitter cards make it possible for you to attach media experiences to Tweets that link to your content. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpages, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a "card" added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.
As a developer, Twitter cards can...
Give you control of how your content is displayed with Tweets
Drive traffic to your site
Increase the number of people following your Twitter accounts through content attribution
Three simple steps
Review the documentation for the type of card you want to implement.
A "summary" Twitter Card on twitter.com with content attribution.
There are 3 card types that can be attached to Tweets, each of which has a beautiful consumption experience built for Twitter's web and mobile clients:
Summary: The default card, which includes a title, description, thumbmail image, and Twitter account attribution.
Photo: A Tweet sized photo card.
Player: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card.
The summary card can be used for many kinds of web content, from blog posts and news articles, to products and restaurants. The screenshot below shows the expanded Tweet view for a New York Times article:
Summary Card as it appears on the desktop and mobile devices (Click Image To Enlarge)
The card is designed to give the reader a preview of the content before clicking through to your website. You’ll notice that this card makes use of all of the properties described in the previous section: URL, title, description, and image.
The photo card puts the image front and center in the Tweet:
Photo card as it appears on the desktop (Click Image To Enlarge)
Photo card as it appears on mobile devices (Click Image To Enlarge)
To define a photo card experience, set your card type to "photo" and provide a twitter:image. Twitter will resize images, maintaining original aspect ratio to fit the following sizes:
Web: maximum height of 375px, maximum width of 435px
Mobile (non-retina displays): maximum height of 375px, maximum width of 280px
Mobile (retina displays): maximum height of 750px, maximum with of 560px
Twitter will not create a photo card unless the twitter:image is of a minimum size of 280px wide by 150px tall. Images will not be cropped unless they have an exceptional aspect ratio. All images will be fetched and proxied by Twitter to ensure a high quality of service and SSL security for users.
Specifying the width and height using twitter:image:width and twitter:image:height helps us more accurately preserve the aspect ratio of the image when resizing.
Photo cards are the only type of card which support a blank title.
Animated gifs are currently not supported in Twitter Cards.
The player card is for interactive media experiences like videos, music players, and live streaming events, and allows you to present your content inside of an iframe within the Tweet. Unlike the photo and summary card, you control the entire content experience, and are responsible for providing an implementation that works across Twitter clients including:
Twitter.com and mobile.twitter.com
Twitter for iPhone
Twitter for Android
Photo card offers a different experience on the desktop and on mobile devices like tablets (Click Image To Enlarge)
Due to platform capabilities, player cards work a bit differently on each client and it’s important to understand these details before you begin building your card experience. All player cards require special whitelisting and approval by Twitter.
A few simple rules for Cards
Build a responsive and equivalent experience that works within all Twitter Clients. Cards that do not work in all Twitter clients listed above will not be approved.
Test your experience on the native browsers of Twitter Clients before submitting for approval.
Provide a raw stream to video and audio content when possible.
Use HTTPS for your iframe, stream, and all assets within your card.
Use wmode=opaque if utilizing Flash for the twitter.com experience, so that the player renders at the correct z-index.
Link to a HTML page which falls back to mobile friendly content in case Flash is not available.
Generate mixed content browser warnings. All Twitter clients use HTTPS, and you must not break the lock of the browser.
Automatically play content.
Require users to sign-in to your experience.
Commingle sharing features from other networks inside your player.
Set twitter:player to point directly at a .swf movie file.
A few things to check before submitting a Player Card for approval.
These are the most common problems we find when reviewing Player Card submissions (these will delay your approval until fixed):
The HTTPS lock is broken, make sure the video is served via HTTPS too, no exceptions
The content must have stop or pause controls
In Android/iOS browsers the experience must fall back gracefully (sized for mobile viewport, no broken Flash embeds, etc)
The content must not play automatically
The content must not implement its own sharing controls to third party networks (we do not support this currently)
The content must not require sign in
The content must not be entirely an ad
The player URL must not point directly to a .swf
Check if the player's z-index causes the content to overlap the page header
If the browser asks you whether you want to display insecure assets, you have an https problem
Make sure the image is at least 68,600 pixels (a 262x262 square image, or a 350x196 16:9 image) or bigger
The player URL is not HTTPS (did we mention this before?)
Twitter cards and Open Graph
You'll notice that Twitter card tags look similar to OpenGraph tags, and that's because they are based on the same conventions as the Open Graph protocol. If you're already using OpenGraph to describe data on your page, it’s easy to generate a Twitter card without duplicating your tags and data. When the Twitter card processor looks for tags on your page, it first checks for the Twitter property, and if not present, falls back to the supported Open Graph property. This allows for both to be defined on the page independently, and minimizes the amount of duplicate markup required to describe your content and experience.
Twitter Cards Guidelines For Developers
The documentation for Twitter Cards for developers is available HERE.
Courtesy of an article dated February 19, 2013 appearing in TechCrunch
People have speculated that 2013 will be the year that Twitter will reach $1 billion in advertising revenues. That strategy could get a boost very soon with the entry of mass-market advertising:Twitter is finally gearing up to launch its advertising API some time in Q1. Aimed at large advertisers and their agencies, it will give them the ability to launch scaled-up campaigns across the social network, and it also opens the door to more sophisticated targeting and analytics tools in the process.
According to several sources, the company has started briefing social media marketing agencies, which help brands and big advertisers plan and buy ads on social networks like Twitter, with conversations taking place just before the holidays.
One executive said.
“I have been in discussions with Twitter and they contacted us right before the holidays saying it was getting close to having their advertising API ready.”
TechCrunch also spoke with a would-be advertiser, who said that his agency advised against changes in their Twitter ad strategy in the short-term “because their API will be changing” in Q1 of this year.
Twitter declined to comment for this story a source said,
“We don’t have anything to share at this time,” a spokesperson told me. And it has not started sharing too many details about what the advertising API would entail, exactly, with agencies, but we have been getting updates that state that it will be very close to what their current self-serve model is.”
Twitter first introduced advertising on its platform in April 2010, and the self-service tool that is currently in place lets companies, and their agencies, upload ads to run across the social network covering formats like Promoted Tweets.
But these are uploaded one at a time, which doesn’t work for large campaigns. A source said.
“The value add that the ad API will bring is the ability to productively and efficiently grow and scale campaigns. One-at-a-time can be very time-consuming if you are managing multiple or very large campaigns for large advertisers. Also, it’s a challenge if you’re an ad agency operating in this manner.”
Launching an advertising API is something that has, reportedly, been long in the planning, with this Reuters story from July 2011 noting it would be coming “soon.” Equally in the air is whether Twitter will offer a separate advertising API, as Facebook does, or whether it would be rolled out as part of a wider update to its general API for other data calls: this was an idea Marketing Land floated in September 2012, when Twitter noted in its API 1.1 release terms that
“Twitter reserves the right to serve advertising via its APIs (“Twitter Ads”). If you decide to serve Twitter Ads once we start delivering them, we will share a portion of advertising revenue with you per our then-current terms and conditions.”
But in either case, it does seem that this time around, the API is finally coming. Apart from several sources confirming that Twitter is talking up its advertising API, the startup has made several other recent moves that point to it super-sizing its commercial efforts.
On January 22, it opened up a way for advertisers tolaunch global campaigns across its different geographies (or to target several specific geographies at once), by adding support for different markets around the world. Twitter, which has 200 million monthly active users, says 70 percent of registered accounts are outside the U.S.
On January 17, it expanded its Certified Products Program, which allows brands and businesses to better measure how they are performing on the social network, and to better manage their engagement. The expansion added new partners in areas like engagement, data analytics and data reselling. Twitter also appointed Zach Hofer-Shall to manage the program and expand it further.
Part of that change, it seems, could see a further expansion of the role of those certified partners. A senior person at one of these partners, which focuses today on helping businesses manage their presence on Twitter, says that his company is soon planning to launch “something very unique with Twitter and advertising,” with the news planned for the next few weeks, which would also match up with the news of an advertising API.
Agencies say they are ready and waiting for Twitter to launch an advertising API.
Luis Caballero, the COO of Blinq, the social media agency bought by Gannett last year said.
“We are very excited to include Twitter ad API capability once it becomes readily available for release because large advertisers are ready to scale campaigns there.”
And the brands are waiting, too. “As an advertiser, we’re going to be taking more advantage of Twitter in 2013, and anything that they can do to enable this will be a good thing in my book,” one marketing head told me.
The timing of an advertising API is also worth watching in the context of Twitter scaling up revenues and speculation of an IPO. Like Twitter, Facebook derives the vast majority of its revenues from advertising. Facebook launched its first advertising API as a limited private beta in late 2009, before opening it up for wider usage in August 2011, about 10 months before its IPO.
COMMENTARY: I have no idea the full details of Twitter's advertising API, but in order to remain competitive it should have all or most of the following features from Facebook's Ad API of May 4, 2012 which allows advertisers and marketers to:
Handle multiple advertising accounts
Create and manage numerous campaigns
Create and manage ad groups within campaigns
Create and manage ads within ad groups
To set target parameters for the following fields: countries, cities, radius, regions, genders and many more
Manage start and stop times
Get stats on results (impressions, clicks, dollars spent) at the campaign, ad group, or ad level
Pay on a CPM or CPC basis and set daily spend limits
Courtesy of an article dated January 27, 2013 appearing in TechCrunch
With his re-election all-but-confirmed, President Barack Obama took to Twitter to thank his supporters in a series of tweets. First with a "This happened because of you. Thank you.", "We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. -bo" and then simply a "Four more years." with a picture of the first couple hugging.
Around 11:15 pm EST, just as the networks were beginning to call the race in his favor, Obama took to Twitter to proclaim himself the winner over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
"This happened because of you. Thank you."
That the president would take his message to Twitter before taking the stage in Chicago underscored the tremendous role social media platforms like Twitter played in the 2012 election.
Minutes later, with the race called in his favor, Obama tweeted again.
"We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. -bo."
Through the course of a long and bitter presidential campaign, Twitter often served as the new first rough draft of history.
Top campaign aides used the Internet tool to snipe at each other, the candidates used it to get out their messages and political reporters used it to inform and entertain.
On Election Night, the tweets were flowing.
By 10 p.m. EST, with the race still up for grabs, Twitter announced it had broken records.
There were more than 31 million election-related tweets on Tuesday night, making Election Night Twitter spokeswoman Rachael Horwitz. Between 6 p.m. and midnight EST, said that there were more than 23 million tweets. She said.
"This was the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history."
Horwitz noted the previous record was 10 million, during the first presidential debate on October 3.
"Twitter brought people closer to almost every aspect of the election this year. From breaking news, to sharing the experience of watching the debates, to interacting directly with the candidates, Twitter became a kind of nationwide caucus."
In the moments following Obama's win, Twitter was in a frenzy, with a peak of 327,000 tweets a minute.
Another tweet from Obama, one that read: "Four more years" and showed a picture of him hugging his wife, became the most retweeted tweet in the history of the site.
'FIRST TWITTER ELECTION'
Love it or hate it, Twitter and its role in politics appears to be here to stay.
For Rob Johnson, campaign manager for Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry's failed presidential run, had this to say.
"Twitter changed the dynamic this cycle and will continue to play a bigger role in years to come. We no longer click refresh on websites or wait for the paper boy to throw the news on our porch. We go to Twitter and learn the facts before others read it."
The 2012 race was the first where Twitter played such an important role. Top campaign advisers like Romney's Eric Fehrnstrom and Obama's David Axelrod engaged in Twitter battles through the year.
With many political reporters and campaign staff on Twitter and Facebook, social media websites were often the first place news broke. Some top news stories were kept alive or thrust into the headlines after becoming hot topics on Twitter.
Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said in an email.
"It was one heckuva echo chamber."
Johnson said Twitter was the driving force behind some of the year's biggest political news stories.
"The twitterverse shapes the news and public opinion. The Internet is truly a real and powerful tool in politics."
In future elections, candidates and their campaign staffs will have to include social media as another battleground, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said.
"This was the first Twitter election and social media is now fully a part of our election mechanics. Going forward candidates must have an aggressive social media strategy if they want to win."
COMMENTARY: President Obama also announced his re-election Facebook, but for some reaon neglected to post anything on Google+, so I took the initiative.
Courtesy of an article dated November 7, 2012 appearing in Reuters
It's easy to tweet all day. But an effective social media campaign is about the message, not the volume. You can’t lose sight of your goals and your message, which must be consistent and clear
It doesn’t matter if you’re a political leader, an entrepreneur, or a corporate CEO. Regardless of title or industry, your message matters. All leaders must communicate the right message at all times.
From the start, corporate America’s efforts to embrace social media have led to some embarrassing moments. Even one of the nation’s most popular nonprofit charitable organizations fell victim to a maddening mistake by an apparently intoxicated social media maven.
At 11:24 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2011, @RedCross posted an obviously unintended-for-work tweet:
“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch beer.... when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”
“Getting Slizzered,” which has its own Facebook page and earned 1,110 “likes,” is slag for getting drunk. @RedCross responded quickly with another tweet:
"We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys."
The flub had an unintended positive consequence: @dogfishbeer's followers claimed the #gettngslizzerd hashtag, and breweries and bars across the country that sell Dogfish started a beer-for-blood campaign.
But don’t expect your gaffe to generate similar goodness. In most cases, even well-intended but ill-conceived messages sent sans shame can be image killers.
The Red Cross took to its blog the next day to acknowledge an "honest mistake" and thanked the Twitter community "for turning our faux pas into something good." The action proves that quick response and honesty are effective, but only if the message has been mastered. There was no word on the job status of the late-night Tweeter, but suffice it to serve as a warning to any enterprise that hiring someone with alleged expertise in managing myriad social media platforms doesn’t mean he or she has any ability to understand and communicate the right message, even without a tipsy tweet.
Leadership requires many qualities, including focus, passion, confidence, and integrity. But success depends on your ability to effectively, honestly, and directly communicate your message. The digital age makes it easier than ever to get your message out immediately via myriad platforms. But you can’t lose sight of your goals and your message, which must be consistent and clear whether you’re breaking budget for a glossy spread or tweeting for free.
Regardless of what format you choose, make sure you adhere to the same principles that drive dissemination of your message. Here are some basic rules for communicating to connect, shape, influence, and lead.
Whether you’re looking a potential customer or employee in the eye or you’re shooting out a direct message to the other side of the globe, you need to be honest about what you’re saying. You must be honest with yourself, your audience, and your mission. Leaders must be honest in order to invoke trust and respect from their team. And that honesty extends to everyone you communicate with inside and outside your enterprise.
Don’t let the limitations of a 140-character tweet lead you astray. If you can’t honestly convey your message, step away from the computer and reconsider whether it’s the right method for you. You wouldn’t waste a fortune and months poring over details of drafts of marketing materials to convey a dishonest message. You must maintain the same standards, regardless of how quick and costless it is to send out a random message. That won’t earn the trust of your employees and it certainly won’t win you customers.
Be Direct to Connect
Strong leaders have the ability to direct others on a new or different path. This can’t be done quickly or easily, and any step along the way must be thought out before it can be communicated.
Don’t be tempted to reach out without direction, which can mar your whole agenda. If you can’t say something clearly and directly, don’t say it all. No amount of social media savvy will can compensate for a lack of direction. Take time to craft every message you send. Don’t let accessibility ruin your message. You wouldn’t take to the podium at a conference or make a TV appearance without carefully crafting your message, so don’t lose direction just because your smartphone lets you. A direct message is priceless. A misdirected one, even if it's free to deliver, can cost you customers and loyalty from everyone from your team to your supply chain.
Be aware of the shape of things to come--and I’m not referring to the 1933 science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, which speculates on future events until the year 2106. Every leader needs to look ahead, anticipate, and predict how the marketplace will change and be ready for any unexpected events. Every leader needs the flexibility to help shape the future, both for his or her enterprise and the larger landscape and community.Every message we send, whether it’s an email, a tweet or a handwritten letter, must be crafted with the future in mind. We can shape the future with the right message. We can also veer off track with the wrong one, and it only takes one errant message to alienate or offend someone. As leaders, we are charged with communicating to shape our organizations and the world around us. In a hyper-connected global world, we can have a tremendous impact.
Inspire and Influence
Leadership comes in many forms, but the most successful leaders are able to inspire and influence everyone from their executive team, employees, customers, clients, partners, investors, and people outside of their enterprise. Communication is key for inspiration. The right message can have a major impact, especially in a digital age where a viral tweet or YouTube video can add far more value than the priciest ad campaign. An inspirational message is far more influential than one that just makes a point. As leaders, it doesn’t matter how smart or confident or talented we are. If we can’t offer inspiration with every message, we won’t influence the people involved in building and growing our enterprises and communities.
Lead Through Communication
Leadership is a constant battle to stay on top of your staff, in tune with the markets, and ahead of the competition by anticipating and preparing for change and advancements. It requires an ability to communicate every step of the process to everyone you meet or may meet. There are two things to keep in mind when communicating to lead:
-- Be yourself: A top executive’s ego can easily inflate with a rise in profits, a nod from the media, acknowledgment of an industry group, or public admiration. But those larger-than-life personalities can grow a pumped-up voice of their own and come off as an unauthentic, insincere, or arrogant. The same goes for attempts to compensate for failures or setbacks. You have to be yourself, regardless of the circumstances. In times of turmoil, triumph, or just tedium, don’t lose your voice, and remember how you convey your message is always paramount to continued growth and success.
-- Know When to Stop:Sometimes less is more, especially in a world where social media and other digital platforms allow us to chatter and banter and sometimes babble aimlessly 24 hours a day. You wouldn’t step back to the podium an hour after your keynote, or reconvene a board meeting to utter a random thought that just floated into your consciousness. Exercise the same kind of control at all times, and make sure you're sending the right message, rather than just any messages, just because you can.
11 Effective Twitter Strategies for Brands
Brands are missing out on big opportunities to engage with consumers on Twitter by tweeting at the wrong time or in the wrong way, according to an interesting study from Buddy Media.
The report, Strategies for Effective Tweeting: A Statistical Review, found that many brands aren’t using Twitter effectively and outlines the top strategies for engaging with consumers. Buddy Media looked at user engagement for the top 320 brands on Twitter between December 11, 2011 and February 23, 2012 to see how successful they were at getting @replies and retweets. Their engagement rates were also assessed to quantify the relationship between @replies and retweets based on their number of followers.
Over the past three years, one million active Twitter users have tweeted at least one billion times according to Beevolve. Not every participant has made their voice heard since one out of four Twitter users has never tweeted. With this growth, the composition of Twitter has changed significantly and this has implications for your marketing.
5 Twitter Facts (and What They Mean for Your Business)
Here are five important facts about Twitter that have an impact on your business.
Twitter skews female. Specifically women outnumber men on Twitter 53 percent to 47 percent. Since as technology platforms most social media venues tend to attract men as early adopters. Therefore this shift toward female usage signals that Twitter is maturing.
Women tweet more than men on average. Women tweet 610 times on average. Men tweet 567 times on average. This makes sense since women are known as communicators. Further, this is consistent with communications usage on other platforms and devices.
Twitter usage by sex varies by country. In areas where Twitter is a more mature platform, women are the dominant segment. By contrast, in regions where Twitter usage is newer, men are the dominant segment. Specifically, men tend to dominate in India, Brazil, and France.
Higher female Twitter usage is consistent across age groups. In other words, being female trumps age in terms of Twitter use.
Twitter conversation focus has shifted to family. This reflects the interests of the majority of women. This is an opportunity for B2C marketers looking to engage women around topics related to their products.
With over 90 percent of U.S. businesses on social media, the shift on Twitter represents a significant marketing opportunity. As the third largest social media platform after Facebook and YouTube, Twitter is becoming a mass social media venue. This is particularly important for B2C marketers.
Click Image To Enlarge
3 Strategic Social Media Marketing Elements to Check
Before rushing to implement new Twitter tactics, at a minimum, this shift requires the following three strategic elements. Even better, take the time to re-examine your entire social media marketing strategy.
Ensure you track your Twitter marketing effectiveness. Use social mediacalls-to-action.
5 Actionable Twitter Marketing Tactics
To leverage Twitter to achieve your marketing goals, here are five actionable marketing tactics. In the process, ensure you make your tweets count!
Build your Twitter base. While most marketers have started expanding their Twitter following, it's worth repeating. Without a community on Twitter, your message reach is limited. Therefore, leverage your owned and other marketing to support these efforts. At a minimum, let your audience know that you're active on Twitter. (Here are the secrets to building a Twitter following.) While Twitter is good for engaging with prospects and customers, research has found that Twitter isn't a conversation!
Use Twitter to distribute content created for other venues. Utilize Twitter to help you deliver your social media and content marketing to a broader audience. This is particularly important for family-related information. Don't forget to use hashtags! Of course, this doesn't hold for promotions!
Distribute family-related content. Given the popularity of family-related topics, create one or more Twitter feeds that offer a tip of the day or other regular information. Alternatively, use Twitter to curate other people's content on the topic.
Answer prospect and customer questions. You can do this by having a Twitter presence for your customer service as Comcast does. Alternatively, you can accomplish this by responding to common customer questions by tweeting content from your blog or other content site. Marcus Sheridan of the The Sales Lioncalls this the secret sauce.
Promote one "Deal of the Day." While outright promotion is not acceptable on social media platforms, you can make one value offer per 24 hours if you're transparent about it.
The bottom line is that Twitter matters and, regardless of your business focus, it's critical to integrate into your marketing plans.
What do you think of this new Twitter research and how will you incorporate it into your 2013 marketing plans?
COMMENTARY: When Beevolve’s study came out, GigaOM wrote: “Typical Twitter User is a Young Woman with an iPhone and 208 Followers.” Many social media articles joked about or brought up stereotypes and what the stats had to say. It’s an idea worth engaging. Data suggests that despite how much weight you give it as a journalist (or media company), there are indeed certain demographics that more actively use Twitter.
Some of the demographic data in Beevolve’s study is admittedly skewed because it goes off of self-disclosed profile info. More younger people are likely comfortable disclosing their age, for instance, so it makes sense that you would see the data of self-disclosed age showing that 74 percent of Twitter users are between the ages of 15 to 25. Only 0.45 percent have disclosed their age on Twitter, so that sample is likely too tiny to make many age assumptions on.
In the case of gender anaylsis, that’s probably more trustworthy. Beevolve’s study determines its gender stats off a combination of self-disclosed profile info, names, and profile pictures.
It seems entirely possible that the demographics who use Twitter aren’t representative of the entire American public either (or the world, for that matter).
Reminders from the stats, in sum: The voices aren’t everyone, and they have a large control over what’s available on all of Twitter. Politically, the voices vary in what opinions they choose to express and the value they place in doing so. Who knows what some of them are saying, because you can’t see them. More user demographics including gender and age are also worth noting when you’re looking at Twitter’s sentiment, tweets per minute, reactions and so on.
Courtesy of an article dated October 29, 2012 appearing in ClickZ and an article dated October 16, 2012 appearing in MediaBistro