10,000 Character Tweets?

That’s the rumor, as reported on Re/code and other sites. And it’s a desperate attempt to reinvent the social media site and cement its relevance. I also don’t think it will work.

UnknownI think this because most of the other tweaks to the site have not yielded positive results: bigger characters, gee-whiz graphics, photos, that annoying “Moments” section and the even more annoying “While you were away” tweets.

The real problem, it seems to me, is that Jack Dorsey and the “thought leaders” at Twitter seem to be more worried about how competitive Twitter is with Facebook and less worried about what their users want or expect from the microblogging platform.

The user experience — or user expectation — is the real key here. People are leaving Twitter not because there are not enough features but perhaps because there are just too many. When you are using Twitter on your phone, which most people do, the last thing you want are six million options. Trying to remember and figure out what you want to do decreases the value of the service to the user, thereby decreasing the likelihood that the user will continue using.

I’ve been completely frustrated by the 140-character limit at times, but that’s the essential element. Think about it. If I wanted to read a 10,000 character dissertation, why would I want to read it on Twitter?

The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity. Don’t keep mucking about and trying to make it into something it’s not. If you’re not careful, brand extension can kill you. Just be who you are, Twitter, not what you think someone else wants you to be.

Follow me before it all goes away!

Bad Tweeting

There’s this in today’s MediaBistro feed, a little piece about the AP —  yes, the Associated Press — retracting it’s third tweet in a week. Fundamentally, while the AP may know journalism, it seems flummoxed by the 140-character social media app.

It’s a good lesson in knowing what you are doing before you jump in with both feet. And while that’s the lesson for new tweeters — twitterers? twits? — it’s not like the AP just starting tweeting last week. C’mon, already!

The next bit is about the New York Times possibly shortening its daily print edition. Possibly a by-product of the leaked internal memo about focusing on digital from earlier this year, I would imagine. Do people want a smaller daily Times? I’m not sure about that. There’s a lot of testing left to be done. The Grey Lady needs to get it together before doing something rash. Just sayin’.

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Twitter’s Losing Sight of What Makes It So Great

Twitter’s Losing Sight of What Makes It So Great.

UnknownA good piece on Mashable today. I agree. Twitter was very off-putting to me at the outset. I just couldn’t grasp WHY one would elect to constrain themselves so tightly.

Now, I’m a Twitter fan. I love the quick interaction and quirky way it works. It is sui generis in the world of social media, and that’s exactly what it set out to be.

BUT…. all of these new changes? It wants to be more and more like Facebook. And that’s a HUGE mistake. Instead of seeing a leveling off of user exodus or even an increase in users, I think this may force Twitter users to abandon it like lemmings over a cliff.

I mean, really: you want ANOTHER Facebook?

Not me.

Twitter is a wonderful marketing tool if used correctly. Let’s hope they right this ship before it’s too late.

Tweets: Private Musings or Advertising Fodder?

Interesting article on Mashable about the CBS Films appropriating a tweet from New York Times film critic A.O. Scott and then publishing it as an advertisement for the film Inside Llewyn Davis in the New York Times without Scott’s knowledge.


A.O. Scott’s modified tweet, cheekily using a lyric from Dink’s Song, a folk music staple sung in the film Inside Llewyn Davis. Scott did not know that CBS Films was going to use his tweet as an ad for the film.

So, the question that goes begging here is this: when you tweet something, can anyone pick it up — modifying it, in this case — and republish it for their own gain?

Fundamentally, the Times actually has a point: newspapers republish quotes from critics every day in advertisements for movies, plays, concerts and the like. Thus, since the content of the ad did not violate the Times‘ own advertising guidelines, no one thought about it.

Until Tony Scott saw it, that is! He tweeted that, “we’ve reached a strange new place in marketing when tweets become full-page print ads.”

If anything, it’s amusing. I’m not really sure why (or if) Scott thought no one would pick up a tweet of his to run. I’ve no idea if he’s actually shocked or if he thinks it’s in incredibly poor taste. Or if anyone believes that a review in a print publication is the only thing that one writes that may be gleaned for quotes.

Back in the day, I was a savant about getting “pulls” together for ads. Rare was the time when I couldn’t find something to pull.

If the reviewer writes, “This play is an abysmal waste of John Smith’s great talent,” then is it wrong for me to pull “great talent?” My answer as a marketer is “Hell, no!” I can’t afford (generally speaking) to look that gift horse in the mouth.

Of course, the real argument in audience development circles is the role of the critic in promotion. I can argue from here to next week about how we need to get away from using critics’ pull quotes in our advertising and develop our own audience bases on the front end — and I have, many times — but I am just as human as the next guy and when some critic presents me with “This is the greatest play in the history of world theatre” should I stick to my principles and not buy an ad with that line in it?

There are principles, my friends, and then there is the need to fill the coffers. And, at that point, I do believe the argument becomes academic!

Big Gay Social — Media, That Is

This Scoop Shop’s Secret Sauce? Social Marketing.


Founders Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff outside of one of the locations of Big Gay Ice Cream, the quirky East Village ice cream shop. |Image: biggayicecream.com.

Great story on Mashable – with video – about Big Gay Ice Cream, the Manhattan-based ice cream truck and bricks and mortar stores of the same name and how they’ve used social media to fuel their brand.

They have found that their quirky take on tweets and Facebook posts have won over fans.

Social media is a tool. Just one arrow in your marketing quiver. I can only say this a million times before someone is bound to key into it. These guys understand it’s about raising your profile, not necessarily equating numbers of tweets with numbers of widgets sold.

Next time you happen by, try a Salty Pimp. Or a Bea Arthur. You’ll be glad you did.


The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag

The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag.

This is a pretty good reference piece from Mashable this morning. Plus, it links you to that hilarious Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake video.

Hashtags are everywhere on social media, so you need to at least have a knowledge of them, even if you don’t use them too often.

BTW — Outside of the U.S., where # is generally called “the pound sign,” or Canada where it is generally called “the number sign,” # is generally referred to as a “hash mark.” In the U.K., of course, a “pound sign” would be this: £, which indicates their currency, the pound sterling.

So, there you have it: the international roots of the hashtag. Use it in #goodhealth.

Follow, Follow, Follow

Two points if you know what musical the title’s from! (If you don’t know, I’m going to box you severely around the ears!)

I’ve taken up a new full-time job recently and it may suck me dry, though I’m hoping to have time to continue to ruminate here on a regular basis.

I’ll have time to tweet more than blog, I think, at least for the first few months while I try to wrestle the unruly beast to the ground as I create a communications plan and communications system for this organization out of whole cloth. So, please follow me on the Twit at @markrblackmon.

Thanks for following, liking and commenting on the blog; I appreciate it. … Good God, it’s October. How did that happen???

20% of Americans Can’t Access Facebook at Work

American employers who block websites in an attempt to boost productivity at work are most likely to start with Facebook. One in five Americans can’t access the social media site while at work.

Twitter is a close second, with 15.1% reportedly blocking the site.

via 20% of Americans Can’t Access Facebook at Work.|Mashable

I guess I should be shocked by this. I certainly see how management (other unenlightened managers, thus excluding myself!) could see all social media as a giant time suck, but, for me, and for others that must react to news and perceptions during the day, it’s simply essential that we’re plugged in all the time. #getwiththeprogram

Paula Deen’s Outrageously Insane PR Apocalypse Explodes like the Death Star and Alderaan Combined – PRNewser

There is simply no other place to begin this post except in outer space, but the truth is Paula Deen’s decisions wouldn’t make any sense in any galaxy anywhere. This is interstellar bat crap crazy.

via Paula Deen’s Outrageously Insane PR Apocalypse Explodes like the Death Star and Alderaan Combined – PRNewser.

I can’t add a damn thing to this except to shake my head. The tweets it pulls in the jump just go to show that the art of PR and crisis management was completely and utterly lost on Team Butter Queen.


Who’s Using Social Media?


Image: AllTwitter/MediaBistro

Image: AllTwitter/MediaBistro

Some interesting stats from Pew, via Mashable. Make sure to read the article in the link above, but also study this chart from Docstoc. I’m intrigued by the “some college” education level as the heaviest users. And about the level of use of LinkedIn. I believe there is more to be mined here than what you see below in the aggregate.