Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Friend me. Link me. Poke me. Tweet me.

Social networking is a buzzword for 2009. It seems like everyone marketing and communications is scrambling to get a handle on how to harness the media that is part of what's being called "web 2.0" I read a statistic that Facebook was getting 160,000 new users a day in December. This could explain the surge in contacts I've seen in recent months. Pretty impressive. I predict Facebook will eclipse myspace, and its "grown ups rival" LinkedIn. It also has the potential to overtake Twitter.

Social network marketing isn't just about FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. It's about making connections and being in the place where customers, fans, and friends already are. The social networking websites just provide the tools. For business, this means that a sound web strategy as part of a bigger plan is more important than ever. These new tools present big opportunities with new ways to think about how we connect.

Twitter is one of the most intriguing, though when I first heard about it, I thought it seemed really silly. Twitter is like a blog that limits posts to 140 characters at a time. People "tweet" all sorts of things. Some useful, some not so much. With Twitter, you have to choose your words very carefully, not only to fit the character limit, but to do so without loosing the clarity of your message. A Twitter post I made in favor of President Obama's comments on how Washingtonians handle snow was misread as sarcasm when I included "this guy is off to a great start". I am the last person to avoid sarcasm, but in 140 characters, you can't afford to clarify your statements. I got some negative replies, one asking "if I was better equipped."

Some people are making outstanding use of Twitter's ability to blast out bursts of information to big lists of "followers." Washington area traffic reporter Angie Goff
(twitter.com/ohmygoff) provides real value with up-to-the-minute updates on road traffic throughout the region. Combine this with feeds to your cellphone, and you have a killer app that's even better than traffic radio because it's in your hands when you need it. Early adopter Shonali Burke (twitter.com/shonali) was actually able to beat some of the "real" media with reports and "retweats" of the Mumbai massacre through her network of "tweeters" in India. And Comcast has woven Twitter into its customer service program where they monitor the "twatter" ready to diffuse problems before they get bigger.

For me, it's fun to watch as it all evolves so quickly. It's even more fun because you can participate. Follow me: twitter.com/dennisgoris

Copyright 2008, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.