Tagged: twitter

My Twitter millenium, or, a thousand points of trite

Do you know how many emails you’ve sent? How about how many instant messages? Probably not. I sure have no idea. But I do know that I just sent my 1,000th Twitter update. Or rather, that twitterfeed did on my behalf. People on Twitter observe milestone (millstone?) numbers like their 100th or 1,000th update or follower as if they were birthdays. I’m not one to be terribly orthodox about observing birthdays, so I was reluctant to make a fuss over achieving a kilotwit, but it’s a slow blog day, so here’s what I’ve learned on Twitter:

Use (abuse?) Twitter customer service while you can. Twitter is still small by the standards of the internet, and the smallish number of companies that are staking out a presence there are eager to make a good impression. If a company is on Twitter, you can often get very good customer service or at least a live response faster than you can with regular email, chat or phone. The economics of this situation are transitory, so get it while it’s hot. Try @comcastcares or @wholefoods for two.

When asking the Twitterverse for advice, you get what you pay for. For the reasons cited above, you can sometimes get some really good inside dope from people and companies on Twitter, such as discount codes, beta invites, weather and transport alerts, etc. I’ve asked for and dished out random advice, usually about food and wine, and gotten (and probably given) mixed results. Caveat twittor, and expect the neighborhood to get less neighborly as it grows.

You can do a lot – but not everything – in 140 characters. There are a lot of people who tweet haiku (I’m one of them) and a few who tweet exclusively in haiku. At least one person, @gracepiper, tweets recipes. So far as I know, nobody tweets haiku recipes, but it’s probably only a matter of time. Constraints are the mother of innovation, and the exercise of precision can really help sharpen your message. If you have one. On the other hand, longer discussions of meatier subjects really need to be taken elsewhere.

Maybe in my next thousand tweets I’ll figure out if this thing is really good for anything and maybe the Twitter people will figure out how to make money doing it. Either way, it’ll be an entertaining ride. Follow me @limeduck for the play-by-play.

That's where we ran out of Schlitz: podcamp Boston 3 in review

At the end of his Podcamp Boston presentation on distributed microblogging this Sunday, Joe Cascio declared, “that’s where I ran out of Schlitz.” The phrase caught on and was swiftly tweeted and favorited, and I wonder if it’s not a good summation of the weekend’s events and maybe even of the state of social media.

Don’t get me wrong. Podcamp was a fantastic weekend. Excellent networking, fun people, a great, open collaborative and supportive atmosphere, free parking, free wifi, quality presentations and presenters. Kudos to the organizers and sponsors and attendees. I am seriously looking forward to future podcamps. But…

The Schlitz was good. The Schlitz was cheap, sometimes even free. We drank a lot of it and caught a pretty good buzz. We made lots of cool new friends under its lubricating influence. But now what?

There’s growing evidence that we have a social media bubble. Heck, it made the cover of the MIT Tech review. When your cool online New Way To Be gets called bubbly by the Tech Review – in print, no less – it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions. People are building businesses around Twitter, but Twitter doesn’t have its own revenue model yet.

I’m no retrograder here, I don’t question that most examples of most forms of marketing have been sucking the fumes from their empty Schlitz cans for ages. Even the cuddly darlings of search marketing are overbid to absurdity. So my point is not to hide and hate and fear the social media revolution and try to return to simpler times, but to ask, is there really any there there? And if not, how can we make some?

If I could answer that, I wouldn’t be blogging from a Starbucks, I’ll tell you that. So instead of answers, here are five more questions and issues prodded by podcamp and the discussions I had there.

1. Personal branding, privacy and publicity

During CC Chapman‘s packed session, “building your brand through passion and community,” the discussion quickly turned to online privacy, widely described as illusory. A wise audience member piped up, “Most of us are here to get known, not to get unknown.” Amen, brother. As long as you have some idea of what you’re getting into, you can make smart choices. For most folks, being stalked is not that likely because they’re just not that famous.

Another podcamper was a little too quick to confide in me that the #1 google result for her name was about her “boobies.” I don’t think she helped her case by removing the photo, which was apparently not nearly as scandalous as the text left behind suggested. If you clicked that link, you deserve to be Rickrolled, but that’s the best I could do. If you want to work in online PR, you’ve got to be able to use the online chatter about your bits to your advantage. Don’t apologize if you haven’t actually done anything wrong, it makes you look twice as guilty.

The conference was packed with digital recording devices and people wearing nametags. Not a recipe for stealth if you told your spouse that you were somewhere else that weekend. Some photographers asked permission and some didn’t. Lots of good questions there about who owns those images and sounds. If you took my picture – probably because you thought my shirt was the coolest or dumbest one you saw all day – please tag it “limeduck” that’s all my personal brand asks.

2. Pecha Kucha vs Battledecks

These two items were on the agenda a couple of times, but I never managed to catch up with them. I’m not even really sure they happened at all. But they make an instructive pair.

Pecha Kucha is a poetry-slam style event where you bring a 20-slide presentation which is advanced every 20 seconds automatically. You present to it and get rated by the crowd.

Battledecks is PPT-backed improv. You go on stage and present a set of slides you’ve never seen before.

Hyper-prepared presentation, or surrealist improvisation – which would you rather do, and which should be a required part of business education?

3. What’s up with Moo cards?

Heck, what’s up with business cards of any kind in this digital age? I’ll rant later about what I think of Moo minicards. More broadly, what goes on a business card and what doesn’t? Website, blog, facebook, myspace, email address, twitter handle, skype name, phone number, latitude and longitude, t-shirt size, maybe even something about what you do? I just wrote @limeduck on some nice cardstock or Japanese paper.

4. Two takes on TangySlice

Speaking of social media overload, I told some people about my friend TangySlice and his “quest for social media greatness” wherein he intends to sign up for 100 social sites in 30 days. He’s almost there, and I think he will achieve his goal, but check out this gamut of reactions:

  • [blink] [blink] Why?
  • Well, if he wants to waste his time, better him than me.
  • A hundred sites? Bah, I have at least 150 already!

Which type are you? Which type was more common at podcamp? Discuss. Then donate to TangySlice’s fundraising page. You can donate a dollar per site in your social media portfolio. It’s for a good cause.

5. Fuck the skeptics

There’s a real risk of groupthink at these events. Where were the doubters and curmudgeons? The people who showed a slide titled “what the f**k is social media” didn’t go too far enough, and when I asked them about the doubters, they said “fuck the skeptics!” To be fair, they were kidding, but I still want more and better dissent. It keeps us thinking. It keeps us honest.

Quack you later.

Trying to teach Twitter at Minado

I met up with some good folks I used to work with for our quasi-monthly “fest.” We chose Minado, an all-you-can-eat sushi and buffet joint in Natick across the street from the shiny new mall that’s too cool to call itself a mall, the Natick Collection. I’m told it’s breathtaking.

Clockwise from lower left: edamame and spicy seaweed salad, tuna tataki, spicy tuna roll, red rice veggie roll, salmon skin roll, tuna roll with scallions, octopus, stuffed mushroom, crab noodle cake. This was my first plate.

The sushi at Minado isn’t really all that grand, but it is reliably ok and individual types can be really good. And there’s a full hot buffet as well. For $40 each, we enjoyed all we could eat plus a drink, tax and tip. I suppose for the same money, you could have a single truffle hamachi maki with a drink, tax and tip at Oishii Boston, but you’d still be pretty hungry. But anyway, I was there for the company.

The conversation turned, as it often does, to social media stuff, as the assembled crowd had for a brief moment in history all worked together in the same marketing team. We compared Facebook notes (L is pretty into it for work, R finds old summer camp buddies there, H and J seem to be staying on the sidelines) and then everybody turned to (on?) me and asked, what’s the deal with Twitter?

I’ve tried to explain Twitter before and I generally fall back on “you just have to try it.” Like the matrix, no one can be told what it is. But I think I’m getting better at my answer now that after many moons of twitter-skepticism, I’m a heavy user and mildly bullish on the whole twitterverse. Here’s my new take:

If you just join Twitter and just start tweeting what’s on your mind, you’ll get bored quick unless you’re extremely self-absorbed. But if you find a micro-community of like-minded, or at least interesting and interested, micro-bloggers, and follow them and get followed — you’ll find yourself in a conversation of sorts. People tweet what they’re doing right now, but that’s not as interesting as when somebody tweets a question or breaks some news or reports on an event in progress, and people comment, reply, opine, and commiserate. And that can be interesting.

It could still be a giant load of hooey, of course. Constant partial attention, too many channels for too little information, tweetspam, the works. So far one of my dining companions has tweeted up and followed me. I hope I haven’t led her too far astray. At least I didn’t try to turn her on to Plurk.

One more social media note before we get back to the food. During the discussion I reeled off a list of social networking, social bookmarking, and other random web 2.0 type sites that I’ve joined recently. The overwhelming response was, good grief, why? Why indeed would I sign up for Gather, for example, when I already have LinkedIn and Facebook? For me, the answer is simple – invest a little energy in signing up and exploring because you don’t know what’s going to get big next, and you don’t want your favorite handle poached. A small investment of time for future brand security. (Speaking of personal branding, let me tell you – and google – that DougH means Doug Haslam – get a hundred more like that and you’re golden)

Now, dessert!

Green tea ice cream, chocolate cake, green jell-o. Why jell-o? It makes me laugh. That ice-cube-sized portion is about all the jell-o I’ll eat in a sitting. I boycotted the crepe station for its lack of nutella, but I’m told it was quite nice.

We’d been talking good trash about how many kappa maki we could eat (I think L’s record at a prior outing was 42) but the downside of such great company and conversation is that we talked more than we ate and were more or less thrown out of the place at closing time.

This reminded me of a great lesson via the excellent Presentation Zen blog. (really, it’s excellent, I even bought the book) Hara Hachi Bu means “eat until 80% full” and is a maxim that keeps Okinawans trim and long-lived. Garr links this idea to presentations, and by extension to business meetings and conferences, which are as chronically overstuffed as typical Americans at buffets and in front of televisions. Maybe this restraint will eventually save us from the flood of wannabe social media sites all doing the same thing or the deluge of pointless Facebook apps. We can dream, right?

Update: as of this writing, I’m in a game of Facebook Scrabulous with three of my four dining companions. It’s R’s turn, what’s taking him so long??

Twitting the feeds, blogging the twits

I’m not going to try and evangelize Twitter. I figure you’re probably already addicted to it, dead set against it, or blissfully ignorant of it. I don’t think it’s the be all and end all, but I’m rather enjoying it. If you’re so inclined, you can follow me there as limeduck.

But I am here to share some geek notes on consolidating your blogging and microblogging, if that’s the way you roll. Inspired by Sockington the cat who has over 200 followers on twitter, I set out to find a way to automate my twittering. I found TweetLater, which allows you to schedule some time-release tweets. More interesting was twitterfeed, which allows you push RSS feeds to your twitter stream.

Twitterfeed uses openID for authentication, a welcome change from having to create yet another user account. It has a number of useful options such as the ability to prefix RSS tweets with some text to identify them as robotweets. In an interesting twist on the usual “beg button,” the creator of Twitterfeed asks that you consider a donation to Burma Cyclone relief. I second that. You can go to Twitterfeed’s suggested charity, to my fundraising page, or to your favorite international relief charity.

So I’ve now set both this blog and my work blog to push their posts to my twitter stream. The complementary step, much more straightforward, was to add a WordPress widget of the RSS feed of my twitter stream. It’s a the bottom of the right sidebar now.

Next stop, figuring how to wire this all into and out of Facebook. I can see the dangerous potential for infinite loops or disturbing depths of self-absorption. Proceed with care.