Posts tagged ‘Twitter’
In “The Tao of Innovation,” which you can find on on psychologytoday.com, Moses Ma writes that “Understanding the psychology of Twitter as a case study helps innovators learn how to better predict and even invent emerging white space market opportunities.” Quite.
What’s particularly interesting is how Ma takes this relatively new technology and shows how it fits into a a nearly 70-year-old theory on human motivation, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s kind of a nice way for marketers to think about the different roles Twitter can play in the lives of its users. Does it soothe their existential anxiety by reassuring them that they belong to a tribe? Does it, as an essentially narcissistic form of communication, raise their self-esteem? Do they use it to self-actualize? Or something else entirely?
The bottom line: Knowing that your target audience uses Twitter is not an insight. Knowing why they do is.
Stephen Strong–Global Director of Interactive at Alberto Culver, connoisseur of fine beers, noted bon vivant, poster boy for all that is good and right in America and a reasonably good amigo of mine–has a post on his Platforms Optional blog called “The Ad:Tech Analysis That The Man Doesn’t Want You To Read!” Rather than quoting anything from it, I think I can best sum it up by sharing a Tweet that Stephen sent me from the floor of Ad:Tech in Chicago:
“This thing [i.e., Ad:Tech] could use a couple bloody lips.”
Let’s be frank about advertising industry conferences. At best they are delightful boondoggles (I’m looking at you, Cannes). At worst, they’re a waste of time. I grant that there is a possibility, albeit remote, that someone somewhere has learned something of value from a speech at Ad:Tech (I say this as a former speaker at the conference). Let us be generous. Maybe even a handful of people have. But in these tough economic times, agencies should be demanding a higher intellectual ROI than conferences deliver. Add up the registration fees, airfares, hotels and meals and you can get into some fairly serious money pretty quickly. This would be OK if not for the fact that most presenters are conferences are ill-prepared, ill-informed, insipid and/or uninteresting. I should note that this is not always their fault. Conference organizers have a bizarre habit of assigning topics to presenters, regardless of whether the topic matches their area of expertise. By way of example, last year at Cannes I was put on a panel about socially responsible advertising–something I was capable of expounding on after putting in a little study, but definitely not in my wheelhouse. (By the way, there is a special place in hell for the organizer of panel discussions–perhaps the greatest time-waste conceived since the weekly status meeting.)
I am proposing a radical alternative that I guarantee will build infinitely more intellectual capital for every agency that adopts it, while costing a tiny fraction of what they are now spending to send people to conferences all over North America and the world. And it’s stunningly simple. Build a reading room at your agency–comfy leather chairs, good lighting, no computers or iPhones allowed, lots of signs that say “no talking.” Once you’ve done this, require every single employee to spend at least eight hours per year in it reading books assigned by his or her supervisor. The reading room must be treated as inviolable. Neither client calls nor nastygrams from accounting about incomplete time sheets may be allowed to breach its threshold. Do this and the people who emerge from the room will in every single case be more valuable than the ones who went in.
Funny thing–the people who actually have something worthwhile to say eventually get around to writing it down. The mere act of writing something down almost invariably means it is more thought-out, better argued, and more complete than the alternative we get in spoken form. Proclaiming this is heresy, of course, in the age of the image and presentation. Yet I am not about to argue that image and presentation are unimportant. What I will argue, however, is that the people who have spent time reading, absorbing and learning the wisdom contained in the great books written about advertising over a period of hours (rather than being exposed to lesser thoughts for a matter of minutes) will in every case be better prepared to leverage what they know in their work and share what they know in their own presentations.
So if your objective is merely to reward your people, keep sending them to conferences in Vegas, Austin or Dubai. But if your objective is to make them better and more valuable, tell them to sit down, shut up and read.
You may recall all the dust kicked up a few weeks ago by the Current TV agency search. In order to advance to round two, agencies had to make their submissions on Twitter. Many responded–some cleverly, most less so. A bird on the inside of the process tells me there are deep political and strategic divides on which direction the network should be headed. There have been significant staffing changes at Current TV as well. To protect the innocent, I shall not go into further detail here.
As a result of all this, the network’s agency search has been delayed (you may wish to read that as “canceled”).
While I would like to think the network has delayed the review to get all hands on deck and put them to work trying to free its two reporters who are now languishing in one of Kim Jong Il’s prisons, I doubt it. Mere marketing types are rarely invited into such lofty orbits. That being the case, I have two words for the management of Current TV about their calling a review, getting agencies to spend a lot of time (hence money) responding to it, and then yanking the emergency brake: Not cool.
Of course, in this economic climate in which most agencies would cheerfully rip the still-beating heart out of a kitten for a chance at a little revenue, I’m certain that if the review starts back up in a few weeks with entirely different parameters, agencies will come running.
In today’s New York Times, a story by Brad Stone and Noam Cohen, “Social Networking Spreads Iranian Defiance Online,” almost makes up for all the idiotic tweets and Facebook updates you’ve had to endure (“Shoes feeling a little tight, need to trim toenails before bed”) while trying to figure out what to do with social networking. Maybe social networking is not about sharing the stultifying details of your life. Maybe it’s not a new way to sell stuff. Maybe it’s about creating momentum for social change. Not only do Stone and Cohen show how people in Iran are using digital tools to coordinate their protests, they also make it possible for you to monitor what’s going on in real time:
A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. One feed, mousavi1388 (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar), is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and in English. It has more than 7,000 followers.
Mr. Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook has swelled to over 50,000 members, a significant increase since election day.
This is more than social networking. This is the disintermediation of news. No reporter or state filter of information stands between events and the public. It’s a powerful concept, and one that will be extraordinarily difficult for the marketers of the world to monetize. I am not convinced that is a bad thing.
Current TV has informed me that I was mistaken about their intention to limit their short list to 5. The email I received reads as follows:
“The original number of agencies we had planned on receiving the RFP was 10. 5 that we had determined before TwitteRFP, and 5 from Twitter. TwitteRFP was meant to fill the remaining 5 slots, rather then fill those slots the traditional way.”
I regret the error. Nevertheless, the number of agencies that advanced–17–is still a good deal higher than the 10 that were originally promised. In fact, 17 is a high enough number that, were economic times not so tough, I believe some agencies would have opted out of the next round. Even so, I wish Current TV nothing but the best in their search for a marketing partner.
Angela Natividad at Adrants provides a helpful (albeit incomplete, I have heard from a number of people involved) summary of the results–and perhaps more importantly, some of the submissions–from the recent Twitter-based RFP issued by Current TV. Check it out here and see what agencies like 22 Squared, Modernista, the Wexley School for Girls and the client thought were clever.
You can also see the agencies (and some of the submissions therefrom) that the client thought weren’t quite clever enough. (There’s nothing more fun than showing your idea to a virtual stadium full of people and being smote down for all to see, eh lads?)
Despite the circus that sprang up around this RFP, I’m not sure I see this method catching on. For one thing, I’ve heard a number of complaints that the short list didn’t remain short. In other words, Current TV started the process off by assuring participants that five agencies would advance. 17 did. How many agencies would have been willing to raise their skirts over their heads on Twitter if they knew the reward was a 17-to-1 shot at the business?
More to the point, however, the creativity with which an agency can respond via Twitter is a measure of something, but I’m reasonably sure it’s not a good measure of its ability to deliver the panoply of marketing services that most clients require in an increasingly complex media landscape.
Nevertheless, a tip of the hat to Jordan Kretchmer and Current TV for kicking up some dust around their brand and, one hopes, teaching agencies a bit about how to calibrate their responses the next time something similar comes around.