Marketing to a World with a Short Attention Span

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital recently wrote an article for Fast Company reporting that people are spending a record amount of time on social networking sites: Twitter and Facebook, etc.

These sites are so attractive of course because they offer streams of brief information updates. Because these “pipelines” of brief status updates enable us to consume information quickly, many people are neglecting other news outlets. Traditional news websites present well-researched, quality information in well-thought-out formats, but, this sort of information takes longer to process than the quick snippets available on social networking sites.

People’s desire for ever-speedier information and communication is further evidenced by the demise of voice mail. Boston Globe correspondent Beth Teitell wrote an article about how people overwhelmingly prefer text messages to voice mail because they “can’t stand the endless prompts just to hear a longwinded – and often pointless – message.” With impatience for voice mail increasing, a market for services that transcribe your voice mails to text has erupted.

With the reach of online ads on mainstream news sites declining due to the decrease in website traffic, marketers are having to adjust their promotional strategies.

But, these streams of constantly updating information are posing quite a challenge to marketers. How can they break through these streams and reach their target audiences in real-time?

To make their messages stand out, some marketers are posting messages frequently, thereby increasing their visibility. However, these frequent status updates often come across as spamming (a big social media “no-no”). Other marketers are fairing better, by building a presence on all key social networks and integrating information across the different platforms. They’re using social media to build relationships with their current and prospective customers. They’re listening to them, engaging them in conversation, and making them feel as though they belong to their “brand tribe.” And, of course, they’re empowering them to be ambassadors of their brand.

It’s a point that we continue to hammer home, but it’s an important one. New communications outlets require new communication strategies.

Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads

We have addressed it previously on HEAT, but it remains a topic that we consider to be instrumental in helping to conduct effective online lead generation campaigns. LinkedIn, when used properly, is an excellent tool for a variety of sales and marketing tactics, including prospecting, content/collateral distribution, and expert positioning.

To learn more about how to become an advanced LinkedIn user, check out our free webinar on “How to Effectively Utilize LinkedIn for Lead Generation.”

After your viewing, let us know if you have any additional questions about how to make the most of your LinkedIn account.

Recent Study Finds 90% of Tweets are Done by 10% of Twitter Users…So What?

zzaudienceYou may have heard about a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School that found more than 90% of the content posted on Twitter is generated by only 10% of all users. To some, the study results may come across as negative, perhaps enticing social media skeptics to believe that Twitter is overrated, or worse, useless.

To these individuals, I ask: “Why is this necessarily a bad thing?” Just because 90% of Twitter members aren’t highly active in posting tweets does not necessarily mean that they aren’t active in some other way. And, it certainly does not mean that individuals and companies still can’t derive quantifiable value from marketing on Twitter.

The survey results are misleading. Who can speculate that the 90% of idle Twitter users aren’t enthusiastically reading Tweets posted by the active 10% of users? Who is to say that these “idle” users aren’t deriving value or enrichment from the active ones? Obviously there is some proof to this, or companies would not continue to utilize Twitter as a marketing tool, blogger’s would not continue to link to their posts and other trends, opinions and ideas if only 10% of users were reading.

Dell actually revealed in early June that in their 2 years of tweeting, the company has earned over $3 million as a direct result of activities and exclusive promotions via Twitter. Not bad. And, an Indianapolis-based marketing firm followed 17 Twitter corporate accounts over a 3 week period in late May, and found a 24.29% increase in their average follower count. None of these accounts were found to have decreased their amount of followers over the 3 week period. Moreover, the survey doesn’t even shed light on the monitoring tools available (Tweet Grid, Twellow, Radian6, etc.) that allow users to search for tweets from people they may not even be following at that time.

Active social media blogger and tweeter Doug Haslem agrees, mentioning on his blog that “the lurkers, the ‘Idle Class’ of social media, are important…who’s to say they don’t pass along the conversations offline?” Good point. New York Contributing Editor,Will Leitch, not a social media expert but someone who knows an emerging online platform when he sees one (he’s the former Editor of popular sports blog Deadspin), offers a different but equally supportive take in a recent post titled, “Why Twitter Is More Fun The Less You Use It.” Leitch finds enjoyment from reading tweets, not writing them, and he certainly has no problem writing about (read: promoting) the tweets that he reads in his blog posts and conversations.

Twitter is also still relatively new. There is a strong likelihood that the “10% of active Twitter users posting 90% of content” will shift to a more proportioned ratio in the near future. Many individuals and companies are still just starting to explore Twitter, and are hiring agencies to help them develop a more strategic approach.

Bottom line: if your company generates just one possible business lead, has a 1% increase in website traffic, notices important customer behavior taking place or finds out just enough background on a potential prospect, Twitter has benefited your company. If you are just an individual on Twitter for the heck of it, then it’s up to you to determine how to make it valuable.

The Green Revolution

As anyone with more than a few followers on Twitter will tell you, green is the color of the moment. More and more people are coloring their Twitter photos with a green tint in solidarity with the supporters of Iran’s defeated presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi.iran

The movement is being branded on-the-fly with the use of green in all kinds of protests, from soccer players wearing green arm bands to the striking images of hundreds of yards of green cloth snaking through the protesting crowds in Tehran. All of these protests reflect the color of Mr. Mousavi’s political party and these “green” images are being delivered to the world in real-time through tweets, blogs and texts (as well as through traditional media), enabling sympathizers across the globe to stage protests of their own in their home countries. Similarly, these protests incorporate the green brand, along with laser-printed “where is my vote?” signs, so that short of the racial differences, these protests look like they could have been born back in Iran.iran2

But why green, and where did it come from and why has it become such a powerful tool in branding this protest movement? A little research shows that the color green has been associated with Islam for centuries. In fact the decoration of mosques, the bindings of Qur’ans, the covers for the graves of Sufi saints and the flags of various Muslim countries all feature the color green. The Qur’an says that the inhabitants of paradise will wear green garments of fine silk and even during the Crusades, Christians would never use green on their armor so as not to be mistaken for Muslims in battle.

Color theorists suggest that green represents life, renewal, abundance in nature and the environment. Green is also considered a restful color with a calming affect that comes from feelings of balance, harmony, and stability. Of course green has recently come to the forefront of the world’s pallet because of it’s association with the environmental movement and it has in fact become a noun as we all “go green”.

So, there’s some background as to what has likely spawned the adoption of green as the color of protest from Mousavi’s supporters. But what does green mean to you?

Republicans Taking to Twitter to Take Back the House?

In the early 1990s, Republican politicians dominated talk radio. Persuasive speakers used the medium to advance their political agendas (through their own shows, interviews, and ads) and uproot scores of Democratic congressmen, governors, and state lelegislatorsRepublican-vs-Democrat in the 1994 election.

Today, we have an interesting parallel. Republicans are now proactively using Twitter to build up support among the Nation’s younger generation (18 to 24 year olds –-who are typically skeptical of the virtues of limited government, more supportive of gay marriage, and overwhelmingly identify themselves as democrats). On an April 23, 2009 episode of The View, John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain said that “81% of people under the age of 30 consider themselves democrats.”

In fact, a February 17, 2009 Washington Times article reports that Republican politicians have surpassed Democratic politicians on Twitter. Right now, 93 Republicans in Congress use Twitter, compared to 52 Democrats (according to With 806,691 followers, Republican Senator John McCain is the most followed congressman on Twitter. Senator Claire McCaskill, the most followed Democrat, lags behind with 26,765 followers.

So… conservatives are ALL OVER the micro-blogging site?! Say what?! Wasn’t President Barack Obama the one who received loads of press for being a social media guru? Well, although he still boasts 1,463,854 Twitter followers, since assuming the presidency, his tweets have become few and far between, and Republican Congressmen have seized the opportunity to use this technology (and others) to vocalize their concerns over his current policies.

Is there are a reason that they are currently dominating this medium? It may be because they are tweeting to bypass mainstream media and communicate what they’re doing, their ideas, concerns, and agendas directly to the public. They’re also using the forum to solicit ideas for legislation. And, they’re getting a handle on how to use other tools besides just Twitter. A quick glance at their feeds and you will recognize that they are tweeting links to their blogs and to YouTube clips that support their political objectives, and using all channels to respond to the President’s comments in real time. It still might be too early to tell, but it seems like they understand that they have a chance to transform their tired image and leverage these viral tools to reach the millions of younger, voting-age citizens who they have had difficulty connecting with in the past.

So while republicans are still looking at how Obama used Internet technologies to aid his bid for office, they are certainly trying to improve upon his strategies for future runs. What do you think? Is Twitter the new talk radio for Republicans? Do you think the Republican Party will shine online when the next election rolls around?