The perennial, and obvious solution, is to incorporate ads into the service, but so far Twitter hasn’t tried it, except for very limited experiments.
The good news for Twitter, and its investors, is that the microblogging service’s user base is pretty receptive to advertising, in general terms, because it’s pretty receptive to just about everything on the Web.
So says research group Interpret LLC, which has a new study out today, conveniently enough. From the release:
Twitter users are twice as likely to review or rate products online (24% vs. 12%), visit company profiles (20% vs. 11%) and click on advertisements or sponsors (20% vs.9%) as those who only belong to traditional social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace. The data suggests that Twitter users uniquely demonstrate higher engagement with brands, not just with “tweets” they post.
These statistics are self-reported, and Interpret doesn’t say how big a sample its survey used, so take them with as much salt as you like. But they seem intuitively and directionally correct: Anyone willing to plug into the waves of information that Twitter pumps out is likely engaged all over the Web.
Note what the Interpret report doesn’t say: That Twitter users are eager to have ads inserted into the service itself.
Doesn’t matter. At some point, they’re unlikely to have a choice about that because it seems hard to imagine that Twitter can ever deliver on its investors’ sky-high expectations without generating some kind of money, somehow from Madison avenue.
Which is exactly why Biz Stone and crew, who once made a point of expressing their derision for ads, now make a point of saying that ads may not be such a terrible thing, after all.
Over the course of the past 27 years of my life, I have been blessed to have known and loved nine different grandparents. No doubt this is a gift that few others ever receive. Unfortunately, over that same period of time, I have watched four of those grandparents battle Alzheimer’s disease.
For those that have had a loved one live with the disease and for those that have been thrust into action as a caregiver, you’ll know what I mean when I say nothing is ever the same when Alzheimer’s rears its ugly head and ruins the party. To see the disease in action is to despise it, resent it and try to fight it until it no longer exists.
It disrupts and destroys lives, families and enormous human potential. It is a disease that over 6 million North Americans suffer from and that is only the number of people diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s. I am sure there are millions more who are living with it who have yet to seek the proper help to get the formal diagnosis. Count to 70 and when you finish know that another person in the US has been diagnosed with the disease. Scary.
I grew up as a huge fan of the Canadian rock band Rush. And one of my favorite songs was called “Losing It,” where Geddy Lee ends the song by opining, “Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it, so to the blind who once can see, the bell tolls for thee.” I have often thought of these lyrics in connection with my four grandparents who battled Alzheimer’s.
Was the privilege of getting to know and learn from these grandparents worth the heart breaking path we were led down as we watched them lose the very things that make humans human? Things like independence, the ability to remember one’s history and loved ones and most tragically, the slow erosion of one’s integrity. To lose one’s memory is one thing, to lose one’s integrity is entirely something else. Might it have not been easier and a whole lot less traumatic if, like most people, I knew only a few or none of my grandparents?
It certainly would have been easy to believe that. After all, I still have very vivid recollections of what Alzheimer’s did to my grandparents. I remember watching my grandfather consistently try to eat his soup with his fork and frustratingly try to put his pants on upside down. I remember listening to my grandfather ask my grandmother who she was and what she was doing in his house. I remember driving my other grandmother to my house for a family dinner and have her question me over and over and over again where we were going and why I had kidnapped her from her apartment. Not exactly the kind of memories any of my grandparents would want associated with their last years of life.
The one way I have been able to trump those Alzheimer’s fueled memories is to honor and focus on the wonderful people they were before Alzheimer’s stepped into their lives. Selfishly, I needed to find ways to do this so the memories that would be indelibly imprinted in my mind were the many profound good ones as opposed to the degrading bad ones.
Many of the profoundly good memories relate to a common theme that ran consistent amongst all my grandparents. The theme was their unwavering commitment to helping those less fortunate than themselves. Whether it related to economic, medical or family issues, there have been numerous times in my life I watched them reach out to help others. They generally did so quietly and without fanfare but they always took great pride in their contributions. They whole heartedly subscribed to the motto “community service is the rent we all need to pay for living.”
It is very much within that theme and very much consistent with a focus on these profoundly good memories (and thank goodness there are lots of them) that has developed within me a burning passion to do something to get us closer to eradicating Alzheimer’s from my life and the lives of those around the globe.
So in memory and honor of my grandparents, I wanted to create something that would be global, scalable and permanent. I have spent the last 10 years of my life dedicating a significant amount of time engaging in traditional efforts to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s research and care. This time around, I was committed to using the efficiency and low cost nature of technology to make something monumental happen in their honor.
To that end, on Monday, September 21 (World Alzheimer’s Day) I launched a Twitter based movement called A Million Tweets to Remember (Twitter handle @1Mtweets). The primary goal of the movement is to gather a million tweets that digitally memorialize people (past and present) who have suffered from Alzheimer’s. We have also added a fundraising component to the movement by asking people to consider donation a minimum of a dollar for every tweet.
Importantly, the triple meaning of the word “remember” in the title of the movement really encapsulates what I hope this movement ultimately will be about:
• The opportunity in perpetuity to digitally remember a loved one with Alzheimer’s
• The opportunity for all of us to create a tweet which allows us to remember all the good qualities of the person we are memorializing through the process of compressing it to 140 characters
• The reality that every Tweeter will remember being part of this movement but, sadly, those they tweeted about would not have the capacity to do the same thing
The early results are encouraging with thousands upon thousands of tweets shining a significantly bright spotlight on Alzheimer’s and all its nasty implications. Most heartening is that we have had people from 58 different countries participate so far and we are only on day three!
My mom has a saying, which I think is perfect for each and every one of us who chooses to join the Million Tweets to Remember movement: “If it is to be it is up to me.” Hopefully, we will have one million “me’s” who all feel the same way. No doubt there are millions of people above looking down on us and hoping for the same thing even if they won’t remember tomorrow what they hoped for today.
Jordan Banks is the founder of the Alzheimer’s based Twitter movement A Million Tweets to Remember, former CEO of JumpTV and former managing director and second employee of eBay Canada.
This morning, Glam.com – the model of the new network model of media – extended its Twitter aggregator, Tinker.com, into news at Tinker.com/news. It’s very simple and that’s what makes it intriguing: headlines mixed with current discussion of them.
Yesterday, New York Times digital strategy head Martin Nisenholtz also talked about adding value to Twitter and news here.
“If you go out and search Twitter, it doesn’t work very well,” he said. “It’s very literal.” But if The Times can build multiple search products for Twitter that better understand context, there “is a lot of power in organizing and curating this world.” Therefore, the company is looking into building similar Twitter aggregators for what could be “thousands of categories,” he said.
Note, by the way, that Nisenholtz was misquoted in Twitter yesterday (which I retweeted) saying that 10% of Times inbound links came from Twitter. He emailed to correct. What he said was that they were about to move into the top 10 referrers, based on the current growth rate.
Also note, by the way, that Glam just reached profitability. Many media execs I know scoffed at Glam but now they’re dying and Glam’s growing. The network model works. And the link to people’s conversations – in both these examples – will not only help media but will be a key driver of value. I’ve pointed out here before that Google News causes a billion clicks a month but so does Bit.ly (and it represents only part of Twitter’s traffic). At the Knight-funded Aspen event on new business models for news, Marissa Mayer said we must find the ways to insinuate news into everyone’s stream (and, I’ll add, vice versa).
Two of the competitors in the online poll race are taking it very, very seriously.
TruTV anchor Ashleigh Banfield and CNBC anchor Suze Orman are two of the final five, and much of that is their own viral campaigning. We hear Banfield actually sent an email to friends asking for their vote. If you’ve got a copy, pass it along to tips@Mediaite.com – we promise to publish it anonymously!
Meanwhile, here’s what Banfield put out on her Facebook fan page:
Round 4 of that Good Morning America Poll just got underway!
And the voting starts from scratch all over again!
If you have a moment, could you please support me again by clicking on this link
Please feel free to …post this on your FB Pages and Twitter.
You may vote from all Computers, Blackberries, and Phones etc, but only once from each.
I’d be very thankful!!
As for Orman, she’s been enlisting the help of her Twitter army – more than 700,000 strong – with tweets like this: “If you have not yet done it go & vote for me for the new anchor for GMA- this is for fun but it is fun to win.” (She has also appeared in a video talking about the contest).
We’re not sure if Banfield and Orman think ABC News President David Westin is going to be factoring the results of this poll into the decision to name Sawyer’s replacement…but it seems highly unlikely.
Then again, when I was at TVNewser we ran a poll to see who would be Alan Colmes‘ replacement on Hannity & Colmes, and Sean Hannity’s personal website linked to the poll and drove up votes for the “Hannity Solo” choice.
For what it’s worth, we had Banfield at 9:1 to win the seat in our Mediaite Oddsmakers about the open seat – Orman didn’t make the list. As of this morning, Banfield sits at 39% and Orman at 36%, far ahead of the rest of the pack.
Again, here’s our tip email address: tips@Mediaite.com
Does The New York Times want to be your new favorite Twitter search engine? The paper announced its plans to build a new set of smart search tools to zero in on “thousands of categories” worth of tailored information.
It’s yet another sign of the Times‘ shift from an entity fueled by paper, ink, and news trucks to a creature of the Web.
According to Mediaweek, “The venerable news organization is exploring plans to build search products which can sift through thousands of Twitter feeds and pull together commentary on specific narrow topics.” In doing so, it hopes to overcome the “literal” nature of normal Twitter search and to build a smarter, more user-friendly aggregator to be plugged into the site.
This could help drive traffic both ways; people could go to NYTimes.com to use these tools, and they could encourage Twitterers to turn out in greater numbers. Twitter is already growing into a formidable force with respect to the site’s overall traffic: AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka reports by way of Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty that “At its current growth rate, Twitter is, or will soon move into, the top 10 in terms of referrals to NYTimes.com,” though Kafka estimates that this currently puts it in the low single digits as a percentage of the site’s overall traffic.
Beyond driving traffic to the site, an NYT-branded Twitter killer app could potentially give the New York Times Company something that it badly wants: a new source of online revenue that doesn’t come from newspaper sites. Last year, the Times reported:
At The New York Times Company, online revenue grew a healthy 13 percent in the second quarter. More recent figures indicate sluggishness at the company’s newspaper sites, however. At The Times’s News Media Group, which includes newspaper sites like The Boston Globe, The New York Times and regional newspapers, online revenue grew only 0.9 percent in July and 7.9 percent in August, well below the usual double-digit growth.
According to Business Insider, an estimated one third of NYTCo’s Q2 2009 earnings before before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization came from About.com, a cash cow which is by no means a trendy, up-and-coming site. Twitter development could be a welcome supplement.
And it doesn’t hurt that so many Times personnel are rabid Twitterers themselves; as Gawker reported, the paper sent out an email in June asking its newsroom not to install TweetDeck on their computers, lest it suck up all their memory. Hopefully the new tools won’t suck them in too far.
The Twitter “retweet” is the method by which tweets are replicated and responded to, thus passed on to more and more followers, using the user-generated lingo “RT,” and has become one of the most important aspects of the social networking service. As part of his upcoming The Social Media Marketing Book, viral marketing scientist (yes, in 2009 this job title exists) Dan Zarrella has compiled a 22-page report called “The Science of Retweeting” after “nine months analyzing roughly 5 million tweets and 40 million retweets,” according to a blog post from Fast Company. Though the full report is set for release tomorrow, Zarrella offered Fast Company’s Dan Macsai a preview of his findings, including the “nine most effective ways to get retweeted on Twitter,” thereby ensuring viral viability.
According to Zarrella, there are ways to maximize your exposure. Though the principles sounds simple, and dare we say, even inconsequential, it is crucial to realize the growing importance of spreading one’s ideas online, especially in the face of an uncertain future for journalism.
When layoffs hit a local paper last month, one newly jobless journalist was indignant as he wondered, “How is the fact that I don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account relevant to what I do?” But as circulations continue to fall and online readership rises, simple tactical adjustments must be made to ensure the proliferation of your news and ideas over others.
Based on Zarrilla’s report, Fast Company has a very detailed overview of the report, complete with charts and graphs so be sure to check that out here. But below is a quick breakdown of the steps you can take to increase the chances of being retweeted:
- Use links, but be careful which URL shortener you use
- “Please” and “retweet” are the third and fourth “most retweetable” words — so ask nicely!
- Don’t actually use Twitter to tell people what you’re doing at the moment
- Abbreviations and emoticons don’t cut it
- Punctuation is good, but avoid semicolons
- Be first with ideas and news
- Utilize proper nouns
- Negative emotions and complaints are to be avoided
- The time and day you tweet on do make a difference
For the full list, as well as helpful charts and graphs, here’s the rundown.
Photo via Fast Company and Dan Zarrella