What is Twitter actually worth? A billion? Nada?

18 10 2010

I read an interesting article from Mark Evans pondering what Twitter is actually worth.  Considering that Twitter has yet failed to make any money, it’s an intriguing question and I’ll be eager to see the outcome.  Some have pondered that the company could be worth a billion + based upon its network of over 125 million registered users.  That is a huge potential market and as the popularity of Twitter continues to spread that number continues to grow incrementally.

But a history of no business model provokes other more critical hypotheses that Twitter may actually be worth less than the billion + dollars that many are speculating.

I do see Twitter as a vast social network with incredible potential–an amazing platform for learning and spreading info, making contacts and developing relationships.  But I also have to concur that I’ll be curious to see how the Twitter phenomenon plays out.  Of that 125 million users, I wonder how many of them are actually active users?  I have a strong feeling that the number could be 50%+ less than 125 million.  Potentially more in the range of 30 million or even less.  So many users have registered for Twitter, curious to see what all of the hype is about.  But I’ve heard from such a large number of people that they “just don’t have the time” to stay active.  That Twitter requires too much of a time commitment in order to garner real success.

Although our company has utilized Twitter sporadically with some success, I do know people who are very active on Twitter and swear by it as an incredible viral  network.  And I can’t disagree with that assessment.

But in order to be a truly successful business, the bottom line is…Twitter needs to make some money.  The most obvious source for that income is advertising.  The recent launch of the New Twitter seems aimed at making Twitter more advertiser friendly rather than improving the user experience so indicates that that may be the path that Twitter plans to take to help them monetize.

But will advertising on Twitter actually be successful?  Many red flags come to mind.  There is the potential that Twitter users may not be as open to advertising as Facebook users.  Also, since Twitter requires very little information from a user when they register, its only opportunity to provide truly targeted advertising to businesses would be through content analysis, similar to the Yahoo! behavioral targeting.  But since Twitter doesn’t capture as much demographic info for its users besides where you are from geographically I don’t see the opportunity to target as successfully as Facebook, who can drill down beyond where you live to when you graduated, the schools you attended, what you like, what you don’t like, your current career, etc., etc.

Another big red flag to me is that, since most Twitter users don’t actually utilize the Twitter.com interface as their day-to-day tool for Twitter use, how will Twitter handle the multitude of interfaces such as Tweetie, Tweet Deck, Twhirl, etc. in order to push advertising to their users?  I have to admit that I’m a little skeptical and see some major obstacles in the path of Twitter’s becoming a legitimate business.  But who knows?  They may have some ideas up their sleeves that aren’t apparent just yet.

I guess that time will tell!  What do you think?

–Tracy Marlowe

An Example of Social Media at its Best!

6 01 2010

We worked closely with a client of ours, military-to-corporate recruiter Cameron-Brooks, on setting up their new blog to help them tell their story to the Junior Military Officers that they serve.  We knew that, with their long track record and success in the JMO recruiting industry,there were competitors out there who continually downplayed their capabilities and/or negated some of their claims.  We saw the blog as an opportunity to set the record straight and illustrate just how much Cameron-Brooks cares for the individuals and companies they service. 

When we first brought the idea of blogging to them, they weren’t 100% sure, but have since seen what a strong tool it can be to really connect with their market and create an incredible dialogue that can’t be attained with just a website. 

Like many of our clients to whom we recommend social media, they were worried about the idea that “someone might say something bad.”  We explained that, yes, someone might say something bad.  But that, if they’ll say something bad directly to you in social media, then they are most likely going to say something bad elsewhere anyway.  You might as well give them a platform to express their concerns so that you might address them.

They have since had a few occurrences of someone “saying something bad” and have always handled it with aplomb and turned the situation around so well that it, in turn, just continued to elevate the aura of their company.  Another such occurence just recently took place and I couldn’t help myself but want to applaud right here alone in my office.

I wanted to share it with you.  Please scroll down in the comments on this page and see the question in regards to the Cameron-Brooks length of time in business and the answer by co-owner Rene Brooks.  I think it is an example of social media at its best!

Blogging for Business 101: San Antonio AMA Marketing Mastery Series

4 06 2009

Here are my slides from today’s talk on “Blogging for Business 101″ with the San Antonio chapter of the American Marketing Association, as part of their Marketing Mastery Series.

Hope you enjoyed it!    Blogging for Business 101

A quick update to this post (at 11:20am on Thursday, June 4th).  If you’re having any trouble downloading these slides, please feel free to email me at tracy@creativenoggin.com and I’ll be happy to email you a version of the presentation that may be more compatible with your computer (the one posted is from Microsoft Office ’97-’03 since I thought that would work with most systems, but I can also email you an Office/Power Point ’07 version if that works better).  Thanks!

PS.  If you were at the presentation, please feel free to leave your comments here.  I’d love your feedback!  And again, thanks for attending!

TweetCampSA is right around the corner!

2 06 2009

We’re getting really excited about TweetCampSA, which is right around the corner on July 18th.  Creative Noggin has sponsored this great educational business camp because we are fired up about microblogging and how it can help people and businesses to develop their brand. 

Although microblogging has been around for a while, it has recently captured quite a bit of media attention and, thus, created a large stir in the business community so more and more companies and business folks are jumping on the bandwagon.  That just translates into a much more robust microblogging community for us all!

TweetCampSA is going to offer San Antonio individuals and business people the chance to learn the tricks of the trade from experienced microbloggers.

Interested?  Check out their site!  And be sure to register quickly because seats are limited and are filling up quickly.

Hope to see you there!

The #SAMPRB Tweetup was a success!

1 05 2009

I attended yesterday’s #SAMPRB (for those who don’t know, that stands for San Antonio Media, PR and Business) Tweetup at Paloma Blanca.  I’d say that, overall, it was a huge success. 

Representatives from each faction stood up to talk a little bit about personal branding and how you can use social media, especially microblogging, to improve yours.  There was:

  • @joeruiz to represent journalists
  • @andinavarez to represent the PR folks out there
  • and @nanpalmero to represent all of us using microblogging to help us in business

All three had fairly brief talks, just in hopes of giving a brief overview and sparking coversation by the crowd (over 50 were expected–quite a turnout!). 

Although the speaking overall might have been slightly confusing for someone who was completely new to microblogging and hoping to learn some of the basics.  And the accoustics a little bit difficult–packed restaurant combined with waterfall noise and packed room (okay, I’m just getting old, senile and hard of hearing!)  Overall, it was great, especially the follow up conversation later, for learning a few more tricks of the trade from others with different experiences and perspectives. 

For instance, I’m a twhirl user.  I’ve been using it for a while now and have found that there are aspects about it that make me a bit crazy.  But I didn’t know what else to use since it’s the only application that seems to work for those using multiple Twitter accounts.  But yesterday I found out that Seesmic Desktop is a great alternative for those using multiple accounts.  Can’t wait to try it!

For any newbies who came to yesterday’s Tweetup hoping to learn the basics, please consider attending TweetCampSA which should be chock full of information and extremely helpful for both rookie microbloggers along with seasoned veterans.

Also, Social Media Breakfasts, held each month, are also very informative.  I’ve learned SO much at those as well as meeting some great folks.

Overall, I think the best thing about the #SAMPRB Tweetup yesterday was the chance to meet so many people whose tweets I’ve been reading for so long.  That’s the true purpose of Tweetups, anyway.  Just taking the social aspect to the next level by making it personal!  Not to mention meeting even more folks that I wasn’t yet following but now am. 

I will also add that I liked the organization of this Tweetup.  I think that that added quite a bit to it’s success.  I know that traditionally, the Tweetup has been a more spur-of-the-moment type event with folks calling a happy hour in the afternoon to meet and chat over cocktails.

That might have worked for me about ten years ago.  But now, as a business owner with a hectic schedule, not to mention being a toddler mom with another one on the way, the whole happy hour thing doesn’t work as well for me as it used to.  Although I can arrange the after work event, with some notice, planning and coordination with my husband.  I much prefer something planned with plenty of time to schedule around meetings.  Especially an event that happens during the work day.  That’s why this was great!  I also liked knowing what the topic was up front.  Sorry!  I’m just a major planner.  What can I say?!  I’m sure I’m not the only one out there!

So kudos to Andi, Donna and Joe for an awesome Tweetup.  Keep up the good work!  I’ll look forward to the next one!

by Tracy Marlowe

Who should we “be” when we participate in social media?

21 04 2009

Another great post from well known social media strategist Chris Brogan today on who we should “be” as companies when we are working to develop a social media presence and connect with our audience (or potential audience).  I found it very thought provoking. 

At Creative Noggin, we’re pretty much of the mindset that it definitely depends on your business.  What are your needs, issues and goals?  And most importantly, what does your consumer need from you?  There is research and digging to be done first to answer this question before determining who you should “be” as well as what your key message and where you should position yourself.

Click here to check out Chris’ post.

San Antonio Social Media Breakfast

18 02 2009

This morning I attended the second monthly Social Media Breakfast, hosted this time by Apple Annie’s Tea Room. 

I am so glad that my friend Colleen Pence turned me on to these breakfasts.  What an amazing group of people!  I was really blown away by the collective intelligence in that room.  It included a wealth of business owners, social media/marketing gurus and journalists who are all wanting to keep their finger on the pulse of this ever evolving and powerful giant that is social media. 

The topic was “The media in transition” with an emphasis on the effect that social networks are having upon traditional media and how savvy journalists are forging into and leveraging the social media realm. 

The speakers today included:

•  Donna Tuttle (@writeontime) of the San Antonio Business Journal

•  Laura Lorek (@lalorek) of the San Antonio Express News

•  Elaine Wolff (@emwolff) of the San Antonio Current

•  Joe Ruiz (@joeruiz) of KSAT Channel 12

All four proved to be dynamic speakers and provided a great deal of insight into the challenges that traditional, especially local, media are facing and how they are stepping up to the plate to take advantage of the opportunities presented by social networks.

Each presenter agreed that since this is a relatively new realm for all, there is really no wrong way to delve in it at this point.  Each media outlet was tackling social networking, news sourcing and blogging from a slightly different stance.  But they agreed that we are all still learning and prone to possibly stumbling along the way.  If we don’t venture in we can never hope to master this area.  Experience is truly the only way to figure out what works best.  The worst thing to do would be to worry about “doing it wrong” and do nothing at all. 

Some interesting perspectives included the idea that the true job of the professional reporter is to collect, synthesize, filter and disperse information.  With the growth of social media and the “citizen journalist”, today’s reporters are not becoming obsolete.  While both roles are important, we look to the professional journalists to maximize the resources available to them more so than the typical citizen writer on the web. 

Professional reporters generally have years of experience and training and should be better able to filter though all of the sensationalistic information available and boil it down to the true news that is worthy of being told.  Then, most importantly, they must fact check and craft that information into stories that aren’t just digestable by the public, but interesting and relevant.

Not to downplay the citizen journalist.  After all, that’s what we all are basically if we write a blog or put content out on the social mediasphere. 

But someone in the breakfast pointed out that most of today’s known and trusted reporters have spent years working their way up from the bottom.  Many starting in small publications.  Some even getting their break on the obituary desk right out of college and writing their way up the food chain.

Meanwhile, citizen journalists can basically hop online today and be writing directly to an international audience within minutes without any prior experience. 

It just means that we as internet news consumers have to continue to always consider the source.  And thus underscoring the importance of a trusted, experienced journalist as a news source.

Even with the dawn and embrace of social media, there are still strong brands that have been developed by traditional media sources.  People have been turning to these trusted news sources for years, even decades, and they still turn to them as a constant resource to provide them with the true news that they are looking for.  Some may still read the paper.  Some may go online.  But they still turn to that name that they trust, as long as the news still seems pertinent and current.

Another important job of the reporter that was pointed out was staying tuned in to the pulse of what is happening on a local level and keeping a local market informed.  Everyone loves CNN.  But CNN isn’t going to tell you about the local judge who was just uncovered purchasing kiddie porn through a sting operation.  It will still be the local news you will turn to for such stories and local reporters we’ll have to trust to do that kind of digging.

It was discussed over and over again that one of the greatest things about social media for reporters is that the resources for stories have turned from a trickle into a waterfall.  There is now an never ending resource of information for reporters.  All they have to do is send out a Tweet on a topic, and a flood of information comes pouring in.

The job now is to filter it down into only what is factual and relevant.  And who best to do that than a reporter?

And who else is better than a reporter to point out what is true news and what is sensationalist.  We discussed the balance in how traditional media is shifting to the online realm and still trying to monetize so as to maintain a strong business model.

The reporters want to tell the news.  The business owners want a 20-30% profit margin.  Where’s the balance?  A new economic model probably needs to be explored as the balance between traditional and digital media is found so that a happy medium is found and that the news continues to maintain integrity.

If news shifts to all online and the business model is based upon pay-per-click ads, then stories will abound about Eva Longoria and Tony Parker buying a new puppy just so that they can get the clicks. 

But is that the news we truly want our journalists focusing on just so they can pay their salaries.  I think not!

Anyway, it was a really inspiring and enlightening breakfast this morning.  I wish that I could get that fired up over my cereal every morning before going to work!

As markets age and younger markets move more and more to the web for their news, it’ll be interesting to see how traditional media will continue to evolve and embrace the Internet as a conduit for news collection and distribution. 

How do you see traditional media continuing to change?  Do you think newspapers will ever go away?  At least the printer versions? Any ideas on how traditional media could better leverage social media and the Internet to make money?  Do you trust professional journalists more than you do citizen journalists?  I would love to hear from you!

by Tracy Marlowe


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.