twitter for tv

March 31, 2009 · 0 comments

as i'm known to do (not widely albeit, mostly by myself) on a monday night, i watched 24 with a laptop, following along to the #24 hashtag on twitter search. it occurred to me just what twitter could mean to the broadcast world. what a boon for the industry twitter possesses.

tv programs have always been a point of socialization. it's just been the days following the airing at the water cooler and limited to your social network. twitter holds a future of mass socialization in real time around tv programs. an enhanced experience that truly elevates the overall product. something everyone can participate in together, at once.

the opportunity for networks is in making appointment viewing again. to make an event that brings the audience and consequently the advertising dollars. to make the tv broadcast more meaningful again. to embrace a richer experience that can't be had on-demand, neither online nor through pvr. and to prove to advertisers a deeply engaged audience.

networks take notice; there is a place for you on twitter beyond just touting your programming. granted there's no socializing around bad content (at least in a positive way), so make it talk worthy and share worthy. stop cutting back.

so what can the broadcasters do?

  • inject the stream with more content elements that build a better and more detailed story arc
  • involve the actors/stars/hosts/contestants past and present
  • provide a director's commentary type context to the program
  • behind the scenes content
  • answer questions
  • build more suspense, intrigue, interest or anticipation in current and future episodes
  • fill in story gaps
  • incorporate real time tweets or tweet polls (hastagged yes or no) into live programs
i'm sure there's many more options, but that's a fairly robust menu of options to make for a greater experience. there's countless ways to facilitate this too from network specific twitter clients filtering the stream and adding other audio/video content beside to incorporating it into the broadcast itself. all i'm saying is there is vast opportunity to be capitalized on.

the facebookizing of twitter

March 29, 2009 · 0 comments

after the last post where i gave my thoughts on the twitterizing of facebook i started thinking about how to facebookize twitter a little. i do love that twitter is so very simple and uncluttered, but i do believe they could be a bit more social. certainly not going so far as to diverge from the core of what makes twitter so great and loved, but to add a few features to enhance the overall experience.

here's some things i think could make twitter better:

more profile information
as twitter becomes more and more the virtual presence of people on the web (at least one of them), i think we could have the ability to feature more information on the person behind the @. it's pretty limited right now where you only have a 160 characters for your bio and a website link that gets cut off. i often see people trying to get around this by making a background picture with a lot of the info, but it doesn't always work. so just building it in makes sense.

more customization
i don't mean to the extent that myspace allows you to create such an ugly profile, but allowing users to make the profile more their own. could be as easy as simple blog type features to incorporate a few widgets or pull in rss feeds. just more personalization.

who's following who
as it is now, there's no easy way to know what new people the people you're following are now following. you could go to each of the people you're following and see if there's anyone new, but that's a bit cumbersome isn't it? especially if you are following more than say 50 people. it makes sense as your social network expands, and as the twitter user community grows, to continue finding those interesting people, that those you find interesting, also find interesting.

message threading
not only for the main stream, but dm's as well. especially dm's because right now, they are just a jumble without the ability to sort, group, file, etc. in the stream, some lessons from friendfeed in how conversations appear could go a long way.

similar to how you can sort your news-feed in facebook and similar to how you can set up groups in tweetdeck. simply an easier way to manage your stream, prioritize people and separate like content.

a few thoughts. nothing i think strays from the core functionality of twitter and nothing i think detracts from the experience. maybe adding these features is a revenue route. charge a small fee to allow you to add these features to your profile.

the twitterizing of facebook

March 19, 2009 · 0 comments

the internet is in uproar about the latest facebook redesign. i wanted to wait until i was able to use it for a while before i weighed in. well, i'm not alone in disliking it as a poll application on facebook has tallied 94% 'thumbs down.'

my issue with the change is how facebook is attempting to be more twitter-like. forget about how they're so openly scared of what twitter could do to their business, it's about moving away from what made them so successful and ingrained with people's lives in the first place.

the new redesign puts increased emphasis on the status update, attempting to match the tweet as a real-time lifestreaming tool. but it's been done to the detriment of everything else facebook is used for. i think this is too narrow for facebook users.

see, tweets were always far more reaching than "what are you doing now" as twitter purports to be the question driving what people do in the community. instead it's part 'what am i doing now', part sharing, part dialogue, part breaking news, part mobilizing people and part self promotion. facebook status was never that and would say still isn't except for those people who direct import their tweets as their status.

one thing facebook did add was the ability to comment on a status or 'like' it. great addition and one that i use heavily. it's great for conversation threads around a particular topic/status. where they fell short is that comments, which are the conversation and the power of social media, are not propagated in the message stream. no one knows you commented unless they happened to see the original update. a bit of a miss.

back on track. the part of the change that bothers me is that everything other than status updates and wall posts are in the news-feed. everything else is shunted into the never read right-side column. to me, this is a terrible move. facebook is so much more than a status update and yet that's all that matters now.

facebook was great because it was multi-functional. it allowed people to share so much of themselves and had great utility across all the interest points of social media. photos, link sharing, messaging, events, video, applications, notes, gifts, and chat amongst others. apparently these don't matter as much anymore. facebook long sold that they were the largest photo sharing site on the internet and now you're not alerted as well that people are posting them. you can still get at them and all that other stuff, it's just a lot less obvious.

my point in all this is why make for another twitter when you already have something unique and good already? other twitter clones have failed (pownce, jaiku) so why try to be somehting you're not? to alienate your user base? because that's what you're doing. if facebook users wanted twitter, they'd go to twitter. or maybe they think because they are so big now, they can force this on people and instantly create a viable twitter competitor where the others failed.

it makes even less sense when you factor in that facebook is a walled-garden. users can't get at the breadth of streams they can in an open environment like twitter. you can't hear from news sources, personalities, companies, celebrities, or non-friends in your profession on facebook as you can on twitter. yes, the new fan pages open up message streams, but generally people don't have that many fan pages (we ad types do because we're seeing what's going out there). certainly no one has fanned the number of people twitterers tend to follow.

it seems pretty unanimous that facebook should revert to what it was and leave twitter to their niche. facebook is so much more than twitter and that's a competitive advantage. what is wrong with the existing ability to integrate twitter into your status? just because the update didn't originate with facebook doesn't diminish it. the coming months should be interesting as twitter continues to explode.

in the end it boils down to how people will use facebook status. will they start using it like a tweet? will it ever become the twitter equivalent of all the reasons why people use twitter now? my guess is no. at least not in the immediate future because it's not how they've used facebook and, again, if they wanted to do twitter-like posting, they'd just go to twitter.

thinking visually

March 10, 2009 · 0 comments

how do you think? visually i hope.

unknowingly, i started doing this last august when at work, i devised a few visuals to illustrate some key strategic points. only after that did i come across a gentleman who is a master at this art. his name is david armano and not only does he have a knack for coming up with great new ideas, but visually representing them. once i saw his work, i was converted.

here's armano's syllabus on thinking visually:

i'm writing this because the last 3 weeks of my job has been consumed with one project, that at every chance, i tried to apply visual thinking. i'd like to believe that the work was better and the points were made more effectively because of it.

thinking visually is all about communicating an idea not entirely through words, but with images diagrams, art, photos or line art. it's weaving these elements into a clear, cohesive and meaningful representation of a thought or idea. it captures the idea and all the context into a concise snapshot that people can easily recall. think of it as a packed box - everything goes into the box but simply looking at it with 'kitchen' written on it tells the entire story.

there's no official rulebook to thinking visually, but here are a few considerations that i came up with:
  • words can't always be replaced, but use them sparingly
  • save it for the big ideas so they stay powerful
  • it's not just putting a picture on the page
  • aesthetics complete the sale
  • distill them, make them unconfusing and focused
  • use words as tags and let the visual explain
  • they don't always stand on their own - add context
armano has the gift of being a good designer and artist, which makes his visuals pop. unfortunately, i don't have those gifts. my tool of choice is a powerpoint. the latest version has some great tools embedded that will take you far in thinking and expressing visually.

i think this is a powerful way of applying yourself that makes what you have to say more compelling. it's more than just impressing people with creating eye candy, but conveying the idea in an interesting, thought provoking way. people will take more notice to your ideas, not because it looks pretty, but because the idea has been presented in such a way that is intuitive and more impactful than just words. from a guy who knows little brevity, visually thinking is a great way to condense what normally takes me a hundred words to do.

here are a couple of resources from armano himself that will start you off down the right path:

facebook's missed revenue

March 4, 2009 · 0 comments

today facebook revamped their fan pages, the promise being they will be more socially integrated. when fist launched, the fan pages were promised to be social and bring companies and brands more into the fold of people's networks where the sponsored groups stood outside. well that didn't really happen and they are evolving again to try and fulfill that promise.

this time they got it right. but their approach is foolish and will likely end up ruining the space.

this move, while a great opportunity for brands and companies, is another in a string of missteps and bad plays by facebook. let's set it up. facebook, while experiencing tremendous growth, is struggling to make money. a recent lawsuit against them revealed that their valuation has been significantly downgraded from what was previously thought and what microsoft bought a 1% stake in. bill and ballmer can't be very happy. facebook's struggles are around monetizing the ecosystem they've created and the economy is aggravating the situation as advertisers are vacillating to spend advertising dollars.

so what's the problem with the new fan pages? well, facebook again missed a huge opportunity to add revenue streams and make their business viable as a free, ad-supported platform. this isn't the first time they've stumbled in actually bringing in money and not just bleeding it.

remember applications? yeah, no one really uses them anymore. the opportunity they blew then was not charging developers and companies a fee for developing and listing them. instead, they opened it up to everyone and that lead to their demise. they became trite spam engines that people stopped using after their initial glow wore off. after the last site design overhaul, they were relegated to a place of far diminished presence and importance. i don't lay blame on the developers for creating crappy apps, but facebook for opening the floodgates and allowing crappy apps to proliferate. they needed to be the gatekeepers to ensure quality control and real value was there for users. without a vested interest (ie. revenue stream) they had no reason to protect the space and as such it was ruined.

then there's the ads themselves, the only revenue stream they have. they aren't making any strides to make those much more compelling or interesting. i mean, it's a tiny static picture and 135 characters. not very interesting or compelling. they were okay when they were in the news-feed, but are now relegated off to the side where they can be ignored much easier. they would argue their engagement ads are the answer, but those still live in a place not many people care about. want proof, look at declining CTR and CPMs. also the ads that appear on your profile page and elsewhere are very often of poor quality and carry messages that are little more than spam companies.

facebook connect could probably be a pay model as well, but they missed out on that too. and while we're on missteps, let's also mention their most recent debacle around their terms of service.

that brings us to the new facebook fan pages. what facebook has done is make these look and act exactly like a person's profile. a fan page can now do all the things we do and have those actions be visible to the fans in their news-feed. that's a powerful proposition. brands and companies now fully integrated into their fans social network.

it's ripe for abuse. brands need to be very conscious of how they use these new communication tools. it'll be very easy to over-use them and spam the fans. and it's open to everyone again to do as much as they want.

how could this be averted so the entire facebook ecosystem doesn't become infested with overzealous brands turning people off from even logging on? well a pay model of course. this would have the side effect of actually bringing in money to the company.

i'm thinking first a pay to play system where there is a yearly fee for companies to create fan pages. something in the neighborhood of $50K to $100K. this is fairly nominal for any company to enter the space which provides them with such a robust offering to communicate with their consumers and most ardent followers. it also serves to weed out those who would likely abuse it.

second, to protect the space from over-use and ensure that the people who are there aren't spammed by the brands and companies they are fans of. the revenue model is a pay-per-interaction fee. so every post, or photo added, or comment made, anything really, comes at some kind of fee so companies are smarter about using them.

we could try and pass on the operating expense to the users and make it a pay model, but we've all been trained to expect to use facebook for free. so it will be hard to make that change. so it falls on an ad supported model or more precisely an advertiser supported model.

i'm just fascinated that facebook can continue to stumble through their operations like this. mark zuckerberg is a smart guy, but he is not a smart businessman. he's not proving to be good at making smart moves to make his company viable. i'll be waiting to see how companies use this new space and how facebook could have to backtrack because of abuse.



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