I'm sure it happened to you at the stadium watching a game, or maybe with your friends in front of the TV while watching a race or perhaps at a live concert. You really can "feel the pulse" of what's going on. There are moments when you are so near and connected to people around you that you can share their feelings almost instantly and that give you a strong sense of belonging. In that very moments you're feeling a link, you can foresee moves of the crowd you're part of, you act like a part of it.
It's something demonstrated from a sociological point of view, there's nothing wrong with it, it doesn't take away your personality or your values as an individual: it has lots to do with survival and groups. This behavior is the object of a multitude of sociological studies, ranging from Herbert Marcuse's "One dimensional man" to Seth Godin's "Tribes".
I was amazed when I first felt such dynamics happening on-line, live. I've had the pleasure to take part to many digital initiatives where many people interact live in real time around and about an event through social media. Well, that gave me the sensation of belonging to it, of being able to understand, share the feelings and interact emotionally with people connected with me. I think this is really what Twitter means when it says it wants to be "The Pulse of the Planet". And probably this is the reason why I like Twitter.
Whoops, it happened again (As Ms Spears would say)
It happened again. To me, yesterday. As many of you would know, June 25th wasn't a very happy day for Italian sports fans like me: our "Azzurri" got kicked out of the World Cup quite badly. But that's not what I want to talk about. My team at We Are Social and I are working on a project related to the World Cup named Parole Mondiali. For that project we interact live through social media with fans, journalists, authorities, influencers and players during the whole month the cup is running. While we were doing it yesterday, monitoring all relevant conversations and interacting with people, I felt I was a part of something and I could share everyone's feelings with a level of empathy that has never been possible simply sitting in front of the TV.
It's not the first time. Here's a few other times I felt like this (and probably you were in one of these, too. (There might be more, but these are the best ones).
When I was participating (from Italy as part of the supporter community) to Procter and Gamble "Social Media Hack Night", following David Armano who was recruiting donors via social media. I found myself suggesting David to get Chris Brogan in to gather his attention and support, with live feedback from them.
When I followed David Armano's (once again) initiative to support his friend Daniela and her family.
When I worked on experience planning and coordinated a big team for the live biggest ship christening of one of the biggest cruise brands in the world, which happened on social media with a worldwide.
This was me. What about you? Have you ever felt "the pulse"?
There's been some concern lately about Twitter introducing a form of paid media inside its model, since Twitter announced the launch of "Promoted Tweets". Even though Dick Costolo explained why it's not just "paid media", but a mix of paid and earned components, many people on Twitter were worried about ads potentially disturbing their Twitter experience. The model is called "Promoted Tweets" and it consists in giving initial visibility to a tweet via paid media, but letting it spread though RTs (which is a typical earned media dynamic). This results in a new kind of Paid + Earned model.
The first worldwide experiment
Yesterday, Twitter launched its first real worldwide Promoted Tweets experiment. The solution proposed by Twitter was ingenious (as Pete Cashmore defined it): without disturbing the normal interactions users made on twitter, the promoted "topic" "Toy Story 3" was put inside the "Trending Topics" section. This section must be activated deliberately by the user and so it's totally "opt-in": the user chooses to see the topics. As you can see from the screenshot below, the "Promoted" nature of the topic is ultra-clear.
Why can Promoted Tweets work well? Because they provide instant gratification to the user. Think about it: who's looking at trending topics? People who want to be aware of "the now" and that would like to point their attention on "what's hot" in this very moment. Promoted Tweets respond to this need directly. Another thing is very important: this kind of "promotion" doesn't delay any other gratification: it doesn't force users to wait before seeing their network's content, it doesn't stop them from interacting, not even for one second.
One thing I love about Twitter is how transparent it is with its users. Promoted Tweets don't take users to a "landing page" with only branded content. It's quite the opposite. Click on the trend that is promoted and you're brought to the page about that trend. A page that's full of user generated content (Tweets). How free is the selection of content. I'd say "totally" right now. Take a look at the first tweet you get after the Promoted Tweet: I wouldn't say it's branded at all or that Disney / Pixar would ever have allowed it in a standard "landing page".
In conclusion, Promoted Tweets so far look like a great idea, very clever and opt-in. I really like the way Twitter is transparently managing the eternal paid vs earned fight making it a paid + earned mashup. Tweet on!
- Personal places: very near and familiar, places people call home;
- Social places: frequented very often and well known, places people call offices or schools, for instance;
- Public places: frequented often, open to everyone and with no personalization, places people call shopping malls or stadiums or cinemas, for instance;
- Immediate personal needs (food and beverage to be consumed during travel);
- Immediate travel needs (e.g. personal care, digital video recording, photography);
- Collection of travel memories (e.g. souvenirs)
- Purchase of items at a lower price
- Purchase of items that are not available in customer's local market
- Travel add-ons (e.g. local transportations or services)
- Geolocation: in airport experience is very much physical. Shops inside it should recognize it and make the most out of geolocation, providing a personalized experience to customers who decide to check-in and share their appreciation for a place. They could foresee specials and tips to make the travelers passage as pleasant as possible. Airlines could do the same with their lounges, too;
- Networks of interest: are you selling tires? Don't talk about rubber, talk about the journey. If you follow this principle (extending your communication beyond product, exploring your brand's themes) you'll build networks of interest. Using social media can be a great way to nurture conversation and drive attention to places focused on a precise passion. Are you selling football apparel? Talk about sport experience and give the best content to the airports travelers through call to action that drive the user from off- to on-line and vice versa.
- Support through flight: give useful social tools to travelers. Lufthansa My Sky Status can be an example: it alerts the passenger's social graph about the flight (timing, departure, landing...);
- Give support: shops and airlines could monitor passengers who ask for help or information on social media while they're in the airport. Providing timely useful information can help a lot in defining a better experience and in gaining trust, gratitude and attention from the consumer;
- Update: activate an information center through social media. Travelers will be informed and activate a permanent communication channel with the airport;
I received a copy of Cherlene Li's new book, called Open Leadership. Charlene is co-author of Groundswell. In this book, she goes beyond the thinking that was set up with it and brings the theme of "Social" to a whole new level.
I've read half of it this afternoon (it's very well written and enjoyable): it applies the concept of "being open" and "being social" to the whole company, not affecting just how businesses communicate and market. It's very interesting because it helps you craft an open mindset gradually, without necessarily needing to completely destroy and rebuild your current company's mindset.
See, for instance, this presentation Charlene set up, explaining how to develop and measure open leadership. It's explained extremely well in the book and has lots of case histories that make the concepts more tangible.
If - like me - you're working mostly on the "outer part" of the company, especially Marketing and Communication, you will find this book as useful as if you worked in HR or Research and Development. It's about changing the mindset and it's full of actionable suggestions.