Tag Archives: twitter


Would you buy KLM a beer?

We live in an era of real-time social brand engagement. When broadcast dies, what do you do? You interact. Engage. Become part of the conversation.

Sports fans (like many) don’t like broadcast. They like excitement.

Does a sports fan want to be spoken to by a brand? No. They want to be equal to the brand.

Would a Fútbol fan sit in a bar for 5 minutes listening to a brand argue why their new ad is the best World Cup ad ever? No. But will they sit in a bar and have the best, all-night, most drawn-out, ugly and ultimately enjoyable on every level of passion imaginable  “discussion” with another fan? Absolutely. It’s what they live for.

To reach fans at the world cup, you have to be a fan. Don’t broadcast, be a fan. Engage.

KLM did.

And got kicked out of the bar. Welcome to the World Cup.

I’d buy them a beer. A Dos Equis.

KLM vs Gael Garcia Bernal

Featured Image by Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports. 



Professional Services: Do you know the difference?

[Updated 1/21/11] A few weeks back, I was having a great discussion with my friends (and fellow Twitter #ProfServ chat moderators) Alan Berkson (@berkson) and Kelly Craft (@KRCraft) regarding our December 23rd, 2010 #ProfServ chat on Value Pricing.

As we discussed and dissected the Value Pricing chat, and how it had evolved over the course of the hour, two themes kept floating to the top of our discussion: 1) how to deal with Professional Services that had become “productized” (sold on a fixed-price basis in a product-like manner), and 2) at what point does a Professional Service cease to be a Professional Service and become a mere service-related add-on to a product sale.

Why is this important? Because almost every industry, from Hardware to Software to true/pure Service industries, uses the term Professional Services, but in slightly different ways that often result in confusion on the part of many consumers. Clarifying these issues helps both set proper expectations across market sectors and can also be useful for service providers in determine pricing strategies  – especially in situations where services are customized verses productized. More importantly, many enterprise customers (especially in large corporations or government organizations) have different pools of budget money for items such as products, support services and pure consulting or business advice services.


As we worked through this discussion process, we found that defining a product was the easy part – any fixed, material good that is sold on an as-is or semi-configurable basis.

But the definition of a Professional Service, or even a hybrid service/product (and the line where a Professional Service becomes a product) was a bit more difficult, including the debate over similar-but-different services such as a barbershop vs. a hair salon or a neighborhood kid with a lawnmower vs. a professional landscaping firm (outstanding service doesn’t necessarily make it Professional Service).

“Un-professional service is not the opposite of Professional Service,
it’s just poor service.”

Let’s use software as an example:

  • Having a software developer design a custom software application is clearly a Professional Service.
  • Purchasing an off the shelf application is clearly a product sale.
  • But what about when you purchase an application and somebody installs it for you? Professional Service? Not in my opinion. It’s product + install.
  • Does it become more of a Professional Service if you purchase software and somebody customizes it for you? Perhaps that is a bit closer to a Professional Service, but not, in my opinion, if the software costs $50,000 and the customization is included in the price or if the actual customization fee is nominal.


This issue becomes more complicated (and important) when you consider the definition of Professional Services across different market sectors – especially with firms that offer a combination of products AND services. For example, many product vendors have Professional Service Groups who provide both pre-sale on-site surveys and design services (usually part of a product sales strategy) as well as post-sale configuration and support (usually part of an ongoing customer support/retention strategy). But their overall goal is to sell products – making money on services is a value-add or bonus (although many firms treat their service organizations a independent profit centers). As such, I would consider this to be a product-oriented firm with supplemental services offerings.

In contrast, let’s take a look at the business services sector (I’ll include strategic planning for business operations, marketing, social media and public relations as good examples here) where a service is being offered, but often results in some type of fixed deliverable (a report, a strategic plan, marketing or advertising materials, etc.). In this situation, I’d clearly lean towards describing any material deliverable as being more of a result of the services being provided, and thus treat this business as a more of a services business than a product business.


After some good back and forth on this particular subject, we opened it up to the members of  our Professional Services Roundtable group on LinkedIn which generated some additional, valuable discussions. We further discussed the topic on our January 20th #ProfServ chat, which brought out even more opinions -all equally valid but many differing considerably in scope and open to a wide range of interpretation.

“I may not be able to define a Professional Service, but I know one when I see one”

Through all of these discussions, from the original conversation with Alan and Kelly, through the LinkedIn group and into our Twitter chat, there was one constant: while we could all come up with consistent/agreeable answer to the question “What are some examples of Professional Services?” (Attorneys, Civil Engineers, Architects, Consultants, Agencies, Strategic Advisors, etc.), we were unable to agree on a clear-cut definition of just what is a Professional Service and what are the defining criteria.

Even trying to scope the issue through a series of questions was helpful, but didn’t lead to any general agreement:

  • Does the ability to value price contribute to the definition of a Professional Service?
  • Does the way you view your consumer help define a Professional Service (does a “client” denote more of an ongoing Professional Service relationship than a one-shot “customer”)?


In a way, this entire exercise reminds me of US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s oft-misquoted statement from his 1964 opinion on an obscenity ruling, paraphrased here as “I may not be able to define a Professional Service, but I know one when I see one”.

Maybe we’re looking at this from the wrong perspective. Instead of trying to come up with a unified description of Professional Services, perhaps it’s more important to answer the question “What is the need for Professional Services?”, a point brought up by Marcio Saito (@Marcio_Saito) during our last #ProfServ chat.

In that regard, I feel confident in the notion that (with a tip of the hat to Geoffrey Moore and his excellent book Crossing the Chasm) Professional Services fill the gap between what a consumer needs and what is available .

So now I’m tossing the question out to you. If you’ve got an opinion or a thought on this issue, please voice it – we’d all welcome your input as we continue to delve into issues of what it means to provide Professional Services.

To keep up with all my posts, you can subscribe to my Email feed or RSS feed.  If you found some value here, or have an opinion, leave me a comment. I appreciate your feedback.

And thanks for reading – Fred.

UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally written, in a shorter format, as a lead-in to the January 20th, 2011 Twitter #ProfServ chat. After the chat, I decided to rework the post a bit to incorporate some of the insights gained from the chat as well as expand upon some of my thoughts that I was only able to briefly address in the original post.


Twitter’s Privacy Invasion (edited update)

NOTE: This is an edited excerpt from a prior post, highlighted here at the suggestion of a few readers who thought it worthy of its own individual post.

For a while now, Twitter has been testing its own t.co link shortener to shorten/wrap long URLs in private Direct Messages sent between users via their website (transparently to the user, btw – you can read more in their June 8th blog “Links and Twitter: Length Shouldn’t Matter“ – a blog that is hosted by Google’s Blogger network and that I doubt most Twitter users don’t even know exists). In a recent email to users, dated August 30, 2010, they explain that the use of t.co will be expanded to all messages, including those sent via 3rd party applications, and that the length of the shortened URL may vary based on the application/device the receiving user is using, to quote:

“A really long link such as http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048http://t.co/DRo0trj might be wrapped as for display on SMS, but it could be displayed to web or application users as amazon.com/Delivering- or as the whole URL or page title.”

As a primarily TweetDeck user, the advantage is minimal to me – it already has a function that shows you what a shortened URL expands into. There is also a “post-click, pre-connect” malware check to ensure that you are not connecting to a bad site – again a feature that I already have in my browser.

But the way that they internally use the t.co link shortener is what causes me concern. All links, including those in private DMs (as well as those already shortened through services such as bit.ly which will be “wrapped” internally by Twitter in the t.co format), will be tracked on a per user/per click basis, allowing Twitter to create a data repository of what links you click, the type of content you are accessing – from news to product/vendor sites – and potentially who sent them. Their justification is “Twitter will log that click…to provide better and more relevant content to you over time.”

Sorry, Twitter, but I don’t need or want you to provide content to me. I follow people, not you, for content and conversations.  And I’m far from thrilled that you will now start keeping track of the links users click in the name of providing relevant content, which could be interpreted to mean anything from suggested users to follow to targeted advertising to whatever you decide is most profitable (it’s the “whatever” that concerns me, as this is potentially valuable marketing information that could be sold to/exploited by 3rd party groups).

Everybody understands that what you publicly post is public, but there is also an expectation of privacy with respect to Direct Messages that are not part of the public timeline, not searchable and not shared with 3rd-party search engines (a variation on their “protected tweets” theme). The thought of Twitter tracking content in private Direct Messages – which have become an alternative to quick email exchanges for many people – leaves me with a Facebook-like “invasion of privacy” feeling.

Will I stop using Twitter? No, its value still out-weighs its disadvantages. But I will start to view it in a different light and will probably be less inclined to click on sponsored or vendor-oriented links.


Twitter: 4 Lessons to Learn about Marketing & Privacy

Last week (along with all other Twitter users) I received Twitter’s “Update: Twitter Apps and You” email. It announced:

“Over the coming weeks, we will be making two important updates that will impact how you interact with Twitter Applications”, namely 1) the anticipated mandatory use of OAuth for 3rd-party application user verification and 2) the expanded use of Twitter’s t.co link shortener as a default standard for Twitter messages.

Most of what they announced was anticipated, but their email, while informative, raised an interesting point about user privacy and was a great example of how not to get out “the message”. Here are four thoughts and lessons that I think Twitter needs to understand, all important to me in judging their progress transitioning from a disruptive startup to a viable long-term business.

1. Twitter doesn’t know how to, or can’t, reach its audience efficiently.

I manage a number of different Twitter accounts and would have expected to receive all of the emailed updates within a relatively short period of time. Sure, they have over a hundred million users, but it took a surprisingly long time for all my accounts to be notified by email (through Sept. 4th) for an announcement that was effective August 31st and partially posted on their blog site on August 30th.

Lesson #1: Announce upcoming updates before, not after, they have occurred.

2. “There are over 250,000 applications built using the Twitter API.”

This statement in the email really got my attention – 250,000 apps is a huge number. But it begs the question “really?” I’ve searched around and can’t find any verification of the number, or a list of more than a couple thousand apps (twitdom.com, lists less than 2,000 leading apps and Twitter’s own “Top Ten Twitter Apps” shows Twitter.com at #1 with 78% user share and UberTwitter at #10 with only 2%, leading one to conclude that there might be just a few “dead” apps lying around there somewhere). Additionally, I’d be very interested in the selection process used when they listed the following examples (especially if I were a Twitter app developer with competing applications):

“applications like TweetDeck, Seesmic, or EchoFon, websites such as TweetMeme, fflick, or Topsy, or mobile applications such as Twitter for iPhone, Twitter for Blackberry, or Foursquare.”

Lesson #2: If you throw out a really big number, people will want to know more. Don’t keep them guessing.

3. Twitter doesn’t understand how contradictions lead to confusion.

From a pure “information” perspective, the email was a bit confusing with some odd contradictory statements.

Example A: Their opening statement “Over the coming weeks, we will be making two important updates that will impact how you interact with Twitter applications” is a bit confusing given that:

1) Their new OAuth policy had already been put into effect as of August 31st, as they stated in their August 30th blog post: Twitter Applications and OAuth (interestingly hosted by Google’s Blogspot.com site), and

2) the expanded use of their t.co link shortener directly involves their own website as well (interestingly, Twitter counts their own website as an application, something I doubt most users do, especially when you take into account the listing of applications in Item 2 above doesn’t include their website).

Example B: The first sentence of their explanation of OAuth (which is probably now, and forever, a meaningless word to 90% of their user base) states that it allows 3rd-party applications to access your Twitter account “without asking you directly for your password”. Humorously, the next sentence goes on to state that “applications may ask for your password”. Granted, they may ask only once, but they could have phrased it differently, such as (my wording):

“OAuth is an authentication technology that requires you to provide your Twitter password only once in order to authorize a 3rd-party application to access your Twitter account. You will not be required to enter your password again for that application. Further, the 3rd-party application cannot store your Twitter password, providing you with an added layer of security (you can even change your Twitter password if you like without having to provide it again to the application).”

Ironically, their August 30th blog post (listed above) does a much better job at explaining how OAuth will work than their email did – too bad they didn’t link to it in their email, or, better yet, use the same text.

Lesson #3: Consistency of message (especially across multiple sources) is critical to credibility.

4. Twitter tracks the links you click, in public or private messages, in any 3rd-party app.

This is probably the most significant point of the entire email update. For a while now, Twitter has been testing its own t.co link shortener to shorten/wrap long URLs in private Direct Messages sent between users via their website (transparently to the user, btw – you can read more in their June 8th blog “Links and Twitter: Length Shouldn’t Matter“). In their email, they explain that the use of t.co will be expanded to all messages, and that the length of the shortened URL may vary based on the application/device the receiving user is using, for example:

“A really long link such as http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048 might be wrapped as http://t.co/DRo0trj for display on SMS, but it could be displayed to web or application users as amazon.com/Delivering- or as the whole URL or page title.”

While this might be a nice feature, it is the way that they use it that causes me concern as the t.co link shortener also includes a “post-click, pre-connect” malware check to ensure that you are not connecting to a bad site and that “Twitter will log that click…to provide better and more relevant content to you over time.”

First off, I don’t need the malware check (a feature that many users already have in their browser or security software). Secondly, that last statement seems to directly imply that Twitter will now start keeping track of the links each individual user clicks, whether they are in public or private Direct Messages and regardless of the app (such as Twitter’s website or any 3rd-party app) – all in the name of providing relevant content, which could be interpreted to mean anything from suggested users to follow to targeted advertising to whatever.

Everybody understands that what you publicly post is public, but there is also an expectation of privacy with respect to Direct Messages. The thought of Twitter tracking what links people click (especially in Direct Messages – which have become an alternative to quick email exchanges for many people) leaves me with a Facebook-like “invasion of privacy” feeling, and that is the last issue that Twitter wants to deal with at this point in their business.

Lesson #4: If you use the phrase “log that click” you must explain exactly how that information is used.

So there you have it. Four points that jumped out at me after reading Twitter’s latest update email. From presentation to content, this email is a border-line #fail.


Tweetsmack: Northrop Grumman and Hitler’s Stealth Plane?

Northrop Grumman – Plenty of job opportunities and an odd desire to rebuild a German “stealth” fighter from WWII.

One of the biggest challenges that I often face is in convincing firms that they are – whether they like it or not – already being discussed online in the social media networks and that they at least have to be aware of what is taking place from a positive/proactive perspective.

To highlight this point, I have randomly selected a group of Fortune X00 companies (all of which will be highlighted in this series) and performed a 24-hour “keyword search” to track related tweets. These tweets are generally a mix of positive, negative, promotional or even humorous musings (“anybody from MyCorp want to get together for drinks after work?”).

I’ve started to refer to negative tweets as Tweetsmack – comments for which there is no corporate reply anticipated or delivered. I believe that they demonstrate that social media is worth tracking to help develop future communications and messaging strategies – strategies that engage this growing base of social networkers who are willing to openly discuss their thoughts in front of millions of fellow tweeters (who are often all too willing to virally re-tweet what they read without question).

I have high respect for all of these firms, and my intent is to educate, not criticize (I am not endorsing the tweets themselves). This current post features the notable defense contractor Northrop Grumman, and while they had plenty of positive coverage, there were also some not-so-kind posts and an interesting linkage to Hitler’s manic desire to dominate the airspace during the waning days of World War II:

Northrop Grumman

  • Tweets: 100+
  • Trend #1: Job or Employment Related Tweets 20+in the first 100 tweets alone
  • Trend #2: Positive News Related Tweets: 25+ (lots of tweets on positive awards)

Possible TweetSmack (negative coverage):


Odd TweetSmack (who really thinks Northrop designed their stealth technology from German WWII fighters?):

What do you think? Should major corporations merely ignore this type of chatter? Or should they monitor it to be aware of what is taking place and proactively use this type of open commentary to help shape their future marketing and communications strategies?

My vote? Monitor anything and everything. Those events that deserve a response will be abundantly clear.


10 Great/Funny/Odd Celebrity Tweets

I guess the first rule of social media is that you are going to occasionally post things that just don’t make sense to the rest of the world. Here are 10 of my favorite [and unedited] celebrity posts pulled from a recent online search.

1. Shaq O’Neal @THE_REAL_SHAQ – May 24th from TwitterBerry
“The san diego wildlife parks sucks, u pay all this money and u cnt evn see the dam animals, Lions , tigers, and bears no way Uaaaw gag …”

2. Jimmy Fallon – @jimmyfallon – May 19th from Tweetie
“It still works. I just slice my fingers open everytime I enlarge something.”

3. John Mayer – @johncmayer – May 21st from TwitterBerry

4. John Mayer – @johncmayer – May 21st from TwitterBerry
[sent immediately after #3] “Just realized I’ve been sending tweets from my pants. In related news, I am naming my penis $oku.”

5. Lance Armstrong – @lancearmstrong – May 28th from UberTwitter
“Hanging out in my hotel room listening to Elvis. Elvis Perkins that is.”

6. Tony Hawk – @tonyhawk – May 27th from web
“wow, and I just realized she took a picture of her pants and posted it. That’s the last time I leave my phone unattended next to her.”

7. Dave Mathews – @DaveJMatthews – May 21st from Twitterrific
“Originally ‘squirm’ was ‘skworm’ but then I wrote the lyrics and thought if I kept it ‘skworm’ people would think I couldn’t spell ‘squirm'”.

8. Dr. Drew – @drdrew – Apr 27th from TweetDeck
“BTW those who post complex questions…I can’t distill a year of treatment in to 140 characters. I wish I could. So sorry….”

9. Penn Jillette – @pennjillette – May 8th from web
“Flew next to Frank Luntz. He introduced himself as we landed. I screamed “F*** you, Frank” repeatedly. We got along great.”

10. David Gregory – @davidgregory – May 28th from web

“I’m at Princeton U for my wife’s 25th reunion and searching for Judge Sotomayor’s paper trail. I’ll probably find the beer tent first.”

John Mayer is by far my favorite. Got a favorite of yours or one that’s better?


Why Twitter Won’t Charge Users


If it doesn’t, it will likely cease to be. But they can’t charge YOU…

A short while back I wrote about why Twitter had to fundamentally shift its model in order to generate positive cash (not to mention ROI). This should be considered a flat-out given.

Over the past few days, there has been much talk about a couple of recent interviews where Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone have discussed some fairly unique ways that Twitter might make a buck or two (and you can’t begrudge them that). [check out TechCruch’s interview, the NYT’s Bits Blog, TechSassy’s commentary or just search Mashable for “Twitter to charge” for an amazing array of money-making options]

Unfortunately, one of my favorite mottos “Viral info can spread just like a virus – this is good. But beware the mutation of information.”, has proven once again to be all too true. There has been an extremely rapid and (unfairly) anti-Twitter backlash against these reports, such as (all real twits culled from the thousands that I got from a “twitter and “charging” search):

  • “what? Twitter is going to start charging? As if I’m gonna pay.”
  • “ok um wow….rumors that twitter is charging $ for making an account?”
  • “WTF!?!? what is this i hear about Twitter is gona start charging??? shit i stop useing twitter in a heartbeat?! :)”
  • “just found out that twitter is going to start charging you cats to post up your shit!!! Haha. im glad im not into this at alllllllllllll :)” [ironic how this guy is whacking Twitter posters with his own post…]

But before we all move to condemn Twitter, let’s take a look at some basic givens:

  1. Twitter is smart enough to realize that they have a valuable commodity in their growing number of users.
  2. Twitter is not foolish enough to try to charge rank-and-file users to tweet. It just won’t happen.
  3. Twitter is aware that cash has to come from sources that both have money and are willing to gain access to users. Millions of them.

So, just where will the money come from? Tossing aside all the talk of “reality TV” or some type of “Twitter-in-the-News” type of program (which might add some revenue, but not enough “ad” revenue to satisfy Twitter’s backers), the most likely source is from corporate-sponsored accounts (where corporations actually use Twitter for things like direct sales, marketing and customer support) or from expanded marketing of their API system. Why?

First, advertising (with open APIs) simply will not work. Unless they are willing to close the Twitter API’s down and stop all the Twitter tools out there from accessing Twitter – like my own fav TweetDeck , Tweeters will simply move to alternative interfaces (unless Twitter replicates ALL of these functions in-house ala Facebook). Sure, plenty of users still use the “web” interface, but the existing interface is underpowered and doesn’t do anything for mobile apps (which are lousy handling advertising anyway).

Second, Twitter has already started to tighten up its APIs and has every right to charge for access to “valuable” assets. Sure, this might mean less alternatives, but Twitter deserves to survive as more than just a $55M experiment.

Third, corporations already recognize the fact that they must play nice with social media networks if they want to have a chance to survive and thrive in the future. The challange here, of course, is in coming up with a definition of just who a “corporation” is – especially given the large number of user accounts that have already found a way to make money off of “marketwing” to other Twitter users.

Finally, I just don’t see a viable market for charging “power” users (ala LinkedIn, which relies much more heavily upon a professional user base). If they go that route, it will just make it easier for firms like Facebook or (I hate to say it) Google to replicate the model.

Ultimately, I may be wrong and way off base. But my guess is that all these “free” add-on applications will start to feel the financial crunch and corporations will be charged to create their own “Twitomains” on Twitter. And no, Twitter will not start charging rank-and-file users anytime soon.