Monetize Your Tweets? Hmmm…

A new service is creating allot of buzz in the Twitter world.  The service is called Magpie and the purpose of the service is inject ads into your “tweet stream” that in turn, go into the stream of your followers.  The hope of the service for the advertiser is to target your audience based on your posts and keywords and to send ads to those in your community that best match.  You can get all the details on how this works at http://be-a-magpie.com/how-it-works .  Take a look at the following pic to get an idea what this would look like in the Twitter stream.

#1 shows how Magpie randomly inserts ads promoting the service into your stream, and #2 shows what an actual ad looks like.  This pic was screenshot from someone I follow and as you can see, the self promotion and the actual ad occured only two “tweets” apart.

The idea of monetizing your work and leveraging your social network is not new, but this new service raises some interesting points of conversation and discussion;

  • Is monetizing your followers, a violation of the community aspect of Twitter?
  • Will followers be “turned off” by ad inserts? Will they care?
  • Can real money be made using this type of service?
  • Will use of this type of service cause followers to “unfollow”?

Twitter is the clearly the “micro-blog” of choice at this time.  It may not have the features of other services available but its has simplicity, elegance and a myriad of tools to make it work on phones and other devices.  Twitter is everything from a business communication outlet, a personal update space, a promotional tool, an instant news resource to a discovery of new things platform.  It is also a community where people converse, have bursts of dialog and share information.  So will a service such as Magpie cause an interruption of the conversation?  It seems the so far, the tweet stream is saying it will.

So lets say you are willing to risk followers in order to make some money on your Twitter stream.  What kind of money can you make?  According to Magpie, this is what my Twitter stream could be worth.

According to the site, I could collect up to 330.66 Euros per month (Euros x .7699 <current spot trade USD> = $254.58USD).  So my potential earnings on Magpie would be about $250 a month.  So the question now becomes; Is it worth it?

There are allot of reasons in today’s economy to try to make some money.  Many are out of work, many have taken pay cuts or benefit cost increases.  Others just need more money to pay the bills.  If that is the reason you choose an ad insertion service such as Magpie for your Twitter stream, then more power to you.  I cannot blame anyone for doing what it takes to put food on the table.  But for those who are not in that situation, consider carefully the possible effects, long and short term of using any ad insertion service into your social network before you do so.

In my case, Magpie just does not seem right for me.  The value of my followers is too precious to risk and the pressing need to generate the income is not there.  I would be anxious to hear what some of you have to say regarding this service and others like it and how it works or does not work for you?

I know you “tweet” but do you “magpie?”

The Answer is the Stick

Many of you probably read the title of this post and thought this would be some diatribe about discipline or punishment.  Nope.  A few days ago, something amazing happened.  Joining the ranks of Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Silly Putty, Barbie, and the Atari 2600 in the National Toy Hall of Fame was the unassuming stick.  That’s right, the stick.

The stick might be the perfect toy come to think of it.  It is cheap.  Always available.  Easy to use.  Does not need instructions not assembly.  The stick, can be anything we want it to be.

So the answer is the stick.

Before you swear off this site and vow to never return, let me explain some lessons we can learn from the lowly stick.

  1. The stick is simple.  We all want to complicate things.  We want more features, more data, more input, more analysis, more…more…more.  The stick is simple.  It is just a stick.  One of the first lessons I learned from an early mentor was K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid).  And lucky for me, he believed it.  “Simple processes are easy to do, complicated processes are not”…he would preach.  “Make it easy to do a good job.”  “People quickly understand what is simple, so keep it simple.”  “Only make it as hard as it has to be, then look for ways to simplify.”  I can almost hear his voice ringing in my head years later.  The stick teaches us that simple is good.
  2. The stick is inclusive.  In a world of all shapes and sizes, colors, races and ages, diversity is critical to the success of an organization.  The stick is inclusive.  No one is left out.  No one is left behind.  We have all played with a stick at some point and if you wanted to go play with one right now, you probably could.  Even animals play with sticks.  Dogs love sticks.  In a world filled with differences, the stick teaches us to be inclusive.
  3. The stick can be anything we want it to be.  A sword, a cane, a bat…anything.  The stick teaches us to think, to be creative.  To make something out of nothing.  To use our mind to create matter.  The stick shows us all that with a little imagination, we can take great journeys with just…a stick.
  4. The stick shows us that design matters.  In order for something to be simple, you have to design it to be simple.  For something to be functional, it has to be designed that way.  So from now on, every time I experience a door handle in an inconvenient place, or telephone hard to hear, or shoes that hurt to walk in, I will think of the stick.  Simple, elegant, functional and flexible in its design.
  5. The stick has been around for awhile and yet after a long, long time of being the toy of generation after generation it finally received its due recognition.  And thus, the stick teaches us about persistence, sticking to it and never giving up.  Allot of people create success simply by being determined.  The stick teaches us to “stick it out.”
  6. The stick teaches us to have fun.  Pick one up, make it your fishing pole or your scepter or the bat that hits the winning home run.  The stick teaches us to imagine and play, to dream, to go on journeys far away.  The stick shows us that what we do can be fun, whether it is life, work or play.
  7. There is a good chance if you are walking through the park with someone and you pick up a stick and begin to play with it, they will do it also.  How many sword fights did you have as a kids with sticks?  How many rounds of “hit the rock?”  The stick teaches us to be interactive, to be social, to use the tools we have to connect and begin to have conversation, dialog, fun.  The stick may have been the first ever “high touch, low tech” social networking tool.

The lowly stick deserves their entry into the National Toy Hall of Fame, as it teaches us more about life than most of the other toys it now resides with in Rochester, NY.  I guess I still hear the words of my early mentor ringing in my ears.  His desire to keep things simple, design things to work with ease and his persistence to achieve that outcome.  In addition my own head rings with the thoughts of inclusion, creativity, imagination, fun and play (the ultimate social event) the stick has brought to my life.

So when things do not seem right…simplify, work on design, include others in the challenge, get creative and have fun overcoming the obstacle.  Isn’t that what the stick would do?

Is Twitter Really Useful?

I have been following a unique tool provided by HubSpot called Twitter Grader.  If you are on Twitter and have some interest as to how HubSpot’s formula grades you on Twitter it is a fun tool to check out.  I first went to Twitter Grader about six weeks ago and was facinated by the way this company measured Twitter effectiveness.  For some reason, my grade was a bit higher.

It seems my most recent score went down (don’t worry, I am over it.)  But does a good score really mean anything?  Does a good score make you a New Media Superstar, A-List Blogger, or Social Media Personality?  Absolutely not.  All a good score means is you are effective in using Twitter as a communication tool.  HubSpot says the following are factors:

  • The number of followers you have
  • The power of this network of followers
  • The pace of your updates
  • The completeness of your profile
  • …a few others
It seems, the more you use Twitter, the higher the score.   So again, a high score may seem nice, but is Twitter really useful?
I have to say “yes.”  It is a useful tool to connect, keep track, hear news (much faster than traditional media), gather support (Twitter was a big part of this year’s political campaigns), get feedback, find help, promote and find out new stuff.  Of all the things I use Twitter for, finding out “new stuff” is really the magic of the tool.
So how do you make Twitter useful for you?
I guess it depends on why you use Twitter.  For the purposes of this post, let’s say you have a project that could use a boost and have friends that you would like to keep in close contact:
  1. Follow those that follow you.  If you don’t, Twitter becomes a one way conversation and some people will consider you more of a “spammer” than part of the community.
  2. Try to create posts that have value.  If all you say is “eating lunch” or “on way to store” you, well…may not be too interesting.  If you provide value, then people will consider your posts and will look forward to what you have to say.  If you find a great video, post the link.  If you read the greatest blog post, post the link.  If you see news happening, let those on Twitter know.  If you see something interesting, tweet about it.  I read allot of financial articles through the day and my RSS feed reader is filled with financial news and updates, so when I come across something interesting, I post about it.
  3. If you take the time to create value, do not be afraid to tell people about your new blog post, video or podcast.  Subscribers to my various podcasts have grown since I started using Twitter, and I get allot of feedback via direct tweets.  But remember this, promotion without having first created value will be considered “spam” by the Twitter community.
  4. When someone @tweets you, tweet them back.  The nature of the Twitter conversation is to have short bursts of information limited to 140 characters.  I am always amazed how much some people can say in such a short space.
  5. Let people know how to follow you on Twitter.  Post a button, or provide a link on your web site.  I get new Twitter followers everyday that I know in real life and we always seem amazed to find each other in this social media community.
Ok, that is the short list.  Sometime in the near future I will get into other uses for Twitter.
So is twitter useful?
I vote yes.

Is Enthusiasm Enough?

I am often asked about ways to approach projects, opportunities or just business in general.  Something I hear over and over is, “I am really excited about this _______ (fill in the blank).”  As time goes on, just like most things in life, this effort is sometimes a grand success, sometimes a moderate success and sometimes a dismal failure.

Which raises the question, is enthusiasm enough?  Is being excited, passionate, jacked up…enough?

Many argue that process is always king over enthusiasm.  A logically thought through, systematic method, executed at a high level will in almost every case produce positive results.  Where “raw enthusiasm” sometimes provides a road of emotional twists and turns where the end game is a product of sheer will and determination.  One is the path of thought and logic, the other a journey of emotions.

Just yesterday I talked to a old friend and colleague of mine.  Like many in these tough times, he was looking for opportunity (aren’t we all) and after a few minutes the conversation headed towards this unique and needed idea he has.  An idea that not only will save the client money and time but also help them sell more product.  His calm demeanor began to morph into this incredibly enthusiastic persona and he soon was bubbling over with excitement as he talked  about his idea.  I could tell by just listening, he totally believed in this idea and in the end, he will make it work.  The voice in my head said, “this is real enthusiasm you can count on.”

Now, of course I will always argue that a highly executed systematic process that is planned out and measurable combined with the highest levels of enthusiasm is the best course of action.  But if I had to chose process or enthusiasm, I will always pick enthusiasm.

I am not a scientist but I believe humans have a gene built into their matter that gives us all incredible powers to discover, explore, achieve, dream and conquer.  We are built from birth to take on challenges and this desire to achieve creates a huge well of enthusiasm.

Throughout history, poor plans have succeded because of raw determination and will.  And I am sure, most of you know someone who has risen to the top based just on thier own personal enthusiasm.  You can not replace passion with process, nor can you create passion through process.  You either are incredibly excited about something, or you are not (lukewarm is not enthusiasm.)  My friend is not wishy washy in his passion towards his idea, he is “all in.”  And his excitement will no doubt, create incredible results.

When I look across the room at the leaders in business, groups and organizations.  I see allot of enthusiasm.

I’ll take the passion every time.

The First Thin Air Summit

I have the privilege of being asked to speak at the first ever Thin Air Summit in Denver, Colorado.  The summit is a New Media Conference, the first of its kind in the Denver. It’s a place where New Media professionals gather for learning, interaction and collaboration.   My part of the program, is a conversation about “Finding Your Voice” or in other words, the evolution and change of your New Media projects over time.  If you are in the Denver area on November 7, 8 and 9th come by and check out the Thin Air Summit and while there, swing by and say hi!  :)

Click here to go to the Thin Air Summit site.

Click here to go right to Registration for the Thin Air Summit.