Tag Archives: Twitter

As Twitter Streamlines, Does Commerce Make the Cut?

Is Twitter Commerce going to make the cut? Up to 336 Twitter staffers are slated to be let go in a streamlining effort, and many divisions are likely to be impacted. Logically, it would seem that an experiemental area such as Commerce could be back burnered as Twitter focuses on ad contracts with big whales like national brands.

But Commerce, naturally, continues to tempt Twitter and its social media peers. As commerce experiences become increasingly focused on a combination of social media and mobile, it is no coincidence that Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Foursquare have been testing out buy buttons.

In Twitter’s case, its buy now button tests have included key retailers (Home Depot, Burberry), non profits and musicians. The buy now platform has also been fleshed out with a full slate of payment partners (Stripe), ecommerce platforms, and content partners, including social shopping, digital content sellers and fan commerce.

The Commerce divison, which is helmed by former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard, also includes a full slate of promotional offers, incentives, rewards, disocunts and other programs for registered credi and dibit card holders – on built on the foundations of Cardspring, which Twitter acquired in July 2014. There is also talk of Twitter developing a marketplace. It may also more tightly integrate with payment companies such as American Express, which are already using Twitter as an offers platform.

As the Twitter Commerce Web page notes, “The goal for all our commerce initiatives on Twitter is simple: make it as easy as possible for businesses to connect directly with, and sell to, customers on Twitter.”

Realistically, to survive amidst the downsizing, all these efforts must be tightly integrated with Twitter’s advertising and marketing efforts – many of which already overlap with analytics, etc. That’s what the company is hoping to acomplish in its Collections pages, which are meant to make it easier for users to find useful information and go shopping. They must also hone in on better sales channels that bring them more local and vertical depth.

Will they get a chance to do it? We’ll see. As returning CEO Jack Dorsey said in his note annoucing the deep layoffs, “The roadmap is focused on the experiences which will have the greatest impact.”

Cool Twitter Event: WineTwit’s ‘Virtual Tasting’

Businesses do really well online when they create “events” — as local promotion companies ranging from Zvents to Active.com have discovered. Home Depot has classes. Those are events. Brew pubs have free samples. Those are events, too. And so are REI’s adventure trips. They all pop up on calendars, in search results, and in social media as well.

Brands can jump-start events too, sometimes in partnership with retail. Last night’s Georges DeBouef and Burger Night” produced by WineTwits was a stellar example. GD, of course, is the original wine event company, with an annual event built around the pent-up demand every year for the release of its Beaujolais Nouveau.

WineTwits boasts 62,000 followers on Twitter, and has produced a number of events for wine brands and distributors, tying in with wine influencers and local retail establishments. It is part of a broader entity that produces similar events for spirits companies and also provides happy hours promotions (the original model, incidentally, for Living Social’s deals).

Georges DeBouef’s goals in having an event were clear from the get-go. It is marketing several red wines that it considers perfect summer time fare for BBQs – but consumers don’t normally think of refrigerating red wine.

Working with WineTwits, GD put together an all star event. It hired Bob Waggoner from PBS’ ‘Ucook with Chef Bob,’ to match its wines with several burgers; and arranged for a live, one hour Rachel Ray-like cooking and tasting Webcast in NYC. It also heated up demand by FedExing a trio of bottles to key influencers around the country, along with the burger recipes – dozens of whom tweeted away.

There was, in fact, a great deal of pre-event buildup on both WineTwits and #GDandburgers. It was a lot of fun, as the tweeters discussed their expectations for the burgers, their related shopping activities etc. 3,500 people have registered to participate in WineTwits’ Virtual Tasting Network. Past virtual tasting events have involved wine bars (i.e. The Wine Loft) and wine restaurants (i.e. City Winery) and retailers (Stew Leonard’s).

WineTwits founder Steve Gilberg tells us there were ultimately”hundreds of parties going on nationwide, generating thousands of tweets” and an estimated reach of 1.75 million people. Gilberg estimates that the event was probably less expensive than “the cost of a TV ad or a couple of full page ads in leading publications. It is certainly easier than having reps travel around the country and host events, which has been the industry’s standard practice.”

More importantly, from GD’s perspective, “the …engagement with the brand is really powerful,” says Gilberg. “You see people talking about your brand. And it creates such momentum.”

For my part, my wife and I invited two couples over, and had a cookout featuring all three recommended burgers (which were quite excellent, although we liked the Portabella Mushroom Burger the most, along with the Beaujolais-Villages.) We got a real kick out of the Twitter stream before and during the event – there was a lot of interesting trivia given about the wines, and their native regions in France, as well as funny stories about individual events.

But we only paid attention to the cyber stuff for a few minutes. For one thing, we didn’t want to spill wine on the iPads and smart phones. Mostly, we just had a really good time. Was the event a success? We’ll certainly think about GD wines – refrigerated – for the rest of our summer meals.

NBCU to Launch ‘The 20’ Top Local Twitterers

Local media brands continue to look for ways to populate their sites with local bloggers and Twitterers. In return, they provide them with a bigger platform.

The latest to jump into the game is NBC Universal, which Paid Content reports has developed “The 20” to highlight selected Twitters in all ten of the markets where it has an Owned and Operated stations. The effort, which is expected to zero in on politics, sports, culture, education and crime, complements NBCU’s The Feast, which focuses on Eat, Play and Shop content, and relies on NBC writers and aggregated content from the Web. NBC will periodically adjust its list of Twitterers.

The 20 launches after New Years in Washington, DC, New York, and San Diego and will roll out in the remaining markets throughout 2011.

NBCU VP Greg Gittrich is speaking on the Progressive Traditional Media panel at ILM:10 next week, alongside Peter Weinberger of Advance Internet and Stephen Weis of Hearst Newspapers.

ComScore: Women Use Interactive Local Media Differently

We know that certain Web phenomenon are women driven. Groupon and DailyCandy, for instance, are heavily dominated by women; Facebook to a lesser degree. Gilt Groupe, the high end “flash sales” fashion site, is more of a women’s thing (although a surprising number of men also use it). Local community news and school information is something else that has traditionally been dominated by women (especially mothers, who take a statistically greater interest than fathers.)

Now ComScore has done a comprehensive study of the differences between Women and Men on the Web. Among the key findings. Women far outpace men for the conversational features. Social Networking, Instant Messaging and email.Worldwide, the difference is 16.3% to 11.7% for social networking; 11.3% to 10.4% for Instant Messaging; and 7.7% to 6.8% for email. Men, however, slightly outpace women in their use of directories/resources: 2.4% to 2.2%.

All this plays out in the the different ways that the genders use Twitter, which I would have thought would be dominated by tech-oriented men since it is a “technology.” But ComScore points out that overall usage is about equal. What men and women do there, however, greatly differs. A higher percentage of Men (38%) tend to post tweets than Women (28%). Women tend to use Twitter to find deals and promotions. They also use it as more a conversation medium and to follow celebrities.

Top Social Nets Discuss ‘The Mobile/Social, Local/ Real-Time Medium’ at IAB

Local/social leaders from Facebook, Yelp and Twitter took the stage at IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Carlsbad, CA this week to discuss what IAB President Randall Rothenberg called “the mobile/social local real-time medium that does not have a name.”

Facebook’s Tim Kendall, director of monetization, said that Facebook has essentially introduced “marketing on the social graph” by tracking its unique information, such as “pages,” “events,” “like,” “share” and “connect.” “We’re getting pretty good at showing you ‘who matters to me’ on news feed and topics,” he said.

Advertising on the site is now in full play. “We have created a social marketing experience that we think it the most interesting social advertising on the Web,” he said. And Facebook’s advertising successs is demonstrably strong. “Our click to conversion rate is two to three times other sites. Social wins every time.”

Kendall added that Facebook’s effective CPM ends up being “a couple of dollars,” but that advertisers also come in via the service’s self serve advertising, which is priced on a flat rate basis.

Jed Nachman from Yelp estimated that the site’s effective CPM was $200. One example, Little Star Pizza in San Francisco, for instance, had 1,500 looks (and presumably pays $300 for the ad). Nachman also noted that on average, Yelp users look at 2-4 reviews before making any decisions.

Meanwhile, Twitter is preparing to launch its first ad product next month, according to Anamitra Banerji, who is “Product Management, Monetiziation.” Banerji said his prior experience at Overture told him to “innovate really, really quickly before anyone else comes up with it.”

Banerji added that people should “be focused on what you are doing and not worry about what people are doing around you.” He also noted that Twitter is a distributed product. “We don’t see ourselves as a website,” he said.

Weighing in on social during a separate session at IAB was MySpace Co- President Jason Hirschorn. Hirschorn noted that MySpace is refocused on entertainment and music. We’re not jettisoning our roots as a social network. But our fans want to be entertained. Not everyone is a publisher.

Hirschorn spoke admiringly of Facebook, which has basically deposed MySpace as a leader in social media with almost four times the traffic — 128 million uniques versus 400 million uniques. “The media community itself has its social graph on Facebook,” he said. “But there is a completely different behavior and mindset you are tapping into when you are a brand marketer.” He noted that MySpace still has information on 13 million bands, and a “16-34 type audience.”

Local Matters Unveils Search and Social Platform for IYPs

Here’s a question: How long would directory publishers sit back and let new companies such as RedBeacon, AlikeList and others disrupt the leads economy for SMBs with search and socially driven features such as Twitter and Facebook? Or Google, with Place Pages? That’s a question that Local Matters and other Yellow Pages vendors have obviously asked themselves.

Now Local Matters has come out with “Destination Search,” a new social platform that seeks to level the search and social playing field for its U.S. and international clients, which so far includes Dex B2B in the U.S; Truvo, European Directories and Pagini Aurii in Europe; and Yellow Pages Group in New Zealand.

Playing off a feature set originally developed for real estate multiple listings services, Local Matters’ platform includes state of the art social and search features. It also seeks to leverage existing strengths, such as business profile information.

Key features of the white label solution include enhanced profile listings; search optimization; integration (and easy sharing) with Facebook and Twitter; blog enablement; ratings and reviews ported from Yelp and other sources; and the addition of social media feeds on assorted online advertising.

Kris Skavish, Vice President of Products and Marketing, told us that Local Matters started planning Destination Search last September, with the specific intent of focusing on building rich local context. “A problem with online directories has been search relevancy,” she noted.

Another challenge has been to reconcile Yellow Pages headings with most searched categories, which are typically microheadings. “’Plumbers’ is too broad. You need to get to the correct root,” said Skavish, noting that Local Matters has also created custom microheadings for categories such as hotels and attorneys.

For instance, “romantic hotels” might be sought out in user generated content but not generally included as a category. Users can also rate pictures included in romantic hotels. Publishers can also insert content at the top of the page, or refine results. They can also create brand oriented categories, such as “Toyota.”

While Destination Search leveraged Local Matters’ work with real estate Multiple Listing Services, important differences revealed themselves, added Skavish. “With the MLS, you prove your value with a lead ” she notes. “It isn’t a ranking model. And in real estate, the default view is maps. But with Yellow Pages, it is an ad model. You want users to make an action.”

Local Matters CEO Mat Stover is speaking at Marketplaces 2010 March 22-24 in San Diego.

Twitter Added to Citysearch SMB Profiles

Citysearch today became the first SMB site to integrate Twitter functionality into its claimed SMB profiles. The effort complements earlier efforts to integrate the SMB profiles with Facebook, and consumer social media options.

Citysearch SVP of publishing Kara Nortman tell us the deal has been developed directly with Twitter for about two months. The impact of adding Twitter has two aspects to it. First, it obviously helps businesses use Twitter. The second aspect is that it allows businesses to include social media directly into their listings data, using Citysearch as their “hub.” Essentially, it has added social media as a Yellow Pages-like “copy point” (i.e. hours of opening, credit cards accepted).

Nortman also notes that the company’s initial research suggests that 16-20 percent of SMBs that sign up for a Citysearch profile – an advanced group, by definition — already have Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. She adds that she expects to see regional differences, as certain markets are more Twitter- oriented and social-oriented than others. There will also be an overall boost for Citysearch’s mobile efforts, since Twitter is driven, in part, by mobile users.

Nortman and Twitter’s Anamitra Banerji are both featured on Day 1 of ILM:09 this week in LA on our Social/Local Panel, along with Tim Kendall from Facebook and Greg Isaacs from AT&T Interactive.