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Twitter and Me
A Rose By Any Other Name ...
Community As A Commodity: Selling a Twitter Account

December 03, 2008

Twitter and Me

I guess this goes under the New Media category. NOt sure, and don't really care. I'm plotting the complete overhaul of this blog (yeah, yeah -- you've said that before), so it doesn't matter much to me at this point.

I've been Twittering for a while now -- almost a year, by the looks of my Twitter archive (64 pages, 1,278 Tweets). In that time, I've developed a sort of personal code regarding Twitter usage.

If you don't know what Twitter is, you need to watch this video before you read any further:

Now that we're on the same page .....

To use Twitter successfully, you have to lay out some ground rules. A normal person cannot follow 20,000 people meaningfully (and yes, I know about Scoble, and no, he's not a normal person. He's Scoble.). I know a lot of people have published their Twitter rules, and I've borrowed from so many of them that I cannot begin to give them credit for any of this. Suffice to say, if I follow you on Twitter, and you've published your "rules," I've probably borrowed from you. Thanks.

The first thing you have to decide is who to follow. I didn't go out and start following everyone in sight; there are a few categories of people that I follow. In fact, I use TweetDeck so that I can follow different "groups" of Twitterers.

I follow New Media people. Podcasters, web video people, etc. People who are using new media for marketing. I learn a LOT from these people, and not all of them are big names.

I follow people of faith. If you look at the 285 people I follow, you'll find a lot of Godbloggers and pastors there. I learn from these folks, too.

I follow some political people right now. At the moment I'm testing this out, just to see if I want to keep it up.

I follow a lot of people using the Internet and Web 2.0 tools to entertain. I'm hoping to elaborate on this later on, so I won't say any more right now.

I follow people I know, or have met, or have "met" online.

So, who DON'T I follow? I don't follow people just because they follow me, even though I used to. If you follow me, I will look at your Twitter profile, read your Tweets, and see if I want to know what you have to say. I'm pretty picky, so don't be offended if I don't follow you. Interestingly, it looks like the standard dropoff time is about two weeks. If I haven't followed someone two weeks after they follow me, they stop following me. Oh well. I don't unfollow people who don't follow me -- I just decide that I don't have anything to say that they're interested in. One thing I DO make sure I do, though: if you send me an @ message, I get it. Some people only get those from folks they follow, but I get them from anyone who @'s me.

I don't follow people who only use Twitter to promote their blog. Hey, I use Twitterfeed too, but it's not the only thing I Tweet. If I just wanted to find out when you post to your blog, I'd subscribe to it.

I don't follow spammers. You know who you are. I don't follow people who have nothing on their profile. I usually don't follow people who don't include a website in their profile, but will make exceptions.

I follow 285 people, and have 212 following me. And that's enough; I want to be able to make use of Twitter, and not as a popularity contest.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

Is the term "podcasting" dead?

I'm not asking is podcasting itself dead -- I know it's not. I produce two, and would do more if I had the time. I listen to a ton of them. Podcasting News just reported that podcast ads are 7 times as effective as TV ads. More people are listening than ever before.

I'm talking about the name. Is it finally time to retire the use of the word "podcast?"

I'm asking partially because of Podshow ... I mean, Mevio. I ask partly because I keep hearing that you shouldn't call yourself a podcaster if you want to attract advertisers; call it an Internet radio show, or Internet video show. "People think you have to have an iPod to listen to a podcast," they say. And they're not wrong - the first thing I end up explaining to people is that they can listen to my shows on their computer, or any other MP3 playing device.

This isn't the first time people have talked about changing the name, though I think now we've got a better reason. Last time, everyone was afraid that Apple was trying to trademark the term "podcast" -- even though they weren't, and would have had a hard time trying if they'd decided to do it. Now, it's a matter of trying to control perspectives -- as Mevio's Ron Bloom says, the term 'podcasting' seems to carry a connotation of amateurism with it.

I don't understand why we think something that's an amateur production is by definition bad. We send amateur athletes to the Olympics every few years, to represent their country and compete for medals. Amateurs do things every day that are of high quality -- sometimes better than so-called professionals. Amateurs do things out of love, out of passion; they're not worried about making money at it, or getting a paycheck. Does this mean they're less skilled? Ask Jim Thorpe that. Ask the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Or better yet -- ask their competitors.

I admit that there are some pretty sorry podcasts out there, and I've produced a few episodes that I'm really glad are no longer on the website or the feed. And I think that Bloom realizes that as well; he's not saying that podcasters ARE amateurish, he's saying that the PERCEPTION is that they are. And that's important.

In every sales class I ever took, they told us that perception is reality. How a customer looks at you or your product is reality to them, and the people that they interact with. Their perception of our product is important, and we have to work to change it when it's unfavorable. That's why podcasters are calling themselves "internet radio hosts" or "new media journalists" or things like that.

And if you think about it, the Church is in the same boat. I haven't posted on Lifeway's recent survey concerning the decline of SBC churches, but this really ties in. We are carrying a lot of baggage that we don't deserve. Tell someone you're a Baptist, and the first thing they think of is the Westboro loonies. They don't think of an organization that's active in preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa, or fighting hunger in the inner city. They see people protesting abortion, but they don't see the homes that we open up to care for girls who have made a mistake, and don't want to make a greater one. They don't see the care packages that go to disaster areas. They don't see the SBC first response teams that head to hurricane victims' aid, that start the rebuilding process before the first FEMA trailer rolls into town.

We have to do a better job of correcting perspectives. That doesn't mean we turn every ministry opportunity into a PR moment, but it does mean that we show people more effectively what we do to help. We do it every day -- a hugh portion of every Southern Baptist church's offerings go to help fund these efforts. We do the things people expect; we just need to show it, and make sure that the dumb things we do don't obscure what we're supposed to be doing for the Kingdom.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 13, 2008

Community As A Commodity: Selling a Twitter Account

The tech end of the blogosphere is abuzz. Andrew Baron, the founder of Rocketboom and all-around new media guy, is selling off his Twitter account, including all his followers (right now, 1,509 -- up from 1,397 when he posted the auction).

This presents us with a question, and it's a question that will probably be asked a lot as the whole idea of Web 2.0 and new media starts to mature. What is the value of a community? Is the community you build up a commodity that you can sell (and buy)? Or is it an asset that is connected with you that you can take with you? Baron is betting that people are going to think the former, even though he may or may not believe it himself. As he says at the eBay auction, "... as with any dynamic group, there is obviously risk. My followers could jump ship at anytime. There is no guarantee on this part. People will come and go, thats just the way it is."

So, as Sean Aune said at Mashable, you could be paying for an empty Twitter account -- which is something Twitter is giving away for free. Interestingly enough, I just noticed this craigslist ad. Baron is selling "guest Twitter" slots for $150. Sounds a bit like a guest blogging position, except you are paying for the privilege.

Me? I think that your community is an asset. A perfect example is Leo Laporte, and the success of the TWiT network of podcasts. Leo built up a following during his time on TechTV, and when he left they went with him. Now he's got an audience of thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, listening to his podcasts. That community has value to him; it's an asset, in the economic/accounting definition of the word. And he's done a fabulous job of leveraging that community.

That asset may not have value to other people. It may not hold it's value - as Baron said, once the sale goes through, people may stop following him. It's not him anymore; the reason for the community no longer exists. Unless the community has developed into something beyond just followers of Andrew Baron, it will dissolve once the sale goes through. It seems to me that simply renting out the Twitter account would be both more profitable for Baron and more beneficial to his followers, since it looks like he's going to be selective on who he rents the account to, and his followers are more likely to stick around if they think that Baron will eventually be back.

I follow several big tech names in Twitter. Some of them actually follow me back. I follow them because I want to hear what they're saying, and if they stopped using Twitter and sold their account, I'd stop following them. Community is not a commodity, to be bought or sold. It's an asset to be managed, used, and taken care of. Unless Baron is trying to make a point with this (and I suspect that he is), he's taking his asset for granted. He may get some money for his account (right now the auction is at $760), but it won't be nearly what the community could be worth to him.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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