Are Old Tweets Trash or Treasure?

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Hey Twitter marketing gurus — here’s a question for you: What would you pay to read and analyze old tweets sent by Twitter users over the last two years? Or the better question might be, why would anyone pay for old tweets? Marketing analysts are apparently willing to drop serious dollars on old tweets and Twitter is happily selling them to the highest bidder.

According to The Mail Online, the social data platform startup DataSift is the first company to get access into old tweets dating as far back to January 2010. Tweets are marketing gold as they offer insight into customers and their relationships with brands. And other marketing companies also are dying to get their hands on this demographic jackpot. Mashable is reporting that some 1,000 companies are on the waiting list to receive access to old tweets. DataSift is taking on the considerable task of analyzing billions of tweets and can potentially unlock all kinds of information about Twitter users. Current searches on Twitter.com only go back 7 days. DataSift can now go back two years and go beyond the basic keyword searches because it can analyze a topic and even hunt down tweets related to that topic.

Talk about thorough. Yet this new practice is not without questions and controversies. Already many have shamed Twitter for selling user-created content for their own financial gain. More have wondered about the privacy issues that could arise from selling user data, while others see the blatant sale of tweets as a death knell to the site’s independent spirit. There is no question that access to social media like sent tweets could be a treasure trove of user information. Big-time marketing firms and research companies are drooling at the chance to find out more about the 85 billion tweets that were sent last year alone. But the big question remains unanswered: Will this kind of research really help smaller businesses learn more effective methods of Twitter management and Twitter marketing? Only time will tell. In the meantime, if you’re dying for the information and have the big bucks to spend, get in line.

Tall Lessons on Facebook, Branding and Racism from Jeremy Lin

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With Tiger on the outs and Tebow too polarizing, the world of sports has been in desperate need of a hero who could potentially become a branding superstar, a headline-maker and an international sensation. No current figure from professional sports fits that bill better than Jeremy Lin. Thanks to a jaw-dropping winning streak earlier this month, Lin is suddenly an unlikely superstar — and an illustration in what’s right and what’s wrong with Facebook marketing and online brand management.

The 6-foot 3-inch tall Christian Asian-American Lin reluctantly joined Facebook; within days, his followers were in the hundreds of thousands. As a brand and personality, Lin is intriguing, different and enigmatic. On Facebook these are great traits to have but being an individual also opens the doors for a world of ridiculous and ignorant comments. ESPN has already canned one employee who spewed racist nonsense on Facebook, and hundreds of other anti-Asian comments have flooded his page from so-called fans.

Sigh. Lin’s presence and celebrity should be celebrated and as a global brand he should be one we are ready to embrace. Facebook in the same right should be the place where that can happen. But as it’s been noted by smarter folks than us, what’s wrong on Facebook is sometimes a mirror of what’s wrong with the world at large. But it’s not just on Facebook where Lin is misunderstood. Ben and Jerry’s attempted to pay tribute to Lin with an ice cream flavor entitled “Taste the Lin-Sanity.” Featuring lychee fruit and fortune cookies, all that was missing from this stereotype-fest was a miniature gong and dragon on the label. Yeesh. Lin was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the U.S., so this type of “ancient Chinese secret” packaging seriously missed the mark. Thankfully, the folks at Ben & Jerry’s realized it, too, and replaced the fortune cookie pieces with waffles.

While Lin is exciting to watching on the court, we as marketers and consumers are learning a thing or two about cultural sensitivity. Looks like we still have a long way to go.

What Makes a Newsletter a Trendsetter?

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Last winter, a study entitled “The Social Breakup” made the claim that “77 percent of consumers report being more cautious about providing their e-mail address to companies versus last year.” Yet this year, the fear of being un-followed seems to have subsided and brands are back to refocusing their collective creative energies on email marketing campaigns. Thanks in large part to smartphones and tablets, branded content like newsletters are actually getting readers. In the spirit of this resurgence, we wondered what makes a really great, readable digital newsletter?

The easy answer is, as always, creative content. Nobody wants to read or even glance at a newsletter with zero personality. The best newsletters floating around the web have videos, articles with eye-catching titles and snazzy layouts that make a delete-happy reader stop dead in their tracks. The latest tablets are now equipped with direct access to personal emails, meaning newsletters with that extra zing are more likely to be devoured like popular blogs and websites are by tablet enthusiasts. There is no reason a company newsletter shouldn’t have the same visual impact that an online magazine or blog has.

Another thing all great newsletters have in common is a diversity in articles. Three pieces blabbing on about the same thing is no one’s idea of a party. It’s refreshing to read a newsletter that can balance all the marketing mumbo jumbo along with the human interest stories, product profiles and a little dash of humor, too. A variety of voices in newsletters helps shake up the monotony as well while lightening the work load for the online marketing guru. We love it when we see articles in newsletters written by the CEO as well as the mail room clerk and receptionist.

Yet the biggest component of a great email newsletter has to be the front page. That study we mentioned at the top of the blog also found “91 percent of consumers have unsubscribed from opt-in marketing e-mails.” This means our newsletters have to look great, read brilliantly and load in a matter of seconds. Otherwise, we wind up deleted and dumped like the emails that 91 percent said goodbye to. But great newsletters can be a snap, especially if you have the right people (that would be us, by the way).

Michael Ian Black is a Social Media Ninja

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If you happened to be watching HGTV on Fat Tuesday during a House Hunters marathon hosted by Michael Ian Black and thought to yourself “that guy is everywhere,” you are not alone. Black, who rose to fame in the ’90s on cult cable comedies like Viva Variety and The State, is suddenly a hot commodity and can be seen online in a new series of ads for Expedia, on television and on nearly every talk show. And it’s all because the comedian knows how to flawlessly work social media marketing.

To date, Michael Ian Black has nearly 2 million Twitter followers and he keeps the masses entertained by tweeting endlessly. During his Mardi Gras gig, Black played House Hunters bingo with Twitter followers, mocked drunken parade goers and even took time out to promote his soon-to-be-released book, You’re Not Doing it Right. Black takes the Twitter engagement a step further by regularly re-tweeting responses from his followers, something even B-list comedians don’t do. Black has carefully crafted himself as a pop culture commentator — and what better place to discuss that topic than social media?

The actor and author has submerged himself in social media since 2009 and can also be found on Tumblr and even MySpace. Now, his book is already having bang up pre-sales on Amazon and he’s chatting with the likes of Esquire magazine. Black has gone from being that guy from some ’90s shows to a real social media-made celebrity. And while we can’t all expect our tweets to land our brands on television, Black’s story is proof that social media marketing works when you mix hard work with humor, personality and one-on-one engagement.

Should Your Blog Get Stuck on Pinterest?

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As we covered last week, Facebook czar Mark Zuckerberg is the latest celeb to join inspiration board site Pinterest. Non-stop buzz notwithstanding, Pinterest certainly has its limitations. Primarily, the super visual site simply won’t work for companies that aren’t image-based or don’t have physical merchandise. Pinterest is all about sharing pictures of things you love with followers who love the same things. So this concept won’t really be of any use to, say, a headhunting agency or accounting firm. But Pinterest can work incredibly well with your company blog if you happen to be in a “ooh, look at that” type of industry.

Food, fashion, interior design and exotic locations are the topics Pinterest users like to pin the most of. Therefore, any catering company, jewelry designer, furniture maker, or travel agent with a blog should really consider hopping on the bandwagon. If you’re in one of the aforementioned industries and you do blog, chances are you have tons of photos of what you do and what you’re working on to give your customers and readers a taste of your genius. Sharing those pictures on Pinterest is a snap and literally takes seconds. Once the photos are shared, users interested in your images will start pinning them, too. But the Pinterest possibilities don’t stop there. Art galleries, graphic designers, cartoonists, landscapers, wedding planners, ceramicists and florists who blog should consider “pinning” as a way to gather more readers, as well.

Again, Pinterest isn’t going to work wonders for every blog. Image-friendly blogging platforms like Tumblr seem to work better on Pinterest than text-friendly sites like Blogger. Also, Pinterest, like all social media marketing channels, takes time. As one would do with blog creation, Pinterest boards should be carefully curated and planned out to really convey your brand’s message. And like other social networks, gaining followers takes time and engagement as well. Don’t expect one fabulous photo of one of your products to bring in thousands of blog readers and buyers without a little work.

So let’s hear from you, readers: Have you had any success with marketing on Pinterest or do you think the whole thing is just something bored, crafty housewives like to do over a glass of wine? Sound off below!

Even Bikini Babes Love Blogging!

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We tend to live by the philosophy that any brand can improve their digital image with a great blog. Good blog writing can truly give any business a voice that other forms of online marketing can’t. Almost weekly now, we read a new story about an unlikely personality or company who has helped transform their digital image by writing a highly-read blog. And no blogger is more unlikely than Sports Illustrated model Chrissy Teigen.

Teigen, who graces the pages of SI’s 2012 swimsuit issue for the third time in her career, was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The beauty naturally answered questions about her shoot for the annual men’s magazine drool-fest, but the Journal was more interested in her blog, So Delushious: Personal Random Ramblings from a Girl Who Loves Bacon and Can’t Be Fat.

Teigen says Twitter was the catalyst that helped her get blogging.

“I was basically tweeting all these amazing recipes and I was getting more and more feedback. I had a couple glasses of wine and started a WordPress blog,” she tells WSJ. “I’ll go off on complete tangents—I’ll start talking about lasagna and then start wondering what I’m going to do with my life. It’s important for me to gain credibility in the food world. I’ll often show photos of me throwing out a dish I tried to cook but screwed up.”

In addition to culinary school dreams, Teigen hopes the blog opens the door for a food and travel television show. With her 100k-plus followers on Twitter and her highly-bookmarked blog, we see no reason why Teigen can’t go from bikini babe to domestic goddess of Martha-like proportions.

The lesson here is simple: Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever your business does best, whatever you love—blog about it! And watch the readers and customers come running!