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Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: Twitter is in its death throes. It won’t be around in just a few short years. And when this happens, there will be no shortage of pundits who: “saw it all coming”, or perhaps “Twitter is dead – long live Twitter!”

It wouldn’t be the first Social Media death. Consider those who have come (and gone) before: hellotxt, retaggr, timely, booktour, Google wave/reader/orkut/iGoogle, LinkedIn Polls/Answers, and many, many more.

Here’s the argument:

1) Encroachment by messaging apps: Twitter’s functionality is being nibbled away by a number of more compelling competitors. Twitter is not the only game in town anymore.  Direct messaging apps, for example, make it really easy to have point-to-point (or group) conversations. Every message on iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and others means one less Tweet on Twitter.

2) Encroachment by social apps:  Many Social Media apps have effectively duplicated the status and microblogging functionality that previously was only available on Twitter. LinkedIn and Facebook are most notable; Facebook has even incorporated hashtags and trending topics.  Every status update on Facebook and LinkedIn is one less Tweet on Twitter.

3) Learning curve limits growth: None of these competitors are hampered by Twitter’s arbitrary 140 character limit, nor are they required to learn the arcana of hashtags, DM’s, Retweets, and more.

4) Commercial viability: As a public company, Twitter’s finances and stock price have plummeted from a high of $69, to below $20.  But beyond Wall Street’s valuation, are there other commercial factors that suggest Twitter is teetering?  Here are a few: where are the advertisers, and where is the growth in users? And is the staff complement growing or shrinking? On all of these dimensions, Twitter appears on shaky ground. It was late to the advertising game, and will never catch up to Google and Facebook. The number of monthly average users is no longer growing, and depending on the measure, may actually be shrinking. And there has been significant disruption in the management ranks. And before that, layoffs.

While a counter argument may be made in Twitter’s defence (existing momentum, huge behavioral database, direct connection to media) does Twitter’s condition merit a change of strategy for those who use it? Our recommendations:

  • Seek to capture the Twitter relationships within a CRM, Marketing automation, or email system. While this should be standard practice already, it is also an important defensive move.
  • Broaden the user engagement across different social platforms. If Twitter isn’t the only game in town anymore, then it shouldn’t be your exclusive playing field either.
  • Tighten the purpose of using Twitter. For example, rather than using it as a general purpose social platform, use it exclusively for customer service, media outreach, and risk discovery.

Twitter has successfully extended the “texting” metaphor to the web, and whether it lives or dies as a business, no one can argue its influence.  But again, no one can argue the influence of MySpace either, and look where that platform ended up.

This week’s action plan: Twitter’s instability is just one example of the fluidity (and fragility) of the social space. This week, consider the “impossible”: how would your marketing and engagement plans change if any of your key social platforms shut down?

Marketing Insight: The core issue is not about Twitter or any other specific platform: it is all about two things: ensuring that you have a mechanism to discover the platforms where your target users are spending their time, and then using social as an on-ramp for driving their commitment.  In other words, fish where the fish are.

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Randall Craig

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Beyond ads, media mentions, and the web, is there another mechanism to build your organization’s brand? One that might cost significantly less, yet yield powerful positioning advantages?

Brand Transfer is the “borrowing” of another organization’s brand to better convey – or even amplify – your own. Consider the following examples:

  • How differently is your organization perceived when everyone uses a sleek Macbook Air compared to a clunky no-name clone laptop?
  • What do prospects and clients think about the quality of your work, if you are an IBM “partner”?
  • What type of image do you portray if you have your annual conference at the Travelodge… or at the JW Marriott?

Each of these large companies has invested millions building their brands. And the brands – what the companies represent – are broadly known in the market. While it is easy to think of Brand Transfer almost like an unauthorized theft of their reputation, nothing could be further than the truth. Brand Transfer is similar to a rental transaction: You pay JW Marriott for their conference center and hotel rooms, and they encourage you to use their name. In fact, they employ a sophisticated sales team precisely to make sure that you choose their facility – their brand – over others. And since their brand has more value than Travelodge, it costs more. It has value, and you’re willing to pay.

Interestingly, Brand Transfer works at the individual level as well.  Answer these questions (there are no wrong answers):

  • Are you a Cadillac person, a BMW person, or a Prius person? (We seek cars that match our personal brand aspirations.)
  • What type or watch do you wear? (Do you wear a Rolex because of it’s accuracy, or its reputation?)
  • Do you shop for clothes at Brooks Brothers, or Costco? (We prefer retailers – and buy clothing – at places whose brands sync with our own personal brand.)
  • How similar are your friends to you? (We prefer to spend time with people whose values are similar to our own.)

This week’s action plan: Brand Transfer can also be a problem. Over time, a partner’s brand can veer in a different direction… tugging yours with it. Or, you can simply grow out of it.  This week, evaluate your Brand Transfers. Extinguish those that do more harm than good, and look for new partnerships that provide a positive boost.

Insight: The best strategic partnerships are those where there is Brand Transfer in both directions, not just one.


Invite: Leveraging your digital investment – and your messaging

by Randall Craig January 15, 2016

Have you ever decided to try something new, just to see what would happen? Beyond the Tipsheet, every month for the last three years I have been delivering a new professional development webinar.  If you haven’t attended, then I encourage you to do so: it is 60 minutes of no-fluff “news you can use”, all focused on rethinking […]

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Marketing Congruency

by Randall Craig November 27, 2015

At one time, a marketer needed only consider a few communications channels: Print, TV, Packaging, and the speaking points within a salesperson’s sales pitch. Today, all bets are off:  Traditional channels still exist, but have been eclipsed by the website, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and 100s of other Social Media sites.  These newer […]

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Delivering Engaging Webinars

by Randall Craig June 6, 2014

Have you ever listened to a webinar, and found your mind wandering?  Or perhaps you let the webinar play on while taking care of other more important activities on your computer?  While this is unfortunate, the question is whether that incredibly dull webinar presenter might actually be you.  And that the mind-wandering, computer-keyboard-clicking audience is […]

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Viewpoint: The End of Social Media

by Randall Craig November 8, 2013

Here’s a bold prediction: The End of Social Media. Yes, despite the success of the Twitter IPO, and before that, Facebook’s public offering, social media is quickly moving to its end. Consider the evidence: Over a billion users on Facebook, and hundreds of millions each on LinkedIn and Twitter. All of these platforms (and others) […]

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Selling Products using Social Media

by Randall Craig October 25, 2013

Forget likes, shares, retweets, and comments: how can you use Social Media to actually sell products?  (Here’s a post on selling services.) To do so effectively means understanding two key concepts: the funnel, and conversion.  The funnel refers to the process that prospects go through before they actually put down their credit card and transact.  […]

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Insight: Omni-channel experience

by Randall Craig June 28, 2013

How often do you research a product online, and then purchase it at the store?  Or, check out the product at the store, and then use the internet to make the purchase?  If so, you’re not alone. These newer consumer behaviors are both the new reality for retailers – and a special challenge.  It even […]

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Generating ROI: The other 95%

by Randall Craig May 31, 2013

How do you determine the ROI on your marketing and sales investments? The standard formula is simple: divide the return, less investment, by the investment. A marketing campaign costs $1000, and reaches out to 1000 prospects. Five per cent of these respond, generating $1000 profit, for an ROI of zero: (1000-1000)/1000.  If the profit is […]

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Social Media Planning Calendar

by Randall Craig April 19, 2013

How do you organize your Social Media activities?  Most people have a system – whiteboards, excel documents, Google Calendar, or often, scraps of paper.  Unfortunately, none of these are particularly effective, nor are they efficient.  And they certainly don’t help you share your activities with your colleagues. Our take on scheduling and planning:  Social Media […]

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Just In Time

by Randall Craig November 1, 2012

What can the world of manufacturing teach us about Social Media, Marketing, and Stakeholder Engagement?  On the face of it, not much, but look more closely, and there are two concepts that are surprisingly relevant: Continuous Improvement, and Just-in-Time. Continuous Improvement:  In the manufacturing world, continuous improvement is all about making incremental improvements in product […]

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Social Attention Span

by Randall Craig August 10, 2012

How long is your attention span?  How long is the attention span of your clients, colleagues, or kids?  The conventional wisdom is that it is very short – 30 seconds – the length of a typical TV commercial.  Supposedly, the attention span of a Gen-Xer is even shorter. Thankfully, both of these urban legends are […]

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Viewpoint: Email, R.I.P.

by Randall Craig July 12, 2012

Picture this scene from a few decades ago: you’re working in your office, and your assistant bursts in, with an important announcement:  You’ve received… a FAX!  The correspondence was critically important – and you were too. Then a few years later, the FAX was replaced by AOL’s chirpy voice, announcing to all, “You’ve got mail!” […]

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Three Marketing Models

by Randall Craig June 6, 2012

Model One: One of the most powerful real-world networking techniques is called “give-to-get”. You  meet someone, find out what they’re interested in, and then find a way to give it to them. If you do this periodically, eventually they will return the favor. Model Two: To compete, an organization must do so on Price, Expertise, […]

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QR Codes: Qritical or Qraze?

by Randall Craig May 9, 2012

Check out the latest brochure, advertisement, billboard, or business card, and you’ll see that ubiquitous square:  the QR Code.  For those who don’t know what about them, here is how they work:  a special “app” on your smart phone takes a picture of it, decodes it, and (usually) sends your smart phone’s browser to a […]

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Trust Takes Time

by Randall Craig November 3, 2011

How long does it take to make a sale?  And is it faster using traditional marketing and sales techniques, or Social Media-based ones? In traditional marketing and sales, advertising informs prospective customers about a product or service. Those who have a need show up and make their purchase. In the more sophisticated business-to-business sales process, […]

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Build It and They Will Come: Social Media Promotion Strategy

by Randall Craig October 19, 2011

While Build It and They Will Come might work in the movies (remember Field of Dreams?), it doesn’t quite work that way in the world of Social Media. Yes, you can put up a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or YouTube channel, but how can you truly attract followers?  And how can you truly drive engagement?  […]

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Reflections on Steve Jobs and the impact of Apple

by Randall Craig October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs was a visionary:  incredible focus, a market disruptor, a tech genius, a serial entrepreneur, and so on.  All true, but there is also something else – a thread that underlies and connects everything that Apple does: their focus on the empowered customer.  From day one, this was reflected in the user experience. It […]

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Gutless and Spineless…

by Randall Craig March 2, 2011

…and afraid of the marketplace of ideas.  These are not exactly the attributes that most organizations (or people) aspire to. Yet most have a Social Media strategy that conveys precisely that.  Here’s the case: Many organizations now have Facebook “Fan” pages.  Some of them have invested significantly in nifty functionality that runs contests, quizzes, and […]

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Cheap, Smart, and Trusted

by Randall Craig February 13, 2007

How do you compete? Why would someone buy your services? While we may not think of ourselves as “product”, we compete all of the time: for jobs, for acceptance of our ideas, and for personal approval. Tier one – Price: At the most basic level, you are chosen because you are the cheapest. This clearly […]

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