TWTRCON/@MCHammer, @KaraSwisher, @DaveMcClure, @SteveRubel, @BrianSolis

01Jun09

There is much to say about #TWTRCON.  For an event held on an early Sunday morning, it sold out at 300, trended to #3, and came together in just 8 weeks.  The producers were awesome, never let the tweeps go hungry, never let the panels go over.  The Nikko had great conference features like speaker red light/green light and hip music to hook off stage those going over.  @SteveRubel got us thinking:  Will we get bored with Twitter? @GuyKawasaki gave me an exclusive on the 16, er 10 ways to make money on Twitter.  Hung out with some cool tweeps from the SF Chronicle, Bare Essentials, Jamba Juice, TiVo, and Real Networks Games launching innovative lifestyle marketing campaigns.  Got into some wild @thumbfights.  Learned a lot about Twitter’s monetization plan from the new PM, a tweetup with @HappyStar and @KogiBBQ, that @ComcastCares and AskWF too, and gleened much from @KaraSwisher, @BrianSolis, @DaveMcClure.  I really enjoyed @MCHammer time and @adventuregirl, and came home with gorgeous tee shirts from @VirginAmerica and @PeopleBrowser, and a button from an Owl at @HootSuite.  There was so much more.  TWTRCON has been accumulating a comprehensive page of mentions at http://twtrcon.com/twtrcon-sf-09-links, my live stream can be found at twitter.com/contentnow, and I’ll fill in the blanks below.

@Guy Kawasaki
Kicking off the morning was Guy Kawasaki.  Right off the bat he was asked about Twitter not having a business model.  “Well you can say GM doesn’t have a business model.” Then he went on to say there are 16 ways to make money on Twitter, at least that’s what I tweeted, but he only had a chance to list the first two.  (Later at the break, he gave me an exclusive on 8 more:  1.  Sell Apps, 2.  Tier price tweets, 3.  Advertising, 4.  Charge for a higher level of preferences, 5.  Sponsors, 6.  Donations, 7.  Pay to block spam, 8.  Merchandise (e.g. threadless.com), 9.  End User conferences, 10.  Developer conferences.  What a guy!)  On stage, he went on to compare FB with Twitter.  Doesn’t like Facebook because its an effort to draw ‘friends’ to page, prefers pushing on Twitter.  When asked if he was spamming, he joked Spam is a delicacy in Hawaii, and no he’s not spamming.  “Twitter is fresh, unscripted, more real than Facebook.  Got 4 kids and a wife, not on Twitter to make friends, on Twitter to drive traffic to Alltop, and Twitter is a great marketing tool.”  Talked about ghosts:  @guykawasaki has ghost writers, ghosts sign with initials, when the tweet is from guy, no initials.  All replies from @guysreplies are Guy’s.  Chose to use @guykawasaki to promote Alltop instead of @alltop because @guykawasaki had twice the followers, hoping to leveraging personal brand.  Then he remarked that Twitter should have sold for the half a billion dollars.  Audience response:  You’re wrong! Would you sell your daughter to a sheik just to ruin her. And Guy responded –  I would have taken the $.5B.  Would be thrilled to sell$2mm in ads a year at Alltop and split with partner.   Talked about missing Webvan, everyone sighed.  Then described Alltop.  Alltop answers a different question than Google:  What’s happening in China, not what is China.  Shared thoughts on Yahoo creating a competitor to Twitter just like Buzz is now a competitor to Buzz.  Guy was thanked for being the first to commit to TWTRCON, and then he offered free Starbucks instant coffee packets at the booksigning desk.  

@VirginAmerica  Porter Gale, VP Marketing
Relationship in the sky does not have to end on ground.  WiFi allows them to listen to disgruntled tweets and respond, passenger tweeting about not getting meal was overheard by intern on stream who called the plane to get him food.  Tweeting puts a human face on a beloved brand, currently 17,000 folowers.  .  Tapping into the creative class of urban dwellers 18-45 who tweet, key influencers, leading tech innovators, PR and media industry people and SM bloggers.  As far as viral campaigns, on 6/24, VirginAmerica and GoogleApps are teaming up to present an online interactive scavenger hunt played in the air and on the ground. The prizes are one year of free flights with free wifi, an HP netbook and 1TB of storage for email and photos.  Sign up at www.dayinthecloud.com or just follow along at #dayinthecloud.  As for the organization, VirginAmerica is a small startup, flat organization, David CEO down the hall, 15 member Marketing Team, 2 tweeters Nick & Bowen, follow all followers to allow for DM. VirginAmerica believes in financial transparency to their team and thus restricts tweeting internally.  Block VoIP and Skype in the air but do not censor tweets.  Kevin Rose was already passionate for the product when he broadcasted from the sky.  Recognizing people want to engage in the brand, Virgin enlisted 7 of the Digerati @KevinRose, @XeniJardin, @CoryDoctorow, @DavidPescovitz, @MarkFrauenfelder, @PeterRojas, @AlexAlbrecht in a campaign to tout @VirginAmerica.  

@PhoenixSuns – Jeramie McPeek, VP Interactive Services
Suns PR team reads player tweets but they are not censored, merely coached.  @KathleenHessert is the sports marketing guru who got @The_Real_Shaq and @DanicaPatrick on Twitter.  The Suns social network is planetorange.net.

@PRNewswire – Victoria Harres Akers, Director, Audience Development
Carefully crafts tweets, only 10 per day, concerned about being misconstrued.  People prefer RT to DM.

TurboTax –  Seth Greenberg, Intuit
35% of TurboTax customers are on FB, average age is 25y.  Be entertaining or get flamed.  Came up with a great way to amplify tweets.  Launched viral campaign for a chance to win tickets to SNL, The Grammys:  In 140 characters or less describe if you were a rockstar, what you would deduct.” Customers uploaded videos, “I’m a rockstar, I’m deducting my liposuction.  Thanks TurboTax!” Autofollow followers for DM.  

@ComcastCares, @AskWF
During the CS panel, Frank Eliason, Director of Digital Care, Comcast, began by saying that Comcast’s credo is creating the best customer experience, yes, this is Comcast.  Its ok to have tough chats online and resolved in a public way.  Twitter provides real-time market feedback.  In the audience, there was a testimonial that Frank gave his cell number and handheld them til the issue was resolved.  @DaveMcClure of Founders Fund challenged Frank saying you went above and beyond for her because she is a celebrity and has a big voice, you’re not doing it for the little guy, your “personalized approach” is not scalable.  Frank responded that they have a team of 10 and can scale with tools, training and hiring CS reps who are passionate about customers. “I’m passionate about our customers.”  (In response to this post, Frank put his business card on his blog for anyone who needs Comcast care.  As to whether SM is scalable for CS, it is when done right.  Customer privacy is primary and the tact Wells Fargo takes in responding privately to resolve issues is important to note.)  On stage with Frank was Ed Terpening, VP Social Media Marketing, Wells Fargo.  He went on to explain how WF is using SM for CS:  WF proactively seeks out customers ranting about them, DMs to resolve issues and turn detractors into promoters.  WF funnels customer conversations to secure channels to protect the customer’s privacy and prevent abuse, e.g. a hack into tinyurl.  WF has a 100 member CS team.  “We know the ROI on resolving customer issues, we seek productive conversations, they tweet to be heard.” The audience then gave WF feedback that the legal language on the AskWF Twitter page was a major turn off. Ed’s response was sympathetic as he explained such disclosure is required when dealing with personal financial information.  (btw Cotweet was being raved about by many at TWTRCON as one of those key tools to scale CS, more discussion below).

@MCHammer
The highlight of TWTRCON came midday as @MCHammer was joined on stage with @AdventureGirl and Gina Smith (@ginasmith888) to discuss personal branding on Twitter.  His family-oriented reality TV show, Hammertime, debuts on A&E Sunday, June 14, 10pm.  (At the risk of being anachronistic, check out this viral gold of a flash mob in HammerPants doing the HammerDance, 1mm+ views as of 6/13). He had many keen insights to share:  On getting to 1mm – started with a question which went viral, “In 1962-1970 every male leader was assassinated, where were you?” The fans took this and ran with the brand.  On scaling from 1mm to 10mm followers – ghosts are ok if you are transparent to your fans, I’m traveling this week and Jody will be tweeting my schedule.  On ghosts:  I’m afraid of ghosts, defeats the point of Twitter which makes you accessible to your fans.  Broadcasting only is not the culture of Twitter. Twitter allows you to remove the velvet rope perception and you are who you are, drops the veil of celebrity.  I want to engage the everyday person, get their feedback, be real. As a content creator, I want to eliminate the filter.I have a voice.  Perception is more valuable than reality.   On drunk tweeting – not sure why anyone would do that. its a bad idea.  What you say, you can’t take back.  On TwitterSquatters – it helps to know the founders to wrangle the name.  (Now Twitter has a seal next to the real celebrity IDs).  On the future  – its exciting. The apex is linking to rich media content, tweeting out links to photos, videos, film, saves marketing dollars.  Great branding for movies and actors, Twitter allows brand extension.  Imagine a day when we tweet links to Comcast PPV, take a rev share, eliminate manager fees.  

@HappyStar, @KogiBBQ, @DellOutlet
Carl’s Jr. and Kogi BBQ were up right after lunch.  Along with DellOutlet, they were asked what’s the best time to tweet.  Carl’s Jr. piped in “I start tweeting at 10am PST to my 18-34 young, hungry guys, late at night to the bacon group.  Tweet about 5x day.  Need to know your audience.  Late at night active RTs.  Make it funny and delicious.” Carl’s has a strategic plan but sometimes shakes it up, e.g. win a date with a diva.  Created @HappyStar iconic logo now a cool character in the Twitterverse who smokes cigars, goes clubbing, got edge.  KogiBBQ no set menus, groupies, personality, connect passionately with fans, use Twitter to identify popular spots, followers invite the truck to hot spots, best time to tweet is in the afternoon.  Dell Outlet took 2 years to get to half a million followers, slow build, integrated online, sm and email, strategy was to be responsive. Best time to tweet promotions is in the late afternoon to miss international crowd.  To identify best time to tweet, track RTs.  Kogi made a point of saying some followers are more powerful than others, BrianSolis caused viral RT that helped launch Kogi into the spotlight.  When asked if making money from tweets – Dell and Carl’s – yeah, KogiBBQ – hell yeah!  Dell uses bit.y, HootSuite for CTR data, can track coupon redemption. Advice to Twitter – Carl’s – keep it open, Kogi – more data.   Later Carl’s and Kogi announced they were going to plan a tweetup with HappyStar at the truck. 

Pitch Pit
Moderated by David Berlind of Information Week, the Pitch Pit introduced the audience to some very cools tools.  My favorite was @Thumbfight, like Googlefight but measures Twitter sentiment, addictive fun, monitor your popularity online.  But @Hootsuite, with URL shortening built in, search DMs, links, followers, geography, and @PeopleBrowser had tremendous support as well. The panelists said they were using:  @Radian6, pinpoints all conversations happening about your brand across the social web but doesn’t measure sentiment.  @CoTweet. @Tweetdeck. @Wordclouds.  Bitly.  PopRL.   And of course, TwitterSearch to see what people are saying about your brand and competitors.  

Twitterville by @ShelIsrael 
Twitter is like a small town where people say hello, comment on the weather, share interests, lunch and sometimes real business happens.  Twitterville is a snapshot of ordinary citizens caught in extraordinary circumstances and  rescued by Twitter.  Shel talked about @jkrums twitpic-ing USAir 1549 and getting MSN on the scene within 20 minutes, or @ecasper and @scobleizer breaking the news about the China quake.  And UCB student @jamesbuck using Twitter to save his life.  He tweeted “Arrested” when taken on vacation in Egypt which his 92 followers RTand got the attention of the US State Dept gto get him freed. He also talked about a formula to raise money quickly with Twitter:  must have a specific case, a sense of urgency and updates.

@BrianSolis, @CiscoSystems, @eBayinkblog
It was really great hearing Brian Solis, author of PR 2.0, Putting the Public Back in PR. Its a time of experimentation and either there will be epic failing or succeeding.  1989 Tim Berners-Lee, 1995 the advent of eCommerce, 2004 FB, 2005 iPod.   eBay was the first social network connecting buyers and sellers back in 1995.   Now 65% of executive staff is brand new. To gain visibility, leveraging eBay influencers, DM to grow fan base.  Key policy issues regarding eBay tweeting earnings, came up with quarterly hashtag #Q109 to allay concern for RT of old info.  At Cisco, each employee is a brand champion, discussed how to lose a job with one bad tweet, a new hire bragging about her ‘fattie’ paycheck led to her dismissal.  John Chambers used polldaddy to take the pulse of 15,000 employees at ciscolive.  Cisco now has 66,000 employees.  During orientation train employees to embrace the brand and not tweet about customers.  At Intel Social Media Center for Excellence there is a course that must be completed before employees can tweet.

Twitter Anamitra Banerji, Project Management
Next up was the man who is designing the product to make Twitter its fortune.  He was asked – right now Twitter is a platform but is Twitter about to develop their own apps that will cannibalize the 3P market.  The investors want to know.  Shrug.  Anamitra then asked the audience, what features do you want, the audience replied  – analytics for reach and engagement – what’s working, what’s not, CTRs, page views, who are your followers, what are their favorites, when is your audience on, optimal timing to tweet, sentiment aggregator to quantity positive and negative chatter, spam filter, hypergeotargeting, no more failwells.  He said most Twitter resources are going to engineering for user experience, stability, out of the box experience.  Discussed not much slander yet, but lots of spam. He requested use studies like the cafe who lets patrons DM waitress their order.  Anamitra talked about American Apparel using Twitter for idea generation, a follower sent in his pregnant wife dressed in American Apparel up until the baby was born, that follower is the gold standard, the crown jewel of the customer base, fans like that don’t get bored.  Then @SteveRubel stood up and asked, “What if we get bored with Twitter.  What will Twitter do about churn?” (twitterquitters).  

@SteveRubel
Now it was Steve’s turn onstage.  His comment still bothering me about us getting bored with Twitter.  Hey, I love Twitter, but what if he’s right.  He made the point of us getting bored with blogging and email.  Don’t you remember those conferences about blogging and email.  Later @KaraSwisher said it was true, she remembers the conferences on blogging and before that email, hauntingly similar, with passionate fervor, and now no more, just utility and ubiquity.  Damn @SteveRubel, he’s too powerful a thought leader.  Then he mindmapped us with a great discussion on ways in which Twitter can sustain.  He put it up on Flickr .  You can read it in its original size.  Here is the essence of what was discussed:  

The Future of Twitter
Social OS 
– Twitter inside  making every site social with OAuth, aggregation tools (vertical aggregation), FB Connect or Open ID feature, filtering, reputational score for interestingness, hyperlocal, voting/rating systems.
– Twitter inside Apps – mobile, productivity – Evernote, MS Office email/IM replacement, GoogleWave, Social apps like Seesmic, Tweetdeck
Marketing OS 
– insights engine – protools, A/B testing, link tracking, sentiment, twitter analytics, platform – contextual search ads, display, PR, pro tools, Twitter TV, CRM – pro tools
M&A
Who Buys Twitter? IT – Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft, Media – Disney, Google, Comcast, Y!, Amazon, Social – FB, Mobile – ?
Who Does Twitter Buy?  Friendfeed, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Hotsuite/CoTweet, 37 Signals, payment solution, Bit.ly,  Twittercounter
Partnerships 
Corporations, Media – Disney, MTV, CNN, Newspapers, Social Nets – FriendFeed, FB, NGOs – UN, WEF, Govt – US, etc.
Threats 
Federated IDs – FriendFeed, FB, Churn, Boredom

@karaswisher, @davemcclure, @jowyang, @psaffo
They saved the best for last – the power panel of pundits.  @KaraSwisherof WSJ AllThingsD, just back from D7 and her kids ballgame.  On the stage with her was Dave McClure of Founders Fund, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Resarch and Paul Saffo of the Institute of the Future.  There was food and cocktails just outside the door and the dialogue got very punchy.  It went something like this:
– Twitter’s motto is “We don’t know”
– Like Seinfeld, its about nothing
– Swisher tells McClure to stop tweeting on stage
– Owyang says Twitter will go away like email and blogging.
– Swisher calls Owyang Jeremy
– McClure says its Jeremiah
– Owyang says Kara can call me anything she wants
– Then there was some profanity
– Swisher comments that she can handle anyone after Carol Bartz 
– Saffo starts talking about tablets, smartphones
– Swisher says her mom is funny, boy scored a homerun
– Someone said Highlander was the best movie ever
– McClure called out: What’s the story from the heartland Jeremy (Boingo)
– Swisher asked can microblogging get any shorter
– News no longer breaks it tweets
– Saffo said geodata is the dark horse
– SMS is at 2T, tweets run rate is 2B
– Is it possible to realtime index 1TB of tweets a day
– I asked the Twitterverse, are DMs indexed, searchable, answer: no
– Saffo thought about the kids getting textbooks on Kindle, they should be stuck in the libraries at midnight like the rest of us mortals were
– Panel recalled once upon a time when emails couldn’t talk to each other
– Owyang commented social web is global, mobile, realtime
– Saffo then said Twitter is not the next Google
– MySpace is dead except for entertainment
– GoogleWave should have been done years ago, FB eating Google’s lunch
– Big 3 ecommerce sites no social networking – Amazon, eBay, iTunes
– Owyang – brands follow fish where they go
– Twitter great to meet new tweeps, tell stories, collect stuff, be useful
– Can Twitter fuel own growth and scale to 100mm
– and with that it was time to party where I caught up with @TiVoShanan
– it was an art party, so I took one finally twitpic
– then I realized the upright iPhone was turning my twitpics on its side
– but I’d be back in the morning for #Ypulse, youth marketing mashup, same great producers (Modern Media Partners), same great location.

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4 Responses to “TWTRCON/@MCHammer, @KaraSwisher, @DaveMcClure, @SteveRubel, @BrianSolis”

  1. This was truly a great event. I think everyone had an incredible time. I did feel bad for not remembering my business cards, so I posted it to my blog for all:

    http://www.eliasonfamily.info/blog/?p=500

    Thank you for the feedback!

    Frank Eliason
    @ComcastCares on Twitter

  2. very nice stuff, my first time at your blog , i love the way you write
    got yourself a new reader here:)

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  1. 1 Time to be Frank » Blog Archive » Business Cards are so Passé

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