Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the “real world”…micro blogging is here to take up even more of your “free time”, and it has become all the rage. Well, for some it has. Anyone spending time trying to hone a social media marketing strategy these days, is tackling an ever growing palette of pre-requisite involvement including micro-blogging, [regular ol’] blogging, developing and nurturing a presence within social networks, video posting, and social bookmarking. This evolving mix of fragmented opportunity is quite challenging for marketers, content creators and even consumers to wrap their hands and minds around.
While Twitter is by far the most popular service (follow me on Twitter: JasonDPG), in reality it is rather plain vanilla compared to the aggregation services provided by some of the others. Plain and simple was nice and it actually took a while before most folks adopted Twitter – in fact a good portion of you reading this right now are saying to yourself “yeah, so what the hell does Twitter really offer me and where does it fit into my life or more importantly my marketing or PR plans?” – only you can answer that. It certainly depends on many factors. I use Twitter to share punditry and random musings with a select group of thought leaders and colleagues, and I am expanding my Twitter objective to disseminating further [quick] real-time thoughts about marketing (and random other things) to those in the industry who wish to follow my thoughts during the day. These are one liners, technically 140 character or less thoughts (Twitter’s limit) that are not as fleshed out as a full post for this blog. The wonder of micro-blogging is that I can update from anywhere – my mobile device or online, or via the plethora of third party plug-ins for Outlook, IM and other methods. But hey, NASA is using Twitter to disseminate info from the Mars Phoenix expedition to interested parties, and as of this post 19,368 people are following the Mars orbiter’s progress via Twitter. So beyond Twitter officially being applied to rocket science by this example (well at least the marketing of it), there are many objectives to how you would use it, and like all social media, there are “power users” and casual users of the service. As consumers and business continue to embrace micro blogging, opportunities will emerge.
We are however, starting to see an influx of other services – some with engaging features that may offer users a seemingly better experience than Twitter, albeit without the momentum and adoption yet. Most focus on aggregating YOUR content from your other blogs and sites that offer your content via RSS (including photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube). Can they “out Twitter” Twitter? Only time will tell.
Plurk offers an interesting timeline interface, but essentially provides a similar feature set to Twitter. Not compelling enough to switch, but engaging enough to asway new users to using the service.
Jaiku provides a micro-blogging service plus the aggregation service, however I’m not a fan of how they lay these out. Then again, I just signed up and haven’t had enough time to test it out. Jaiku is now owned by Google, which means that they may stand a chance of rolling with the punches over time. Then again, look at their success levels with Orkut – nuff said, could go either way.
SecondBrain, FriendFeed, Pownce, Tumblr, HelloTxt are all vying for this market in some shape or form, again a lot of Twitter’s competition focuses on the aggregation of your content from other services.
The easy integration with other blogging and micro-blogging feeds seems to be something that Twitter has not embraced…yet. As the micro-blogging leader of the pack, they will most likely have to do so soon because it is actually a very useful feature. Most Twitter users pull in our blog feeds for example through an OpenID third party like TwitterFeed. Because of the open API platform, third parties have developed many Twitter related services such as Summize, which searches Twitter, and TweetBeep that provides keyword triggered alerts (Twitter itself offers some level of these services, but not as reliably at the moment). Twitter is no doubt the player to beat. To that end, their competitors all essentially provide an ability to port over your current and/or old Twitter content (affectionately referred to as Tweets) directly into the competitive services.
Let’s not forget that Facebook offers a micro blogging service too with their “status updates”, which can also be edited both online and via mobile, but while it’s nice to have this service integrated into a bigger picture, Facebook’s status update is a very different non-comprehensive beast. But maybe that’s what the average consumer wants in a micro blogging service – simplicity – just a way to answer that burning question all your friends and colleagues want to know (half sarcastic here) “what are you doing right now?”.
As marketers and agencies embarking into this brave new world, we need to understand these new media environments. Even if these environments become platforms for marketing or PR versus advertising, the lines between media, marketing and technology are blurry ones, and it is our responsibility to understand how consumers are using these channels and what it may mean for us and our clients.
Note: I will be reporting back continued findings, thoughts and applications of micro-blogging right here on The Digital Blur. I just added a micro-blogging category , so stay tuned!