“Where is Twitter a year from now?” asked Google’s Ted Souder, who moderated TiE Midwest’s panel on “Trends in Social Media,” hosted by Google and sponsored by the law firm McCracken & Frank. No surprise that Twitter dominated the conversation, just as its current growth rate overshadows social media coverage.
Twitter is pervasive, the panelists agreed. “Twitter will be the norm,” said Daniel Honigman, lead social media strategist for Tribune Interactive. “Twitter has changed the way communications happens on the web.”
Real-time search and pointed communications make for a powerful marketing medium, especially given the short, quick nature of social media communications. As the conversation turned to content length, most of the audience agreed that even a four-to-five paragraph email is too long.
“Twitter makes you get to the heart of the matter quickly," said panelist Eric Olson, co-founder of Tech Cocktail. It highlights the critical tidbits of information in long-form articles.
The personal touch may well show up as success in the metrics. “Retweets per thousand followers is the new metric,” Daniel said. The New York Times has 0.4 RTM while Colonel Tribune has as many as 14 RTM, he said. The difference is that the Times is an RSS feed while the Tribune’s is personally selected and, presumably, edited for Twitter.
To me, the primary attraction and point of social media is its personal nature. When quantitative metrics are combined with a scheme of custom, qualitative characteristics, the business value of social media may be more easily demonstrated.
Consider the following characteristics that could measure the strength of the relationship to a social media audience:
- Relevance of traffic
- Responsiveness of audience
- Reputation of followers
Selecting quantifiable qualities for those characteristics may lie in a traditional exercise of audience analysis and building: knowing who you are talking to and who you want to talk to. “Retweets tell you whether you have a community that likes (your) content,” noted panelist Ross Kimbarovsky, co-founder of CrowdSpring.
The ultimate payoff for social media lies in the relationship with a community. Like all healthy relationships, building and maintaining a community requires commitment. As Ross said, “it has to be a long, sustained effort.”