A New Use For Twitter – The Social Pulse

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Around this time of the year, everyone looks forward to seeing the Google Zeitgeist. The Google Zeitgeist takes a look at what keywords and search terms were most popular in 2007, and what the general public was searching for most in the past year. The word "zeitgeist" is roughly translated as "spirit of the age," according to Wikipedia. You can view the latest one here: Google Zeitgeist 2007.

Hot on the heels of Google releasing their annual Zeitgeist, I ran last week’s episode of my Podcast here – SPOS #83 – Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast – +1 (206) 666-6056 – The Yuletide Log Festivus Miracle Edition – where I asked the Digital Marketing community to submit their thoughts about the year that was (and will be) in Social Media. I was a little flabbergasted to hear so many people talking about the impact of the Micro Blogging platform called, Twitter (you can view my "tweets" in the left-hand navigation under the header, Stuff Mitch Thinks About) – and, alternately, how no one mentioned virtual worlds like Second Life.

I’ve had some skin in the Twitter world for some time now and described it as Permission-based Stalking back in March, 2006. Now, I believe that Twitter is taking on a more substantial role than the innocuous answering of the question, "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. I use twitter as my constant (and consistent) zeitgeist. It has gone from a micro Blogging platform to the Social Pulse.

It’s a big statement, but Twitter has become The Social Pulse of life. From breaking news to technical information or from what my friends are thinking about to what I need to be looking at (and thinking about). It’s a live ecosystem of zeitgeist that shifts from moment to moment, and it’s becoming increasingly more important as a Social Media tool for Marketers to be paying attention to. I’ve seen a slip in Blogging and Podcasting as Bloggers shift their thoughts and idea to platforms like Twitter. This tells me something. Something beyond the initial gut reaction that Bloggers are getting lazy or tired of Blogging, but rather it’s easier, faster and more effective for them to brain dump as it happens in a live and ongoing environment.

Maybe this is what they really meant in the book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, by saying "markets are conversations."

I have no idea if Marketers can play an effective role in using Twitter for their endeavours. I do know that not paying attention to a channel like Twitter will soon be as dangerous as not having any Google News Alerts set or monitoring Technorati for voice of the customer.

Whether you like Twitter or not, it is The Social Pulse. And, The Social Pulse, requires your Marketing attention more and more as the popularity and interest increases. It’s fascinating to read and it’s even more fascinating to be a part of it.


  1. A couple of thoughts on your post Michelle.
    1. Second Life – I think the people trying out Second Life now need to be admired, not looked at as failures. American Apparel trying retail in a Virtual World is admirable.
    2. It’s early days on Virtual Worlds – look at Internet browsing and how long that took to click. Look at e-commerce – still so many miles to go. I have no doubt that virtual worlds will be the Web for us going forward – as soon as technology is no longer the barrier.
    3. Twitter – whenever a cause is it at play and people help out – like the example you provided for Frozen Peas – the community is rallying around an individual or a cause – not a brand, product or service. I think, as Marketers, we need to be careful here. Just because 25 million people rallied around the Free Hugs video – does not mean that your corporate video is going to be appreciated on YouTube.
    That being said, seeing moments like this does demonstrate that a community is open to messages and willing to connect through this channel.
    Some great insights on your Blog Michelle – really got me thinking.
    Thank you!

  2. The 10 ways I learned to use Twitter in 2007… (aka Why and How I use Twitter)
    How have I learned to use Twitter in my online communication? Let me count the ways… After Chris Brogan posted his “Twitter Revisited” piece last week and on the same day Jeremiah Owyang talked about popularity and Twitter, I put

  3. Mitch-
    Thanks for taking the time to respond to me.
    I agree with your points to an extent but let me explain where I’m coming from on each.
    Failures. We all fail. There are companies that have not succeeded their goals, whatever they were, in Second Life to have closed their doors and left the world. It could be for several reasons but 1) maybe the virtual worlds aren’t ready for corporations yet and 2) the users of virtual worlds need more than a place to visit. If you want to spread the word about a company in Second Life, the smart thing to want is to connect with the users of your product not show them an empty island full of stuff. Failures aren’t *bad*. They are ideas that didn’t work.
    I do admire American Apparel and AOL and several other companies for attempt to be the first to forge this new ground. What they’ve shown is that there is still work to do.
    However, I do not believe that the majority of people are going to prefer doing business in virtual worlds in the future. I could be wrong, but we’ve proven that even with all the contacts we have in the social media space that we still enjoy and need face to face interaction. We’ll see how they grow, at this point I’m simply doubtful.
    On Twitter again, as marketers you already know that what makes something viral is a formula that hasn’t been figured out. I would hope that most would know and have acknowledged that. I pointed out Frozen Peas as an example as how easily the word can spread on Twitter, its potential. Its potential and that it exists needs to be noted at the very least by businesses and marketing.

  4. First about Second Life: I think the whole area is quite new to many people. It’s in fact quite different to what they are used to compared to e.g. Twitter which is “just another web app”. I agree though with the social pulse statement.
    Companies in Second Life (but also on Twitter) still need to find out what works and what doesn’t and the first ones really have been trying that. Of course there was much hype involved and nobody wanted to miss it and maybe it was not that much an experiment as more a just-being-there without much thinking.
    And there also have been some successful ones actually, Pontiac/Motorati being one of them, Amazon’s Web Services another one. And while Motorati now leaves SL it’s probably not because it was a failure but because it was a limited project and now they are trying different things. So they are experimenting and quite successful (relative to the user base in there) and I think this is quite ok.
    Virtual Worlds are quite at the beginning and next year we will hear a lot from them, I am sure. In the end it’s also one of the best ways to live up to what the Cluetrain Manifesto says. You can go out to your customers again in (virtual) person and talk to them. Of course you need to do that (and Amazon’s Jeff Barr really does that, Crayon of course also).
    As for the face-to-face interaction: I agree that we still need it but maybe not all the time. It sometimes might be more effective to stay at home and work together online. But of course not only in Second Life but in whatever tool fits the need.
    BTW Mitch: I would like to see you more often at Coffee with Crayon to discuss these things more 🙂

  5. Thanks Michelle and Christian.
    I think the wins in both Second Life and twitter from a Marketing perspective happen in two phases:
    1. Marketers try to do what has worked in other environments and platforms in new ones. This, typically, does not work well, but we have to go through this phase. This is where we’re at now.
    2. We try something totally new and different. We’re just at the start of this. Really going off and out there on a limb. I heard rumblings that IBM in Virtual Worlds is dismissing stuff like gravity, etc… really pushing the limits.
    I have faith that all of these new channels and platforms will evolve into something we can’t see just yet.
    That was the inspiration for this post. twitter went from “walking my cat” into the Social Pulse for me. That’s a a pretty big leap… and one I did not see coming.

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