We’re Not Doing Video Tweets

We commented a few hours ago on a claim in the Telegraph newspaper that Twitter is considering the addition of video to the service, and expressed skepticism about the report. That skepticism seems well-founded, as Twitter co-founder Biz Stone replied to our inquiries today by email, essentially debunking the article’s premise:

Haven’t read the piece but no video hosting. 140 characters of text including spaces. You know the drill!

Twitter’s (Twitter) position is sound: if the site were to duplicate the functionality of existing apps, it could undermine the trust of developers who invest huge amounts of time, money and energy in creating applications for the Twitter ecosystem.

That said, Twitter does lose out when it comes to multimedia: adding in-line thumbnails for images and videos (even if that content is hosted on 3rd party sites) would make for a much richer experience that could match Facebook’s (Facebook) news feed for image and video sharing. Yes, in-line multimedia can be done with apps like TweetDeck (TweetDeck), but that’s non-obvious and an extra step for those more familiar with the leading social network. Even this could bring Twitter into conflict with developers however: if multimedia support were added, would there be default services in the same way Bit.ly is the default URL shortener?

Such moves would be made with caution, if at all. Stone’s comment sums up Twitter’s philosophy nicely: keep it simple, with as few extra features as possible.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto (iStockphoto), Fotoie

Use Social Media in Your PR Pitch Plan

It’s clear that the public relations landscape is changing. No longer does emailing a journalist a press release always result in coverage on major news channels (there are exceptions, naturally, but the average business doesn’t get on Oprah). These days, journalists (and yes, bloggers too) are inundated with press releases. It’s easy to hit delete and move on.

How do you get your pitch heard above the din? Conversation. Engagement. Interaction.

Social Media is Key in Your Pitch

Why? Because that’s where your media contacts are hanging out these days, and that’s where they look for story ideas. But be forewarned: there is a lot of bad social media pitching going on already.

Pamela Johnston of PJ Inc. Public Relations says she avoids doing certain things on TwitterTwitterTwitter that are looked upon negatively, like:

• pimping client news

• straight out traditional pitching

• sending random things to people/journalists she doesn’t know

I like that she doesn’t use traditional methods of pitching on social media. You can’t apply the same methods you used 10 years ago to Twitter. It’s impossible. Instead, you must find new ways to reach media contacts.

The world is small these days. Social media tools like Twitter, FacebookFacebookFacebook, LinkedInLinkedInLinkedIn, Kirtsy, DiggDiggDigg, blogs, video and web sites are quickly becoming integrated. It’s fairly easy to connect with someone and keep up with what they’re doing. Journalists and bloggers are no different.
Social Media as a Learning Tool

I always like to learn about the journalist I’m targeting before I contact them. I start on the media website and read her bio. I then search for her on GoogleGoogleGoogle. 8 times out of 10 I find her Twitter profile, Facebook profile and maybe even a personal blog. I study all these sources and connect where I can. Sometimes I find that this isn’t really the right journalist to be pitching.

I make notes in my contact database with links to all her sources. I then make a plan to interact with the journalist in her own space. I comment on posts I like. I retweet her content on Twitter. I send a brief note on Facebook (not pitching a story, but sharing one of her posts I liked and asking to connect). This way, by the time I’m ready to pitch her, I’m already on her radar.

Pitching a media contact is a process. It’s not something that will happen overnight. Plan ahead and work for several weeks to get to know a journalist or blogger for best results.
Be A Resource

According to Nick Lawhead of Desautel Hege Communications, he connects with media types on Twitter when they’re looking for topics where he can provide experts:

It is quite common for reporters, news producers and anchors to post something along the lines of “looking for interesting stories about ______ to discuss today.” Being part of an agency, it is critical for me to capitalize on those opportunities for my clients. Often times, this doesn’t require a “pitch” as much as connecting a reporter with a resource (hopefully my client).

This goes back to monitoring social media. Your best successes might not come from a pitch at all, but rather the reward of being a good listener and paying attention to the journalists you can help. Journalists like being helped better than they like being pitched.
How to Pitch Properly

If you haven’t found that opportunity to help a reporter out, move on to pitching. Keep in mind, if you’re using Twitter to pitch, you have 140 characters to get it right. Assuming you’ve been following a journalist or blogger and know that your pitch is right up their alley, start by sending a tweet (not a DM) saying something like:

pitch-tweet

Lori MacGregor, who works with the natural skin care line, LATHER, tries the soft pitch approach. She uses social media as a way to keep up with beauty editors she knows, as well as to get to know the ever-increasing number of beauty bloggers out there.

Twitter has let me learn who the key players are, keep up with their content, and reach out to them in a way that makes sense. Because LATHER is a small company, many of them have never heard of us, so we’ve gotten coverage from outlets we never would have before. I think it also helps that I don’t look at every pitch as an immediate placement opportunity; rather, I view it as an opportunity to build a relationship with these writers who I might otherwise not have a chance to meet.

Forming Your Overall Strategy

The key to using social media in your pitch plan is to not make it your entire plan. Use different tools, like press releases, article marketing sites, blogs and social networking sites to create a well-rounded strategy.

Chris Martin, of Chris Martin Public Relations, uses a multifaceted approach to help his clients get exposure. He developed a Facebook Page to launch a survey about texting in the dental chair. From this, he got his client, Chicago Dental Society, featured on several local news and radio stations.

He’s also successfully pitched a blogger and landed a radio interview for the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association and he has developed new relationships using #journchat, an ongoing conversation among journalists, bloggers and PR professionals via Twitter.

If you’re not currently using social media in your pitch plan, make some changes. You’ll soon appreciate the interaction you get with social media versus the black hole where you once sent a press release. And don’t be afraid to try new things! Every day, PR professionals are finding better ways to get heard.

Pepsi Has An App For That

Pepsi’s latest foray into social media is certainly bold and controversial, but does it go too far?

The company recently launched an iPhone application [iTunes link] for its AMP energy drink called “before you score,” with “score” meaning (to put it in the most subtle of terms) having a successful night with a woman.

Beyond the premise of the app being rather risqué, it’s when you drill down to the specifics that it becomes much more, breaking women down into 24 types and suggesting “lines” to lure each one of them. If “successful,” the app also encourages users to brag about it over email, or even on Facebook (Facebook) or Twitter (Twitter).

Now, guy-centric marketing is nothing new for AMP, who often promotes itself through male dominated extreme sports (formerly, it was known as Mountain Dew AMP). The ads are also somewhat reminiscent of AXE, who insinuates in much of their advertising that its products will help you with members of the opposite sex.

But that’s simply a (far-fetched, but whatever) product claim. Here, AMP has actually built features into its application that make it seem one can systematically “score” by exploiting women’s naivety. Beyond that, they actively encourage users to promote such conquests through social media.

Mind you, the app is obviously targeted for “dudes,” many of whom probably won’t have a problem with it, but many of the women who have caught wind of “before you score” clearly do (see the comments on Jezebel or YouTube (YouTube) for example).

Pepsi certainly seems on its way to creating a lot of buzz – but whether or not that buzz turns into something very negative and become a “what were you thinking?” social media fiasco is something to watch for. Meanwhile, let us know in the comments if you think this ad is clever marketing that appeals to AMP’s customers, or something that goes too far and could have big ramifications for AMP’s parent company.

Facebook App for iPhone 3.0 Announced

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facebook logo

Facebook for iPhone app is one of the most downloaded and popular app in the App Store. Why? Because Facebook users with iPhone or iPod Touch can do almost everything from their handsets with this Facebook app for iPhone.

Today, a Facebook employee posted a note on Facebook announcing the new Facebook  app for iPhone 3.0. It’s been a long time since the Facebook app got a major upgrade another than language updates.

Facebook App for iPhone 3.0 Announced

Facebook for iPhone 3.0 will go through a major upgrade with almost everything revamped (atleast, that’s what the screenshot shows). Not ll major features will be added in this release. Some have been saved for the iPhone 3.1 release too.

Facebook for iPhone 3.0 Features

In that note on Facebook, a list of 15 new features was also posted telling us what we’ll see in the next big Facebook app update.

Full Read

Facebook Members to Become Masters of Their Domain Names

facebook-logoAt midnight, Facebook will give users the chance to claim a cleaner URL for their pages. What was once a messy string of numbers and letters could simply be changed to facebook.com/YourNameHere, for example. The move may make it easier to find other people and companies, but did the social networking site give businesses enough time to gear up? Is there potential for IP conflicts?

Just when you thought you had that 12:01 a.m. Saturday deadline figured out for this weekend’s big switch from analog to digital television, along comes another form of midnight madness to worry about — that is, if you want to make it easier for Facebook friends to reach you, or have a brand you want to protect from the dark side of social media.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday morning, Facebook will allow registration for customized URLs (example: facebook.com/YourNameHere), instead of the usual long list of numbers that show up as a Web address for a profile. The world’s largest social media network began sending out notices for the process on Wednesday, including a link for registered trademark brand owners to place their names on a restricted list, in the hope of avoiding the cybersquatting phenomenon that has long plagued the Internet domain name process.

The advantages are obvious: an easier way for users to track down their friends — or their favorite companies — on Facebook. It also gives those companies a shot at ranking higher on a Google .

However, given complaints from its members regarding past terms-of-service changes, is Facebook ready to get into the domain name business? Can it truly protect trademark owners from seeing their intellectual property pilfered by those who would grab a username, only to sell it back to its legitimate owner? Can Facebook’s servers handle what may turn out to be a midnight crush?

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Easy-to-Use Registration?

Facebook did not respond to requests for comments by press time, but previously published reports quote company spokespersons as saying they should have enough backup server power available. However, one social media expert is skeptical.

“I think we’re going to see a flurry of squatters trying to rip apart Facebook,” Lon Safko, hardware/software entrepreneur, intellectual property owner and author of The Social Media Bible, told TechNewsWorld. “They’re going to try to reserve a lot of names. It’ll be blue-light specials at midnight, and don’t be surprised if the servers … go down.”

Facebook’s motive for offering up vanity URLs, according to Safko: Even though MySpace and Twitter already offer up customized addresses, Facebook’s enormous population — 200 million active users — gives the network much more appeal with businesses and represents a viable future revenue opportunity.

“It could be that they’re trying to spike memberships. They’ve been growing really fast, trouncing MySpace and getting a lot of press. It’s a really good free perk.” When it comes to companies, “I think Facebook is starting to recognize the value of companies, because companies have been taking advantage of it all along. If they can entice people and companies into trying to brand themselves on it, the advertising opportunities down the road are significant.”

There’s also potential for related advertising on profile pages with customized URLs, according to IDC analyst Caroline Dangson. Facebook will have to rely on that, since the company probably can’t get away with charging down the line for vanity usernames, she said. So the value right now for Facebook with all this: better search within Facebook and a stronger overall connection.

“It gives you the sense that you’ve really got your own page now,” Dangson told TechNewsWorld. “You didn’t think of it in terms of the domain name before, because it was ugly. You had a space on Facebook, but now it’s giving you a sense of greater ownership, potentially.”

The prospect of better search results also cements the network/member relationship, she said, because it helps “people connect with even more people, which creates stickiness.”