Darren wants to know.
Twitter is a protocol, of course, not a company or even a platform. They’ve made it so open that just about any tool you can imagine has been built or is about to be.
You can find really good coverage of new Twitter tools here and here and here.
The smart kids at Squidoo just launched a new tool, too. You can shout out for our hero Guy Kawasaki or build your own storm. I’m still waiting for someone to start a ‘smart’ list and of course a ‘stupid’ one. Have fun.
If the marketplace isn’t talking about you, there’s a reason.
If people aren’t discussing your products, your services, your cause, your movement or your career, there’s a reason.
The reason is that you’re boring. (I guess that’s what boring means, right?) And you’re probably boring on purpose. You have boring pricing because that’s safer. You have a boring location because to do otherwise would be nuts. You have boring products because that’s what the market wants. That boring staff? They’re perfectly well qualified…
You don’t get unboring for free. Remarkable costs time and money and effort, but most of all, remarkable costs a willingness to be wrong. [There’s more in an interview I just did with John.]
Remarkable is a choice.
Years and years after some pundits began predicting the end of newspapers, the newspapers themselves are finally realizing that it’s over. Huge debt, high costs, declining subscription rates, plummeting ad base–will the last one out please turn off the lights.
On their way out, though, we’re hearing a lot of, "you’ll miss us when we’re gone…" laments. I got to thinking about this. It’s never good to watch people lose their livelihoods or have to move on to something new, even if it might be better. I respect and honor the hard work that so many people have put into newspapers along the way. If we make a list of newspaper attributes and features, which ones would you miss?
Woodpulp, printing presses, typesetting machines, delivery trucks, those stands on the street and the newsstand… I think we’re okay without them.
The sports section? No, that’s better online, and in no danger of going away, in fact, overwritten commentary by the masses is burgeoning.
The weather? Ditto. Comics are even better online, and I don’t think we’ll run out of those.
Book and theater and restaurant reviews? In fact, there are more of these online, often better, definitely more personal and relevant, and also in no danger of going away.
The full page ads for local department stores? The free standing inserts on Sunday? The supermarket coupons? Easily replaced.
How about the editorials and op eds? Again, I think we’re not going to see opinion go away, in fact, the web amplifies the good stuff.
What’s left is local news, investigative journalism and intelligent coverage of national news. Perhaps 2% of the cost of a typical paper. I worry about the quality of a democracy when the the state government or the local government can do what it wants without intelligent coverage. I worry about the abuse of power when the only thing a corrupt official needs to worry about is the TV news. I worry about the quality of legislation when there isn’t a passionate, unbiased reporter there to explain it to us.
But then I see the in depth stories about the gowns to be worn to the inauguration or the selection of the White House dog and I wonder if newspapers are the most efficient way to do this anyway.
The web has excelled at breaking the world into the tiniest independent parts. We don’t use this to support that online. Things support themselves. The food blog isn’t a loss leader for the gardening blog. They’re separate, usually run by separate people or organizations.
Punchline: if we really care about the investigation and the analysis, we’ll pay for it one way or another. Maybe it’s a public good, a non profit function. Maybe a philanthropist puts up money for prizes. Maybe the Woodward and Bernstein of 2017 make so much money from breaking a story that it leads to a whole new generation of journalists.
The reality is that this sort of journalism is relatively cheap (compared to everything else the newspaper had to do in order to bring it to us.) Newspapers took two cents of journalism and wrapped in ninety-eight cents of overhead and distraction. The magic of the web, the reason you should care about this even if you don’t care about the news, is that when the marginal cost of something is free and when the time to deliver it is zero, the economics become magical. It’s like 6 divided by zero. Infinity.
I’m not worried about how muckrakers will make a living. Tree farmers, on the other hand, need to find a new use for newsprint.
Here’s a trick that’s as old as the web: Run a popularity contest with public voting. It could be anything from a listing of the top blogs to a creative contest for best tagline or ad.
The nominees run around like crazy, hoping to get their friends to vote. Which of course brings you more traffic. This is a large part of the strategy behind Threadless.
I get invited to vote in these all the time, to participate as a nominee regularly and most vexing, to post them here as a way of helping this person or that person achieve some sort of nirvana.
My feeling is that most of the time the cause is too thin and the prize is too lame. If your blog gets picked as the most popular woodworking blog by some other blog, it’s really unlikely that you’ll find many benefits other than a nice smile for your ego. On the other hand, if you can offer a great prize and/or be useful and relevant, this is a permanent tool in the web toolbox for you.
As I’ve said, I don’t promote these. But, just this one time, I’m breaking my rule for Becky, who didn’t even ask me to mention this, and for my friend Dan Pink, who has written another terrific book. If you’d be so kind to visit Dan’s site and vote for "stay hungry," it’s quite likely that Becky will win a paid for trip to TED UK, which she deserves and will benefit from.(She’s only a hundred votes out of first place as I write this).
I promise to do something like this no more than once a year, so wait unto 2010 before you send me a note about your contest! Thanks.
If you write online, on a blog, on Twitter, on Squidoo, even in the comments section of a site, you are a published author.
Before you write something negative about another person, you need to realize that the casual nature of your post doesn’t protect you from a lawsuit. Charles Glasser is an expert on this and a new edition of his book just came out. You should consider reading it, or be sure to hire an editor who did. It’s more sophisticated than a quick overview, but you know you’re getting the straight scoop.
What’s beauty? You know it when you see it, sure, but what is it? It turns out that beauty is an important evolutionary byproduct.
An organism needs to invest energy in being beautiful. You won’t see healthy skin on a sick animal, because maintaining a healthy coat is too ‘expensive’. A sick peacock isn’t as spectacular as a healthy one. Or a genetically damaged chimp isn’t going to have as symmetrical a face. As a result, most creatures evolved their definitions of beauty in a mate to match the displays of healthy creatures.
Human beings have adopted this signaling strategy with a vengeance. I know a woman who is going to spend more than $9,000 having her hair styled in 2009 (hey, that’s less than $200 a week). Entire industries are based on human beings spending time and money in order to manufacture temporary physical beauty.
Businesses build lobbies that they rarely use, giant atriums with big windows and lots of empty space. It’s a waste, it’s expensive and it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s expensive.
Stop for a minute and think about the relationship between expense and beauty.
Do you make something beautiful? It could be the way you write hand written letters or leave a little extra on the product, even if maybe it’s not so efficient. Sometimes efficiency is beautiful, but only when it took a lot of extra effort to get there. Ordinary products are almost never beautiful. Austere products might be, but only when real effort is expended to make them that way.
Even the most hard-hearted people are suckers for beauty. We treat people and products differently when we think they’re beautiful. The reason people and organizations have invested so much in beauty over the years is that beauty pays off.
A website that doesn’t cram ads into every single nook and cranny is more beautiful… it’s also more expensive to run in the short run. A salesperson who doesn’t squeeze you for every penny is more confident, earning more of your trust–that’s beautiful.
When everyone has it, it ceases to be beautiful. (Babies are beautiful because time takes their babyhood away so quickly… it’s a guaranteed temporary effect). Beauty is a signal, not just a physical state.
Songs about romance don’t tell you how to make out, they merely encourage it. It’s not the data that people seek, it’s the mood.
If all we needed to do great work was information, our problems would be over. The internet is the greatest repository anyone could imagine… if you want to know how to do something, the Net will show you how. Anything.
The how, of course, is not important. Books and songs and movies that have an impact work because they motivate us to take action, not because they show us exactly what to do.
Did you not have enough information or expertise to start a successful business during the last boom? Or the boom before that? Are you so ill-informed that you are unable to make a profitable sales call, unable to answer the phone, unable to persuade someone to join your cause? That’s unlikely.
We don’t have a knowledge shortage. Far from it.
I get very annoyed at pundits who criticize a book for not having enough proof, not enough data, not enough rigorous case studies. I am disappointed at people who hesitate to start something important because they’re just waiting to learn enough or know enough or to figure out the answer.
It’s like the annoying kid at the magic show shouting, "I know how you did that trick!" Of course you do.
The question isn’t, "how do you do the trick?" The question is, "do you feel like doing the work, taking the risk, making a stand and getting it done?" If you don’t know how to do the trick, go look it up. Get a tutor. Figure it out. That’s the easy part.
You already know how to deliver excellent service that blows people away. You just don’t feel like it. Your organization has the resources to buy that machine or enter that market or change that policy. They’re just not in the mood.
If I accomplish anything on a good day, it’s helping you change attitudes. I’m working hard at getting you in the mood to do the things you already know how to do. I think that’s what your boss/the market wants you to do as well.
Here are some easy to follow tips that will help you avoid being seen as a spammer, or having your emails trashed or ignored. The thing is this: email reduces friction. Greedy, lazy organizations have embraced this and tried to figure out how to blast as many emails as they can as cheaply as they can, relying on the law of large numbers. The real law of large numbers is, "using large numbers is against the law."
I want you to add friction back in. If you want to be seen as being personal, the best strategy is to be personal, which is slow and expensive.
- Don’t send the same email to large numbers of people.
- If you have more than a few people to contact, you’ll be tempted to copy and paste or mail merge. Don’t. You’ll get caught. It shows. If it’s important enough for someone to read, it’s important enough for you to rewrite.
- Careful with the salutation. Don’t write, "Dear Claudia," if you don’t usually write "Dear" at the beginning of all your emails.
- Don’t mush the salutation together with the rest of the note. If I had a dollar for every email that started, "Joe, When experts come together…" That’s not personal. That’s lazy merging. See rule 1.
- Don’t send HTML or pictures. Personal email doesn’t, why are you?
- Don’t talk like a press release. Talk like a person. A person is reading this, so why are you talking like that?
- Be short. The purpose of an email is not to sell the person on anything other than writing back. If you don’t have a personal, interesting way to start a conversation, don’t write.
- Don’t send an email only when you really need something. That’s not personal, that’s selfish.
- Do you have a sig with a phone number in it? Your phone number? If you don’t trust me enough to give me your real phone number, I don’t trust you enough to read your mail.
- Don’t mark your email urgent. Urgent to you is not urgent to me.
- Don’t lie in your subject line, and don’t be cute. You’re not clever enough to be cute. Just be honest.
- Following up on an impersonal spam email is twice as dumb as sending the first one. Invest the time to do it right the first time.
- Anticipated, personal and relevant permission mail will always dramatically outperform greedy short-term spam. I promise.
- Just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you have the right to email them.
Ramit has a scholarship if you’re in your 20s.
This year is the 200th birthday of the grandson of Josiah Wedgwood. That’s the good news. The bad news is that his company has filed for bankruptcy. It’s sad.
When I first wrote about Wedgwood in Meatball Sundae, I was stunned that one man could have created so many innovations so long ago. The Times piece repeats much of what I wrote, but doesn’t go far enough. I hope you’ll check out the book if you haven’t had a chance.
Marketing is being reinvented, and the difference this time is that you have far more resources, that will pay off far more quickly, than Wedgwood ever did. And who knows what your granddaughter will do with your inheritance?