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What I’ve learned from Twitter

I’ve been playing with Twitter the past couple months, mainly out of curiosity from the buzz it’s been getting (see here and here and here). I just couldn’t understand the value of a tool that enables 140-character text-message answers to the question, What are you doing? Who cares what I’m doing? Why should I care what others are doing—I mean, in 140-character chunks? And why use Twitter to find out?

As I’ve discovered, Twitter is a very tiny form of blogging. In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s how it works. Many people “tweet” in between blogs—it’s a faster, easier way to stay connected. When you tweet, your comments are readable by any other Twitter user, but most people don’t read everything that every Twitter user is writing. Instead, you set up your account to follow specific users and track different issues as you wish. Twitter can compare your email contacts to its user registry and tell you who among your contacts is already a Twitter user, so you can follow people you know. Or you can look at all Twitter posts on the website and choose to follow those who seem interesting. Or you can go to http://whoshouldIfollow.com, type in your Twitter username, and receive all sorts of suggestions for who you should follow.

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June 3, 2008 Posted by | Charlotte Ziems, Mobile Content, Social Media, Twitter | , , | 3 Comments

Seeing the world in 2D

Tendocom.com QR CodeYou probably have a digital camera in your pocket or your handbag right now.

Seriously, they’re everywhere. Try finding a cell phone without one. And this means we can all see our embarrassing photos of that Friday night float around to all our friends before we’ve hit the warm embrace of our bed that a.m.

But is that all they’re for? Just passive recorders? Hardly. Imagine if your camera phone could tell you something. How about the date of your favorite band’s next gig? Give you discounts on that new DVD? Take you to the website of the company you saw that cool ad for in the subway?

Well that’s the concept behind 2D bar codes. You’ve probably seen them before on a UPS package, and there are several types. But the ones you’ll see most of are QR codes. These little pixelated squares can contain a surprising amount of information. They’ve been huge in Japan for years now, and they’ve spread across Europe over the last two years (most notably in the ad campaign for 28 Weeks Later), but for some reason the United States has been holding out.

Not anymore.

The communications benefits are huge, be it advertising, viral marketing, or even just a neat way to put information on your business card. Almost any phone can read them with free software. That’s up to 230 million people.

So the question isn’t why use it. The question is this: How can you use it, and why aren’t you already?

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Custom Content, Mobile Content, Multimedia, Target Audience | Leave a comment

Is the podcast dead?

Is the podcast dead? And what is a podcast anyway? Back in 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary hailed it as the Word of the Year and described it as a “digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player.” That definition has morphed, however, and now plenty of people view a podcast as both audio and video. It can either be a show with regular episodes, or a lecture or some other one-off event that is downloadable. But the question is, how many people are doing the downloading??

Wizzard Media proclaims podcasting to be “one of the fastest growing and widest distribution mechanisms in the history of media.” Of course, they have a vested interested in saying this, and we’ve heard it before. In March 2006 eMarketer said the “audience for podcasts has shown meteoric growth, particularly in the U.S. It is variously projected to reach between 20 million and 80 million by 2010.” Way to pin down that prediction, eh? A month later, Forrester predicted growth “from 700,000 households in the United States in 2006 to 12.3 million households in the United States by 2010.” That’s a big difference: 12.3 million vs. 80 million. The most trustworthy source, Pew Internet & American Life Project, reported in November 2006 that only 1% of Internet users report downloading a podcast on a typical day.

My quick Web search didn’t yield a lot of stats or reports on podcasting in 2007—perhaps the hype was dying down at this point? But a February 2006 eMarketer report estimated that the total U.S. podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007.

I’m pretty skeptical about a lot of these numbers and projections. But I am sure of one thing: Podcasting is still an inexpensive way for a company to get its message out, and the medium can help a company establish a personal, human connection to its clients and customers. And don’t forget that you can also post transcripts of podcasts. At Tendo, we often preach the idea of “write once, use many.” In this case, “record once, use many” is true, too. Julie Jares, managing editor

February 29, 2008 Posted by | blog, Julie Jares, Mobile Content, Multimedia | Leave a comment