Tag Archives: twitter

Thinking outside the (Four)square

Today I was at the Consumer Electronics Show helping Altec Lansing (a Tribes Win client) setup their booth. In between unpacking and displaying product and setting up the booth’s wifi, I was tweeting on my iPhone and decided to check in on Foursquare.

(Tip: If you ever need to setup wifi at a conference, I highly recommend Trade Show Internet – it all came in a nice little box and setup was a snap. Great service.)

If you don’t know about Foursquare, it’s a location based social network and game. Mashable did a great overview post on it here. The potential for Foursqaure is huge and just this week, they went global.

While I was setting up the booth amidst the thousands of others, the marketing portion of my mind (the rest is just Wire episodes) started thinking of fun ways to encourage people to stop by the Altec Lansing booth.

The progression of my thought process was as follows:

1) CES is filled with early adopter tech geeks like myself.

2) Many of these tech geeks will be using their geeky smartphones and many will be checking in on Foursquare.

3) People like to win things.

So I setup a “special” on Foursquare. Businesses can setup almost any special they can think of for Foursqaure users. For instance, they can setup a special where the mayor (the person who has checked in the most times at a given venue) gets a free drink, like in the example below.

So I setup a Foursquare special where anyone who comes by the Altec Lansing CES booth and checks in gets entered in a drawing to win the Mix boom box. If you haven’t seen or heard this thing, it’s the quickest bass-booming way to punch your ticket to cool-kid status, especially for us tech & gadget geeks.

So now when anyone checks in anywhere near our Altec Lansing booth at CES, Foursquare will notify them of the “special” we have and they can stop by to enter and win a Mix.

Is this the intended use of Foursquare? Not exactly.

Will our “venue” even exist past Sunday? Nope.

Is it a way for us to meet and connect with more people at the show and have some fun? Definitely.

Sometimes you have to think outside the (four) square.

(I also tweeted that if you stop by, play RockBand and beat Angel’s score, you can win a Stage Gig. If you’re at CES, come by and say hi.)

A smarter Clay

Check out this excellent TED @State talk from the smartest Clay I know.

The most important changes Clay highlights:

“The media that is good at creating conversation is no good at creating groups. The media that is good at creating groups is no good at creating conversation.”

“The internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversations at the same time.”

“As all media gets digitized, the internet becomes the mode of carriage for all other media.”

“Members of the former audience can now be producers instead of consumers. The same equipment lets you consume and produce.”

And my favorite quote from the entire video:

“The moment we’re living through, the moment our historical generation is living through, is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.”

The boldness of that statement is overshadowed only by its accuracy.

Cronkite, Twitter and Trust

Obit Cronkite

Photo credit: AP Photo/CBS, File.

An excellent post from KD Paine, Walter Cronkite and the shifting residence of trust.

After Cronkite’s assertion that it was time to pull out of Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson told his aide, Bill Moyers, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

It’s easy to imagine Barack Obama telling an aide, “If I’ve lost Twitter, I’ve lost………..”

Finish that sentence.

Stop counting (start counting)


Stop counting how many Facebook friends you have.

Stop counting how many people follow you on Twitter.

Stop counting your LinkedIn connections.

Those numbers don’t matter.

I’m going to say it again, because it’s important. Those numbers don’t matter.

Start counting (how many) of those people you would start a business with.

Start counting (how many) of those people you would lend money to. Or borrow money from.

Start counting (how many) of those people would defend you in court.

Start counting (how many) of those people would come to your for business or personal advice.

Start counting (how many) of those people would let you crash on their couch. For a month.

Start counting (how many) of those people you would want at your wedding. Or your funeral.

192 (6)

4,367 (32)

459 (11)

In the very underrated Spike Lee Joint, 25th Hour, Edward Norton plays a former drug dealer about to be sent to prison. At his farewell party he delivers the following toast:

Champagne for my real friends. Real pain for my sham friends.

Stop counting sham friends. Start counting (real friends).

Where should we Tweet tonight?


Everyone is worried about Twitter’s business model. Will they last? How will they make money?

Kogi isn’t worrying. The Los Angeles-based roving Korean-style taco vendors are using Twitter to improve their own business model.

Since the cultishly popular Kogi BBQ trucks are mobile venues, they use Twitter to broadcast the location and menu items to their legion of fans.

Recent Tweets from Kogi:

Heads up guys! Kogi Roja will be at The Brig in Venice @ 11 o’clock!

KOGI SPECIAL! Korean Burger w Chile Salted Watermelon! @ ALL LOCATIONS!

Kogi is in Santa Monica @ Bergamont Station @ 2525 Michigan Ave. SM. Santa Museum of Art. OPEN TO PUBLIC.

Kogi’s food is cheap, unique and fun, but adding scarcity to the equation ensures something else: the thrill of the chase. Kogi’s trucks tweet their next location and before long, the line looks like the picture above. When the masses are served, the Kogi truck packs up, tweets a new location and by the time they arrive, the line is waiting.

The customers line up before Kogi gets there. What a great business model. Even Steve Jobs can only pull that off once a year.

And like another popular Californian fast food institution used to do, Kogi keeps some of the menu items reserved for ‘insiders’. Right on the trucks, Kogi’s menu lists a few items, including tacos and burritos stuffed with Korean short ribs, spicy pork, chicken and tofu. But Kogi’s Twitter feed lists even more.

This doesn’t have to be limited to Kogi and fast food. Next time I find some perfect tomatoes at the Union Square Market, I can tweet the location and the vendor and add the hashtag #tomatoes.

Let’s all stop worrying about Twitter’s business model. Instead, think about how Twitter can improve your business model. The possibilities are endless.

You’re already on Twitter (and Facebook)

No I’m not, you say. I’ve never signed up.

Let me ask you a few questions.

1) Do you know anyone who uses Twitter? How about Facebook?

2) Have you had any sort of communication with any of those people since March 2008?

3) Is it inconceivable that that person Tweeted about it or posted something on their Facebook page?

“I just had sushi at Kotobuki with my uncle John in Long Island.”

“My friend Mike recently graduated med school and just sent me this amazing article on the future of healthcare in America.”

“I met my friend’s boss Jeff for the first time today. That guy drinks like Mickey Mantle used to.”

The same is true for YouTube and blogs and it will hold true when the next big thing replaces Facebook and Twitter.

Just like companies need to understand that they no longer control their brands, you need to understand that you no longer control where you are and where you are not online.

Like it or not, more and more, we live our lives in public. Even if you’ve never considered ‘managing your digital footprint’, some entries have already been made on your behalf.

How does that make you feel?

Are you living your story?

The following is an interview with Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter, as published in the New York Times. Read it carefully and see if you notice anything interesting.

Published: March 7, 2009


I GREW up on a farm in Nebraska, where we grew mostly corn and soybeans. During the summers I was responsible for making sure the crops were irrigated.

After high school, I enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but I stayed only a year and a half. I felt college was a waste of time; I wanted to start working. I moved to Florida, where I did some freelance copywriting. After that I moved to Texas and stayed with my older sister while I figured out what to do next. In 1994, I returned to Nebraska and started my first company with my dad.

We didn’t know anything about the Internet, but I thought it was going to be a big deal. We produced CD-ROMs and a video on how to use the Internet, and we did some Web hosting. I recruited some friends and we tossed around some ideas, but none of us knew how to write software and we didn’t have much money. We watched what entrepreneurs in California were doing and tried to play along.

We figured out how to create Web sites, but I didn’t want to work on other people’s projects. I had no business running a company at that time because I hadn’t worked at a real company. I didn’t know how to deal with people, I lacked focus, and I had no discipline. I’d start new projects without finishing old ones, and I didn’t keep track of money. I lost a lot of it, including what my father had invested, and I ended up owing the I.R.S. because I hadn’t paid payroll taxes. I made a lot of employees mad.

In 1997, I moved to California and worked at what is now O’Reilly Media. By 1998, I had acquired enough technical skills to do freelance Web development. In 1999, I started Pyra Labs with a friend, Meg Hourihan, to develop project management programs. Then we started a side project called Blogger, a Web publishing tool. In 2003, we sold that company to Google. I worked for Google for two years.

Several years ago I started Odeo, a podcasting company, with Noah Glass, another friend. I ran that company for 18 months. We started Twitter as a side project within Odeo during that time.

I didn’t like the direction Odeo was going. For one thing, Apple made a lot of what we worked on obsolete when it introduced podcasts into iTunes. I bought Odeo back from the investors and moved the assets to another company of mine, Obvious, a Web product development lab now on hiatus. In 2007, I sold Odeo and spun off Twitter into a separate company.

I appointed Jack Dorsey, who was engineer at Odeo, as C.E.O. of Twitter. In October 2008 it became apparent that Twitter required a day-to-day approach from a single leader. I took over as C.E.O., and Jack became chairman and assumed a more strategic position. He had worked in the courier and dispatch field, which is where he got the idea for Twitter — a social network for sending short messages to friends over cellphones and the Internet.

When people ask me when Twitter will make money, I tell them, “In due time.” They forget that we’re only 30 employees who have just gotten started. Right now, anything we would do to make money would take our time away from acquiring more users. We have patient investors.

My life has been a series of well-orchestrated accidents; I’ve always suffered from hallucinogenic optimism. I was broke for more than 10 years. I remember staying up all night one night at my first company and looking in couch cushions the next morning for some change to buy coffee. I’ve been able to pay my father back, which is nice, and my mother doesn’t worry about me as much since I got married a year and a half ago.

My wife, Sara, a designer, keeps me balanced. We’re building a modern house that we hope will be done by 2010. The design is a challenge — that’s why she’s in charge.

As told to Patricia R. Olsen.


Did you notice? How many sentences in the entire article were longer than 140 characters? If you don’t think this was intentional, read any other article in the Times and perform the same count. (Copy and paste each sentence into Twitter for easy counting.)

Evan Williams is living the Twitter story everyday, even in a NYT interview.

Are you living your story?