Contest Post-Tweeting: How People Don’t Read Contest Info

iPad

iPad

Next week I’ll be headed to San Francisco for TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. Naturally, I added the hashtag #tcdisrupt in my Tweet deck. I went through the posts, and one seems to keep coming up:

TechCrunch Giveaway: White iPad 2 and Nook Color #TCDisrupt {link removed} via @techcrunch

I went to the page in question and they gave away a White iPad2. Yes, I said GAVE AWAY. This was for TechCrunch Disrupt in New York that happened back in June.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this tweet reaction. Someone sees a post saying “Win this, retweet and your entered”. You do so, but you don’t see the link they post. Now you’ve just entered into a contest that has been over for months.

I have held contests from time-to-time. I remember one where I was trying to increase my followers and said to Twitter the link information and hashtag. Weeks after the contest, I was still getting tweets. I even remember one guy who tweeted me “Did you draw a winner yet?” I had to reply “Yes, but that was back in April.”

This seems to be an interesting way to build people, but also is a bit deceptive. Of course, if people don’t read the rules, it’s not your fault, right?

In this case, I would say “wrong”. Why? Because TechCrunch hasn’t updated the page to say in the first line “CONTEST OVER”. Even in the title, they should put that information.

In the meantime, people are thinking they’ve just entered a contest for a white iPad2.Too bad they didn’t win…

What Makes A Tech Success?

It seems in the world of computers and the Internet there is always a steady stream of new things on the horizon, as well as a steady stream of new products and services. It’s been this way for many years at this point.

There are always winners and losers. Winners can win big, and losers at worst fail to make any marketplace splash or even a ripple and end up in the tech dustbin of obscurity with few people ever knowing that the product or service ever existed.

What is it that makes for a successful product? Why is it that some products and services that seem very similar to other products and services end up becoming household names, while others end up being cancelled domain name landing pages?

It’s obvious there are a variety of factors that come into play. If it were easy to predict these things, we would have a lot fewer losers. Why did Twitter become a household name, whereas similar services such as Plurk and Jaiku languish in the shadows? What enabled Facebook to steal most of the MySpace thunder?

New products and services that end up being successful frequently incorporate elements and principles of previously-existing successes, but package them in more compact and useful forms.

Initially when Twitter came along a couple of years ago, I heard people talking about it, but I was a bit resistant to sign up. I felt like I had plenty of ways to communicate with people, so why did I need to add yet another account to a service that would steal away time I already had filled, only to ultimately let yet another account go dormant? I finally signed up for Twitter, and after I began using it I began to understand the value of it. With a service like Twitter, the more people that are using it, the more valuable it becomes.

About the same time I signed up for a Twitter account, I also signed up for a Plurk account. After a few visits to the Plurk website over a period of a month or two, I haven’t been back to the site since.

I believe what is valuable about Twitter is that 140 character limit per Tweet, forcing people to be succinct with their wording. Twitter and Tweet are cute names. The site design is simple, the blue bird logo pleasing to the eye, and the developers kept the API and name open to other developers, allowing an entire ecosystem of ancillary products and services to develop around it at the same time it was rapidly increasing in popularity. Twitter is very much like chat, which was already well established, but it had the added value that it either could be in real time, or not, able to be accessed from a vast array of devices beyond the Twitter website. Twitter also allows you to subscribe to just the people you want, and ignore or even completely block the rest. Twitter also allows you to reach out and touch people, and it allows you to monitor what others are up to whose lives are at once very similar to your own, yet often radically different. You can spend as much or as little time as you wish interacting with the service. Another thing that turned out to be incredibly useful with twitter is the vast 24/7 real-time data stream that it generates. Real-time Twitter data mining has proved to be quite valuable to many people.

To be honest I have always thought that many MySpace pages were often monstrous, unbelievably cluttered messes that often took a long time to load. Nonetheless, MySpace became popular because it obviously served a need with a younger demographic.

I’ve always thought Facebook’s interface is somewhat confusing, though allowing for far less cluttered and confusing-looking profile pages. I still don’t quite understand what got Facebook to the level of critical popularity – perhaps the less-cluttered, faster-loading profile pages gave it the critical edge over MySpace.

It should also be noted that Facebook allowed for an open API, allowing a myriad of interesting and often useful applications to be plugged in to its interface.

However it did it, Facebook managed to get to a critical mass of users where it became THE thing to sign up for and THE place to be to stay connected with family, friends and business associates. Something interesting has happened with Facebook that has never happened before – everyday, non-geek people who had never built website profiles in all the years they had been doing email and web browsing were suddenly signing up for Facebook in unbelievable numbers. Mothers, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, etc. were suddenly showing up on the same service with their kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids. Once the ball rolled, Facebook became an incredible success.

I started noticing a while back that many people were starting to use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with each other in lieu of email. At this point I find myself getting pulled into that trend myself. These services don’t offer the relative privacy of direct email, but they allow for easy, frequent public conversations and easy sharing of personal media such as photos between friends and family on a global scale.

What I take away from the success stories versus the less-successful competitors is that oftentimes the differences in design and implementation can be slight, but those slight differences can offer real, tangible advantages to the end user. If those often-slight advantages can somehow help get the product or service to a critical mass threshold, they can find themselves catapulted to the point of planetary awareness.

Lisa Tickled Pink Hates Technology: The Social Experiment

If you by chanced checked out “This Week in Tech”, you watched as Leo Laporte talked with Kevin Rose, John Dvorak and Clayton Morris talk about events in tech. I had the show on live as I was working on other projects as they did something that was not only interesting, but also shows how someone can turn from a nobody to a social mediate. Someone who didn’t even expect to become one.

They were talking about how Conan O’Brien had announced he was following a random person. They decided that this group could do the same thing. Therefore, Kevin Rose got onto twitter and looked for someone that only had 2-3 tweets. But what he found was the perfect twitter account.

@Lisatickledpink Hates Technology

The foursome started talking about this Twitter, in which all the viewers (about 1,700 at the time) started to follow Lisa Etheridge. They realized that she was in New Zealand and had notifications turned on. Therefore, she got an interesting wakeup call to everyone following her on Twitter.

By the end of the show, she had over 2,000 followers. The news instantly topped on Digg, which helped with more followers. Her count right now? 12,526.

Yep, she did in 2 days what most of us couldn’t do in 3 years. And while a lot of those followers could be bots and soon-to-be-dead profiles, she still has a considerable audience that will receive her status updates throughout the day. An amazing feat and a great way to start her iFame.

I mentioned Conan O’brien before. His experiment has netted a couples’ wedding to be paid in full. Of course, Conan wasn’t the first to turn a nobody into someone. However, with Twitter gaining more users than it ever has before and an average of 600 tweets a second, the world is getting more connected than ever. Where as my Twitter hits something like 0.00002 percent of the population, Lisa has an ear of 0.00025 percent.  To put into perspective, @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) has 0.092 percent (Based on 4-5 Billion user accounts)

So to Lisa Etheridge – Enjoy this new fame and use it wisely. You have been put in a position that can mean people are listening to you. Don’t forget to mention my twitter handle every now and then, too – @geekazine

Quick – Tweet Now! You Might Be the 10 Billionth Twitter!

Well, the craze is on. 10 Billion Tweets will probably be hit by time you read this. 600 tweets a second (2.16 Million an hour). So in about 18 hours – Depending on how many people go Tweet crazy – The 10 Billionth Twitter will be posted.

The 5 billionth was held by Robin Sloan, who posted “Oh Lord”. It was a reply to another tweet.

I am guessing you won’t get a new car or $10,000 iTunes card. You will get some recognition as the Deccabillitweeter. I know that’s not a word, but maybe it will catch on….

If you want to catch all the madness – even have a Twitter countdown party – You can go to GigaTweet and watch the proverbial Twitter Ball drop. Wear a funny hat and a blow into a noisemaker. Maybe even drink some champagne. I think that is what Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone will be doing.

The Onion’s fake news is too close to real news

O.K. – Check out this Onion article – Man’s Facebook Status Given Book Deal

Now check out this article on WSJ – S—mydadsays Lands TV Deal

Can someone say “Irony?” Little did the Onion know, they were reporting a “Close to news” story. And it happened in the same week.

I heard about this Twitter account a few weeks ago. An old codger saying things that just make you laugh. Here are a couple Twitters:

“You look just like Stephen Hawking…Relax, I meant like a non-paralyzed version of him. Feel better?… Fine. Forget I said it.”

“Son, no one gives a s— about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”

“The baby will talk when he talks, relax. It ain’t like he knows the cure for cancer and he just ain’t spitting it out.”

“Just pay the parking ticket. Don’t be so outraged. You’re not a freedom fighter in the civil rights movement. You double parked.”

Of course, the Twitter profile is run by Justin, a 29 year old who lives with his 79 year old dad. The Twitter profile is full of profanities, so you might want to not show the kids. But you can get a chuckle out of it.Then check out the CBS schedule, because that is who gave Justin the sitcom.

Oh yeah, there is also talk of the Twitter having a book deal, too.

Be Careful How You Use The “T” Word

Twitterdummies_I’m talking about the company that starts with “Twit” and ends with “er”, and seems to be the hottest social media site around these days. A year ago I would mention that I was using Twitter to friends and family and I would get a strange look. Now it seems everyone wants you to follow them on Twitter: radio and TV stations, news shows, companies, and the list goes on. I even had a few friends sign up for Twitter, “just to see what it was all about.”

Lately with all the news breaking about the death of Michael Jackson and others, and the happenings in Iran, Twitter seems to be the way a lot of people are getting the news. The information may be short, but it can happen in real time. I heard a story about someone sending Twitter messages from Iran and someone else commented that their comments were pretty short. The person replied that “140 characters seems like writing a novel when you are being shot at.”

It’s no wonder that Ev and the team over at Twitter want to protect their name and brand. In a blog post today, they stated, “We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of ‘going after’ the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter…”

They also state, “Regarding the use of the word Twitter in projects, we are a bit more wary although there are some exceptions here as well…”

I started with Twitter over two years ago when it was mainly a way to keep up with your friends over SMS. (That is where the 140 character limit came from.) At the time it was mainly the A-list bloggers who had accounts and the rest of us geeks came along for the ride. At the time there didn’t seem to be any business plan to monetize the service.

Fast forward two years, and to my knowledge Twitter is still not generating any income, but I think that will change soon. With all the attention it’s getting and all the commercial companies looking at Twitter as a cheaper way to provide customer support and keep in touch with customers, the Twitter team must be finalizing plans to support these commercial customers by having them dig into their pocketbooks. I’m sure ads will come to the site as well.

People new to Twitter (i.e., on-air news people) don’t know what to call these Twitter messages: twits or tweets. Today’s Twitter blog posting clearly shows that the official term is “tweet.” I know this makes Leo Laporte, the owner of the TWIT (This Week In Tech) podcast, and who also owns the TWIT trademark, a happy man. There has been past discussions between Leo and the Twitter team about how similar the names, TWIT and Twitter are, and I’m sure today’s posting was an attempt to clear that up.

Oh, I almost forgot: you can follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/Fogview

73’s,

Tom