24 posts categorized "mobile marketing"

August 15, 2013

Guest Post: Why Mobile First is the New Present and Future

Fun Facts:  New mobile device purchase/usage is growing 4x as fast as new people

Every Day:

371,000 Babies are born
500,000 iOS devices are sold
700,000 Android devices are activated
200,000 Nokia devices are used for the first time
143,000 Blackberry smartphones are purchased
1.45M devices vs. 371,000 babies per day

About 25% of websites are viewed exclusively on mobile devices

The Mobile First approach to concepting, designing, and developing responsive websites is a relatively new concept that has received a lot of attention and support lately as the primary approach to handling responsive websites.  Since being first introduced by Luke Wroblewski more than four years ago, then radically adopted by Google in 2010, Mobile First has lately been making a strong case for becoming the new norm moving forward. It was one of the main focuses at this years Adobe MAX conference and still gaining momentum as mobile internet usage rapidly increases. 

Benefits, Opportunities, and Hurdles

From a design and UX perspective, a Mobile First approach forces us to to focus on what's really important.  Graceful degradation, browser to mobile, has us think of these larger-scale, oftentimes much more robust experiences, as a starting point - leaving us with the afterthought, "Okay, so how does this scale down for the mobile users." Many times there are problems with browser functionality that just don't translate well to touch screen devices.  With Mobile First, "Smaller screen size force designers to eliminate the irrelevant and unhelpful aspects of their design." It can really even been seen as a creative exercise to order content and graphic elements by importance and relevance before expanding creativity to larger, more robust screens - strategically streamlining only essential content.

From a development perspective, more and more frameworks are coming out or releasing new versions that are embracing the Mobile First approach - emphasizing how 'lightweight' they are starting at the base mobile screen. A problem with Graceful Degradation is that the elements are hidden for smaller screens but often loaded anyways - increasing HTTP requests and load times. Progressive enhancement, Mobile First, loads only the most basic elements and styles first and adds to those as the browser size increases - making mobile sites much more lightweight and letting users 'often have load times reduced by 30% - 40%.' Not the mention that the CSS styling from this approach results in smaller, more maintainable and easier-to-read code.

This approach would also make it easier to incorporate specific assets and styles for high resolution retina-ready screens and devices as well by detecting browsers by whether their pixel aspect ratio is above 1.5 or not. . It would not further weigh down smaller resolutions and at the same time provide retina users a better experience.

While this all sounds well and good on paper, it does come with a few hurdles. It can be a little weird to think of laying out an entire website starting on a 360px wide canvas. Creativity may seem very constrained, especially when having to consider, 'Wait, how do you even do that on a phone.' It's certainly the reverse way we're accustomed to approaching responsive websites, but it's a concept that probably isn't going away any time soon and has potential benefits that seem to outweigh the initial awkwardness of starting small. 

If our users are continuing to get their internet content from mobile first, shouldn't that be where we start too? - Damon Carlstrom

Damon Carlstrom has background in Interactive Design, Motion Graphics, and Front-End Development, lately focused on UX/UI Design and RWD (Responsive Web Design).

November 03, 2011

3 Ways to Use Mobile Effectively

Since my last post, we've had a few major events in the mobile space.

  1. The iPhone 4s was released to the general public, and people who have been able to overlook the new phone's battery issues (apparently a software issue that will be resolved in a few weeks), they've been so enthralled by its semantic-web (or Subservient Chicken) inspired Siri that they even launched a website that highlights both its ability to recognize complex speech and its personality while doing so. 
  2. A little while later, Google announced its new new Android mobile OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, and the sound of geeks drooling could be heard around the world.
  3. Now Amazon said that it is launching a book-lending service to go along with its Prime membership (as long as they own a Kindle). It's sort of like Netflix, but in addition to movies, it also provides books. Oh, and free 2-day shipping on most of the items you can order on Amazon. Gizmodo calls it "Officially the Greatest Deal in Tech." Certainly Amazon just became more of a digital content juggernaut than it already was.

I'll have more to say on these developments later, but for now, let it suffice to say that this confirms that mobile is reaching the critical tipping point I mentioned before.

(As an aside, I can always tell when some technology reaches the tipping point when my parents start using it. RIght after they joined Facebook, the rest of the world did, even though I had been on it for about two years by the time they joined. True to form, my dad started texting me recently.)

What does this mean? It means that the best computer is the one you have on you. It means if you need to reach people, they need to be able to access you wherever they have a need for whatever it is that you sell. Finally, it means that not having a mobile strategy at this point may well be, competitively speaking, like one of those dreams where you accidentally show up to school without your clothes on ("Shoot! I KNEW I forgot something...")

So what do you do? You get your butt moving, that's what! As I'm sure I heard Seth Godin say at some point, the best time to start is a year ago. The second-best time is right now.

And it's not enough to produce any old thing. Says Jakob Nielsen, "Last year, it might have been cool simply to have an app. Now, that app better be good. Requirements have gone up."

Here are three strategies to get your brain going. By no means is this list exhaustive.


This is when you take everything that is on your website and cram it into your mobile website, but optimize it for the smaller screen sizes. Everything can be reformatted to fit the screen, of course, but for all intents and purposes, they are carbon copies of one another.


This is when you design a mobile experience instead and in exclusion of a desktop website. I can't think of any effective examples for this. Maybe some independent developers looking to create a killer app -- but even most (all?) realize the importance of having a website to support it. Plus, being developers, they also know how easy it is to get something credible up quickly.


A displacement strategy is when the experience designed for each device is married to its respective strengths and divorced from its weaknesses. For instance, desktop devices have a bigger screen area that can be used to enhance navigation or display more information, but you won't have it on you when you're out with your friends wondering what is happening in the city today. Mobile phones, on the other hand, are instantly available when you need quick information, they can identify what's around you due to enormous (and growing) infrastructure support, but doing certain things, like typing, can be murder.  


To successfully pull off any strategy, you really need to put yourself in your audience's' shoes. Which is great if you are your own audience. If not, you're going to need to do some research. Don't skimp on this! If you don't have a much of a budget, start with some guerilla stuff. Take your small wins and build on them.

Be strategic.

Be intentional.

Be mobile.

And be quick about it, will you?

What are some of your favorite strategies for mobile implementation?

- Cam Beck

October 13, 2011

Has the Age of Mobile Finally Arrived?

According to Nielsen, 40% of all mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones, which are poised to overtake feature phones later this year, and although tablets are showing only a 5% penetration, as the cost of entry falls and Amazon throws its hat into the tablet ring, smart money is on a boom in the next few years. If you've been holding out on designing for mobile over the last few years, your time is up.

The good news is that your mobile site doesn't necessarily have to do the same things your website does. The bad news is that it could take some serious sleuthing to figure out what it does need to do.

The challenge for designers is that this is all very time consuming. Each platform is inherently different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. You can do some things better on a PC because of the additional space. You can do some things better on a smartphone because it's with you and connected when you need it. 

The market for personal computers is still growing in a down economy -- partly because it's still highly relevant for enterprise use, and partly because the market maturity leads to lower costs of entry than newer technologies. Along with the fact that it is a known quantity with established home and business uses, its low cost of entry makes it a safe bet people in the market for a new device. In short, the PC will evolve, but it is not going away anytime soon.

However, as more people adopt these mobile technologies, their expectations for a good experience will not deminish. If anything, they will demand better and eschew those experiences that do not take into account their mode of arrival.

If you want to attract planes, first build a runway.

If you want to attract people with enough disposable income to risk on a trendy device, build a remarkable experience for them for that device -- and give them the ability to share. 

Next time, I'll write about three mobile strategies to consider when planning your mobile presence:

  1. Duplication
  2. Replacement
  3. Displacement

- Cam Beck

August 10, 2009

The Palmer Brothers Save Your Bladder at the Movies

This is too long for a tweet and too good a nugget to neglect.

Here's a short snippet from Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

I think one of the things you may learn from the new season of Hard Knocks, beginning Wednesday on HBO and featuring the Bengals this year, is how open the network presents the normally reclusive Mike Brown, the club owner. And you may see a different side of Carson Palmer, who is bonding with brother Jordan, the backup quarterback, by developing iPhone applications in their down time. I'm praying for the network to use the story about runpee.com, which the Palmers developed to tell moviegoers when the best time would be to take a bathroom break. When you return, the iPhone could be programmed to tell you what you missed.

As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I could never defect loyalties for the Bengals, but Carson and Jordan Palmer have definitely moved up a notch in my book, just for having developed an iPhone app.

Like the Bengals, I don't even care if it's any good.

By the way, I tuned into a few reruns of Hard Knocks this weekend (which followed the Dallas Cowboys last training camp). It isn't the train wreck I expected it to be.

- Cam Beck

April 10, 2009

Does any other mobile phone matter?

Iphone-vs-android I met with a friend yesterday who had the T-mobile G1. A great phone with a lot of great features. Because of it's non-proprietary architecture and qwerty keyboard, it could arguably be better than the iPhone.

It's to the iPhone what Microsoft's Zune is to MP3 players. No one that I know admits to having a Zune.

The iPhone wasn't the first data phone. It came into the market carrying the brand affinity of Apple and through superior design and marketing, it has dominated the market. Now with 2.5 million subscribers, the iPhone makes up 50% of all smart phone traffic and 50% operating system share (really share of market) of all cell phones. To put this in perspective, in August of 2008 iPhones only made up 10% of all traffic.

Is this a passing fad? Here's some more numbers. 93 percent of iPhone owners have added an application versus only 66 percent of Smartphone owners. 60 percent of users browse the internet at least once per day Three quarters of users do more web surfing on the iPhone than on their previous device. (pdf)

The G1, Blackberry's new Storm none of these matter. They're all playing catch up. The iPhone is cool because they didn't copy someone elses vision, it came from the inside.  It gets used and, in my opinion, will continue to dominate. No other phone matters.

- Paul Herring

April 24, 2008

The Publisher's Paradox: Why Traditional Advertising Models Are Dead

Logo_2 While composing my latest post for Marketing Profs: Daily Fix, I suspected that I'd be preaching to the choir. The readers there are usually well versed in new media marketing and the challenges that go along with it. I generally avoid writing such articles. I figure if I'm not challenging what I or what the readers are already certain of, then I'm not adding anything of value. This one is different.

I chose to write this one because I saw a few needs for it.

First, it isn't just for existing readers, but also for those who are still struggling with this entire new media mess and don't understand the principles that affect it. They're still looking for ways to interrupt you -- through your mobile phone, through pop-up ads, through opt-out emails, etc.

If there's one thing I've learned from years of philosophical debates (including political or business-related), it's that we cannot assume we all assume the same things. It isn't that we don't assume anything. We just assume differently.

For those who aren't quite there yet, we have to occasionally make our case as conscientiously as we can if we're going to make an impact on how they think.

Second, we need less, "Do it our way or suffer the consequences," and more, "This is why it's in your best interests to listen."

To that end, I also hope the article gives you some ammunition for when you must try to convince someone that doing what they've always done is more risky than doing something new.

I hope you enjoy the effort. Stop by and let me know what you think. - Cam Beck

March 19, 2008

How to Ruin Mobile Marketing

Last week I received my first-ever push marketing message on my cell phone. If this is the best the industry has to offer, mobile marketing is going to be absolutely worthless, after all.

AT&T Free Msg
Discover xxxxxxx, the service that lets u hear gr8 music when u want it. Try it free for 5 days! Std data rates apply. Send stop to 2392 to end mktg msgs.

I immediately noticed 4 things about this message.

  1. It was uninvited
  2. It was unwelcome
  3. I don't know for certain it was actually "free" as the message claimed
  4. I don't know that sending "stop" to 2392 will actually end all future marketing messages

Before the CAN-SPAM Act, people were wary of invitations to unsubscribe from unsolicited emails, because often, "unsubscribing" confirmed to devious marketers that their email address database was valid.

As a reminder of these "bad old days," I have a Hotmail account that still gets spammed unmercifully, even though Microsoft periodically deletes my account for not accessing it often enough.

To ruin mobile marketing, all companies have to do is keep sending messages that aren't wanted, aren't expected, and otherwise remind people of the spam that cut down on productivity so much that it motivated Congress to pass a law to fix it (and even then it doesn't work that well).

Looks like we're off to a great start. - Cam Beck

February 25, 2008

The Biggest Decision You'll Make this Year - Mike Huckabee

Now that we've taken a look at all of the presidential hopefuls, I'd be remiss to leave out one of the most followed Vice Presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee.  I joke, which seems fitting for Huckabee's campaign.

Huck_site_2 Design

Logo – Huckabee doesn't really have a consistent logo, but I'll review what is present in the header.  There appears to be falling stars which makes me think that I can make a wish.  Huckabee also, like Senator Clinton, reminds us that he's running for president by simply putting "President" underneath his name.  I think it's a bit presumptuous that he left off the "for" before "President."Huck_logo

Color palette – maroon, blue and yellow. Like McCain, this seems like an odd color combination.  I think the maroon is an homage to his beloved Razorbacks.

Personal pic – Unlike any of the other candidates, Huckabee seems a bit humble to not show a personal pic in a fixed position on the site.  It's true that other pictures take up the hero shot on the homepage, but the one up today is not Huckabee's best angle.

Navigation –  Here's another horizontal navigation, but there's no secondary links from the top bar.  While some might see this as a simplistic design, it strikes me as quite a surprise in that it seems like when running for the President of the United States there would be plenty of things to link to.   

Calls to action – There seem to be quite a few different calls to action on the homepage from Read More!, Build our Base, Become a Ranger and Contribute.  None of these particularly stand out too much.

Order of importance – based on navigation

  1. About Mike
  2. Newsroom
  3. Issues
  4. Blog
  5. Get Involved
  6. Contribute

Order of importance – based on layout

  1. Texas for Huckabee
  2. Help Mike Today!
  3. Ways You Can Help Huckabee!
  4. Recent Blog Posts

What’s missing - While the site is a clean design, it still leaves much to be desired.  Based on how the sections of the site are labeled it seems that Huckabee definitely needs help.  The 3 outlined steps are to 1. Join the team, 2. Build their base or Become a Ranger! (not as awesome as it sounds) and 3. Contribute.   The third option is most important as it is highlighted with a yellow font color.  Overall, the design reminds me of my days when I first started using Dreamweaver and Photoshop. While both programs offer a ton of ways to make things look cool, when you try them all out on the same site it looks like crap.  My guess is that Huckabee has a precocious grandson.

Seal Rating:Seal_3Seal_2



About Mike - This section of the site has a good amount of info on Huckabee, unfortunately the video that is intended to inspire reminds me more of a home movie.  On the flip-side, one of the most impressive things I've learned about Huckabee is that when he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2003 he lost 110 pounds. He then went on to complete four marathons over the next two years.  The other interesting piece is that Huckabee plays the bass guitar in a "rock-n-roll" band, Capitol Offense.  Here's the thing, with the exception of Sting, how many bass players are the leader in their bands?  Huckabee seems more like a wingman than a commander in chief.  Huckabee's the guy that forwards you the Chuck Norris jokes, he's fun to hang out with but you're not following him into battle.

Developer Log - One of the most bizarre parts of the site resides in the subnavigation in the About Mike section is this Developer Log.  Here, a voter can see important things like on 12/18 at 6:19 PM they "Added Filter to Ranger Endorsements public display" and on 12/11 at 5:30 PM "Rangers can add their own links to their dashboard, making the dashboard a potential home page for supporters."  This is hilarious to me.  Why on earth would you put this mundane information up on the site?  Like I said, it feels very amateur, like the developer wants everyone to know the progress he's made on the site.


Become a Ranger - one of the biggest disappointments to the site is that when I tried to "Become a Ranger" I was met with a Chuck Norris-like server error scissor-kick to the throat.


Newsroom - The problem I have with this section is that the Press Releases and Recent Articles aren't titled very distinctively and they don't lead me to want to click on them at all.  The video archive, which shows a screenshot of the video is a let down in that I can't just view the video on this page.  I would have to click on the link of the video and which then takes me to YouTube.  They've listed the Author, Keywords, and Date, but the problem is that all of the entries are from the same person with the same keyword.

Issues - Huckabee has chosen to rename the issues with his own personal spin, which makes quick scanning of the issues very difficult.

Blog - Here I see another missed opportunity, in that the Blog only highlights campaign events and videos instead of providing content and engaging people in a conversation.  This content is just recycled from what could be displayed on a videos page and an upcoming events page.

What’s missing -  There simply isn't much to the site as the content is severely lacking compared the other three candidate's sites.  With that in mind, I will say that 29 Things You Didn't Know About Huckabee is my favorite part of the site.

Seal Rating:Seal_4


Use of technology

The site was built on Coldfusion, which was a hot development framework back in 2001, but is seen as outdated by many in today's advertising space. Now, on to the social networks.

MySpace - 38,854 friends, 12,269 comments

  • Barack Obama - 295,556 friends, 46,073 comments
  • Hillary Clinton - 182,641 friends, 18,691 comments
  • John McCain - 44,931 friends, 5,814 comments. 

Facebook - 56,839 supporters, 8,898 wall posts

  • Barack Obama - 627,718 supporters, 83,325 wall posts
  • Hillary Clinton - 110,460 supporters, 37,456 wall posts
  • John McCain - 59,342 supporters, 5,804 wall posts

Eons - N/A

  • Hillary Clinton - 297 friends, 3 badges
  • Barack Obama - 216 friends, 1 badge 
  • John McCain - 3 friends, 0 badges

YouTube - 4,113 subscribers, 461,353 channel views,184 videos uploaded

  • Barack Obama - 30,595 subscribers, 12,180,341 channel views, 705 videos uploaded 
  • Hillary Clinton - 9,829 subscribers, 1,304,419 channel views, 252 videos uploaded
  • John McCain - 2,613 subscribers, 589,518 channel views, 166 videos uploaded

What’s missing - The social networking piece of Huckabee's campaign caught me off guard because I thought that most people, like me, would want to befriend the former Governor even if they didn't want to back his presidential run.  I mean, c'mon, he knows Chuck Norris! This sponsorship by Chuck Norris was the best and worst thing Huckabee could've done for his bid.  It was the best because it garnered 1.8 million views on YouTube alone, but it's possibly the worst because it's hard to take the guy seriously.

Seal Rating:Seal_4 Seal_5



Well, Mike, I hate to do this buddy, but your site just stinks.  With the other candidates it literally took me days to review all of their content and put it into bit sized nuggets for our readers while you provided the nuggets as your content.  It's a shame because you seem like a really nice guy, you just should have spent some money on an interactive strategy. 

Overall Seal Rating:Seal_4Half_seal

Thanks so much for your attention in these marathon posts! My hope is that you found some useful information that might help you in your decision for the next president of the free world.   

- John Herrington

February 11, 2008

The Biggest Decision You'll Make this Year - Hillary Clinton

Candidates_2 As we move forward from Super Tuesday, it seems necessary to reflect on all of the candidates present at this juncture and dive deep into what they stand for.  What makes them tick?  What makes them someone that we're willing to put our hopes and dreams into their hands for safekeeping?  Of the many things that make up someone's personal brand, their web presence speaks volumes as this is one avenue that is always speaking to the public.

So, with that, I've decided to do an in-depth analysis of each candidate's brand in a 4 part study of the candidates that actually have a shot at this point.  (This was going to be 3 parter, but Chuck Norris threatened me with a viscous round-house to the face, so I reconsidered Huckabee).

I've ranked each site on three categories (Design, Content and Use of Technology) and scored the candidates accordingly on a 5 presidential seal scale.

Today, we start with Senator Clinton.

Hillary_site_2 Design

Logo - rather trite..."for President" makes me think this is the same logo she used when running for the Senate, she just changed "Senate" to "President". Maybe some of that $5MM that she loaned herself could've gone towards a better logo.

Color palette - Primary colors of surprise surprise, Red, White & Blue...yawn.  Visually appealing, but not inspiring.

Personal pic - not flattering, the upshot of the double-chin is not the Senator's best look, however the official headshot is very nice.

Navigation - a standard top nav layout. Right side promo panel on secondary pages is not consistent. No sitemap available.  Pagina Bilingue (En Espanol option always visible. The site is clean and devoid of clutter. Overall, it's easy to navigate around the site and find what you're looking for.

Calls to action - Contribute (3), Join (2).  This seems about right as any candidate is in the market for raising money and soliciting votes.

Order of Importance - based on layout

  1. Contribute (3 giant red buttons)
  2. Join Our Team (hero and top right header)
  3. Latest Videos
  4. On the Blog
  5. 5 Things You Can Do
  6. HillaryHub.com
  7. Women for Hillary
  8. The Fact Hub
  9. Hillary Gear
  10. Social Networks
  11. Hillblazers

Order of Importance - based on navigation

  1. Home
  2. Hillary (About)
  3. Issues
  4. Take Action
  5. Newsroom
  6. Blog
  7. Video
  8. States
  9. Contribute

What's missing - The design of the site is just ho-hum, in my opinion, and really lacks any personality.  Of course, maybe that's the goal, to play it safe, but that doesn't exactly inspire me.  In addition, the design lacks cohesiveness because there are sister sites that don't have the same look and feel as hillaryclinton.com.  I'd love to see more of Hillary's personality represented visually and with copy.  If we're going to "Make History" by voting for her, I'd like to feel that emotion when I visit the site.

Seal Rating:Seal_5Seal_4



Hillary (About) - good mini-timeline of Hillary's background, along with videos from backers along the way.  Concise and easy to read in chunks.

Issues - each issue is framed with her viewpoint in the title.  Instead of "Foreign Diplomacy" she has "Restoring America's Standing in the World".  When clicking on an individual issue, there should be links to be able to get to the next/previous issue without having to use the back button.

Take Action - this section is account driven, as you must create an account to utilize all of the features offered.  Actions include making phone calls, sending ecards to friends, starting a blog of your own, planning an event, finding an event, sending fundraising emails, and joining/starting a group.

Newsroom - releases are listed in blog-order fashion, most recent to oldest. This section includes photos, speeches, endorsements and links to HillaryHub. Speeches & Press Releases - should provide PDF and printer friendly version. Photos - Flickr slideshows.

Blog - maintained on a daily basis by backers, speaks to issues, strategy, rebuttal to attacks.  Easy to disseminate to friends via technorati, digg, del.icio.us, and email to friend links.

Videos - HillaryTV, theHillaryIKnow.com, and ads.  Lots of content here, good coverage overall.

States - Iowa and Nevada are obviously considered the most boring states due to one picture only for each instead of 3 like the other states.  Heck, Rhode Island even has a collage of 3 pictures.

What's missing - Interesting that there is no trace of a delegate counter.  It seems like this would be something that people going to the site would want to know.  For that matter, the hot items seem to be buried in the news section or on the separate HillaryHub site. 

Seal Rating:Seal_3Seal_5Seal_4


Use of technology

blogHillary - Updated daily by staffers / backers, technorati, digg, del.icio.us, email to friend links prevalent throughout site.

HillaryTV - videos load quickly, also uploaded on YouTube. Embed code is included for bloggers for easy posting to their site.

MySpace - 182641 friends, 18691 comments.  This isn't really a giant number as comedian Dane Cook has  2,273,543 friends and 259,858 comments.

Facebook - 110,460 supporters, 37,456 wall posts

Eons - 297 friends, 3 badges

Flickr - 3,100 photos

YouTube - 9,829 subscribers, 1,304,419 channel views, 252 videos uploaded

What's missing - After perusing the different social networks I don't really feel that I have a more in depth knowledge of Hillary Clinton as a friend.  I wish she'd post more pictures and give more insight into her life outside of the campaign trail so that I feel that I am her "friend".  Not being on Twitter is a huge opportunity missed.

Seal Rating:Seal_5Seal_4



After spending hours on the site, I feel like I know what Senator Hillary is about, what she believes in, what she currently needs from me and how I can get involved.  The design of the site is clean yet it feels like you could take out Hillary's picture and plug in any other candidate and it would work.  It just doesn't feel like there is anything special here.  The content on the site is robust, but I hate having to go to a separate site for news, Hillary gear, Hillblazers, and videos.  Each one of these sites has a different look and feel, which disjoints the brand. The campaign is doing a decent job of using new technologies by setting up profiles on MySpace, Facebook, and Eons, but I can't see why they wouldn't be microblogging through Twitter.  This is an untapped resource that Hillary should be using, along with all of the other candidates.  Overall, I'd say that the site is nothing spectacular, but considering websites in the political arena, this site could conceivably receive higher marks. 

Overall Seal Rating:Seal_3Seal_5Seal_4

Do you agree with my assessment?  Let me know what you think. - John Herrington

October 18, 2007

Tweet Tweet

Twitbin_4 "Yikes - lithium battery in iPod nano caught fire in this guy's pocket" -- whatsnext
"Eyeglasses: I just found out I need glasses. This is a traumatic moment..." -- SethGodin
"There's an 18-wheeler going backwards on the exit ramp of I95, sweet!" -- JSutterfield

These are all typical tweets that you'll see from folks on Twitter.  After starting my own account this week and asking friends if they had their own accounts, I received a myriad of "Umm..what's that?" replies.  So here's the Cliff's Notes edition:

Twitter is a free social networking / micro-blogging hybrid where instead of providing paragraphs of copy you only have 140 characters to express yourself.  Each post is commonly known as a tweet and you can post from the site itself, SMS, IM, email and third party apps like Twitbin.  I described it to a friend as a giant IM session that never ends.

Over the last couple of months, Twitter and other micro-blogging sites have garnered quite a bit of exposure, especially after Google entered the fray by gobbling up Jaiku.

Adam Ostrow at Mashable.com had this to say on the matter:

This is somewhat surprising news considering the perceived dominance of Twitter in the so-called “lifestreaming” space. Additionally, Twitter is co-founded by Evan Williams, who was the creator of Blogger, which was previously acquired by Google. In a world where price is no object for Google, it’s interesting that they would opt for Jaiku and not Twitter.

Some from the Google-is-EVIL party have been screaming from their perch that this is one more move for Google to effectively know everything about everyone and thus take them one step closer to world domination through mobile communication.  I just say this is another way for Google to take a good product and make it even better for the people.  Maybe I'm swimming in the Kool-aid, but I digress.

Twitbin2 After a week of using Twitter I can say that it is a great networking tool at the very least.  People are posting interesting nuggets all the time which lead to fascinating sites, great articles, or just random thoughts of genius.   News outlets like CNN, BBC, ESPN and the NYTimes and are using Twitter basically as an RSS stream while other companies are starting to use Twitter as a good medium for press releases.

You can expect to see more companies and agencies hopping into the mix over the coming months and start experimenting with how to message their core audience in a way that won't alienate them.  I think the key here is to be authentic and transparent, lest we forget frequent floggers like Sony and Wal-Mart.

If anyone has a list of good folks to follow on Twitter, I'm all ears. - John Herrington

Now playing: All Time Low - Coffeeshop Soundtrack
via FoxyTunes